NGC4290 4/7/2011 21:51 UT; Pickering 8, NELM 5.5, SQM 20.6
400mm Mak-Cass @ 160X
NGC4290 easy direct vision, although indistinct and with a very weak condensation. Averted-vision bar at 160X; direct at 250X. Circular averted-vision disk with fleeting hints of annularity (perhaps 20% of the time). Annularity more prominent at 160X than 250X.
NGC4284 a bit more work, especially pulling it away from the 2 foreground stars. Never quite direct, but easily holdable in averted. No condensation noted.
And yes, M40 is in the field as well (the double-star asterism to the right in the sketch).
Pal 4 4/7/2011 22:16 UT; Pickering 8, NELM 5.5, SQM 20.6
400mm Mak-Cass @ 1X
Not visible at 150X, 235X, 335X or 450X. Had a finder chart, so I knew exactly where to look. Tried wiggling, panning, averted-vision from all different angles, even my right eye. Nada.
Mrk205 QSO B1219+755 4/7/2011 22:40 UT; Pickering 8, NELM 5.5, SQM 20.6
400mm Mak-Cass @ 350X
Under similar conditions with the 16" SCT I couldn't make out the arms of NGC4319. I'm not sure whether it's the instruments, or just more experience, but the bar is now quite distinct (borderline direct/averted) and two larger lobes (extending out to the NW and SE) are holdable 75% in averted.
[I can't see the distinction between the inner ring and the outer arms, but the extent of the lobes clearly includes the much dimmer outer arms.]
I make out the quasar to be very similar in magnitude to several field stars in the mid-14s, and brighter than one at 14.7. My catalog has it at 15.2, but I think it's considerably brighter (at least visually).