Jump to content


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Cosmic Challenge - NGC 404

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 PhilH


    Viking 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 601
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2005
  • Loc: Long Island, NY

Posted 17 November 2017 - 08:38 PM

Did you know that I discovered a comet in the fall of 1973?I was out with my venerable 8-inch Criterion RV-8 Dynascope Newtonian reflector, just hopping around the autumn sky, when I noticed stars weren't focusing sharply. Thinking the telescope's collimation was off, I aimed at a nearby bright star to check whether the silhouette of the secondary mirror was centered correctly in the star's out-of-focus image. After I tweaked things a bit, all appeared well, so I focused on that star to check things before moving on.Lo and behold, I saw a dim blur of light right next to the star! Checking things further, it wasn't an internal reflection or an optical aberration.

Click here to view the article
  • gene 4181, TOMDEY and Gipht like this

#2 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky


  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 69436
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 17 November 2017 - 09:58 PM

I once jokingly told a friend of mine that I had a "new comet" in view through the ASH 17" classical Cassegrain.  It was in reality NGC 2261.

http://stardustobser...min - Nassr.jpg


Dave Mitsky

  • PhilH likes this




  • -----
  • Posts: 2220
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 18 November 2017 - 12:35 AM

Hi, Phil, WOW that's COOL! I'll look next chance, see it's ideally-placed for this time of year. Related: Few decades ago I was obsessively into galaxy imaging with my trusty 12.5 Cave Astrola using TP2415 film, 2 grueling hours each. After a couple hundred of those, I got weary, and did 2h exposures of bright stars... "just for fun." Came to realize, often interesting, neglected DS stuff ~around them~ The dazzling star would chase away observers. Yep, need a good, CLEAN, optical train to pull this off.  Tom

  • PhilH likes this

#4 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs


  • *****
  • Posts: 73162
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 18 November 2017 - 12:59 AM



Great story.. I think the objects we stumble upon when serendipity smiles on us are often our favorites.


I "discovered" my first comet early on in my observing career. I was out on the Arizona desert early one fall morning viewing with my rather poor 60 mm. The comet was quite bright, I was quite excited for about 20 minutes. That was how long it took me to realize my comet was a ghost of Venus.


Another early morning stumble. The galaxy cluster Hickson 68 is a favorite, found one lucky night and viewed many times since. It is almost directly on a line between Alkaid and Arcturus, about a quarter of the way from Alkaid.  


One particular morning, my sleep deprived brain got it backwards and I was looking about a quarter of the way from Arcturus rather than Alkaid and what should I find but NGC5466, a loosely packed 9th magnitude globular.



  • PhilH likes this

#5 The Planetman

The Planetman

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 730
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Western KY

Posted 18 November 2017 - 08:58 AM

I remember finding "a comet" many years ago too!  I was so excited......until I looked at my charts and found out it was galaxy.  It was such a let down. 
I still laugh about that night and the discovering of my comet.  NGC 404 has been one of my favorites to take a peek at from time to time. 

  • PhilH likes this

#6 John O'Hara

John O'Hara

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 644
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Oil City, PA

Posted 18 November 2017 - 06:58 PM

My "comet" was in the mid to late 70's, found with my first scope, a 60 mm refractor with my then new "premium" eyepiece, a 0.965", 25 mm Edmund Kellner.  I was viewing Jupiter and the bright image created a ghost in this haunted eyepiece which looked just like a faint comet, including a tail.  I called an aunt who lived near Washington, DC (who shared my interest in astronomy).  She called the U.S. Naval observatory, and a kind astronomer there turned a scope toward Jupiter and found, well, Jupiter and it's moons, no comet.  Somehow through the exchange of information, I learned through him that Kellner eyepieces, were known as "haunted" oculars.  Whoever this astronomer was, he was very gracious to this then budding stargazer.


As for NGC 404, I've had some really cool views of this object in my mid-1980s pre ED glass 6" f/8 AP refractor.  I can't say it's bright, but it's really cool to see this ghostly fellow hiding out in the glare of Mirach.


John O.

  • PhilH and Augustus like this

#7 kb7wox


    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 135
  • Joined: 03 Mar 2017

Posted 23 November 2017 - 10:27 PM

True not shown on Becvar's atlas but is listed in Becvar's Catalogue on page 309.

#8 nicknacknock


    A man of many qualities, even if they are mostly bad ones

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 10304
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2012
  • Loc: Nicosia, Cyprus

Posted 24 November 2017 - 03:27 AM

Nice one Phil!


I was introduced to Mirach's ghost 3 years ago by a friend and it's one of those targets which always deserve a look :)

  • PhilH likes this

#9 Mr. Bill

Mr. Bill


  • *****
  • Posts: 9470
  • Joined: 09 Feb 2005
  • Loc: Northeastern Cal

Posted 27 November 2017 - 02:44 PM

I've "discovered" several comets in the past that turned out to be real after checking out the current visual comets list.


Always hoping to run into a real find but with the automated sky surveys today it is unlikely. 



Edited by Mr. Bill, 27 November 2017 - 02:47 PM.

  • PhilH likes this

#10 Redbetter


    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6517
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2016
  • Loc: Central Valley, CA

Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:54 AM

I came across Mirach's Ghost's "cousin" last week during a star hop with the 20"; I am calling it Tau 1 Eridani galaxy.  It is higher magnitude and smaller and therefore a target for large aperture, but similar in surface brightness to NGC 404.  I confirmed my sighting on Monday night despite the presence of the moon still above the horizon, so that gives an idea about the brightness.  Surprisingly I have not found it reported visually before. 


The galaxy is preceding Tau 1 Eridani by about 9 seconds and slightly to the south.  It is not shown in atlases or Stellarium, and is not searchable in Wikisky although it can be seen in the glare of the star in Wikisky.  The designation for the galaxy is LEDA 2816331. 


While it is listed as 15.79 B magnitude, it is at least a magnitude brighter than that in the visual.  I put it as no dimmer than 14.8 based on a likely color index correction, and visually it seems somewhere between 14.0 and 14.5.   From the Wikisky image I estimated the dimensions as 0.57' x 0.33'.  Visual impression is elliptical NW/SE orientation with a stellar core.


Searching the LEDA name in Stellarium with the deep star catalog shows an 11.85 magnitude star in the position with two 16 mag stars on the ends oriented the same as the galaxy's disk/major axis.  So this "star" is likely the galaxy core, but with a dubiously bright magnitude.  Stellarium sometimes double dips on color correction and the B-V is listed by Stellarium at 1.96...add back in 1.96 and you arrive at 13.8--close to my estimate.  However, it is possible that there is actually a star there interposed onto the galaxy.  The seeing has been too poor to discriminate.


Anyway, should be a good target for scopes 16" and above, and might be visible in a 12". 

  • PhilH likes this

#11 helicon64


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 9
  • Joined: 10 Dec 2016
  • Loc: Berkeley, CA USA

Posted 01 December 2017 - 02:50 PM

I've seen it in my Z10 many times. A wonderful sight. For me about as challenging as M109. I also have enjoyed the view in my new 18" scope. Makes it a bit brighter. 

  • PhilH likes this

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Recent Topics

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics