Well, I was already totally sold on NV for real-time H-a observing. But what about Galaxies from my red zone 18.9 SQM-L backyard? I’ve heard NV ‘somewhat helps” for galaxies, but how would that play out for me? Sunday night was clear but still subfreezing, with less breeze than the prior two nights.
All observations, unless otherwise noted, with 12 inch f4.9 dob (tracking, but not go-to), TV 55mm Plossel, OMNI VII tube NV, unfiltered. All magnitudes quoted from SkySafari (not known for magnitude accuracy but it is what I work from at the scope).
As usual, start off with bright targets – M82/M81. M81 was bright nucleus with large extended haze. Gain control really varies the visible extent of the galaxy’s size, up to about 75% max gain, above which only added more LP. Inside the galaxy a few additional bright points were observed. I assume these were dim foreground stars, but I need to consult some better charts. M82 was the expected slender shape, with the central “gap” of active star formation bisecting the galaxy. At only 27x, there wasn’t much additional detail to be seen in M82, but at almost 2 deg FoV, a third galaxy shared the view – NGC 3077, a mag 9.9 spiral galaxy the other side of M81 from M82. While only the non-stellar bright core was visible, the “three-in-the-view” reminded me of the Leo Triplet. Further away from these 3, I tried for the mag 10.4 IC 2574. Supposedly larger then M81, but I couldn’t see it (some chance I star-hoped incorrectly). But from M81, I was able to hop up to the smaller NGC 2976, mag 10.2, with the core clearly visible.
Down to M51/NGC5195. Both easily visible, with M51 brighter on the side opposite its companion, including several brighter points noted along the outer edge – these I believe hold some promise of star forming regions, vs. mere foreground stars. Very faint spiral structure was visible periodically with averted vision. Never saw that before!
What about M101? I never was able to see this galaxy from my previous SQM-L 19.5 backyard. With NV, it was clearly visible, but little more than the core, with some faint haze and scattered brighter points around a large diameter. But the cores of two much smaller nearby galaxies were there for the taking – mag 11.5 NGC 5473, and mag 11.4 NGC 5485.
Over to CV and Cocoon, NGC 4490, and also mag 11.9 NGC 4485, together know as Arp 269. I had just observed these 2 under darker (~ SQM 20.2) skies, and was eager to see how NGC 4490’s distorted shape would look like with NV. The good news was that the fainter NGC4485 was visible. The bad news was the I really couldn’t see as much detail on 4490. At 27x, the image scale was rather small so in addition to the 55mm, I tried both a TV 35 Pan and a TV 17 Nagler, both of which provided less detail, not more. The effective f ratios are about f/2.4, f/3.8, and f/6. I’ve heard that NV likes best to run fast, so I determined to stick with the 55mm for the rest of the night. I also observed the pair visually in each eyepiece, without NV. As expected, the 17mm provided the best view, with NGC 4485 visible direct, but faint. But the 55mm + NV was at least as good, if smaller.
Swinging down towards M94, and another large galaxy pops into the NV field – mag 10.8 NGC 4618, along with the close by core of the smaller NGC 4625, mag 12.4. About this time I began to feel like NV was going to definitely allow me to observe a whole lot of galaxies in spite of my frustrating grey skies!
West to the Leo Triplet. Three in the view, just as they should be, M65, M66, and the edge-on mag 9.5 NGC 3628. I forgot at the time, but I must go back and see if the dust lane in 3628 is visible. And about a field further west, mag 10.9 NGC 3593 (at least the core).
On the charts, I noticed a group of smaller galaxies further north in Leo. NGC 3608 mag 10.8, NGC 3607 mag 9.9, and NGC 3632 mag 11.0, all visible as fuzzy cores and little else. And tiny NGC 3605, mag 12.3, also checked in faintly, but non-stellar, just off of 3607, making it easy to find.
It was getting late on a work night, so I thought a quick trip to the Markarian chain would be a nice finish. The transparency wasn’t as good anymore, and so the 9x50 finder was essentially useless. And sweeping with the NV at the 55mm eyepiece was equally challenging as galaxies just popped up everywhere – multiples in many FoVs. But I finally stumbled into the M-chain – with 5 obvious galaxies in the same field! M84 and M86 shown as they always do, with very large cores, like two big eyes. Edge-on NGC 4388 was clearly extended horizontally as the mouth. And smaller mag 12.1 NGC 4387 was obvious, right in the middle as the nose. I don’t recall the right eyebrow, NGC 4402 and the overlapping dimmer PGCs, but I’ll have to go back and check again. But southeast of the mouth, mag 11.9 NGC 4413 was there to be found (core only).
Overall, another incredible night for me, entirely enabled with NV. There are now years of observing I can do from the convenience of my backyard in spite of significant LP To all you astro-NV pioneers, Thank You!!!