The astronomy-hostile winter of 2018/2019 offered me another observing opportunity on Friday March 8th. It looked like a great opportunity to do a “sprint mode” session down my Puppis observing list to earmark the best DSO’s for later (and lengthier) study. Also, there was one open cluster left to finish my Vela list that would be skirting the southern horizon limit.
I find Puppis to be a difficult constellation because of southern declination combined with weather. It is only near the meridian for a short time and requires an early AM session in the late fall where cold is an issue, or an early PM start in late winter. The temperatures are more favorable in late winter, but cloud conditions are are generally worse. So I was quite happy to have this opportunity!
Conditions: 1.8 arc second seeing, 10% cloud coverage in the form of high cirrus. Temperatures around 25 degrees, calm winds.
Site: My backyard 6 miles north of Prescott, AZ. A Bortle 6 sky. Viewing south gives me the combined light dome of Prescott and Phoenix 110 miles beyond.
Equipment: 16” f/7 Zambuto-powered Newtonian, Mod 3C Night Vision eyepiece. Used with a Tele Vue 55mm Plossl (51x @ f/3.5), 0.7x focal reducer (73x @ f/4.9) and prime focus (103x @ f/7).
The Stand-Outs (Scores of 4 or 5)
M 93, Open Cluster. Score 4. Very bright with a good range of brightness. Two bright stars appear to me as foreground objects.
NGC 2477, Open Cluster. Score 5! Beautiful cluster reminds me somewhat of Caroline’s Rose. Good range of brightness, hundreds of stars, dense.
Sh 2-306, Bright Nebula. Score 4 (provisional). Very large spills out of a 3/4 degree field (my largest with that scope). Brightest section elongated north-south direction, need to come back with the Takahashi Epsilon, capable of a 2.2 degree field. That provisional score will probably hold up, this is a bright and easy-to-see nebula.
Sh 2-302, Bright Nebula. Score 4. Not so much for the nebula, but for the area. The nebula itself is a round patch perhaps have a degree across, easy to see, rich star background even with the hydrogen alpha filter. Taking out the hydrogen alpha filter reveals clusters in the area hard to tell one from the other. SkySafari places three in that area. Very rich, more to detail than tonights “sprint mode” session allows. Return for in-depth study.
NGC 2467, Open Cluster. Score 5. It is a very rich area of the sky in the cluster does not stand out per se (not well detached) but the richness makes it an awesome field.
Sh 2-311, Bright Nebula. Score 5! The brightest portion of this nebula is obvious and easy even without a filter. I suspect it would be within the range of a conventional eyepieces using UHC filters. The brightest condensation is towards the western edge with extensive fainter nebulosity spilling eastward perhaps a degree or more. Incredible view. Near the center there is a bright line of stars and several dark lanes. Lots of detail. An exciting catch.
NGC 2567, Open Cluster. Score 4. A neat little cluster somewhat rich, a line of six bright stars across the front and inverted number 2 beneath it.
The Average Joes (Scores of 3)
NGC 2310, Spiral Galaxy. A high aspect ratio spiral galaxy, easily visible.
NGC 2451, Open Cluster. Bright members, loose, sparse. Very bright star in center of cluster.
NGC 2439, Open Cluster. Two very bright stars at the top and a chain of 6 to 8 prominent ones right down the middle make the brain attempt to create some type of figure here. It is an interesting small cluster perhaps 2 dozen stars total.
Sh 2-309, Bright Nebula. Fairly easy to see perhaps 3/4 of a degree across maybe a little bit less seems to be sharply defined on one side, fan shaped. Opposite side is somewhat diffuse. SkySafari shows faint open cluster in the background (Bochum 6). I did see a small grouping of perhaps 20 stars although it’s only slightly more concentrated than the background. Without the chart indication of a cluster, I would not have recognized it.
Sh 2-305, Bright Nebula. Small and roundish isolated patch. Bright and easy to see.
NGC 2546, Open Cluster. Score three. Large loose and bright.
NGC 2489, Open Cluster. Smaller, fairly rich, good range of brightness. Worth a look.
NGC 2452, Planetary Nebula. Small, round, and bright. Picked it up without a filter. Responds well to H-alpha filter.
NGC 2482, Open Cluster. Large bright and loose grouping of stars.
NGC 2659, Open Cluster (Vela). Even at only 10° above the horizon this one showed a lot of promise. Seems rich somewhat loose but hard to tell looking through that much atmosphere and light pollution.
NGC 2579, Open Cluster. Appears to be a combo object open cluster + nebula. Score 2 for the open cluster. It is loose sparse members reasonably bright. Nebula is a small patch, score 3. Easy to see but small.
NGC 2483, Open Cluster. Small and not well detached from a rich background.
NGC 2520, Open Cluster. A small loose group of uniform brightness on a very rich background.
NGC 2587, Open Cluster. Smaller cluster, 15 maybe 20 stars.
NGC 2571, Open Cluster.
NGC 2580, Open Cluster. Small loose spray on a rich background.
NGC 2588, Open Cluster. Very small and faint. Perhaps a dozen stars.
The Also-Rans (Scores of 1 or 2)
Collinder 135, Open Cluster. Score 2. Just a handful of stars. I am sure they are gravitationally bound is a cluster but it looks like an asterism to me.
Sh 2-307, Bright Nebula. Score 1. A difficult catch. Went straight to the 55 Plossl afocal and 12nm filter. It hinted at something. The 7nm filter revealed it as a small roundish patch, dark lanes, possibly a trefoil pattern.
NGC 2409, Open Cluster. Score 2. Six bright star is more like an asterism.
NGC 2533, Open Cluster. Score 2. Small, sparse.
NGC 2453, Open Cluster. Score 2. A small splash of paint stars with three bright stars in the foreground in a straight line.
Ruprecht 34, Open Cluster. Score 2. Small triangular wedge of stars. Ruprecht is one of the lesser-known catalogs I omitted when put together my Magnitude 12 Observing lists. Seeing Ru 34 on my SkySafari screen, I went for it on a lark since the NV eyepiece extends my reach at least 2 magnitudes deeper. After further thought, my strategy of identifying the Eye Candy is best served (on a probability basis) by sticking with the larger NGC and Messier catalogs. When I built my lists Collinder and Trumpler catalogs got grandfathered in, which in hindsight was a mistake. Plenty of time to circle back to the more obscure catalogs like Ruprecht, Haffner, Berkeley, King, Melotte, Terzan,
Edited by Jeff Morgan, 19 March 2019 - 11:31 PM.