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Observing Report from May 16th

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#1 Eddgie

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Posted 17 May 2020 - 09:12 AM

Covid 19 had taken a lot of cars off vehicle traffic off of the road and I have a theory that tailpipe emissions are a major factor in light pollution but also, headlights, taillights play a role as well, and while car tail lights don't seem that bright, car tail lights are red, and of course NV sees red with great efficiency.  Likely that many commercial buildings are dark as well.

 

Bottom line, from my location 4.5 miles from the center of the business district, last night I had SQM readings as low as 18.7, which is Bortle suburban sky and I think this is the darkest sky I have ever registered from my back yard!  I would say that if you live in the suburbs, NV has to be fantastic all the time because last night was one of my best.

 

I was out about 2 hours with the 12"  and 650nm filter but rather than focus on the Virgo area (which I have probably run through three times this season) I instead focused more on the north and north east... While I did do M51, I am going to spend time on galaxies that I have mostly never seen before with Night Vision, which is another way of saying that I have never seen at all!!!

 

First up, the spectacular NGC4111!  What a fantastic little galaxy!  Had I ever bothered to look for it before using NV I might have had a chance of seeing it, but with NV is was most excellent.  Sky Safari lists it as Mag 10.79 but it seemed very bright to me.  Again, an unusually dark sky and the subject was not that far form zenith, so very well positioned. The galaxy is listed as 1.8 x .6 arc minutes but it seemed larger than this to me, but maybe that was because it was so bright.  The core was a very elongated oval with the disk continuing out about the same distance as the dimension of the oval core on either side.   The disk was quite bright and easy to see.  While tiny, this was one of my best views of the night.  I have never seen it, and at Mag 10.79, I was not expecting it to be as bright and well defined as looked in the eyepiece. 

 

Now very interstingly, I was able to see the tiny NGC 4118 in the same field of view and I was totally not expecting this.  Sky Safari lists NGC 4118 as Mag 14.07, but it lists the size as similar to NGC 4111 but there is some discrepency.

 

On NGC  4111, Sky Safari shows the boundary line as being considerably smaller than the image that they provide for the galaxy and I would say that it was larger than this, but NGC 4118 is shown with a border larger than the galaxy and in this case the galaxy looked to be much smaller than the border and about the size of the picture in Sky Safari as compared to 4111, and I know I was only seeing the brighter core.  It was not quite averted vision bright, but I did first see it with averted vision though it was faintly visible with direct vision.  Now seeing Mag 14 galaxies is not so easy for me most nights, but last night was a good night and while this little galaxy was unimpressive, seeing it form my back yard was a treat.

 

NGC 4143 was a big disappointment. While listed as Mag 10.86, it was very diffuse with no structure at all. It is listed as a spiral but I saw not much more than a pale glow.

 

NGC 4244..  Sky Safari calls this the Silver Needle. Listed as 9.85, I was expecting more, but while very large, I could not say that it was particularly great.  I think what I saw was mostly a long, cigar shaped core and surrounding disk with the outer disk being quite a bit dimmer and kind of lackluster.  It was OK but not nearly as impactful as the Needle Galaxy, with its splendid dark dust lane.

 

NGC 4214.  This is a weird barred dwarf irregular galaxy and in the eyepiece, it did not look like any other galaxy I have ever seen. I say a kind of misshapen core somewhat similar to the image in Sky Safari and the description fits the observation with the observation showing it to be this little misshapen core with a very quicky fading diffuse glow around it.   The main interest here is that it is one of the most unusual galaxies I have ever seen, but I would say that the view was good.

 

NGC 4631 gave every indication that it would be amazing, but I found it less so.  Catalog shows it to be 14.4 x 2.2 and I don't know if it seemed quite that large to me. Once again, this is a case where Sky Safari shows a border that appears to be larger than the picture so maybe there was some psychological biasing going on, but it did not look as large as the pictures suggest.  Nor did it look as bright as catalog says.  Catalog says a whopping 8.89, but this must be just for some bright knotting in the core.  The picture shows some density to the north side of the core with a little bright knot to the east end of that and I could kind of see this.  The offset brightness was easy, but it looked almost rectangular to me.  There was some very faint mottling around this, and the extension was generous and maybe a tiny bit irregular, but it seemed very much dimmer than I would have expected from the listed brightness.  It is a whale in size though.   This is a big galaxy..  This one might actually be a good target for the 6" f/2.8. I think adding some brightness to it would indeed make it more of a showcase object, but in the slower 12", it was good, but just not as good as the figures suggested it would be.

 

On the other had, I could see the faint 12.4 companion, NGC 4627.   Not much to it so mostly I saw the core with a small amount of extension, but it made up a bit for the less than imposing presence of its big neigbor.

 

M94.  Ok, sure, seen this one before but this was one of the best nights I have ever had in my back yard so I decided to check it out.  While I did not see the super faint arcs in the flattened disk, the most remarkable thing about this galaxy is that it looked almost exactly like the picture in Sky Safari Pro in terms of the proportion of the core to the disk.  I was unable to see some of the subtle detail but the disk was so bright that it may have washed out the detail. I mean this thing is tremendously bright.   Not a lot of structure, but a huge amount of presence. Is there a brighter galaxy than this one?

 

With averted vision, I was able to just barely see some spiral in M101, but this was threshold, so no big thrill other than being able to just barely see that there was some structure there.

 

Last, M106.  My best view of this ever from my yard. The core was elongated, and the two large looping arms were visible as higher density swirls in faint disk though the disk and the arms were faint, but at the eyepiece, the arms showed a smooth widening cone shaped flare at the base of each arm. The arms did not at all jump out, but it did not take a lot of imagination to see them as they were either.  The position angle matched the picture so there was no mental filling in the blanks here.  Not as impressive as a picture and not starkly defined as in pictures, but hey, this is a 0 second exposure time, 0 staked view 4.5 miles from the center of the 11th largest city in the United States.  There is nothing bad here.  If I want to see that detail in a picture, I can go on line.  If I want to see it in real time, I accept that it will not show the detail possible with even a $400 EAA camera. 

 

I must have seen 40 galaxies in two hours, but these were note worthy for me because they were off my beaten path and first views for some. 

 

Have a most excellent day. Stay safe and enjoy the night!


Edited by Eddgie, 17 May 2020 - 09:44 AM.

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#2 eyeoftexas

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Posted 17 May 2020 - 09:53 AM

Thanks for the report.  Sounds like a fun night.



#3 Mazerski

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Posted 17 May 2020 - 11:03 AM

Great to hear of others success.

Sorry to say that in my area of Maryland, the sky is as bright as ever. 



#4 Dale Eason

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Posted 17 May 2020 - 12:54 PM

Did you happen to also see those small galaxies near Mel111?  There is a nice group of them I discovered I could a few nights ago.  I think NGC 4314 is the brightest one in that group.  But I saw at least 6 in my 10 F3 with 685 nm long pass and Mod3c.



#5 Eddgie

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Posted 17 May 2020 - 03:12 PM

Did you happen to also see those small galaxies near Mel111?  There is a nice group of them I discovered I could a few nights ago.  I think NGC 4314 is the brightest one in that group.  But I saw at least 6 in my 10 F3 with 685 nm long pass and Mod3c.

I did not see it but I think I looked for it and was surprised not to be able to see it because it seemed like it should have been possible to see.



#6 DavidWasch

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Posted 18 May 2020 - 05:08 AM

Thanks Eddgie,

 

Being new to NV, I'm fairly new to observing galaxies, so I enjoy the context in which you put them. My first night with NV and the dob was mostly, "Wow! There it is. And another one!" etc. Sure, there were differences in the forms, but just perceiving them at all overwhelmed my attention to detail. As in all things astronomy, observation evolves, and that is what brings continued joy from a bunch of faint fuzzies.

 

I particularly like that you don't shy away from indifference, or even disappointment with some targets. Too much adoration spoils observations with too little contrast. :-)

 

Cheers.



#7 Eddgie

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Posted 18 May 2020 - 06:48 AM

Thanks Eddgie,

 

Being new to NV, I'm fairly new to observing galaxies, so I enjoy the context in which you put them. My first night with NV and the dob was mostly, "Wow! There it is. And another one!" etc. Sure, there were differences in the forms, but just perceiving them at all overwhelmed my attention to detail. As in all things astronomy, observation evolves, and that is what brings continued joy from a bunch of faint fuzzies.

 

I particularly like that you don't shy away from indifference, or even disappointment with some targets. Too much adoration spoils observations with too little contrast. :-)

 

Cheers.

My pleasure.

Yeah, as is often reported, face on spirals can be hit or miss.  Whirlpool is quite excellent, but M101 I think would take darker skies to be really good, or perhaps there is not a lot of H-a meaning that the filter may be doing some damage here.  M101 is not the sole example though.

 

Galaxies are not as interesting to me as nebula or dark nebula because these are far more varied in the level of detail and each is so unique, but in past decades, this time of the year I used to do mostly double star observing or planets because that was mostly what I could see, and now that I an see galaxies, I have doing way more of them. 

 

Limiting Magnitude in charts though is not a very good indicator on how bright a galaxy will appear in NV (and in fact, I don't think was when using glass eyepieces.) 

 

 If it is as dark as I have seen it in my back yard, I am curious to know if my closest surburban location, Mansfield Dam, is much darker than it normally is..   Typically it is Bortle 5/6 trending more to 6, and I wonder what it is now?  Since it is surburban though and not many business lights it my not have benefited as much from the lower traffic.   Just a lot of burbs though and I doubt people are turning off their porch lights because of Covid 19 and my guess is the little strip malls which all seem to be anchored by grocery stores are still lit up like daytime.   I may try to get out there with the 6" this week.



#8 DavidWasch

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Posted 18 May 2020 - 07:59 AM

Agreed on the limiting magnitude

 

I live in a suburb of Hartford. It's been hard to notice any gains in darkness due to a lot of high clouds lightening things up. Weds and Thurs are supposed to be pretty clear here. I'll measure my sky. On a very good night, it measures 19.5 sqm-- similar to yours.

 

Next week I head out to Cherry Springs, a very dark site in Pennsylvania. I'll be curious how different NV is there--- and if it's even more dark than usual!


Edited by DavidWasch, 18 May 2020 - 08:37 AM.


#9 a__l

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 06:09 AM

Despite quarantining, I made the first light with my NV in prime focus using 18 f/4+Paracorr-1.
4631 (whale) I liked the bright companion, which directly caught my eye.
M104 - A distinct dark band
M51 - was gorgeous with a lot of twists
M61 - looked a supernova, comet, ~40  NGC galaxies etc.
Dot green stars in globular clusters looked good. The picture globular clusters roughly corresponds to ethos13+paracorr-2 (of course with a smaller field). Curiously, using the Baader 685 nm filter, I did not see any advantages (it was a dark site).

It makes sense to think about whether I need filters 610 and 650.


Edited by a__l, 19 May 2020 - 06:34 AM.


#10 Eddgie

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 06:54 AM

Despite quarantining, I made the first light with my NV in prime focus using 18 f/4+Paracorr-1.
4631 (whale) I liked the bright companion, which directly caught my eye.
M104 - A distinct dark band
M51 - was gorgeous with a lot of twists
M61 - looked a supernova, comet, ~40  NGC galaxies etc.
Dot green stars in globular clusters looked good. The picture globular clusters roughly corresponds to ethos13+paracorr-2 (of course with a smaller field). Curiously, using the Baader 685 nm filter, I did not see any advantages (it was a dark site).

It makes sense to think about whether I need filters 610 and 650.

Thanks for posting your report.   Sounds like a nice session.

 

Unless you are using an achromat, the 695 offers no benefit at all if the skies are dark. As soon as skies get much darker.    than Bortle 5, I take off the long pass filters but my scopes are either reflectors or Apos.  I use a 650nm from my home location which is semi-urban.    Also, I think that as scopes get slower, just like with regular eyepieces, the sky will appear a bit darker anyway.  If you observer from brighter skies though, a long pass filter will typically be beneficial.




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