I think it was about this time last year that I came across a CN thread dealing with “Ring Galaxies”. There was a link in it to a PDF publication created by the ever-helpful Alvin Huey using a list drawn up by Jimi Lowrey. I enjoyed going through it and making a list of ones I would like to try for with my 10-inch SCT. In the ensuing months, I looked at several but probably enjoyed seeing Arp 148 the most.
One that I put on my list for this past autumn was the Cartwheel Galaxy. I had actually never thought about observing this one before…I guess I assumed it would be far too faint or something like that! But I did try to see it several months back and was successful at seeing something. But it was a confusing view and I had trouble knowing exactly what was I seeing. Well, back in early December I got to view it with a 36-inch Dob at 273x. Here is my report:
At 273x in 36”, compact PGC 2249 was the brightest galaxy visible in the field and much more distinct than the “core” of the Cartwheel. More diffuse PGC 2252 was fainter but annoyingly present NW of it when using averted vision to look at PGC 2249. The core of the Cartwheel (PGC 2248) was diffuse and faint enough that it was work to pin its location down using averted vision. A faint but noticeable star lies just a little west of the core. There seems to be a curving glow extending south of that star. Without concentrating, my eye keeps confusing that with the glow of the core. I am also able to catch glimpses of a soft glow just NW of the core. No spokes or broad glow is visible. Just an occasional patch. A very confusing view for my poor eye!
I will certainly be revisiting the Cartwheel again this year with my 10-inch to see if I can pin down more of what I was seeing. But I’m curious, has anyone else (northern or southern hemisphere) been able to see more detail than that? Was the complete ring visible?
By the way, recently I noticed on Dave Bishop's SN awesome supernova webpage that a few months ago a Type II supernova was discovered in the outer-ring of the Cartwheel. Too bad it didn't get very bright!!