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Observing the Cartwheel Galaxy

Dob Eyepieces Observing Report SCT Sketching
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#1 SNH


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Posted 14 January 2022 - 10:46 PM

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!!



Cartwheel All.jpg

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#2 J Lowrey

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Posted 15 January 2022 - 01:57 AM

In my scope the cartwheel ring is easy and at 375X appears quite large. I have viewed it lots of times over the years with all kind of telescopes. I remember one fall night a few years ago Steve Gottlieb and I had a outstanding view on a really good night. I can still see the image in my mind. I have never see the spokes in any telescope and have tried on many nights.  


Glad you like my ring list it took many years of research to find them and is a work in progress. 

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#3 Keith Rivich

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Posted 15 January 2022 - 12:04 PM

A few years ago Larry Mitchell and I took a look at the Cartwheel on a very good central Texas night. He with his 36" and me with my 25". My observation pretty much mirrors Jimi's. Pretty easy to see with mottling on the rings edge. No hint of the spokes. 

#4 uwe_glahn


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Posted 15 January 2022 - 12:26 PM

The visibility of the ring is depends extremely of the given transparency and the use of the right EP. I know of observation from the very dark Namibia, where experienced observers were not able to detect the object with a 20-inch, because of some smoke in the air.


With 24-inch and exceptional transparency the ring was easy to detect with some structure.


In the past we made a test with three observers to see the spokes. Without having any idea where the spokes were, we three made an independent sketch to win a chocolate bar, which was glued at a wall in our housing. Result was, that we failed to see any spokes. Even the sketches of the presumed spoke location doesn't fit, so the chocolate bar has to portioned.


sketch: 24", 300x, Seeing III, NELM 7m0+ (Namibia)



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#5 sgottlieb


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Posted 15 January 2022 - 02:33 PM

For fans of exotic galaxy, only 14' northwest of the Cartwheel is another unusual galaxy, Haro 11 (VV 784 = ESO 350-038), which was discovered in 1956 at the same redshift.  This is an extreme dwarf starburst galaxy with three bright knots of active star formation.  




I happened to notice a study using HST imaging posted recently on astro-ph, resolving the knots into dozens of young clusters:  "Haro 11 - Untying the knots of the nuclear starburst".  Haro 11 has a Wikipedia page, but there's no mention that it's nearly in the same field with the Cartwheel!

Edited by sgottlieb, 15 January 2022 - 08:34 PM.

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