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NGC 253 and NGC 55, Galaxies in Sculptor

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#1 Nightowl99

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Posted 17 March 2024 - 08:50 PM

Sculptor is very low in the sky for me and observing there can be a bit tricky at my summer and fall observing site with trees blocking the southern horizon. Regardless, Sculptor’s famous showpiece galaxy NGC 253 is one of the biggest and brightest in the sky, a beautifully mottled starburst spiral 12 million light years away in the Sculptor group. At 27 x 4.6 arcminutes and 7th magnitude it fills the eyepiece, bright enough to take some magnification and reveal impressive detail.

NGC 55 is another big and impressive galaxy in Sculptor with some details to reveal. This nearly edge on barred spiral is only 6.5 million light years away, likely sitting between the Local group and the Sculptor group. NGC 55 is 30 x 3 arc minutes and 7.8 magnitude, so it is similar in size and brightness to NGC 253. The edge to this galaxy appears sharply cut on the top and bottom, and is significantly brighter on the eastern half (left in the sketch). There are three brighter patches visible that each look less like mottling or star clouds and more like three distinct cores, although none are in the center. Quite interesting and unusual.

These galaxies are very similar in size and brightness, and yet one is far more well known. NGC 253 culminates at 31 degrees for me, and spends about an hour and a half above 30 degrees which I usually consider the boundary line for decent observing. NGC 55 on the other hand culminates at 18 degrees and never even comes close to the 30 degree boundary. I guess that’s why NGC 253 get’s all the press. I can increase the magnification on NGC 253 until it fills the field of view, whereas NGC 55 is dimmer and in the soup of atmospheric seeing, so I have to keep the magnification low. I can only imagine what NGC 55 would look like from Southern skies, riding high!

Here are my sketches of these two galaxies done at the eyepiece on black paper with white Conte pencil for stars and white pastel applied by brush for the galaxy. Stars are highlighted and some additional stars added afterwards with white gel pen.

Thanks for looking!

NGC 253
150x magnification
14” Dobstuff ETT coma corrected to f/5.5
APM XWA 13 mm
9/16/23, Mt Pinos, CA

NGC 253 '23 new sm.jpg



NGC 55
100x magnification
14” Dobstuff ETT coma corrected to f/5.5
Stellarvue Optimus 20mm
11/10/23, Amboy Crater, CA

NGC 55 sm.jpg

Edited by Nightowl99, 18 March 2024 - 12:36 AM.

  • Sol Robbins, Ptarmigan, frank5817 and 17 others like this

#2 frank5817

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Posted 17 March 2024 - 10:20 PM

Andrew,

 

Very fine sketching of both galaxies.

Impressive work on both.

 

Frank :)



#3 Herodotus

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Posted 21 March 2024 - 11:08 AM

Great sketches.

#4 UnityLover

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Posted 22 March 2024 - 09:49 AM

Sculptor is very low in the sky for me and observing there can be a bit tricky at my summer and fall observing site with trees blocking the southern horizon. Regardless, Sculptor’s famous showpiece galaxy NGC 253 is one of the biggest and brightest in the sky, a beautifully mottled starburst spiral 12 million light years away in the Sculptor group. At 27 x 4.6 arcminutes and 7th magnitude it fills the eyepiece, bright enough to take some magnification and reveal impressive detail.

NGC 55 is another big and impressive galaxy in Sculptor with some details to reveal. This nearly edge on barred spiral is only 6.5 million light years away, likely sitting between the Local group and the Sculptor group. NGC 55 is 30 x 3 arc minutes and 7.8 magnitude, so it is similar in size and brightness to NGC 253. The edge to this galaxy appears sharply cut on the top and bottom, and is significantly brighter on the eastern half (left in the sketch). There are three brighter patches visible that each look less like mottling or star clouds and more like three distinct cores, although none are in the center. Quite interesting and unusual.

These galaxies are very similar in size and brightness, and yet one is far more well known. NGC 253 culminates at 31 degrees for me, and spends about an hour and a half above 30 degrees which I usually consider the boundary line for decent observing. NGC 55 on the other hand culminates at 18 degrees and never even comes close to the 30 degree boundary. I guess that’s why NGC 253 get’s all the press. I can increase the magnification on NGC 253 until it fills the field of view, whereas NGC 55 is dimmer and in the soup of atmospheric seeing, so I have to keep the magnification low. I can only imagine what NGC 55 would look like from Southern skies, riding high!

Here are my sketches of these two galaxies done at the eyepiece on black paper with white Conte pencil for stars and white pastel applied by brush for the galaxy. Stars are highlighted and some additional stars added afterwards with white gel pen.

Thanks for looking!

NGC 253
150x magnification
14” Dobstuff ETT coma corrected to f/5.5
APM XWA 13 mm
9/16/23, Mt Pinos, CA

attachicon.gif NGC 253 '23 new sm.jpg



NGC 55
100x magnification
14” Dobstuff ETT coma corrected to f/5.5
Stellarvue Optimus 20mm
11/10/23, Amboy Crater, CA

attachicon.gif NGC 55 sm.jpg

Got the details well!



#5 niteskystargazer

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Posted 22 March 2024 - 09:58 AM

Andrew,

 

Nice sketches of NGC 253 and NGC 55, (Galaxies in Sculptor) smile.gif .

 

CDS,KLU,

 

thanx.gif ,

 

Tom



#6 Randolph Jay

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Posted 03 April 2024 - 05:27 PM

Brilliant sketches! Thank you for posting!
Randolph

#7 Vedran

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Posted 04 April 2024 - 09:18 AM

Great sketches. NGC 253 is such spectacular object but also frustringly low for us northerners.
  • bphaneuf likes this

#8 JMSchwartz

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 10:27 PM

Andrew wow I don't know how I missed these beautiful edge on galaxy sketches in sculpter that you did but they are absolutely gorgeous amazing work you really teased out the details in the fainter 55.

Cheers Jon 




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