Observing 27./28.1.2017 in Stormälö

Date: 27./28.1.2017
Time: 20:30-22:30
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: N250/1200 mm (10” Newton)

NELM: 6.6
SQM: 21.03 – 21.00
Darkness of the background sky: from 2  (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Seeing: 2 (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, calm, light breeze, only very thin layer of snow on the ground, no Moon, +2C – -3C, some mist rising from the sea at the end of the session

Objects observed: NGC 1980, 2215

This was my last observing session in January 2017. This time I was able to do some observing in my Stormälö observing site in Parainen. During the night conditions were relatively good, but dew and frost were causing problems in the later part of the session. During this session I observed two objects listed in Herschel 400 list: NGC 1980 and 2215.

NGC 1980

This object is a small bright nebula immediately to south from famous Orion Nebula Messier 42. The cluster is also known as Collinder 72. NGC 1980 refers to the nebula. I tried to observe the nebula, and I was quite convinced that I was able to see it. Of my observation, I wrote following notes:

@50x: a small, poor cluster, that is located immediately south of M42, the cluster is relatively well detached. Not very well concentrated. Some weak nebulosity is visible around the brightest star of the cluster (iota Ori) and slightly SW from that star. The outer edges of M42 are extending all the way to iota Ori. The nebulas were visible without filter, UHC filter enhanced the view only slightly. No moisture observable on optical surfaces, good conditions.

170127-28_NGC 1980
NGC 1980 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 2215

My second and last object for this session was NGC 2215, an open cluster in Monoceros. This object is located 2 degrees WSW from beta Mon. About this object I wrote as follows:

@71x: an obvious open cluster, pretty well concentrated, well detached, relatively faint-starred.

170127-28_NGC 2215
NGC 2215 observed with 10” Newton

So, that was my last observing session in January 2017. Next time I was making observations in February, I’ll post something about the February observing sessions later.

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Observing 19./20.1.2017 in Ulvila Observatory

Date: 19./20.1.2017
Time: 20:15-00:00
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 5.7
SQM: 19.85-20.05
Darkness of the background sky: 3-4
Seeing: 2
Transparency: –
Weather: Some high clouds in the beginning of the session, later the sky cleared up, fresh breeze, surprisingly warm and dry air, only thin layer of snow on the ground, no Moon, surprisingly good conditions considering the time of year

Objects observed: NGC 2194, 2261, 2024, 2175

This was my first observing session in year 2017. During this session, I made four observations, all observed objects were listed in Herschel 400 list. Conditions were relatively good considering the season.

NGC 2194

My first object of this session was NGC 2194, an open cluster located in northern part of Orion, near Gemini border. The cluster can be located 1,5 degrees SE from xi Ori. Of this object, I wrote following notes:

@117x: faint-starred open cluster, which is moderately detached, the cluster is mostly visible as a starglow, some individual stars were visible.

170119-20_NGC 2194
NGC 2194 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 2261

My second object of this night was NGC 2261, the famous reflecting nebula known as Hubble’s variable nebula. Of course the nebula itself is not variable, but the star illuminating it is. The illuminating star is R Mon, a variable star of type T Tauri, varying from 10 to 12 magnitudes. This nebula is located in Monoceros, very close to famous Cone nebula, and it can be located ~1 degree SW from the nebula. Of this fascinating object I wrote following notes:

@165x: this famous nebula is known as Hubble’s variable nebula, it appeared surprisingly large and bright, the shape is clearly wedge-like or comet-like, the nebula extends northwards from star R Mon. The star R Mon is like the nucleus of the comet, and the nebula is like the tail of the comet. The nebula was easily visible without filters. Nice object!

170119-20_NGC 2261
NGC 2261 observed with 11”Catadioptric

NGC 2024

My third object of this session was very challenging in thse observing conditions, but nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. This object was NGC 2024, also known as Tank Track Nebula, a famous bright nebula in Orion. This nebula is located very close to Alnitak, zeta Ori. About this challenging object I wrote following lines:

@117x: This nebula was poorly visible in these conditions. The nebula appeared as a very faint, diffuse glow of light slightly east from Mintaka. The nebula was weakly visible without filter, UHC filter enhanced the view slightly. The nebula was visible all the time only with averted vision and sweeping.

170119-20_NGC 2024
NGC 2024 observed with 11” Catadioptric

This observation left me hungry for more, and I need to observe this one again in better conditions!

NGC 2174/2175

My fourth and last object for this session was NGC 2174/2175, an open cluster/nebula in northernmost part of Orion, near Gemini border. This cluster can be located ~1,5 degrees ENE from Chi2 Ori. The name of this object is quite ambiguous, and it is not very clear, which designation is for the nebula and which one is for the cluster. The nebula is also widely known as Monkey Head nebula. Of this object, I wrote following notes:

@117x: a rather scattered, poorly concentrated, poor open cluster. The cluster is weakly detached, with OIII filter I suspected very faint nebulosity around the brightest star of the field.

170119-20_NGC 2175
NGC 2175/2174 observed with 11” Catadioptric

So know I had finished this observing session. There were two objects, that left me a little bit unsatisfied because of poor observing conditions. These objects were NGC 2024 and NGC 2174/2175. I need to re-observe these objects during next season!

After this, there was one more observing session in January 2017. More about that later!

 

Observing 28./29.12.2016 in Ulvila Observatory

Date: 28./29.12.2016
Time: 17:30-18:30
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 6.2
SQM: 20.39
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 3
Transparency: –
Weather: In the beginning of my session clear sky, after an hour getting cloudy, calm, no Moon, no snow, +1C – 0C

Objects observed: NGC 157, 6217

This observing session was my third and last in December 2016, and it was also my last session during year 2016. This session was interrupted prematurely by clouds, and I was able to observe only to objects. These objects were galaxies listed in Herschel 400 -observing list, one of them in Cetus and another in Ursa minor.

NGC 157

My first object of this session was NGC 157, an SBbc spiral galaxy located in Cetus. This galaxy can be found when moving ~4 degrees east from iota Cet. Of this object, I wrote following notes:

@165x: this galaxy appeared as a faint, oval-shaped glow with uniform brightness distribution. Long axis appears to be in W-E orientation. No core visible.

161228-29_NGC 157
NGC157 observed with 11”Catadioptric

After having observed this galaxy, I had observed all Herschel 400 objects in Cetus, and I could finally check that constellation finished on my observing list!

NGC 6217

My second and last object for this session was NGC 6217, a galaxy located in totally different area of sky, Ursa minor. This northern galaxy is of type SBbc R, which means that it is a barred-spiral galaxy with some kind of ring structure. The galaxy is located 2,5 degrees NE from zeta Umi or 2,5 degrees N from eta Umi. Of this galaxy, I wrote following lines:

@165x: this galaxy appeared as a relatively faint glow with uniform brightness distribution. In the center, there is a relatively bright, stellar core. The galaxy is elongated, long axis appears to be in N-S orientation.

161228-29_NGC 6217
NGC 6217 observed with 11”Catadioptric

So, now I had been able to observe two objects during this session, but then clouds were coming an I was forced to stop observing. Next observing sessions happened January 2017, I’ll be writing about them later!

Observing 23./24.12.2016 in Ulvila Observatory – Darth Wader battleship in the sky?

Date: 23./24.12.2016
Time: 18:45-21:30
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 6.2
SQM: 20.35-20.4
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 4 – 2
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no snow, +3C – 0C

Objects observed: NGC 584, 596, 615, 720, 779, 936, 1022,1052

During the evening before Christmas eve 2016, I was having a long and productive observing session at Ulvila observatory. Sky was clear, and there was no snow on the ground. Moon was also absent which is just a good thing for deep sky observer. Air was surprisingly war considering the time of my observing session. During the night, I observed 8 objects in total. All of them were galaxies in the constellation of Cetus.

NGC 584

My first object of this session NGC 584, an elliptical galaxy in Cetus, just 2 degrees NE from theta Cet. Of this object, I wrote following lines:

@165x: relatively bright galaxy, gets brighter towards center, in the center the core is visible as an obvious brightening, oval-shaped, long axis in SW-NE orientation, easy one!

161223-24_NGC 584
NGC 584 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 596

My next object on my observing list for tonight was NGC 596. This is another elliptical galaxy located just 25′ ESE from NGC 584. Of this galaxy I wrote as follows:

@165x: a small, diffuse, roundish and faint galaxy, the galaxy has almost stellar core.

161223-24_NGC 596
NGC 596 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 615

Next object on my list was NGC 615, an Sb -type spiral galaxy, which is seen nearly edge on -position. This galaxy is located very close to NGC 584 and 596, it can be located about 35′ SE from NGC 596. Of this galaxy, I wrote following notes:

@165x: relatively faint, small galaxy, the core is slightly brighter, the galaxy is thin and elongated, long axis in N-S direction.

161223-24_NGC 615
NGC 615 observed with 11” catadioptric

NGC 720

My fourth object for tonight was NGC 720, an elliptical galaxy in Cetus. This galaxy can be located from example by moving 3,5 degrees SSE from zeta Cet. Of this object, I wrote as follows:

@165x: pretty bright galaxy, the core is bright and non-stellar, the galaxy appears to be elongated, long axis in NW-SE orientation.

161223-24_NGC 720
NGC 720 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 779

The fifth object of this session was NGC 779, an SBb type spiral galaxy in Cetus, located almost 5 degrees NNE from zeta Cet. Of this object, I jotted down following impressions:

@165x: pretty bright galaxy, the core area is slightly brighter than rest of the galaxy, thin and elongated, long axis in N-S direction, easy one!

161223-24_NGC 779
NGC 779 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 936

My sixth object of this observing session was NGC 936, a barred-lenticular galaxy in Cetus. This galaxy resides close to famous variable star Mira, just ~3 degrees NE from the variable. This galaxy has also earned a nickname “Darth Wader’s galaxy”, perhaps because of it’s resemblance to Twin Ion Engine fighter-starships on the movie saga Star wars. There is an ESO photo of the galaxy below, here is a link to a picture of Twin Ion Engine -fighter for reference. See for yourself!

Darth Vader’s galaxy, NGC 936
NGC 936 in Cetus. Image credit: ESO.

Of this galaxy, I wrote following notes:

@165x: pretty bright galaxy, oval-shaped, long axis in W-E direction. The galaxy has a bright core, which stands out clearly. The galaxy gets fainter towards the edges.

Because I was using a relatively small instrument, I was not able to see the resemblance of this galaxy to Twin Ion Engine -fighter! 😀

161223-24_NGC 936
NGC 936 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 1022

My second last object for this session was NGC 1022, an SBa spiral galaxy located at the eastern edge of Cetus, near Eridanus border. The galaxy can be located almost at halfway from Mira to eta Eri. This galaxy is a barred-spiral galaxy, that is seen in face on -position. Of this object I wrote as follows:

@165x: faint, roundish galaxy with almost uniform brightness distribution. Very weak brightening in the center?

161223-24_NGC 1022
NGC 1022 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 1052

My eighth and last object of this observing session was NGC 1052, an elliptical galaxy in the easternmost part of Cetus at Eridanus border. It can be located ~4 degrees WNW from eta Eri. Of this object, I wrote following notes:

@165x: relatively bright, small and compact galaxy, bright, almost stellar core, the galaxy is slightly elongated in W-E direction.

161223-24_NGC 1052
NGC 1052 observed with 11” Catadioptric

So this was my second observing session in December 2016. This was a good and productive session! After having observed eight new objects, I was very satisfied and it was easy for me to go to home and get some sleep!

Observing 6./7.12.2016 in Ulvila Observatory

Date: 6./7.12.2016
Time: 17:00-21:00
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 5.6
SQM: 19.7
Darkness of the background sky: 4
Seeing: –
Transparency: –
Weather: Mostly clear sky, some high clouds approaching from the west, 1/4 Moon in the sky, -7C

Objects observed: CTA 102

During the evening of Finnish independence day, the sky was clear, and I had read about very distant blazar that had been getting brighter during recent days. I decided, that I want to try to observe it by myself also! I drove to the Ulvila observatory. 1/4 Moon was shining in the sky, and there was already some high clouds in the western sky.

Nevertheless, I decided to give this fascinating object a try! And I’m glad I did, because even though the conditions were not very favorable, I was still able to clearly observe this extremely distant object with my own eyes in the ocular! It was stellar in appearance, as you might guess, but still it was a captivating sight! Just imagining the vast distant of the object, and the fact, that my eyes were recepting photons, that were billions of years old!

CTA 102

I wrote following notes of this observation:

This quasar (or blazar) that was in exceptionally bright outburst while I was making the observation, appeare (of course) stellar at all powers. Interesting fact about this object is, that the light from the object is 8 billion years old (red shift 1.037), but the distance of the object now is ~11 billion light years! Amazing! This most easily be the most distant object that is easily visible with amateur equipment. I didn’t make a brightness estimation because of poor conditions, but according to other observers, the brightness of the object was about 12,9 magnitudes.

161206-07_CTA 102
CTA 102 observed with 11” Catadioptric