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!

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