Happy 9th birthday, Celestial Sphere!

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So, this is the 9th birthday of Celestial Sphere!

I started blogging about my amateur astronomy hobby on 29th of June 2008, since then, I have been running this blog almost continuously! The first incarnation of this blog was on Blogspot, and it was called Taivaanpallo. Back then I was still writing in Finnish, but I changed to English in 2010. In 2011, I moved my blog to WordPress, and I have been blogging in here since then!

Big thank you for all of you who have supported me by comments, likes and other forms of interaction, I appreciate it very much!

 

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Observing season 2016-2017

So, observing season 2016-2017 is now finally over! During the season, I was mostly working on my visual deep sky observing/sketching program. Besides this, I was also doing some visual variable star observing during Autumn 2016, but I had to give that up because of too much workload and other things that were demanding my time and energy. Since that, my variable star observing program has been on hold.

But I was able to do quite many visual deep sky observations! When I’m observing, I’m using a cardboard form made by deep sky section of Finnish Ursa astronomical association for sketching and recording the observation. During the season, I completed 86 of cardboard forms like these, though not all of them were unique deep sky object observations. One of these was a comet observation and 2 were unplanned duplicate observations. So I was able to complete 83 cardboard forms with at least one new object! The number of new objects observed for this season is larger than that, but I haven’t been counting objects, but instead of that the number of completed cardboard forms. Each cardboard form counts as one ‘observation’, which may consist of several objects in the field, typically 1 to 4. So when counting like this, the number of new, unique deep sky observations for me last season was 83.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
My pile of completed deep sky observation cardboard forms from season 2016-2017

Here you can see some statistics:

  • Number of new, unique observations: 83
  • Number of observing sessions: 25
  • Number of observations per observing session on average: 3,32
  • Total observing time: 59h 00min 00s
  • Best NELM recorder: 6.6
  • Best SQM meter reading recorder: 21.36

Number of observing sessions in my observing sites:

  1. Ulvila observatory, 11 sessions
  2. Stormälö, Parainen, 6 sessions
  3. Leistilänjärvi, Nakkila, 4 sessions
  4. Friitala, Ulvila, 1 session
  5. Koski, Kullaa, 1 session
  6. Saarijärvi, Lavia, 1 session
  7. Tähtikallio observatory, 1 session

Number of sessions with my instruments:

  1. 10” Newton, 15 ½ sessions
  2. 11” Catadioptric in Ulvila observatory, 9 sessions
  3. 36” Folded-Newton (Astrofox) in Tähtikallio observatory, ½ sessions

half sessions: ½ because during one session I used half of the time 10” Newton and other half of the time 36” Folded-Newton of Tähtikallio observatory

So, that was the statistics for this season. Next season will be beginning in the later half of August 2017. Then I will carry on observing my visual deep sky program, especially Herschel 400 list. I hope, that I could also finish Caldwell- and Hidden treasures -lists, at least to the extent it is possible from Finnish latitudes.

Thank you for staying with me during this season, see you again in August 2017!

 

Observing 29./30.3.2017 in Ulvila Observatory

Date: 29./30.3.2017
Time: 22:00-00:30
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 6.2
SQM: 20.61-20.80
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: –
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, no snow, 0 – -2C, aurora belt/arc in northern sky

Objects observed: NGC 3640, 3641, 3810, 3655, 3900 and 3912

This night was my last observing session in March 2017 and in observing season 2016-2017. During this night, I observed several galaxies in Leo, and I was able to finish Leo constellation in Herschel 400 observing list. During the night, I was observing in Ulvila observatory, and conditions were relatively good in terms of the site.

NGC 3640, 3641

My first stop at my journey in the starry sky during this night was pair of galaxies NGC 3640 and 3641. Of these two, my main target was NGC 3640, an elliptical galaxy located in southern part of Leo. This galaxy can be found when moving ~degrees south from sigma Leo. NGC 3641 is located only 2,5′ SE from 3640. This galaxy is rather faint and small, and it is classified also as an elliptical galaxy. Of these two I wrote following notes:

@165x: two galaxies in the field, NGC 3640 and 3641. NGC 3640 is the brightest and more dominant of these two. NGC 3640 appears as a bright, oval-shaped, diffuse glow of light with bright non-stellar core, long axis in W-E orientation. NGC 3641 appears as a small, roundish, featureless and faint nebulous patch slightly SE from NGC 3640.

170329-30_NGC 3640-3641
NGC 3640 and 3641 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 3810

My next object for this night was NGC 3810, a galaxy located in southern Leo close to Virgo boundary. This galaxy can be located when moving ~4 degrees ENE from iota Leo. This galaxy with beautiful spiral structure has also been photographed by Hubble space telescope. This galaxy is classified as an Sc -type spiral galaxy, and the galaxy has a really nice spiral structure, see for your self! Unfortunately I couldn’t see the spiral structure with my modest instrument. About this galaxy, I wrote as follows:

@165x: this galaxy appeared as a rather faint, roundish and diffuse patch of light, the galaxy has a faint core, which doesn’t stand out much.

170329-30_NGC 3810
NGC 3810 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 3655

My third object for this session was NGC 3655, an Sc -spiral in the rear end of Leo. This galaxy can be located for example by moving ~2,5 degrees NE from theta Leo. About this galaxy, I wrote following notes:

@165x: this galaxy appeared as an elongated, oval-shaped glow, the galaxy has a rather bright core, long axis in N-S orientation.

170329-30_NGC 3655
NGC 3655 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 3900

My fourth object for this night was NGC 3900, a spiral galaxy of type S0-a R, located in north-easternmost corner of Leo, close to Coma Berenices boundary. It can be located for example by moving ~8,5 degrees roughly to west from gamma Com. About this galaxy I write as follows:

@165x: rather bright, oval-shaped, elongated galaxy, rather bright core, long axis in N-S orientation.

170329-30_NGC 3900
NGC 3900 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 3912

My fifth and last object for this session was NGC 3912, a barred spiral galaxy of type SBb, located only ~30′ SSE from NGC 3900. About this galaxy, I wrote as follows:

@165x: this galaxy appears as a faint, diffuse, nebulous and featureless patch of light. This galaxy is elongated and thin, long axis in N-S direction.

170329-30_NGC 3912
NGC 3912 observed with 11” Catadioptric

So, that was it! My last observing session in March 2017 and last in observing season 2016-2017. Now I had finished Leo constellation on Herschel 400, and I could tick off that constellation from the list!

This observing season had been also quite productive, I was able to more than 80 observations during the season! In late season during spring of 2017, I was having quite busy and hectic season again in my life, and that hindered my observing to some extent. I had to terminate the observing season prematurely partially because of that. But all in all, I was quite satisfied with my observing season! I might later publish a more detailed insight to my observing season statistics.

But at least I’m going to keep some time off from observing because of the mandatory summer break that we northern deep sky observers have. The skies are already very light, and it’s only about 3 weeks to summer solstice! Enjoy the summer, and have good time! See you again in Autumn of 2017!

 

 

Observing 28./29.3.2017 in Ulvila Observatory

Date: 28./29.3.2017
Time: 22:00-00:00
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: –
SQM: 20.6
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, no snow, 0C, aurora belt/arc in northern sky

Objects observed: NGC 4151, 4156

During this night I was again at Ulvila observatory. During the night, there was again the weekly club meeting of Porin Karhunvartijat. After most people had left, I stayed at the observatory with couple of my astro friends. We were casually observing some common objects, and I was able to do one proper observation. This time I observed NGC 4151 and 4156 in Canes Venatici.

NGC 4151 and 4156

My main target was NGC 4151, a barred spiral galaxy located in Canes Venatici. The object is classified as SBab R. This object is located about 5 degrees SW from beta CVi. In the same field with this galaxy, there was also a smaller and fainter galaxy, NGC 4156. This SBb galaxy is located only 5′ NE from 4151. Of these two I wrote following notes:

@165x: two galaxies in the field: NGC 4151 and 4156. NGC 4151 is the brightest of these two, it is rather bright and slightly oval-shaped, the galaxy has a bright, stellar core. NGC 4156: this galaxy appears as faint, diffuse featureless patch of light.

170328-29_NGC 4151-4156
NGC 4151 and 4156 observed with 11” Catadioptric

After having observed NGC 4151, I had observed every galaxy in Canes Venatici that are listed in Herschel 400!

This observing session was my third in March 2017 and second last in season 2016-2017. So I still had one more observing session before summer break. I’ll write more about that later!

Observing 27./28.3.2017 in Ulvila Observatory

Date: 27./28.3.2017
Time: 22:00-00:00
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: –
SQM: 20.01-20.63
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear to partly cloudy sky, moderate breeze, no Moon, no snow, +4C

Objects observed: NGC 3377, 3412, 3489 and 3593

This night was my second observing night in March 2017. During the night, I was observing in Ulvila observatory. Conditions were pretty average in terms of the site. During the night, I observed four galaxies in Leo, all listed in Herschel 400 observing list.

NGC 3377

My first object for the night was NGC 3377, an elliptical galaxy in Leo located about 6,5 degrees WSW from theta Leo. Messier 95, 96 and 105 aren’t far from this either, this galaxy is located ~1,5 degrees N from M 105. Of this galaxy I wrote following notes:

@165x: rather bright galaxy with bright, almost stellar core. The galaxy is elongated, long axis in SW-NE orientation.

170327-28_NGC 3377
NGC 3377 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 3412

My next target wasn’t far away either, this galaxy was NGC 3412, a barred spiral galaxy of type SB0, located ~1 degree SE from NGC 3377. About this object, I wrote as follows:

@165x: rather bright galaxy, elongated, with bright, almost stellar core. Long axis in NW-SE direction.

170327-28_NGC 3412
NGC 3412 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 3489

My third object for this night was NGC 3489, an SB0-a barred spiral galaxy in Leo, located 2,5 degrees ENE from NGC 3412. I wrote following notes about this object:

@165x: a rather bright, elongated galaxy with bright, almost stellar core. Long axis of the galaxy is in SW-NE orientation.

170327-28_NGC 3489
NGC 3489 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 3593

My fourth and last object for this night was NGC 3593, a lenticular galaxy of type S0-a in Leo constellation. This galaxy is located very close to Messier 65 and 66, it can be found ~1 degree WSW from Messier 65. About this galaxy I wrote as follows:

@165x: an elongated, rather bright and thin galaxy, apparently in edge-on position. Long axis in W-E orientation. Center of the area slightly brighter than outer parts.

170327-28_NGC 3593
NGC 3593 observed with 11” Catadioptric

So, that was my second observing night in March 2017. After this session, I was still able to do observing couple more times before mandatory summer break from observing.

 

Observing 25./26.3.2017 in Stormälö

Date: 25./26.3.2017
Time: 22:00-00:00
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: N250/1200 mm (10” Newton)

NELM: 6.6
SQM: 21.32 – 21.36
Darkness of the background sky: from 1  (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Seeing: – (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, no snow, -2 – -7C

Objects observed: 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak , NGC 2964, 2968; 3226, 3227; 3607, 3608, 3599; 3681, 3684, 3686, 3691

This night was my first observing night in March 2017. During the night, I observed several galaxies (all of them in Leo, many of the Herschel 400 objects), and also comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak. During the night, conditions were really good, NELM was about 6.6 in Ursa minor and SQM was better than 21.3!

41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak

My first target for the night was comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak, that was flying high in the sky in constellation of Ursa major. I wrote following notes of my encounter with this comet:

I easily found the comet with my finderscope, and it was visible as a fuzzy star in the finder. In the eyepiece @32x, I observed, that the coma of the comet is roundish in shape, and that it is very diffuse. There is a weak central brightening in the middle of the coma. No visual tail observable. Diameter of the coma is roughly 10′, measured from the sketch.

170325-26_Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak
Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak observed with 10” Newton 25./26.3.2017.

NGC 2964, 2968

After having observed the comet, I started my journey in the starry heavens! During this night, I had galaxies in Leo on my list. My first target was pair of galaxies, NGC 2964 and 2968. This pair is located in northernmost part of Leo, close to Leo minor border. This is quite close pair, the distance between these galaxies is only 6′. NGC 2964 is of type SBbc R and 2968 is of type Sa. Of this pair of galaxies, I wrote following notes:

@71x: two galaxies in the field, NGC 2964 is the brighter of these two, 2968 is slightly fainter and more diffuse in appearance. Both galaxies are visible as a featureless nebulous patches.

170325-26_NGC 2964-2968
NGC 2964 and 2968 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 3226, 3227

My next stop during my journey was another pair of galaxies in Leo, NGC 3226 and 3227. This pair is located only 50′ E from gamma Leo. This pair is also very close, distance between them is only 2′. NGC 3226 is an elliptical galaxy and 3227 is SBa -barred spiral galaxy. Of this galaxy pair I wrote following lines:

@71x: two galaxies in the field, NGC 3227 is the southern one of these two, it seems to have a nearly stellar core, this galaxy is elongated, long axis in NW-SE. NGC 3226 is fainter and more diffuse in appearance, no visible core or other details.

170325-26_NGC 3226-3227
NGC 3226 and 3227 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 3607, 3608 and 3599

My third stop was at galaxy pair NGC 3607 and 3608. Besides these, there was also a third galaxy visible in the field, NGC 3599. These three galaxies can be located when moving 2,5 degrees SSE from delta Leo. NGC 3607 is classified as E-S0, which means that it is a hybrid between elliptical and lenticular galaxy, NGC 3608 is elliptical (E) galaxy and 3599 is lenticular (S0) galaxy. Of these three galaxies I wrote as follows:

@71x: Three galaxies in the field, NGC 3607, 3608 and 3599. NGC 3607 and 3608 are very close to each other, NGC 3607 is the southernmost of these two. NGC 3607 is a roundish and small galaxy with bright core that stands out clearly. NGC 3608 is also roundish in shape, and also it has a bright core. NGC 3599 is located farther away to NW from these two. It is visible as a rather faint and diffuse, featureless patch of light.

170325-26_NGC 3607-3608-3599
NGC 3607, 3608 and 3599 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 3686, 3684, 3681 and 3691

My fourth and last stop was a field with (at least) four galaxies. The main target of this field for me was NGC 3686, a galaxy listed in Herschel 400 observing list. Other galaxies in this field were NGC 3684, 3681 and 3691. All four galaxies were located in elliptical area which is about 30′ long and 20′ wide. NGC 3686 is SBbc spiral, 3684 is of type Sbc, 3681 is another SBbc spiral and 3691 is peculiar SB -spiral. Of these four galaxies I jotted down following notes:

@71x: four galaxies in the field: NGC 3686, 3684, 3681 and 3691. NGC 3686, 3684 and 3681 are in roughly NE-SW orientedline, 3691 is slightly to south from these three galaxies. NGC 3686 appears as a round, diffuse, featureless nebulous patch. NGC 3684 is elongated and featureless, long axis in NW-SE direction. NGC 3686 is small, round and faint featureless galaxy. NGC 3691 is small and rather faint, featureless patch of light, it is the faintest galaxy in the field.

NGC 3686-3684-3681-3691
NGC 3686, 3684, 3681 and 3691 observed with 10” Newton

So, that was my first observing session in March 2017! When counting individual catalogued objects, I observed during this night 11 deep sky objects and one comet! When counting sketches made, I made 4 sketches of deep sky objects and one of a comet. This night was a good one, and conditions were favorable! Only thing that I have been thinking that I could have done otherwise is, that I should have perhaps used more magnification with the galaxies, now I observed all galaxies with the same, rather small magnification. Conditions would have supported even larger magnifications! But nevertheless, I was quite satisfied with my results! During this march, I still had couple of more observing sessions, more about them later!