Deep sky sketching and zodiacal light 8./9.3.2013

Date: 8./9.3.2013
Time: 21:15-00:25
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Refractor), N250/1200mm (10” Newton)

NELM: 6,0
SQM: 20,84
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -12 °C, light wind, snow on the ground, no Moon, no aurora, zodiacal light in NW sky

Objects observed: Messier 53 (visual, sketching), NGC 2506(visual, sketching)

This was my first observing session in Parainen since September 2011! When I arrived at the site, I noticed that the winter Milky way in the Monoceros-Orion region was visible as well as it ever can be here in the conditions of Finland. Unfortunately winter is not so good time to make deep sky -observing in Finland because of cold temperature and snow, which is reflecting light in the sky. This can be observed with SQM, which gave values of ~20,8 around zenith. This is low value when compared with the good values in autumn, that can be as good as 21,2 in this site! NELM was barely 6,0 in Orion and about 5,7 in Ursa minor.

Besides Milky way and the ugly light pollution domes, I was able to see also another faint glow of light in the NW sky close to horizon. This light was rising from the horizon as a wedge -like glow of light that was following the line of ecliptic. This light was better visible with averted vision and sweeping. This light is better seen in the southern latitudes, but it can be seen also here in high latitudes around vernal- and autumnal equinox. This light is the zodiacal light! This was my second time to observe this phenomena from Finland. I observed this light for first time from the same site in March 2010. The zodiacal light can be seen almost every night in southern latitudes, but it is not common sight here in the high latitudes like Finland. The angle of the ecliptic is steepest around the time of the equinoxes, and that makes it possible to observe this phenomena!

Below you can see an excerpt with a sketch of the phenomena from my note book:

Zodiacal light observed 8.3.2013 in Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Zodiacal light observed 8.3.2013 in Stormälö, Parainen, Finland

This time I was making deep sky -observations with two of my telescopes: N250/1200mm (10” Newton)  and L102/1000mm (4” Refractor). This time I observed NGC 2506, an open cluster in southern Monoceros and Messier 53, a globular cluster in Coma Berenices.

I observed NGC 2506 (Caldwell 54) with my 250/1200mm Newton. With this instrument, this open cluster appeared as a small, relatively condensed and concentrated cluster. The brightness range of the stars of the cluster is rather large, some brighter stars are clearly visible, but the fainter stars appeared only as a starglow in the background of the cluster.

NGC 2506 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 2506 observed with 10” Newton

I observed Messier 53 with my both instruments. With 102/1000mm refractor @67x, this globular cluster appeared as a round, fuzzy nebula, whose brightness increases slightly inwards. No single stars were visible.

Messier 53 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 53 observed with 4” Refractor

With 250/1200mm newton @80x, the cluster appeared to be granulated, and few individul stars were resolved.

Messier 53 observe with 10'' Newton
Messier 53 observed with 10” Newton

Observing in Tähtikallio Observatory 15./16.9.2012

Date: 15./16.9.2012
Time: 22:00-03:30
Observing site: Tähtikallio observatory, Finland
Instrument: C406/4064mm (16” Catadioptric)

NELM: 6,6
SQM: 21,28
Darkness of the background sky: 2
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 1
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, +10 °C

Objects observed: Caldwell 30 (NGC 7331) (visual, sketching), Hickson 92 (visual, sketching), Hickson 94 (visual, sketching)

In this session I was able to make some observation and sketching with the 16” Catadioptric telescope of Tähtikallio Observatory in Artjärvi, Finland. This observing session happened during the annual meeting of Finnish deep sky observers.

During this session I observed Caldwell 30 (NGC 7331), which is a nearly edge-on spiral galaxy in Pegasus. Besides this, I observed Hickson 92 and 94, which are faint and challenging groups of galaxies from the Hickson catalogue of compact galaxy groups. Observing conditions were good during the whole session.

Caldwel 30 (NGC 7331): @200x, large and bright, almost edge -on galaxy. The galaxy is very elongated in shape, and it’s length axis is oriented in N-S -direction. The galaxy has an almost stellar core with relatively bright halo that is surrounding it. The brightness of the galaxy decreases rapidly outwards from the core of the galaxy. With instrument like this and this magnification, the galaxy extends almost from the edge of the field to another. It is possible to see hints of EDL west from the core of the galaxy when gazing with averted vision. Of the satellite galaxies of NGC 7331, I was able to see at least NGC 7335. It is visible as a small, fuzzy spot about 3′ to NE from the core of NGC 7331.

Caldwell 30 (NGC 7331) observed with 40'' Catadioptric
Caldwell 30 (NGC 7331) observed with 16” Catadioptric

Hickson 92: @200x, I was able to see four galaxies of this group: NGC 7320 (13,2 mag), NGC 7317 (14,6 mag), NGC 7318B (14,0 mag) and NGC 7318A (14,4 mag). For some reason, I apparently missed NGC 7319 (14,1 mag), which I think, should have been visible with this instrument. All these galaxies were visible as faint, fuzzy nebulas, best visible with averted vision.

Reasons, why I didn’t spot NGC 7319 might be caused by following factors:

-When I was doing this observation, I didn’t have any detailed map of this object. Neither did I have any clear mental map or image of this object in my mind (which on the other hand, is just a good thing).
-I wasn’t alone all the time, and I wasn’t able to focus on the observing as much as I had wanted to
-I hadn’t been obsering with this instrument much before this session
-There might have been some dew on the oculars, and the optical surfaces could have been a little bit dirty

Hickson 92 observed with 40''' Catadioptric
Hickson 92 observed with 16”’ Catadioptric

Hickson 94: @200x, only two galaxies, NGC 7578A (14,9 mag) and 7678B (14,9 mag) of this cluster were clearly visible. Both galaxies appeared as a small, faint, fuzzy nebulas, that were only barely visible with direct gaze, but became better visible with averted vision. Also when comparing my sketch with the SIMBAD photo, it seems that the star-like cores of HCG 94C (16,3 B mag) and D (16,2 B mag) were also visible.

A galaxy cluster Hickson 94 observed and sketched with the 16'' Meade of Tähtikallio in 15./16.9.2012. Only two galaxies (NGC 7578-1, NGC 7578-2) of the cluster were visible.
Hickson 94 observed with 16” Catadioptric

Crescent Moon, Jupiter and high clouds

Last night (6./7.2.2011) I was again observing in Parainen. During the day, sky was completely clear, but when I arrived in my observing site, I saw some high clouds in western horizon. Also Moon was visible, it appeared as a narrow crescent and Jupiter was close to it, and together they were a beautiful sight! But this time I didn’t came to observe objects of Solar system. I had planned to observe some open clusters in Monoceros-Orion-Puppis area. But those high clouds really ruined my plan. I couldn’t observe all objects I had planned to, and especially I wasn’t able to observe all nebulae that I wanted to see. So, transparency was weak and background sky was all but completely dark, so what to observe? Collinder clusters of course! Many of these clusters are visible also in poor conditions, so these are suitable choice for an evening like this.

I observed following objects: Collinder 91, NGC 2186, Collinder 107/104 and Collinder 106.

Collinder 106 and 107/104 are in a small area in Monoceros with many other clusters including NGC 2244 with Rosetta nebula. I also tried to observe that, but I could only see a one bright section of the nebula, so I decided to skip that for this night. Collinder 106 and 107/104 are poor, weakly detached clusters and they have relatively large apparent size. Collinder 91 is is slightly smaller in apparent size, but it is otherwise similar to the other typical Collinders in Monoceros. It is also situated 4° to SW from the area around NGC 2244/Collinder 106, -107/104. NGC 2186 is a nice, small compact cluster in Orion.

Summay for this session:

-Session id: #12/10-11
-Date: 6./7.2.2011
-Time: 20.00-22.00
-Instrument: N250/1200 mm
-Site: Stormälö, Parainen
-Conditions: NELM 6,0; seeing 3; background sky 3, calm/weak NW breeze, -4 °C, high clouds in the sky, weak transparency
-Objects observed: Collinder 91, NGC 2186, Collinder 107/104, Collinder 106.

Collinder 106 – another typical Collinder cluster (in winter sky)

Small nebulae and problems with freezing

Second time I was observing this year was very interesting. Weather was brilliant, it was completely calm and only – 2°C. Only problems were caused by high amount of moisture in the air. Because of that, transparency wasn’t as good as it might be and also because it was so calm – the moisture was condensing and freezing to all surfaces — including all mirrors and lenses of my scope. And I also heard fox screaming somewhere at distance, that was little bit spooky!

Nevertheless, I was able to see and sketch following objects: NGC 1999, Jonckheere 900, Collinder 121 and Collinder 65 with NAE. I had planned to observe much more, but because of intense moisture problem I had to quit observing earlier than I had planned.

NGC 1999 is a small emission nebula in Orion, just south of Sword of Orion, it is tiny but very interesting: there is a big dark globule visible in the nebula, I just wasn’t able to see that because of poor conditions. Jonckheere 900 is at least apparently even smaller nebula. It is a small planetary nebula in Gemini. Collinder 121 is a large, sparse and poor OCL in Canis Major, which is at quite low altitude here in Finland. Collinder 65 is similar cluster in Taurus, but this one is better visible than the one in Cma.

Summary of this session:

-Session id: #11/10-11
-Date: 2./3.2.2011
-Time: 20.25-22.45
-Instrument: N250/1200 mm, naked eye
-Site: Stormälö, Parainen
-Conditions: NELM 6,0; seeing 2; background sky 1, calm, -2 °C
-Objects observed: NGC 1999, Jonckheere 900, Collinder 121, Collinder 65 NAE

NGC 1999 – A small emission nebula in Orion

First observing session of this year!

I was obsserving for first time this year 31./1.2.2011 in my Parainen observing site. Sky was clear, but it was very windy. Temperature was only -2 °C, but because of the wind, it felt much colder. Winter Milky way near Orion was visible as good as it ever can be here in Finland, but NELM wasn’t too good, it was only around 5,7. Background sky was as dark as possible, but transparency was not so good. Objects observed this time were NGC 2301, Christmas tree cluster and Messier 47 with NAE.

Summary of this session:
-Session id: #10/10-11
-Date: 31./1.2.2011
-Time: 21.55-23.35
-Instrument: N250/1200 mm, naked eye
-Site: Stormälö, Parainen
-Conditions: NELM 5,7; seeing 2; background sky 1, windy, -2 °C
-Objects observed: NGC 2301, Messier 47 and NGC 2264 (The Christmas tree cluster)

NGC 2264 – The Christmas tree cluster

Syyskauden havaintoja

Syksyn aikana on tullut havaittua monenlaisia kohteita. Suurin osa havainnoista on ajoittunut syys- ja lokakuun ajalle. Marraskuussa ei tullut tehtyä yhden yhtä havaintoa, mutta toivottavasti taas joulukuun aikana pääsisin havaitsemaan talvitaivaan kohteita. Tässä pieni kooste syyskauden havainnoistani!


Havaintokausi 10-11 avattu! (Havaintosessio #1/10-11)

Vietin kesäni napapiirin pohjoispuolella, tarkemmin sanottuna Sodankylässä. Johtuen maantieteellisestä sijainnistani ja työkiireistäni kesän aikana, pystyin aloittamaan havaintokauden vasta syyskuun puolella. Ensimmäinen havaintosessio oli lyhyt, koska kuu alkoi pian nousta itäiselle taivaalle. Havaittuja kohteita olivat: Jupiter, Stock 1 ja NGC 6830.

Jupiterista panin merkille, että planeetan eteläinen vyö oli varsin heikko, mutta ei kuitenkaan täysin olematon kuten toukokuussa, kun vyö oli hävinnyt kokonaan! Pohjoinen vyö sen siijaan oli helposti havaittavissa kuten yleensäkin.

Havaintosession tiedot:

Havaintoväline: N 250/1200 mm
Havaintopaikka: Parainen
Pvm: 1/2.9.2010
Olosuhteet: seeing 3, TT 3, RJM ~6

Kaiken lisäksi viime kesänä tuli kuluneeksi kaksi vuotta tämän blogin perustamisesta, ja vieläkin jaksan kirjoittaa tänne, vaikkakin satunnaisesti!

Clear skies to you all!