|PATH:||The Astronomy Connection Observing Targets April Messier Tour|
By: "Tony Cecce, Corning, NY"
Spring time is galaxy time. As the winter milky way sets into the west we begin to get overhead, clear views outside of our own galaxy. During April we will begin in earnest our search for elusive galaxies. We will be searching for very distant objects, thus in general they will be small and faint.
There are several things to keep in mind to be successful at hunting distant galaxies. The darker the sky the better. Search out dark sky sites, or wait until the desired target is at maximum altitude or passes through relatively darker portions of moderately light polluted skies. Search with low power, once a possible fuzzy is found switch to higher powers for confirmation and to look for more detail.
Nearly all of the objects this month are possible in binoculars, though most need dark skies, averted vision, and a trained eye to see. We will be hunting eight galaxies and two objects from our galaxy, a double star and a planetary nebula.
This is a pair of faint stars located in Ursa Major. They are a
tough find in binoculars, and you will be challenged to split them
with binoculars. In telescopes, they appear to be an identical pair of
stars and easy to split even at low power.
This galaxy will appear as a thin streak of light in telescopes,
there is a definate brightening towards the middle. M108 is a very
tough object for the largest binoculars.
This planetary nebula in Ursa Major, also called the Owl nebula,
appears as a fairly large, round, hazy patch of light in a telescope.
It is in the same field of view as M108 at low to medium powers. Use
averted vision to see the faint glow of the Owl nebula through binoculars.
This spiral galaxy in Ursa major appears as a small, oval patch
of light. It can be found in the same field of view as Gamma UMa at
low to medium power in a telescope. Use large binoculars under good
conditions for a chance of seeing this one.
This galaxy in Canes Venatici appears as an oval patch of light,
larger than M109, with a fairly bright core. A tough, but possible
This galaxy in Leo appears as a faint round patch of light with
a bright nucleus. Large binoculars and good conditions a must.
Look for M96 in the same low power telescope field as M95.
Another round patch of light, slightly larger and brighter than M95,
it too has a stellar core. Binocular advice for M96 is the same as M95.
This is a small elliptical galaxy in Leo, and can be found in the
same low power field as M96. It look like a small fuzzy star. M105 has
a close companion galaxy, NGC 3384, which is only slightly smaller and
fainter than M105. To prevent consion, M105 is the closer of the pair to
M96. Not possible in binoculars, except maybe with averted "imagination".
A small, but relatively bright galaxy in Leo. It is an elongated
oval patch of light with a bright stellar core. A tough, but possible
A close companion galaxy to M65, it can be seen in the same low
to medium power field as M65. M66 is another oval patch of light,
brighter and slightly wider than M65. Another possible binocular target.
While you are here be sure to look for the a thin streak of light
which is the galaxy NGC 3628. It can be found north of M66 in the same
low power telescope field as both M65 and M66.
Last Month - M41, M44, M46, M47, M48, M50, M67, M81, M82, M93 Next Month - M49, M51, M61, M63, M64, M85, M94, M101, M102, M104 A. J. Cecce, rev. 1.0, 1995