Mark WagnerThe window for observing this new moon was small, essentially one night. Several observers took the opportunity and headed for various bay area dark sky sites. Five of us took up Kevin Ritschel's invitation and met at Willow Springs, south of Paicines. The sky in San Jose on departure was milky, but improved the further south I drove. I should have noticed the still snow-capped peak of Mount Hamilton, an indicator that the balmy temperatures I found when I met Richard Navarrete in Morgan Hill were a false indicator of what the night would be like. No sooner had I arrived at Kevin's property than I began layering up. The sky looked okay, but contrails crisscrossed mostly north to south. Some were encouragingly short, others long and fat. To the west, Venus was up and blinding. Soon, everyone was in place. Mark Johnston and Steve Gottlieb each with 18" Starmasters, Navarrete and I with 18" Obsessions, Greg LaFlamme had his home built 12.5" f/5 Ultralight Dob. Rounding out the gear were a few refractors, a 12x70 binocular on a parallelogram mount, and... standing nearby as sentinel silently mocking the puniness of all others it surveyed, stood Dobzilla at over 33 inches aperture. But, it mattered not how big the aperture, this trip had rewarding views from naked-eye to the top of the twelve foot ladder.
Views not in my scope...
Gegenschein. It was huge and obvious around Regulus. For fans of SQM readings, it got down to 21.70 at Wilow, by late in the observing session.
NGC 2358 - Thor's Helmet, in Dobzilla. Huge detail, three dimensional depth of field. In fact, it was so detail filled, you expected to see Rogelio's enhanced "Thor Revealed"...
The NGC 2290 Group in Dobzilla. This group of five galaxies in a chain forms a beautiful arc, reminiscent of the stars forming Corona Borealis. So picturesque, it could not have been designed to be more aesthetically pleasing.
Comet Lulin, in the 12x70 binoculars and Greg's refractor. It is large and bright, with a stubby tail. Averted vision helps define and lengthen the tail. There is a blue-green hue to the body, and a tiny stellar nucleus.
The California Nebula in Greg's refractor with an H-Beta filter It may be the most "sure" view I've had. Thick, long, and contrasty.
Bob Ayers stopped by, and had a smaller binocular, with UHC filters. Big nebula around ZLambda Orionis, and a long stretch of Barnard's Loop near Orion's sword. Thanks Bob!
In my telescope...
Arp 6 - NGC 2537 aka the Bear Paw Galaxy. At 293x I was reminded at times of a detailed planetary nebula - mottled, generally round, curious.
Abell 28 - a very dim large planetary nebula. At times I felt I was seeing opposite edges of this object. All averted vision.
Hickson 35... this was the fun one of the night. By the time I went after it, the temps had dropped to the point that someone mentioned ice on top of their car. It was cold. I had almost all my cold weather gear on too (btw... do not wear neoprene socks, they may be good for wet suits, but they reek for observing). But, the object - it is in an easy to get to location, just off the front of one of the paws of Ursa Major. Really, a no-sweat location. There is a bright star very near what appears to be a keystone of dim stars - looking like a mini-Hercules, of sorts. At first I thought I saw one member of the group, but I realized it was a MCG+8-16-27, and on the wrong side of the keystone. Then I saw two members of Hickson 35, pretty easily. They had to be the A and B, or A and C components. But I could not distinguish. Then Richard came over and looked, bringing Alvin Huey's Hickson book for comparison. That's when we realized one of the stars of the Keystone was likely the C component, but just too small to tell apart from a star. Upping the magnification from 294x to 426x, and the "star" began looking slightly fuzzy. Aha! It took some work, and some smarts (thanks Richard), but it was worth the work and the cold. It was one Frosty Hickson!
Finally, I had some fun poking around Abell Galaxy Cluster 634, you can see the components I picked out below. I finished the night going through a non-Abell galaxy cluster, centered on NGC 3158. Around there, and after some more mental gyrations resolved differences between my view of Megastar and how it differed from Richard's view, we logged NGC 3158, NGC 3161, NGC 3159, NGC 3163, NGC 3160, NGC 3150, NGC 3151, MAC 1013+3836, MCG+7-21-19, MAC 1013+3845B, MAC 1013-3844, NGC 3152, MAC 1014+3847.
I was cold enough when I'd finished the Frosty HIckson.... when I was finishing the last galaxy group, I began wondering if my teeth were going to start chattering. I reached up to remove my eyepiece and close up for the night, only to realize, my fingers were chattering instead.
The snow was still on top of Mount Hamilton on the way home this morning.... brrrrr.....
Here are the targets I observed from the list I was working through...
Arp 225 Cam GX 4.9'x4.1' 11.0B 08 55 38 78 13 28 NGC 2655
12mm - bright stellar nucleus, bright small core, diffuse disk showing possible spiral structure, expansive.
Arp 80 Cam GX 2.5'x1.6' 12.9B 08 48 06 74 06 01 NGC 2633
7mm - N2633 very bright stellar nucleus, bright surrounding core, elongated 5x2 ends taper off, in same field are N2634 and 2634A, both easily visible.
Arp 9 Cam GX 3.0'x1.8' 12.6B 08 14 59 73 34 44 NGC 2523
7mm - N2523 round and large with a very dim tiny stellar nucleus, apparent bar crossing diameter of galaxy from wnw to ese. 2523A is nearby eleongated 5s2 e/w with a very bright stellar nucleus.
Arp 268 Uma GX 8.0'x6.3' 11.1B 08 19 06 70 43 15 Holmberg II
Large and mostly round dim glow, evenly bright, equilateral triangle of stars overlays it just e of center.
Arp 336 Uma GX 4.5'x2.4' 11.2V 08 55 35 58 44 02 NGC 2685
7mm - N2685 - dim stellar nucleus in a small bright core, elongated 7x2 sw/ne, bright sliver contained in a dimmer tapered envelope.
Abell 28 UMa PN 268" 13.5 08 41 35 58 13 48 PK 158+37.1 = PN G158.8+37.1
12mm - large and very dim, best with UHC, also visible with OIII, not with NPB. Appears annular, or only NE/SW edges showing.
AGC 0634 Lyn GXCL 28.0' 14.9 08 14 36 58 02 00
7mm - UGC 4270, MCG 10-12-93, MCG 10-12-92, MCG 10-12-91, MCG 10-12-96, U4280A, MCG 10-12-100, MCG 10-12-103, UGC 4281, MCG 10-12-91
NGC 2681 UMa GX 2.8'x2.5' 11.1B 08 53 32 51 18 52
7mm - intense bright nearly stellar nucleus surrounded by compact bright disk.
N 2500 Lyn GX 2.9'x2.6' 12.2B 08 01 53 50 44 15
20mm - large, diffuse, round, gradually brightening slightly to center.
N 2639 UMa GX 1.8'x1.1' 12.6B 08 43 38 50 12 20
7mm - 3x2 elongation wnw/ese, bright elongated core with brighter non-stellar nucleus. Dim extensions with possible mottling along the south edge zone between core and halo.
N 2541 Lyn GX 6.3'x3.2' 12.3B 08 14 40 49 03 43
20mm, large, diffuse, irregular, mottled, slightly brighter core.
Arp 6 Lyn GX 1.7'x1.5' 11.7V 08 13 14 45 59 31 NGC 2537
7mm - round, mottled, almost a V shape intrusion, very bright knot on western edge, perhaps an embedded star, Very interesting object!
HGC 035C Lyn GXCL 0.3'x0.3' 16.0B 08 45 18 44 31 40
HGC 035A Lyn GXCL 0.3'x0.1' 16.1B 08 45 21 44 31 14 MCG +08-16-028
HGC 035B Lyn GXCL 0.5'x0.5' 15.5B 08 45 20 44 30 32 7mm - saw A, B and C distinctly. C appears as a slightly fuzzy star.
N 2493 Lyn GX 1.9'x1.9' 13.0B 08 00 23 39 49 49
7mm - small, lenticular but with strong linear edge and extension, bright core, sw/ne.
Arp 195 Lyn GX 1.9'x1.1' 14.5P 08 53 50 35 08 44 UGC 04653
12mm - dim elongated slash barely shows with 20mm.
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