40 Eridani

by Jamie Dillon

Yeah, I'd been excited at the prospect of seeing this amazing system. Real easy to spot, the primary being a naked eye star, and the red dwarf, as Bob mentioned, being around 11th magnitude. A red dwarf burns its fuel so slowly that the universe isn't old enough to have seen one run out of hydrogen. Barnard's Star is the only one I'd seen before. And this was my first white dwarf - as Burnham put it, the only one that can be described as easy in our telescopes. The central stars in planetaries are on their way to becoming white dwarfs, but I was just reading that by the time they shrink down, their surrounding envelopes have become too dispersed for us to see them.

The Animal had checked back on 40 Eri and cam up with "the evening of November 24th, 1979 with a 6-month old C-8 from my front lawn in El Cerrito! Happened to be my first peek at NGC 1535 also. Logbooks are wonderful to reminisce." Quoted with hopefully implicit permission. Just over 23 years ago...great the way these things hold still.

Last night was loaded with extras. We did take a dew break, but the sky thru most of the night averaged 6.0, and got to 6.3 in the South on occasion. Seeing was excellent, 5/5, thru more than half the time. Elena and Craig picked a good night to make a comeback. Jupiter in Peter's scope during the dew break was like a detailed sketch. There was a white oval down the middle of the equator some 90 deg ahead of the GRS, only one I'd ever seen midships on the disk.

One more highlight- 4725 in Coma is an interesting galaxy, with a bright core and a halo exending some 10' N-S. Out on the SW edge of its halo was a bright splotch. And just to the SW a bit farther there's a dim neighbor galaxy, 4712.

It'd been a year since I'd looked at 4565, and there's no getting enough of this magnificent object. That sharp knife edge and dense bright core, with that dust lane the length of the galaxy, man. The whole thing measured some 20' long in the 10mm. This was all in an 11" f/4.5 Dob.

We deserved this one.