A Hunting We Will Go

by Tom Campbell


May 25, 2003

ObserverTom Campbell
LocationIola, Kansas (Long: 95°24'W Lat: 37°55'N)
EquipmentDiscovery DHQ 8" dobsonian
Eyepieces1.25" Plössls - 25mm (49x), 15mm (81x), 10mm (122x), 6mm (203x), 4mm (305x)
Time10:00pm - 11:30pm CST (04:00-05:30 UT)
TransparencyClear (8/10)
SeeingMostly Stable (7/10)
WeatherTemperatures in the lower 60s. There was little or no breeze.

Observing Summary
CANES VENATICINGC-4214, NGC-4449, NGC-4490, NGC-5005, NGC-5033

Tonight, I had no real observing plan, other than to just observe. I had recently acquired a 6mm Orion Expanse eyepiece, and I was anxious to get it out under real observing conditions. Also, on the advice of somebody on an astronomy newsgroup, I repositioned my Telrad finder on my telescope, so that it was directly above the focuser. This allows me to look through both the finder and the eyepiece while seated at the eyepiece. I hoped it would work without getting in my way.

While the telescope was cooling down and I was waiting for twilight to end, I spent a lot of time looking at Jupiter through my new 6mm Orion Expanse eyepiece. The banding was really nice tonight, and the Great Red Spot was easily visible. Europa and Io were right next to each other, appearing as a double moon.

Twilight was nearing an end, and some of the summer globulars were beckoning to me in the eastern sky. I trained my telescope on M5. With my 6mm eyepiece, the view was terrific. I think I'm starting to like this globular even more than I do M13. It was easy to imagine it being a face-on spiral galaxy, with its star-studded arms twirling around it in some cosmic dance.

The sky was pretty dark now. I tested the sky conditions on some bright Messier galaxies. They were showing up fairly well, so I decided to go after some of the brighter Herschel galaxies in Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs. I hoped that they would help me to flush out a few of these galaxies from my back yard.

NGC 4449Canes VenaticiIrregular Galaxy11:00pm CDT
RA: 12h 28m 11sDec: +44° 06'Mag: 10.0

This irregular galaxy appeared elongated and mottled, resembling a short and stubby streak. The best view was at 81x.

NGC 4214Canes VenaticiIrregular Galaxy11:05pm CDT
RA: 12h 15m 40sDec: +36° 20'Mag: 10.2

This galaxy was faint, barely detectable at 49x. It appeared somewhat irregular in shape, with a fuzzy core. No details could be seen.

NGC 4490Canes VenaticiInteracting Galaxies11:15pm CDT
RA: 12h 30m 36sDec: +41° 39'Mag: 10.2

This galaxy is interacting with NGC4485, but I couldn't see any definite signs of the fainter galaxy tonight. NGC4490 was fairly bright and elongated. The linear core was diffuse and appeared to have a bulge in it. The best view was at 81x.

NGC 5005Canes VenaticiSpiral Galaxy11:20pm CDT
RA: 13h 10m 56sDec: +37° 03'Mag: 10.6

This spiral looked nearly edge-on, with a stellar core. No details were visible, but the best view was at 81x.

NGC 5033Canes VenaticiSpiral Galaxy11:35pm CDT
RA: 13h 13m 28sDec: +36° 36'Mag: 10.8

At 49x, this galaxy is just out of the field of view of NGC5005. It appeared slightly elongated and faint. With averted vision, the core appeared stellar. Other than the general orientation, I couldn't make out any details at all.

I tried a few fainter galaxies, but the sky conditions just wouldn't handle it tonight. So I called it a night. I really liked the Telrad position now. I used to have to squat in an awkward position to look through it. Now I can just sit comfortably in my observing stool and see it perfectly. This kept my legs from getting tired.

The Expanse eyepiece also performed admirably. Sure, it had some field curvature around the edges, but no more than my other Plössl eyepieces. I think it is definitely worth the $50 price tag. And the 66° AFOV shows enough starfield that I can look at large objects such as planets, planetary nebulae, globular clusters, and bright galaxies for a pretty good length of time before having to reposition the telescope. That allows me to see more detail, so it almost acts as a contrast enhancer.