Observing Report for BC 5/26

by Brian Zehring

I arrived at BC around 8:00 on Monday. Gregg's 25" was already set up and Mike arrived shortly after with his 16" homemade. I like going out on weeknights, Gregg and I have done it a couple times with great results. Keeps you away from the "weekend warrior" armchair-observer types who like to gab all night long about how they completed some list of obscure galaxy clusters or defame the fine membership of the local astronomy club. Anyway, the sky cleared up at dark and it was obvious it was going to be a good night. Seeing was 6 or 7 out of ten and transparency was around 8. One of the better nights I have seen at BC.

I started with Abell 28 in Ursa Major. I had been skunked on this one before. You know you're in trouble when the DSS plate doesn't even show it. It is mag 14.6 but a whopping 246" in diameter. Very low surface brightness. I had the correct field and an OIII but no luck. Gregg didn't see it either. We both noticed a very gray sky, this one needed some contrast. It is at the front of the bowl of the dipper so it was pretty low in the light-polluted sky towards the northwest. Well known planetary observer Eric Honeycutt described it as a "very difficult observation" in a 22" with mag 7+ skies. I'll add it to my Shinegletown list.

Next I looked at ARP 1 or NGC 2857 at mag 14.3. It was visible as a bright cloud, I did not see the spiral arms visible in the pictures. NGC 2856 was visible as an edge-on galaxy at mag 13.9. ARP 285 was in the same field as 2856 at mag 13.8, I noted it as slightly brighter with some hint of spiral arms.

Next item was ARP 18 or NGC 4088. Very bright disturbed galaxy. It looked like two spirals ran into each other, as it seemed that there was a second obvious nucleus visible. I could not see two nucleus' in any pictures I've seen, but Gregg noted it too. So I'm not sure what we were seeing. Ngc 4100 is a nearby edge-on observed with a bright nucleus. NGC 4157 was also nearby, I noted it as a very large edge-on with a dust lane visible. NGC 4085 was a fairly bright edge- on as well. I ended this area with a shot at UGC 7176. I held it averted vision after about 15 minutes of looking. It was a round circular glow. At mag 17, I think it's one of the faintest galaxies I've seen.

I next moved to Aquila hunting planetaries with Gregg, it has to be the constellation of choice for planetaries. I started with Abell 53 (mag 16.3), I saw it as faint glow without the OIII and with the OIII noted a faint ring shape.

Abell 55- I saw this one without a filter as well as a haze around several stars. With the OIII it was even easier but still a haze. No structure visible.

We looked at many other things, run of the mill stuff, I've already gone on too long. Gregg and I regularly swap views of the same objects which is fun. Mike got in on the action as well. I think Gregg and I agree that he wins the price/aperture equation. But there is a noticeable difference in the views in the 30", especially at the limits. A pretty darn good night altogether. Looking forward to the weekend.