by Jamie Dillon
I was gonna confound the prophets and blow off this one OR, then remembered the need to stick up for those of us with medium-sized scopes when dealing with large Abell clusters. Attentive readers will know just what I'm talking about. While the aforementioned Highe was knocking off over 200 galaxies in the Coma Cluster, I happily and no kidding proudly pulled in 18. Yes, there is room for all levels of observing.
On the first of June previous, I'd spit on my hands and gotten into the Coma Cluster for the very first time. The summer before, starting on a dare from Czerwinski up at Ranger Row on the Peak, I'd gotten into the Hercules Cluster and sure enough found a bunch of them in my 11" Dobs. It was at Lassen, specifically Devastated, that I'd done a mop-up there, in Abell 2151. Now this summer it was time to get into Abell 1656.
That night of 1 June, again at Ranger Row, Everitt had started cussing like he'd gotten into some bad electrical. I ambled over quickly enough, and it turned out he'd stumbled into the middle of the Coma Cluster, where I was heading that very night, and where Albert had started his next serious project. On my end, I sat and sketched the center of the cluster, not even looking for labels, just to get a first impression. This was in fact on a great night on the Peak, with excellent seeing, 5/5, and limiting magnitude 6.6. So following up just 4 weeks later at Shingletown was fun. Luginbuhl and Skiff's fine Observing Handbook once again had an ideal finderchart. Ended up with yes 18 galaxies in the central area, about 1.5=B0 radius. This was on Friday night the 27th. These guys are some 300 million lightyears from here.
This was all with Felix, a Celestron 11" f/4.5 Dobs with optics made by Discovery Telescopes. Was using a 22 Pan, 16mm UO Koenig, 10mm and 6mm Radians. Next night had a different project, finishing finding the globular clusters in Scorpius and Sagittarius that are charted in SkyAtlas. And yes I checked afterward, and all the NGC globulars are charted in that atlas. At this point I've seen 72 globulars, 1 Palomar, #8, and 71 NGC's. There are 165 NGC globulars. A whole lot of them are in Musca, Tucana and Dorado. Sounds like Brazil to me.
Of the new GC's that night, 6440 is a must-see, given that it's set in the sky right next to a pretty planetary, 6445. 6440 itself is very bright, round and tight. 6445 showed an interesting shape, rectangular with a crosswise lane, some dark loops. This pair is just NW of the Lagoon.
There, paperwork caught up.