The Ghosts In My Backyard

by Mark Wagner

I went outside for a while tonight. More to digest my daily dose of e-mails and other worldly input (kids, work, sucky hockey team, work, work), more so than to get a dose of deep sky. My 10" f/5.7 set was up, cooled and ready to roll. Even the finders were right when I got out there.

My eyes took a while to acclimate. But it sure seemed bright. Maybe a CME precursor illuminating the regular skyglow, maybe my imagination. But it did seem bright.

I popped in the 20 Nagler and began peeking around Gamma Arietis (Mesarthim) and 1 Arietis. My targets were galaxies. I began with NGC 772, off Mesarthim. My 9x50 finder put me precisely in the right field. Using the 12 Nagler to darken the background, I could barely see it. Flickering in and out of perception, mag 10.3 barely there. Ghost number one. I moved up to the other star. Three galaxies in the immediate vicinity. NGCs 680, 691 and 697, these are all on the Tirion Sky Atlas 2000 (new edition). Well, only 697 was visible, as a ghost... fleeting, bits of nothing.

For the heck of it I moved into Triangulum, to find NGC 890, a bright galaxy just below the northern end of Triangulum. Again, the ghost of galaxies barely there. A hint, a tease.

Teasing is only good for so long.

Boy, did the sky seem bright. I packed up and called it a night.

I had such a good time last Saturday, I can hardly wait to do it again.

I look forward to next time....