Digging Celestial Bones at Dinosaur Point

Mark Wagner

I took off for Dinosaur Point around 6:30 p.m., stopping once in Morgan Hell for for fuel (from the pump, and convenience store). The drive this time of year is one of my favorites - the vibrant greens of the hills, yellow of the new wild mustard fields, views horses, lakes and the jagged mountains south of winding two lane highway 152 heading toward Pacheco Pass. Very pretty drive, even if only for the drive itself. By the time I arrived the sun was down and a half dozen or so other observers were already set up. Three or four more would arrive after me, some under cover of dark (but we know who you are....).

Quick collimation of my 18" Dob, and time to enjoy the late twilight. A question came up about the Zodiacal Light, which is at its best this month and again in September. And sure enough, it was bright an broad in the west, reaching up to intersect the Milky Way - nearly perpendicular to it. There was no mistaking the ZL this night.

I spent most of the night at my own telescope, but did manage to peek through a neighbor's 13" f/4.4 at some interesting objects. I took a relaxed approach, not pushing for numbers, but instead enjoying each view, trying to tease out detail in the brighter targets, and in other cases just attempting to glimpse an occasional apparition at the threshold of vision. Here is the list I used: http://www.resource-intl.com/Observing.Lists/Deep.Sky.Mar.09.html

Although the seeing softened later in the evening, I had several faves for the night. The view in the 13" of "four galaxies in one field" as my neighbor described it, which turned out to be the incredibly glamorous Hickson 68. The chaos of M97 and M108 in my scope, and sipping a light drink at the celestial bar in NGC 3359.

After a very enjoyable evening, I put away my paleoastronomy tools and was soon flying down the empty highway home. A good night digging the sky. In bed by 2:30 a.m.

Thanks to George for the chocolate, Al for the cookies, Mark for the collimator, Greg for the chuckles, and Albert the gatekeeper. Here are my observing notes for the night:

Arp 181 DRA GX 1.6'x1.1' 13.1 10 28 16 79 48 49 NGC 3212
Arp 181 DRA GX 1.1'x1.1' 13.0 10 28 41 79 48 49 NGC 3215
18" 7mm N3215 is mostly N/S dim, slightly bright core with hints of stellar pinpont nucleus averted. N3212 maybe slightly brighter, slightly brighter center (like 3215), no nucleus, mostly E/W. Star just W of 3215.

Arp 156 DRA GX 1.3'x0.7' 15.0 10 42 38 77 29 41 UGC 05814
18" 7mm - small, roundish, very dim with averted, has a brighter core, but only slightly. Pinpoint stellar nucleus occasionally pops in.

N3516 UMA GX 1.7'x1.3' 11.7 11 06 47 72 34 07
18" 7mm very bright core, Seyfert galaxy, elongated 3x2 NE/SW. Surprising little galaxy,.

HCG 049A UMA GX 0.4'x0.2' 15.2 10 56 41 67 11 07 PGC 32899 CGCG 314-001
18" 7mm - viewed A component without question averted at least 75% of time. Small, surprisingly bright when viewed.

N3359 UMA GX 7.2'x4.4' 10.6 10 46 36 63 13 28
18'" 12mm - large fairly bright possible barred spiral, elongated N/S, core is slightly brighter.

HCG 045A UMA GX 1.3'x0.4' 14.9 10 19 13 59 07 51 PGC 30153 UGC 05564
18" 7 mm - dim, elongated and smallish, oriented slightly N of E/W, bisecting a pair of equal magnitude stars, equal distances nearby to the N and S. Averted only.

NGC 3610 UMA GX 1.3'x1.0' 11.2 11 18 24 58 47 12
18" 7mm - surprisingly large given the first impression. Extended halo WNW/ESE is oval, bright almost bar seems to extend out along the major axis from a very bright nearly stellar core, giving impression of Seyfert galaxy. "Bar" may actually be some tight inner spiral close to but S of the nucleus.

M 108 UMA GX 8.0'x1.0' 10.0 11 11 30 58 40 19 NGC 3556
18" 12mm - elongated 9'x3', bright star overlays center of galaxy. Galaxy appears mottled, ragged, has a distinct bright knot in the western section, possible brighter central area or knot to E of the bright star, overall orientation in WNW/ESE.

N3225 UMA GX 2.0'x1.0' 12.6 10 25 10 58 09 00
18' 7mm - 2'x1' NW/SE, fairly even brightness across object, occasional averted feeling of very dim stellar core.

NGC 3613 UMA GX 1.6'x0.8' 11.2 11 18 48 58 00 01
18" 7mm - Large elongated 3'x1' with extended dim halo E/W that shows signs of mottling. Brighter central region is tight around stellar nucleus. Inner core appears swirled as if showing spiral structure. Inner core area is intense, elongated approx 1'x0.6'. Nice, interesting galaxy.

Arp 24 UMA GX 1.6'x1.5' 12.6 10 54 36 56 59 16 NGC 3445
18" 7mm - Arp 24, NGC 3445 mostly round fairly bright oval without any distinct features - elongated E/W, MCG 10-16-24 appears to be in contact, as somewhat of an extension NW. Arp 24 UMA GX 0.5'x0.1' 12.8 10 54 45 56 59 16 UGC 06021 Mislabeled? Should this be the MCG?

M 97 UMA PN 3.4'x3.3' 9.9 11 14 56 55 01 09 NGC 3587
18" 7mm NPB - large, bright, very chaotic interior with two darkened areas that give a bipolar appearance. Very tight exterior shell is smooth in appearance. MCG 9-19-14 visible intermittently averted.

Arp 233 UMA GX 1.0'x0.9' 13.4 10 32 32 54 24 30 UGC 05720
18" 7mm - very small, roundish disk surrounding a stellar core. Appears to be other galaxies to the WNW.

Arp 205 UMA GX 5.7'x1.8' 12.0 10 54 39 54 18 24 NGC 3448
18'" 7mm - fairly bright elongated WSW/ESE about 5'x1', gradual brightening to core, UGC 6016 seems almost equally bright off the NE end of the NGC. No detail.

Observing Reports Observing Sites GSSP 2010, July 10 - 14
Frosty Acres Ranch
Adin, CA

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