Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall NGC galaxies

Two weeks ago, a rare break in the cloudy, windy, and rainy weather came just as it started to get dark. At the usual darker sky site the local club uses at a very long private airstrip, I was ready to take advantage of it with my 10-inch Dob, which is equipped with digital setting circles. The two drawings of the galaxies above are just a few of the objects I looked at that night, which included the Lagoon Nebula, the Veil Nebula and the bright globular clusters M-15 and M-2. After giving a couple of visitors a look at some bright showpiece objects, I returned to my main focus, hunting down less well known NGC and IC objects.

NGC-6962, NGC-6964 and NGC-6967 are a trio of galaxies in far western Aquarius. As such they're seen from behind the fringes of the Milky Way, and it's vast clouds of interstellar gas and dust that dim the light of objects that pass through them. Even so, the brightest galaxy NGC-6962 appeared right away in the field at 150X.

When I boosted the magnification to 188X, two other very small, dim and oval  objects became noticeable with averted vision. After scanning the area for a few minutes, it became clear the other faint fuzzy ovals were real and they turned out to be the galaxies NGC-6964 and NGC-6967. These galaxies are very small and faint, NGC-6967 especially with a listed magnitude of 14, which is seemingly too faint given the light pollution that affects the site. The trio seem to be the brightest members of a small galaxy group that nearly sit on the border between Aquarius and Aquila. Two more galaxies of about the same magnitude as NGC-6967 are also nearby, but I didn't look for them. I plan to the next time I return to this field.

NGC-6928 and NGC-6930 are the two brightest galaxies of a small group in Delphinus some 200 million light years away. They are also subject to a good deal of interstellar absorption from the gas and dust between the stars in our galaxy. However, NGC-6928 was easy to spot at medium power. Showing a somewhat odd spindle shape with a bright core, it and the much smaller and fainter NGC-6930 are orientated at nearly right angles to each other. The galaxies NGC-6927, NGC-6927A and several other UGC galaxies are also present in the field, but I saw no sign of them. NGC-6930 was also spindle like, and at first hard to spot among the numerous field stars. Both made a nice galaxy duo at 188X.

Other objects I observed and sketched included the whimsical asterism French 1, which looks like a toadstool from Alice in Wonderland, and at the base was a small but quite apparent elliptical galaxy. The galaxy NGC-7015 in Equuleus, the only deep sky object at all easy to find in amateur telescopes was also an easy mark, along with the planetary nebula NGC-6842 in Vulpecula. A short hop and a few minutes searching brought me to the reflection nebula NGC-6813. Finally, just before I packed it in for the night, I tool a little tour of some of the objects in Perseus. The open clusters NGC-1220 and 1245 made a marvelous view, as did the galaxies NGC-1023, 1275 and 1161. Curiously, the nearby galaxy NGC 1160 eluded me, therefore I plan to return too and redraw the field. The open clusters NGC-6834 in Cygnus and NGC-6939 were also nice sights as well.

Since my web page is no longer available online, I will publish some of my drawings here for the time being.

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