ARP 282 on a windy night

The trouble with wind is that it shakes the scope not allowing the camera to exposure for very long without streaking on the screen, in other words pretty useless unless something is very bright and the camera can grab a good image quickly. Last night was blowy, however I luckily went for an Arp in Andromeda that turned out not to have too much faint detail so a relatively short exposure camera setting got me enough detail to be quite representative of the object!

Arp 282 in Andromeda

Not the most exciting of the Arp’s. The larger NGC member is mag 12.4 2.7′ x 0.7′ and the tiny IC galaxy mag 14.7 0.8′ x 0.4′. North is down in the sketch. Made on 12-11-17 using the 505mm mirror * cooled Watec 120N+ video camera.

Arp 212 through the haze

Monday evening, cold but hazy around 6.15 UT I locate Arp 212 close to Peg 68 which made it easy to find. I take a while to adjust the monitor & camera settings to get the best contrast and resolution. I then ‘freeze’ the frame and go in for my evening meal at 6.30 🙂 Well I have to keep the good lady happy 😉 I get off lighter than usual with the washing up and get back out to the obsy and make my sketch. Not the most exciting of galaxies but there is something going on, here is my sketch and my notes from the Web Page :

Arp 212

Within the Square of Peg in the same fov as 68 peg we find Arp 212 NGC 7625. listed by Halton as showing “irregularities, absorption and resolution” “Narrow chaotic absorption tubes across one end” I certainly saw mottling and distinctly dark regions within the galaxy. As an aside I noted that the 2nd brightest star in the field (102 peg) was distinctly ‘egg’ shaped with E-W elongation, I suspect this must be a double just on the verge of resolution in my 20″ set up. Sketch made on Nov 7th 2017, using the 505mm mirror and cooled Watec 120N+ video cam. Sky very hazy. N is down

Arp 65 under a first quarter Moon

Yay I got out again 🙂 I was straight onto a rather attractive Arp 65, a pair of NGC galaxies, just to the mid left of the square of Peg. NGC 91 is the attractive central spiral (mag13.6) with NGC93 to the left (mag13.3). “Tiny companion galaxies lie off projected ends of both spiral arms”

I got some of the companions, but no all I’m sure, a good observation though and another Arp tick for me 🙂

NGC 91 & NGC 93 make up Arp 65

Arp 13

Continuing with my renewed vigour I grabbed a small break in cloud last night to grab an observation and sketch. It isn’t the most exciting galaxy so I wont post this on social media, but as I’m working through the Arp’s I can’t just pick the cherries 😉

Located in Pegasus, very close to alpha Pegasi. Quite bright mag 11.6, elongate N-S. Described as a spiral with detached segments. I noted a bright nucleus, and a brighter region on the northern tip, down in my drawing. I saw the galaxy as having a slightly curved nature. Drawing made on 25-10-17 using the 505mm mirror and Watec 120N+ Cooled video camera.

Arp 13 NGC 7448

Back in business

Hello again,

I’m doing and getting stuck into some observation after a relatively long quiet period.


I got out in the observatory last night and made a sketch I had not researched a target, just went for Peg galaxies I sketched NGC 7549 which is a 13th mag stunner. Researching it this morning I see it forms part of Arp99 and Hickson 93 so I had observed & sketched it before! Although not as a standalone object. Should research before observing!!

Still avery nice object and I pulled out some good detail with the 20″ and cooled Watec 120N+.

Best wishes, Dale

P..S. the galaxy to the left is NGC 7553

NGC 7549 a stunning galaxy in Pegasus


Star Parties

Well after having a great time at Kelling Heath in September, warm weather and some pretty good observing. Especially with my 6″ binoculars, Steve Loveday’s incredible 8″ binoculars and Andrew Robertson’s 24″ The big refracting binoculars do give such a unique almost 3D image with a very wide view, the brain seems so much happier working with both eyes and delivers such detailed widefield views.

Then a few weeks later I’m at the Breckland star party at Haw Wood Farm Hinton, Suffolk, a much smaller affair but with better skies than Kelling and great horizons 🙂

From this location I was able to view the Helix nebula, a tricky target from the UK as it is so low. I observed it with my 6″ binoculars on Oct 13th and with Andrew Robertson’s undriven 18″ Dob, at the end of the observations I made a sketch from memory and the next night observed it again with Andrew’s 18″ when I added the stars in. UHC filters were used with all observations. The sketch isn’t an accurate as my usual video work but hopefully captures the visual impression quite well?

Image cropped and inverted

Total Eclipse USA

Great sketch made by my great friend and fellow sketcher during totality, south Illinois

Franks Eclipse drawing

“Drawing of Totality during the August 21, 2017 Eclipse

   We viewed the eclipse from a town 15 minutes to the south of Johnston City namely  Marion, Illinois. We had heavy cloud cover the afternoon of the previous day. At noon on the day of the event cumulous cloud began building. As we approached totality the clouds began to collapse due to the decrease of heat convection as the Sun disappeared behind the Moon. The temperature (104?F/40?C) at first contact which fell to (91?F/33?C) at totality. It was breezy at totality. I made a few drawing between first and second contact and recorded notes throughout the event. I did not see any interference bands on a nearby white building before and between Bailey’s beads and the Diamond ring or at any other time. I pulled the filter off the telescope and took a 15 second look to make marks for drawing after the event was over. I am sure I missed things but even 2 minutes 20 seconds is too short for me to make a decent sketch. My daughter Michelle  and soon Tommy helped with words describing how they saw things. Three other relative were there to look through the telescope as well. I got the general extent of the corona over most of totality by naked eye views and two obvious proms in the 15 seconds I had at the eyepiece. The high humidity and numerous clouds below 40 degrees altitude kept the sky brighter than I expected. We were unable to see any stars like Regulus but all of us viewed Jupiter and Venus. It was well beyond words to witness all this.”


” Dale, you would have loved this; I wish you were here for this).”


Drawing Materials used Post Eclipse


Dark blue/gray drawing paper 8.5” x 11”

Pastel pencils (black and white) and one pink oil pastel crayon

Clipboard, blending stumps.

Baader Solar filter before and after totality

Telescope: 4.25” f/5 homemade Dobsonian 26 and 28mm eyepieces

cvWeather: Warm and humid

Bootes Bonus

Blog Sunday Feb 5th 2017


A clear sky drags me from my warm bed and out to the observatory carrying the obligatory cup of tea. I’m moved by the sky that greets me once outside of the back door; despite the fact I’m not dark adapted the sky is still spectacular. I’m momentary disorientated by an unfamiliar sky as this is a late spring evening sky, not the mid winter one I have become accustomed to! I work from Arcturus locating the constellations until I’m familiar with the scene which takes a few minutes. Jupiter blazing to the south makes the sky look rather odd too.


As I enter the observatory I decide that I shall hunt down an Arp galaxy in Bootes for a sketch. Five minutes or so sees the scope slewing to Arcturus and it is soon centred on the monitor. I decide on Arp 43 a short hope from the brilliant yellow star. The goto puts the fuzz of a galaxy just on the edge of the fov with the camera set to a short exposure; I centre the ‘fuzz’ and extend the exposure to 10 then 15 seconds. As the camera settles I given a busy but rather grainy site, clearly a very nice spiral plays the central role with a smaller fuzzy galaxy just off the end of one arm, there are clearly many other faint and tiny galaxies in the field, one revealing itself as an edge on. I fiddle with the monitor and camera settings before deciding ‘this is the best view I will get’ and freezing the frame. It is now 5am and dawn will not be far off, with the frame frozen I can sketch at my leisure with now fear of losing my target. I get the stars draw in Ink and add the galaxies, the very faint stars I add last with gentle dabs of a pencil. Happy I have captured the view I take off the freeze function and the image is refreshed, the image shifts by around 25% but is pretty similar to that I froze 30mins before, then as often happens with Watec video cameras for some unexplained reason on a 15 sec frame refresh the screen goes very bright, normally I ignore this and things settle down on the next refresh. However on this occasion despite the very bright back ground the image of the main galaxy, was far sharper and more defined that before although the fainter outer regions were washed out! Quickly I froze this image and turned the image brightness down on the monitor; to my delight the resulting image was far cleaner and more defined that the previous one, in fact I would go as far as saying that it was way better than the Watec commonly delivers! What is going on I wondered? Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got to rework my sketch; I could now see a fork in one arm of NGC 5829 which is the main spiral and the other arm that points towards a close by bright star showed a string of tiny bright knots looking rather like a spine. The cluster of fainer galaxies now showed their true nature, bright cores and diffuse outer halos no longer just non stellar smudges! I would love to know what had happed to the Watec to deliver such an awesome image? After all if it can deliver such as a “glitch” why could it not deliver the same by design?

A 42 with Hickson 73 companions


OK enough on that matter, I noted on the Carte du Ciel display that close by was another galaxy, not sure what would show up at 6am, I sent the scope there and was delighted to see a pair of fairly bright galaxies close together. I twiddled the knobs, froze the frame and sketched NGC 5859 & NGC 5857, the former showing quite considerable spiral detail and being the larger of the two. NGC 5857 however had a noticeably brighter core, a very nice pair of, as I found later, non interacting galaxies.

NGC 5859 & NGC 5857


With my observations in the bag, I did some research on Arp 42, finding out that the largest of the galaxies after mag 13.9 NGC 5829 was in fact IC 4526 with a mag of 17. I also found that Arp 43 which is made up of these 2 galaxies also forms part of Hickson 73 along with a number of the fainter surrounding galaxies! I had therefore observed and sketched this group a number of years ago as H73! I compared sketches and this is by far the better of the 2, especially when viewed as originally drawn black on white!






A beautiful evening sky observation

Here is a wonderful sketch and description that I have just received from my very good friend, Frank 🙂

Moon, Mars and Venus on the Last Evening of January 2017


From southern Chicagoland so far in 2017, a clear sky has been a very rare and brief event.  After a cloudy month the sky cleared for about 45 minutes just past sunset. It was obvious with approaching clouds from the northwest this was going to be a brief opportunity so with my sketching kit in hand and without a scope, I was outside quickly to captures this view to my southwest.

The waxing crescent Moon was about -8 visual magnitude and almost 4 days past new. Planet Venus was dazzling at -4.7 magnitude and receding Mars was about first magnitude.

All three targets fit inside a circle of 5 degrees. This was a beautiful sight in the deepening twilight.


The Moon, Mars & Venus




Naked eye sketch

Sky conditions were good with respect to transparency 8/10, some wind gusts

Date and Time: 01/31/2017; 5:30pm – 6:10pm local time

Materials used: 8″ x 10″ blue sketching paper, Gray pastel pencil,

White and black Conte’ crayon, yellow and orange pencils, gum eraser and clipboard.


Frank McCabe

A very unusual pair of galaxies in Lynx

An interesting day weather wise, warm & sunny then rain and finally falling temperatures as dusk descends and the sky clears.

I make an agreement  my wife that after dinner that I will go into the observatory, get some observing done and return to the house by 9pm in time to share the latest episode of the exceptionally good BBC drama ‘Taboo’ with her 🙂

I look on the Webb society web site, Owen’s latest galaxy of the month in Gemini I have already sketched, as I have for Wolfgang’s object of the season, and the lovely spiral featured as image of the month is too low for the UK, I did check to see if I might just get a hint of it 😉

So it was back on the Arp trail for me. The goto was spot on tonight, slewing from startup to Procyon in the East and putting it into the tiny fov! Then up to Pollux and then to Castor before slewing to ARP 143.

Wow! what an interesting and unusual pair of interacting galaxies in Lynx making up this Arp, 143 is a member of the class ‘Material Emanating from E Galaxies’. The Atlas note says “diffuse counter filament”. The north galaxy (bottom) is NGC 2444 and the very strange beast to the south is NGC 2445. The two galaxies appear to flow into one another. There is a lot fine detail visible in the image on my CRT monitor. The little spiral near the lower left of my sketch (northwest) is CGCG 206-22.
NGC 2444 is mag 14.2 NGC 2445 is mag 13.9. I made the sketch on Jan 28th 2017 using the 505mm mirror and cooled Watec 120N+ deep sky video camera. N is down in the sketch.

Unusual Arp 143

My SQM showed 20.60 as I closed up at 8.55 local time to go indoors, what a result 🙂

Happy, Dale

Return top