Archive for January, 2017

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

A few observations from Canis Minor & Cancer

On the evenings of Sat Jan 21st and Sunday 22nd, I had a quite good run of observations and sketches. My sky meter showed an SQM of 20.98 on Sat night and 20.78 on Sunday night both good readings for my location, the Sat reading being exceptional.

Starting off with this large and well know planetary nebula in Canis minor Abell 21 The Medusa nebula was too large to fit into my narrow fov so I sketched the most interesting section.

Abell 21 aka The Medusa Nebula

Next came another Abell planetary Abell 24, this one I hadn’t observed before, it was smaller and fitted nicely into the Watec video cameras fov.

Abell 24 a planetary in Canis Major

Next a nice open cluster NGC 2355 again in Canis Minor that I literally bumped into whilst slewing around , this I sketched with the 6″ refractor and Watec video cam which captured the whole of the cluster, whereas the 20″ only showed part of it albeit with many more stars!

NGC 2355

stopped off and sketched a very attractive human eye shaped galaxy in C minor, it also reminded me of the old ATV television logo for those of you English and old enough to remember that? It had some interesting brighter regions either side of the central nucleus. I also detected a tiny fuzzy galaxy to the lower left in the sketch.

Galaxy NGC 2350

Completing the Sat night session was a faint UGC galaxy 3946, a rectangular shape with no obvious nucleus, note also the faint galaxy (unknown) to the bottom right of the main galaxy.

UGC 3946 a rectangular galaxy in Canis Minor


On Sunday night, I grabbed just on observation but it was a good one, an Arp galaxy Arp 89. I noted that Mark Bratton had confused this in his superb Herschel Objects book with Arp 84 in Leo, they actually look quite alike. You can not only see the main galaxy NGC 2648 interacting with the much smaller edge on, conected by a faint bridge, but if you look to the right of the bottom of NGC 2648 you can make out a tiny faint C shaped unknown galaxy.

Arp 89 in Cancer

That concludes 2 nights of excellent deep sky astronomy 🙂


A double star and tricky Arp galaxy

14th Jan 2017
I noted with some interest a week or so back some banter  between members of a little group of astronomers of which I am part the subject of Rigel the double. Last evening I had a frustrating time with haze, a rising moon and very poor guiding software for my scope, Cartes du Ciel which has no search catalogues which aid my level of observation (I was transfer to this by Es from Sky Map Pro as my AWR kept having ‘moments with the Sky Map Pro) I was searching for a couple of Arp’s on the Orion/Eridanus border
Any how I digress! all I ended up with was a sketch of Beta Orionis made with the 20″ and Watec on a very ‘backed off’ setting. Beta (b) Orionis, better known as Rigel, is one of the brightest stars in the sky. A companion 1/400 as bright lies just 10 arcseconds to its south, creating one of the most spectacular magnitude-contrast pairs in the night sky.

Double star Beta Orionis

Hope it gives you some interest?


19th Jan 2017

A rather better sky showing SQM 20.50 on the sky meter and some advice via the telephone from Andrew Robertson on how to use my AWR intelligent handset to better effect, this I did and reasonably quickly located Arp 180, although I failed to locate a couple of other Arp’s using the same system. I strongly suspect that the main mirror is now losing so much contrast that I simply can no longer spot faint objects readily. The Atlas image shows ARP 180 so much better than my sketch as does Aladin which my system used to match so closely.

Arp 180 found in Eridanus is a member of the class Narrow Filaments. The Arp Atlas of Peculiar galaxies note says “south arm kinks back, thin filament connects nuclei”. Additionally there are many small galaxies in the field, including four Mitchell Anonymous, my sketch only captures 1. The Arp itself is MCG -1-13-34. I sketched on Jan 19th 2017 using 505mm Mirror & Watec 120n + cooled video camera, N is down. I’m certainly struggling to hit the kind of observing form with my set up that I had in the past with my Hickson observations and sketches.

Arp 180

I don’t want to take my mirror out for a re-coat until late spring when there is little time for observing, in the meantime I shall struggle on, grabbing what I can!

Clear Skies, Dale

A cracking Lunar Sketch from the USA

Received this from my friend Frank in Chicago, as I’m not posting anything due to Moon & cloud I thought I would share this exceptional sketch made in ultra cold conditions. Cheers Frankie 🙂

Mare Tranquillitatis

Southwestern Mare Tranquillitatis


I began this sketch which had me at the eyepiece for about two hours. I was wearing my warmest ice fishing gear to ‘create a sense of warmth’. The sky was clear but the seeing was not the best.

I tried to pick out Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin just to the East of the region sketched but only Armstrong was barely visible on this evening. The “Twin craters” Sabine (30 km) and Ritter (31 km) both

have flat, rubbly floors which are also fractured and very shallow from subsurface lava flooding . These craters contrast in appearance with nearby Dionysius (18 km) a very bright, deep, youthful looking crater. This crater is known for its bright and dark ash rich rays, best seen near full Moon. Just north of Dionysius is crater Ariadaeus (12 km) and the western end of Ariadaeus rille (300 km long). Moving eastward crater Manners (15 km) and Arago (27 km) were clearly visible. The sun was just a little too high in the lunar sky to pick out the fine domes in the region under the poor seeing conditions.


Sketching and Equipment:


For this sketch, I used black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper 9” x 12”, white and

black Conte’ pastel pencils and blending stumps.

Telescope: 10 inch f/5.7 Dobsonian and 6 mm eyepiece (241x) riding on an equatorial  platform

Date:  from 01-04-2017 to 01-05-2017; 23:15 – 02:00 U.T.

Temperature: -9° C (15° F)

Clear, breezy

Seeing:  Below average – Antoniadi  IV

Transparency 4/5

Colongitude  352.0 °

Lunation 6.5 days

Illumination 38 %


Frank McCabe

After galaxies in Gemini

On Jan the 2nd I got my chance to catch up with the galaxies in Gemini that the fog thwarted me on in my last blog.

These are the Dec galaxy (s) of the month as suggested by Owen Brazell of the Webb Society. I star hoped with my narrow fov to Pollux (beta Gemorium) and from there to NGC 2487 and its close companion NGC 2486.

NGC 2487 & NGC 2486 a lovely duo in Gemini

A nice pair but the didn’t just ‘pop’ on the monitor once again I had to work hard with settings, timings etc on the camera and also on the monitor to bring out the detail in the galaxies, spiral structure in NGC 2487 and the 2 dark regions and extended nucleus in NGC 2486, I begining to think that my mirror has lost to much reflectivity and requires recoating as I’m just not getting that ‘wow’ anymore.

When I looked up these galaxies for info on the Webb Society web site I noted that it had been up-dated an Owen had added a new galaxy of the month for Jan, or to be more precise a group of galaxies with NGC 2289 being the primary member. With the group also being in Gemini I saw no reason to track them down.

Currently being in southern Gem I hoped up past Castor and onto the busy little group which fitted nicely into the Watec’s narrow fov. There were lots of stars in the field I have certainly seen plenty of less rich designated clusters! Once I had added the stars I sketched in the 5 galaxy members. In the orientation of my sketch with N down they are from the top as follows NGC 2290, tiny NGC 2288, NGC 2289, with NGC 2291 at the lower centre and the N-S elongated NGC 2294 to the lower left.

The NGC 2289 group in Gemini

Not a bad observing session, SQM meter read 20.53 which for my location these days was a bit above average.

Clear skies, Dale

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