Thursday 18th Jan 2018, after a couple of days of very strong winds causing quite a bit of damage across the SE things calmed down, temps dropped, the sky cleared and was nicely transparent.

I did some family stuff earlier on and watched TV with Tracey and then at 22.00 went outside and got going. Orion was well placed so I sync’d on Rigel for a starter then took a look at the magnificence that is M42 aka the Orion nebula before hoping onto the Horsehead B33, first time I have had the 20″ on it and I was shocked at the size of this dark nebula on my 14″ monitor it filled most of the screen! That shows how small the Watecs FOV is!┬áThis iconic nebula catalogued by my Hero Edward Barnard needs no introduction. It was a tough one to sketch as basically it is a dark outline on a lighter but still dark background the whole area studded with faint stars. Good to get the sketch of though. I used pastel pencils to depict the nebula and background sky, I added white acrylic paint to pick out the stars.

The iconic Horsehead nebula

With a show piece in the bag I noted another nebula close by on the planetarium display, this time a ‘Bright’ nebula IC 435 is close to B33 and the larger ‘Flame’ nebula it is boxy in shape, in it’s centre is a star bright enough to show diffraction spikes using the 20″ mirror, this star appears to be a triple or multiple? Nice, and I’m sure this is the source of excitation for the nebula making it glow. It was fairly subtle and took a lot of twiddling and adjusting to show it off to its best on the monitor. I noted one region close to the star, at 7 o’clock on my drawing where the nebula appeared brighter. Size is listed as 5′ x 3′

IC 435 a bright nebula in Orion

Now enough of this sightseeing, on with the work, that being observing Arp galaxies. Just across the Orion border into the constellation of Eridanus I located a difficult Arp to observe by any standards, small faint 15th Mag. It does not have an NGC identifier so I had to locate it by RA & Dec which with my cameras small field is tough. Pleased that I got it though. Visually 2 small 15th mag galaxies with a star between them identified as MGC+0-12-55. Stated in the atlas as ” spiral with HSB companion on arm” there is a more prominent galaxy to the upper right in my sketch, this is MGC+0-12-53. The much larger galaxy to the upper left in the sketch is UGC 3105.

Arp 61 a challenge in Eridanus

It is now 1am and time for my bed. Not a bad session.