Blog for Saturday October 6th 2012
A clear evening sky with the moon not rising until around 11pm local time saw me out in the observatory with Hickson’s on my mind!
My targets were to be 97 & 98 which are found in Pisces just below the bottom right hand corner of the great square of Pegasus. I engaged in my usual process of ‘star hopping’ the scope from rest position to my target. The smaller the hops, with ‘re-syncing’ at each stop the better my chance of hitting small and faint objects.
For Hickson 97 my literature had IC 5367 listed so I had a ‘goto’ catalogue input once I got close enough. So it wasn’t too long before I had this quartet on the monitor and I was twiddling settings to try and get the best view. It was during this time that I was struck by 2 things about this group, firstly on the upper left NNE, was a lovely little edge on, sharp a svelte, quite delightful, secondly one star to the right appeared to be out of focus, or was it a collimation flare? On closer inspection it turned out to be a faint group member galaxy IC 5351 which has a bright star (relative to its own brightness) on its southern tip. Now this star wasn’t shown in my planetarium software, I got a little excited thinking that it could be the ‘unimaginable’ a SN! Rather hastily I pinged off an email to Guy Hurst (BAA Supernova Patrol Coordinator) Martin Mobberly (regular BAA SN verifier & prolific imager) & Tom Bowles world record holder for Super Nova discoveries. If I had hung fire for a few moments and checked some on line images I would have discovered this star was a regular feature! “Stupid boy Pike”. Too late! Martin replied very quickly that he had just closed down, Guy & Tom both relied early the next day, both saying they had aborted observations due to fog & mist. I had by this time of course followed up my original “I think I have” email with a grovelling “I know that I have not” one!
Moving along after my embarrassment, onto Hickson 98 listed as having NGC 7783 as a searchable member my software database told me it wasn’t listed, so I had to slew the scope manually onto the coordinates given and then search for a suspect galaxy group when I got very close, this didn’t turn out to be too difficult and I soon had the 4 members forming a chaining with a few stars on the monitor screen. A star bright enough to display diffraction spikes headed the chain to the north, all very neat and attractive. It turned out that all 4 members are NGC 7783 A-D so that is likely why I could find it; I probably needed to enter the full nomenclature to find it in the database.
I ‘zoomed out’ in the software view and noted a couple of other galaxies very local, all be they just across the border into Pegasus, firstly I went to NGC 14 which turned out to be small and shaped rather like a guitar pick/pluck, nothing much else to report, apart from a subtle amount of internal shading observed, brighter central region and what was probably a faint star close to the SW edge, after sketching I moved on.
The next a final stop off certainly had drama, it was a fantastic edge on, NGC 7814 popularly and aptly know as the “little Sombrero” it is a truly handsome classical edge on galaxy, resplendent with well defined dust lane and flying saucer outline. Getting such a large, and it was large completely spanning the filled of view and therefore completely spanning the monitor screen down on paper accurately is time consuming and I rarely render such splendour to my satisfaction, this instance proved to be no exception.
That was it, the Moon was up in the east and a hazy sky only recording 20.30 at best on my Sky Quality Meter was brightening fast. Still I was pleased with 2 more Hickson’s taking the running total to 70! NGC 14 was new to me and revisiting stunning NGC 7814 a lovely bonus, and so to bed 01.30.