Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Triplets in Ursa Major

Bode’s Nebulae, Cigar Galaxy and NGC3077

There was a long, long period since my last observation and evenmore since my last entry.  I guess work has just been sucking my time and energy and also other miscellaneous stuff got me busy. Generally speaking is just a matter of adjusting priorities and catching up with the speed of this new pace of living.

A couple of days ago, the sky was begging to see the telescope (even better, the scope was begging to see some light). On a clear, moonless and semi-dark night, Ursa Major was near the zenith and just in the middle of my little piece of sky. My expectations to see something new were few so I aimed the scope at M81/M82. I thought that the sky would not be dark enough to try a fainter galaxy. I first scanned the area to get to M81/M82 with the finderscope. It was not too hard to reach the spot, but I noticed I was out of practice. Anyways, once I got there, I switched to my 40mm eyepiece (37.5x) and for a while enjoyed the view of this amazing galactic couple. 

I checked in my tablet to see if there was something around to try for luck and a very close galaxy was near by: NGC3077. I got tired fetching for NGC3077 and then decided to pop up on magnification with my 15mm eyepiece (100x). M81 was more prominent now and the Cigar showed a little more of thread inside the sticky shape. After enjoying those two, I hopped to the triangle formed by the 8th magnitude stars HIP49121A, HIP 49230 and HIP49193. Suddenly, a ghost appeared near by. It was an obvious, but shy nebular patch: NGC3077, part of the several galaxies of the M81 group and I guess one of the very few I could see with my 6” scope under these conditions. Not so much to say about it, but I rather decided it was time to sketch it. Of course, by that time, the area had reached the trees. Yes, I have a small window of sky, so to speak. Well, I have to wait two nights more to complete the sketch using a pre-elaborated stellar “grid” with the brightest stars in the area to save me some time. It worked quite well, despite the curvature that distorts the distances at the eyepiece.

So here is the result, and my first sketch of 2018. Still looking for a spot with more sky available and we will see, what else I can get this summer.

Clear skies,


Edited by Jennifer Steinberg (editor in chief)

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