A galaxy far, far away…

Yea, I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to Star Wars soundtracks every time I drive to the observatory.
tel2It’s twenty to three but sod it, I’ll write up my observation notes while they’re fresh in my head. I started in Bootes, and early on I got a little frustrated because it was too light and I couldn’t navigate the new Telrad finder. But after midnight the darker skies kicked in and M3 and M53 (in Bootes and Coma Berenices) were found. Two globulars with M3 being the showcase. I looked for an NGC cluster by M3 but no luck (too bright?). I also tried to star hop the faint stars of Coma Berenices – there’s loads on M numbers there. I did find one galaxy, though I know not which one yet*. I made a sketch and I’m hoping to match the star field around it in Stellarium.
Leo won’t be around much longer, so I tried for the Leo galaxy ‘triplet’. The Telrad really helped, and I found M65 and M66. Moving along in Leo, I found M95 and M96 but not M105, which should have been in the same field of view. In my Messier Book (it says M105 is a ‘fuzzy blob’. Perhaps I misidentified it as a star?


View through the Telrad

M51 in Ursa Major (Canes Venatici really) was quite a treat, with structure visible, (a hint of ‘spiralling’). Easily found again.
Staying with the Plough, I next found M108, and it’s been years since I’ve seen this. It was certainly shaping up to be a galactical evening! M109 next, and again, it’s been years, and the nucleus of the galaxy seems to have a star-like point of light in it. Just along from M109 is the planetary nebula M97, the ‘Owl’. Quite apt, as I was hearing owls all night. I didn’t see any structure, just a surprisingly bright nebulous fuzz.
What else? M13, great. I saw M92 too, only a few nights ago. And another globular, and another ‘first time in ages’ sighting of M54, half way between Alberio and the outer stars of the Lyra ‘box’. Cool. It’s a pretty sight in a rich star field, being close to Cygnus.
And of course, I took in the Ring Nebula.
Back to The plough, and the galaxies M81 and M82 were superb in the 16″. This has to be the prettiest sight galaxy-wise, as the edge-on spiral contrasts with the larger, side-on Bodes Galaxy.
I think I realised by this point I’d seen nine galaxies, and I started hunting for M40 in Ursa Major to get the ten. No luck. Only now, with my lovely Messier books on my lap do I see that M40 isn’t a galaxy as I thought, it’s a double star!
Jupiter, Saturn, both rising in the early hours and no way to get the telescope on them, because the Dob touches the wall of the dome. Grrrr.
Good session though. Nine galaxies, a few globular clusters and a couple of planetary nebula, (I’m reading there’s only four in the Messier catalogue. Next session I’ll try and see all four).
A good night’s astronomy. Love it!

Edit, I just remembered I saw M64, so that’s ten galaxies …. though I do need to find which was the on I saw in Coma Berenices.
* and a further edit – the mystery galaxy in Coma Berenices was M85. A tenth magnitude galaxy 60 million light years away. Wow.

Looks like I’ve got to update my Messier list. Deep joy!