The Realm of the Galaxies – The Return

IMG_6418Another early hours type-up.
I hate to rattle through these, but the way the clouds have been over the past year, it could be cloudy tomorrow and cloudy for a month. So I’m getting as much observing done as possible, especially while I don’t have to get up for work.
Here’s a list, all Messier objects observed tonight in Coma Berenices and Virgo, pretty much. …

M99, a mag 9.9 (who’d have thought it!) face-on galaxy. In Coma Berenices, near the border of Virgo.
M87, somewhat brighter at 8.6, a soft symmetrical glow. Pretty in the 25mm eyepiece.
M61, quite a difficult 9.7 mag, but easily seen after 11.30pm.
M91, very faint at 10.2. A barred spiral, but no real structure seen.
M98, a real treat, this one. Quite a large, edge-on spiral.
M89, a face on, smaller spiral.
M90, 10th mag.quite faint.
M91 – couldn’t see.
M100 a 9.3 mag spiral, face-on, bright center, whispy otherwise.
Now, back to M87. I was sure I could see a nebulous companion, which could be NGC 4478, a smaller galaxy. according to O’Meara’s Messier Objects book. My (much older) Cambridge Messier album passes it off as a globular cluster.
My 1991 Cambridge Atlas collaborates the O’Meara book, so I’m going with another faint galaxy, and at 11th mag, the faintest deep sky object I’ve catalogued tonight.
Which makes ten new galactic entries in my journal, and with the fourteen I saw last night, that’s rich galactic pickings.
But there’s two more I saw tonight. Actually by mistake, as I entered M81 by mistake, and the scope slew to Bode’s. Of course, I checked it out, and I wondered why I seem to be able to get M81 and M82 in the same eyepiece in my 8″ reflector, yet not in this S/C. I reckon the answer lies in the focal length and I’ll think about that some other time. But looking at the edge-on spiral of M82 was superb tonight. Perhaps because it’s overhead, and brighter anyway (8.2 mag) than the Virgo and Coma galaxies I’d been spending the evening with. But wow!
Sketches on this stuff upcoming, but at least now I’ve catalogued it all here.
And the bonus to another excellent night’s observing was a sighting of Mercury, below Venus after sunset. A considerably more local friend than the distant massive star-families I’d be concerning myself with come darkness.