Observing, 8th April 2011

It was touch and go whether I’d have an observing session tonight as the antibiotics for a facial infection were making themselves felt in ways other than just clearing up the infection, but it was a reasonable evening so I made myself get the scope out. In the end I was glad I did.
The collimation, for some reason, was miles out, I think it’s because generations of molehills have made the ground uneven and bumpy so the tube does get banged and rattled about in the 20 seconds or so it takes to get from inside the shed to the spot I observe from, I try and position myself so an oak tree the other side of the footpath is between me and an upstairs window of a neighbour’s house so there’s a few feet of bumpy lawn to negotiate. It took ten minutes in the twilight to sort it out but got there in the end, dare I say it but the Moon looked good at 190x and 304x!
I stayed in Virgo, starting in the north and east of the constellation and working my way south and west, in an effort to knock off as many Herschels (400 and 400 II) in there as possible.

Date: 8th April 2011 (into the morning of 9th April)
Conditions: Cloudless but some high pressure haze, waxing crescent Moon 22% illuminated. Some dew but not as bad as the other night.
Seeing: I-II
Transparency: II-III (improved slightly later on)
NELM: I didn’t look at the naked eye limiting magnitude, as I knew it’d be a bit crap thanks to the Moon. The Moon was a crescent but was substantially affecting sky conditions so I would say it was worse than 5.8 at least. It improved later, as the Moon set.
Equipment: 12″ f/5 dob, 22mm Televue Panoptic (69x), 11mm Televue Plossl (137x), 8mm Televue Radian (190x).

MegaStar 5 chart of the main Virgo area, showing Herschel 400 objects. Click to enlarge.

NGC 4754, galaxy in Virgo – In a very pretty field with NGC 4762. 4754 is oval, elongated SW-NE. Moderately bright. The core is brighter than the halo, but not stellar. Very nice indeed. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4762, galaxy in Virgo – This one is very nice indeed. It is edge-on (edge-on galaxies are my favourites) oriented SW-NE. It has an obvious nuclear bulge and there are three bright stars immediately to the west. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4698, galaxy in Virgo – Located between a pair of mag 10 stars. Round, diffuse-looking halo brightens to a non-stellar nucleus. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4866, galaxy in Virgo – Edge on, oriented east-west. Moderately bright, despite competition from moon. There’s a star superimposed on the NW side. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4550, galaxy in Virgo – In the same field as NGC 4551 where they make a nice pair. Elongated east-west. Bright, condenses to bright non-stellar core. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4551, galaxy in Virgo – Just east of 4550 this is smaller, rounder and not as bright. Brighter middle. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4900, galaxy in Virgo – Fairly faint diffuse oval glow elongated E-W. Condenses towards centre. Star on southern end. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4666, galaxy in Virgo – Almost edge on, oriented SW-NE. Brightens somewhat towards an elongated core. NGC 4668 in the same field. 69x, 137x, 190x.

NGC 4668, galaxy in Virgo – This is located SE of 4666. It’s a lot smaller and fainter and quite hard to see because of scattered moonlight but appeared as a soft faint glow elongated E-W. Quite small. 69x, 137x, 190x.

NGC 4665, galaxy in Virgo – Bright and round with a bright stellar core. 69x, 137x

NGC 4643, galaxy in Virgo – Small, bright and round with a stellar core. Adjacent to 11th mag star to NE. 69x, 137x.

NGC 4636, galaxy in Virgo – Round halo with bright stellar core. In a nice area. 69x, 137x.

NGC 4179, galaxy in Virgo – Lovely spindle-shaped galaxy oriented N-S. bright non-stellar core. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4030, galaxy in Virgo – Bright oval located between and just to the east of two 10th mag stars. Brightens to non-stellar core. Elongated SW-NE. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4303 = M61, galaxy in Virgo – Large and very bright. Oval, elongated N-S with a bright elongated core running N-S. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4273, galaxy in Virgo – A fairly faint oval, elongated N-S. Brightens gradually to core. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4281, galaxy in Virgo – Just east of 4273 this is at 90 degrees to it. Oval, elongated E-W. Slightly brighter than 4273. Brightens to core which is not stellar. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4277, galaxy in Virgo – Next to 4273, this is tiny and faint, elongated N-S. 190x.

NGC 4270, galaxy in Virgo – In the same group as 4281, etc. Oval, elongated SW-NE, with some brightening towards the centre. 190x.

NGC 4261, galaxy in Virgo – Bright, round and with a bright core and almost stellar nucleus. 190x.

NGC 4264, galaxy in Virgo – Located NE of 4261 this is much smaller and fainter. The core is brighter than the halo. 190x.

NGC 4546, galaxy in Virgo – Bright oval, elongated E-W. Bright non-stellar core. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4697, galaxy in Virgo – Bright, oval elongated E-W. Diffuse halo condenses to core and a bright stellar nucleus. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4958, galaxy in Virgo – Bright edge on galaxy oriented NE-SW. Very bright stellar core. 69x, 190x.

NGC 4995, galaxy in Virgo – Round glow with brighter centre. 69x, 190x.

Packed up at 0130. I didn’t want to but after standing for nearly four hours, my back and feet were beginning to let me know it was time to quit! Because the Moon is now substantially interfereing, this will be my last session until after Full Moon. I was a little surprised at the fact I saw all my targets, all galaxies although none were fainter than 13th magnitude.