Tuesday, January 30, 2018

checked alignment

Check for a special planetary alignment in February. Ah. No. Nothing special. Good. The Universe is not ending soon.

Monday, January 29, 2018

no SQM for you

The SQM system at BGO stopped working some time ago.

BGO SQM monthly graph

Two weeks ago it seems...


I understand the meter is particularly difficult to access in the dead of winter.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

patched the arm

Also learned via SpaceflightNow that a software patch applied fixed the troubles with the Canadarm on the International Space Station.

arm illustration

All right!

new Heavy date set

Learned from an article on SpaceflightNow that the SpaceX Falcon Heavy test launch was rescheduled for February 6.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

super dates for 2018

The CAO team sent out the supervisor schedule (blank) and asked us to pick our preferred dates. Time to stare at the calendar...

IT support for 2018

I was asked by the director if I would continue to support the information technology at the Carr Astronomical Observatory.

measuring fuzziness

Looks like there's a lecture coming up at the University of Missouri on dark matter on Tuesday 30 January by Prof. Adam Helfer. It is entitled Fuzzy Dark Matter and Quantum Measurement. Looks like it is part 2 of a series? If I was only in the area...

revisited M53 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory imaged Messier 53, a rather nice globular cluster in Coma Berenices. Another M target I had viewed only once.

globular cluster Messier 53 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

Wide double star HD 114864 aka S 648 is south-east of the glob. Two equally bright stars. B, to the east-north-east, is very slightly dimmer than A.


Wikipedia link: Messier 53.

the Antenna again (Halifax)

The BGO robot returned to The Antenna for me. First imaged the galactic pair on 22 December 2017 but a bright satellite went through.

The Antenna in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

The image is very soft. Poor focus? Too low? Or bad seeing? Well, there are no tumblers.


Tried again on 27 Feb.

nearly done

With the capture of NGC 4565, I have imaged all but 9 of the Finest NGCs. And as noted elsewhere, I have seen all but 2. So, nearing the end...

found the Needle (Halifax)

BGO imaged NGC 4565 aka the Needle Galaxy. Located in Corona Borealis. One of the RASC Finest NGCs. First viewed 8 Jul '10. Wonderful.

RASC Finest galaxy NGC 4565 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

I see a soft fuzzy north of the core of the edge-on galaxy but SkyTools does not mark it.

NGC 4562 is south-west of the big galaxy, another canted spiral. Woo hoo.


Wikipedia link: NGC 4565.

returned to STF 1327 (Halifax)

I wanted to triple-check colours and positions of the companions of Σ1327 so I asked the Burke-Gaffney Observatory to image the multi-star system in the constellation of Cancer.

multi-star system STF 1327 in luminance

Luminance only, 4 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

I observed this system 16 Feb '14. And we sorted out the odd details on 16 Apr '14.

A and B are very close together. SkyTools says they are 5.5 arc-seconds apart, which is nearly the resolution limit of this imaging system. Still, there's a gap, a black line between. B is north-east of A. C is much further away, to the north. In luminance, B and C seem equally bright. C and D, at 2.2" and a high Δm, are not resolved.

I look forward to inspecting the results with the LRGB colour data.

Friday, January 26, 2018

researched SAO 87428

Strange. I did not identify the elements of SAO 87428 when shot for BGO. And it was not listed in my SkyTools list for BGO completed images... Corrected for this. Did I forget back on 12 Sep '16? Very odd as it was logged in ST3P! Logged but no list entry. Anyhoo.

Then I noticed Minkowski's Footprint wasn't in the BGO completed list either. But that's another story.

As I completed the colour processing, I thought I could then update the doubles life list. There was no colour data recorded. But then I spotted other blog references! I had viewed the system on 2 Jul '16. And then imaged it with the DSLR on the C14 on 29 Aug '16. And both times not bothered to describe the colours! Weirder and weirder. So had a go with the DSLR image and tagged stars with colours. Then studied the most recent image, with the fainter stars.

All the while I was doing this, I wondered what was up with the E star. Was it the bright star opposite G from C? So I jumped into the Washington Double Star database and looked up SLE 647. Whoa! There were 9 entries up to J (no I)! Correction: there are I and N companions! So 12 stars.

plot of SLE 647

SkyTools shows A, B, C, D, G, and H and the positions correspond.

WDS adds E, F, J, and L, all of which I see in the BGO photograph.

E, aka FYM 43 AE, is dim and orange and north-east of D. Is it almost exactly between D and F.

F, aka FYM 43 AF, is the blueish star east-north-east of E. It is slightly brighter than D.

J, aka FYM 43 AJ, is the mystery star opposite G. It is dimmer than D but brighter than F. Pale blue.

L, aka FYM 43 AL, is an extremely dim orange star south-south-west of A. It is barely visible in the BGO image! WDS says it is mag 15.1.

I noticed in the WDS that stars D, G, and H are associated with BKO. Hello Mr Berko. BKO 72.

And then I noticed other BKO 72 and FYM 43 entries. Oh ho!

I plotted BKO D, E, and F separately and they corresponded to the main plot.

I plotted BKO 72 HI. Ha! This is the faint star near H, to the north, clearly visible in my BGO shot! It is a touch dimmer than H. Could it be redder?

Finally I plotted FYM 43 JN. The WDS says it is north (325°) and tight (2.4") and very dim (mag 16). I don't think this is visible in my image.

So. Wow! This started out as a double star system not properly updated in SkyTools and with no colour data on the life list and I ended up logging a bunch of new stars!

SAO 87428 in colour

Assembled multi-star system SAO 87428, aka SLE 647, in colour using the LRGB data gather on 12 Sep '16.

multi-star SAO 87428 in full colour

FITS Liberator, Photoshop CS2.

This image worked out really well. All the colour channels looked flat and smooth, without gradient. There did not seem to be major artefacts or problems. I used Arcsin(h) function on all, adjusted the black to the dip to zero, and adjusted the white to the end of the densest data. The green was slightly off but I boosted it in Ps.

Fantastic colourful field stars.

Minkowski's Footprint looks pink!

learned Ariane went off course

Learned of the off-course anomaly of the Ariane rocket from the SpaceFlightNow article. Happily, the two payloads are functional and should recover from the incident. But this has got a few people nervous now. Hopefully, the Arianespace will have a perfect launch for the James Webb Space Telescope.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

meteorites near Grand Bend

We received a fireball report from Western. Professor Peter Brown said that the sky network (of which CAO is a station) recorded a modest but bright fireball last night which probably dropped some small meteorites near Grand Bend.

meteor near Grand Bend

He shared an event link. There are stills, videos, and a map.


A press release followed.

get ready for Gaia DR-2

I quickly read the post on the ESA web site. Gaia's second data will be released on 25 April! The first data set was released in 2016. The next set of data from the ESA Gaia mission will include more than 1 billion stars. Extraordinary.

returned to M108 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory robot imaged M108. A galaxy in Ursa Major. Another target from Chuck Messier's list that I visited only once, back in August 2010. Not a great image (with strange artefacts) but it'll do.

galaxy Messier 108 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

The big edge-on galaxy is mottled and textured with prominent dust lanes in the foreground. It looks like, to me, that large structures are sticking out of the galaxy's disk. Wild. Very three dimensional. Seems to be glowing from within. Well, it is. But... The core is not bright (or is hidden). Reminds me of the active galaxy M82.

There appear to be many small and distant galaxies in the image.

West of M108, near the bright star, is a very tiny oval smudge. This is LEDA 2509962.

South-west, far away, near the bottom-right of the image is a large round ball of lint: LEDA 2505260.

I missed it in my first glance but just above this large galaxy is a tiny faint almond canted: LEDA 2506141.

LEDA 2507972 (to the west) and LEDA 2507703 (east) are south-south-west of the big galaxy and a short distance away.

North-east of 108 is a nearly round small but bright fuzzy: LEDA 2513272.

SkyTools does not noted it but it looks like there's a nearly identical galaxy to the north.


Wikipedia link: Messier 108.

tried NGC 4656 again (Halifax)

Asked BGO to gather more data for NGC 4656 aka The Hockey Stick. In particular, I was hoping for less gradient than before. Alas, the images were not any better.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

dog and hunter (Bradford)

Hauled the bins to the curb. It was surprising cold.

Saw stars. Huh. I wondered if they had run the City Observing Session. I saw Canis Major leaping into the air and Orion tilted.

Briefly considered setting up in the back yard...


It was a meeting night so RASC members were indoors presumably.

good static test

SpaceX successfully started and stopped the engines of the Falcon Heavy. Twenty seven motors!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

planets for 2018

With my custom Excel chart, pulling data from the US Naval Office, I made an astronomical almanac chart for 2018. Been a while since I published this.

almanac plot of planets for 2018

Some notable events:

Venus will spend much of the year in the evening sky hovering near maximum elongation for July, August, and September.

Mars will transition through midnight, and opposition, in the late summer, mid- to late-July.

Jupiter on the other hand will be near opposition in early-May.

Saturn will be highest in the evening sky in June and July.

Uranus and Neptune will be near opposition in September and August respectively.

Late February, Mercury, Venus, and Neptune will be close together at sunset.

In late March, Mercury, Venus, and Uranus will be in the evening sky.

Mercury will join Venus in June.

In October, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter will be together.

Mars and Saturn will be together at the March-April transition.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

play again (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory headed to the Pac-man nebula again. Last visited 20 Aug '16 for LRGB and Hα and O-III. I was hoping to get luminance data with less gradient but a satellite went through it. Received more hydrogen-alpha.

it's been a while (Halifax)

BGO imaged supernova SN2017eaw. It's been a while. Over a month since the last image...

On the long flat part of the light curve...

supernova SN2017eaw in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, GIMP. North is up; east is left.

no improvement (Halifax)

I was a little disappointed with how things played out last evening. Initially, it was looking good weather-wise and the observatory started imaging. But early on there were unusual errors.

Four of my targets were purportedly "not found in database" or had a "malformed position in fielddb.txt!" I had never seen that message before. It seemed an odd message too as my requests had been added to the queue. How could they not be in the database. Perhaps data got corrupted when passed from the computer to the mount? Something was kludged...

There was light at the end of the tunnel when two requests were later successfully completed. I would have been really bummed if nothing had worked!

But when I saw the results in the morning, I was not thrilled. The NGC 1232 image was no better than on 2 Jan. The 16 Eridani image, while faster than on 7 Jan, down to a half-second, did not reveal the B companion.

I learned later that both targets were pretty low. From the log (all times AST):

2018-01-19 20:47:38:
NGC1232 has been observed
10 x 60 seconds in LUM

2018-01-19 21:06:57:
GSC0587800248 has been observed
20 x 0.5 seconds in LUM

It will be a challenge improving on existing results if I have to punch through two and a half atmospheres or more. I'll need perfect seeing and transparency. 1232 seems to be a very low contrast galaxy. 16 Eri I could try to shot even faster...

I don't want to complain.

Friday, January 19, 2018

looking good

1:15 PM. An message was issued from the Clear Sky Alarm Clock for the BGO in Halifax. The Clear Sky Chart showed lots of blue. Again! Huh!

5:00 PM. BGO tweeted it was "waiting for the sky to clear..." A few moments later, it reported the sky as "clear and dark." All right. The 'bot was starting up the observatory! w00t.

5:35 PM. BGO said it was beginning the programmed observations. Fifteen minutes later, the robotic telescope shot M33 for Lane. I was happy to see we were up and running.

I was excited. And stinging perhaps from last night where the sky conditions looked rather good but the dome remained shut, frozen due to ice.

stuck roof

Last night, it sure looked like it was clear over Halifax. I thought the BGO would start up...

The Clear Sky Chart showed a long run of dark blue in the afternoon. I received an email from the Clear Sky Alarm Clock system. The Twitter feed showed activity around dinner time. Sonoran Skies pulled a weather map. It showed clear at the moment. The 'bot reported it was "waiting for the sky to clear..." In anticipation, I updated my staging list in SkyTools 3 Pro on John Repeat Dance. But at 7:09 PM EST, still nothing.

Clear Outside forecast for Thursday night

Later, I double-checked the weather reports. Environment Canada said some clouds while Clear Outside showed good at midnight through to morning. But no email alerts arrived.

In the morning, Burke-Gaffney Obs tweeted
oh rats...the #human checked the logs and last night the dome froze in place again so my run failed to start. #human, do a better job this time pls!!!
Stoopid ice pellets.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

tested release J

Greg and I tested another release of SkyTools 3. It is still generating SSL errors and Greg is convinced it is due to core operating system issues. Some revisions to SSL security are simply not supported by the old Windows XP platform. Greg doesn't want to put any more effort into and I can appreciate why. Along the way we rejuvenated the "current updates" features and that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

JWST testing completed

Read the article at SpaceflightNow on the James Webb Space Telescope. It completed important testing in the vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Center, a significant milestone.

James Webb telescope inside the vacuum chamber

Alignment and optical quality was verified with simulated stars. Next step is to add the sunshade and flight control systems.

Monday, January 15, 2018

quickly checked Stellarium 17

Downloaded Stellarium 0.17.0. First blush is that it looks similar to version 16. Apparently the Oculars plugin is improved. I'll have to try that as I've never really liked it. The change log shows many additions, fixes, and updates.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

identified ARA 752

Researched the pair to the west of U Sagittarii S imaged on 7 Aug '17. Tried to figure this out on 10 Dec '17 but ended up confused.

SkyTools calls this ARA 753 but that's incorrect. This pair is located at 18h31m29.2s by -19°05'12". ST3P says the pair magnitudes are 10.94 and 13.1. Again that doesn't seem right; the secondary star in the image looks brighter. The photo shows a position angle like 285. The separation is more than 5", maybe around 8 or so.

I searched the WDS around 183129.2 and -190512.

Found WDS 18315-1905 ARA 752. In 2010, the PA was 284 and the sep was 10.9. The quoted mags are 11.00 and 11.6. The precise location is 183129.22-190512.1.

sorted ARA 753

Reviewed double star ARA 753 imaged in August 2017. Tried to sort this 10 Dec '17. I compared data from SkyTools 3 Professional and the Washington Double Star database.

PA sep year A B RA dec notes
ST3 173 5.5 1919 10.94 13.1 18 31 29.3 -19 05 12 does not
match photo
WDS 176 5.8 2010 10.62 11.1 18 31 30.97 -19 03 43.3 does not
match photo

The bright pair to the north-west of the S star of U Sgr which ST3P refers to as GSC 06274-1098.

PA sep year A B RA dec notes
ST3 178 6 - 10.1 10.1 18 31 31.0 -19 03 43 north
ST3 - - - 10.1 10.1 18 31 31.0 -19 03 49 south
WDS 176 5.8 2010 10.62 11.1 18 31 30.97 -19 03 43.3 matches

So, I think I have figured this out. It looks like ARA 753 is the bright double north-west of S and it looks like ST3P is wrong. And therefore I think I have in fact split this particular double.

SkyTools calls ARA 753 the pair to the west of S. But the position angle and magnitudes don't match.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Binary Universe: asteroid occultations

cover of the February 2018 RASC Journal
Recently received the notice about the RASC Journal. The February issue was ready for members to download.

Malcolm Park got the cover.

Looking for to the articles by Sage, Percy, and Levy.

My software review column Binary Universe featured the Windows asteroid occultation prediction tool called Occult Watcher. By monitoring shadow cones for your area, you can hope to witness or record an occultation of a star.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

over 1200

Broke 1200 attempted double stars last night.

finished on HR 3701 (Halifax)

I wanted to revisit the multi-star HR 3701 aka Struve 1338 to track down the C element. The BGO robot obliged and captured the target in Lynx. Something is visible to the south-west... But I don't know what it is.

multi-star HR 3701 in luminance

Luminance only, 3 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Viewed this triple on 14 Apr '17 and had split the tight AB pair. But the third companion eluded me.

SkyTools 3 Pro shows C to the south-east. On the Interactive Atlas chart is shows as bright, mag 11.4. But in the photograph, while it has the correct separation, appears very dim, about the same brightness as GSC 02991-0543 which ST3P says it mag 16.2. No wonder I couldn't see anything!

The Washington Double Star database shows very interesting information!

A and B are at a PA (theta) of 311° with a separation (rho) of 1.1" (as of 2016). ST3P is similar: 320 and 1.0 (calculated for 2019.2).

A and C are 166° and 144". Wait! What? ST3P says C is 167° and 10"! Oh. I see. That medium-faint well away star to the south-south-east is what the WDS says is the C star. So then, no problem, I've seen it, check. And it looks like the data in SkyTools is wonky.

But then, what's this super-faint thing about 20" away hovering around PA 195° at mag 16?!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

spotted HD 36073 B (Halifax)

BGO robot imaged HD 36073 aka β891. This is a multi-star system in Taurus at the outer edge of Collinder 65. When I first tried to observe in 30 Mar '13 I did not meet with much success. In this image, I can see the B star of the quad. w00t!

multi-star system HD 36073 in luminance

Luminance only, 4 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

The B star is very faint compared to HD 36073 A. It is to the east-south-east of A. Delicate. C is the bright star to the north. But I cannot split C and D in the image. Then again, they are very tight, at less than 2 arc-seconds. I've still not spotted D so I'll leave it on my View Again list...

HD 35985 is to the south-west of Burnham 891, equally bright. I split the tight pair back in 2013 but they just look like a rod or elongated blob here.

South of BU 891 is HJ 3274, a tantalising faint equal pair. Also previously split.

HD 62679 in M93 (Halifax)

HD 62679 is a double-star inside the open cluster Messier 93 (M93). It was on my View Again list with a note "consider imaging." BGO to the rescue (with the minimum altitude setting decreased to 20). Happily, I spotted the B companion of the pair in Puppis.

double-star HD 62679 with Messier 93 luminance

Luminance only, 5 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

First viewed on 21 Mar '12 from the Overlook deck in Toronto. Split on 7 Apr '12 from Carr Astronomical Observatory atop the Blue Mountains.

HD 62679 is arguably the brightest in the cluster, south-west of centre. The B element, while much dimmer, is clearly visible to the north-west of A. An issue from the visual attempts in 2012 was that the companion was much fainter than what the software SkyTools said. Certainly the B star is dimmer than GSC 06540-3094 to the east and it is magnitude 11.9. B is very similar in brightness to GSC 06540-2578 to the south-east which is mag 12.4. So, we can put this one to bed.

South-east of the parallelogram of stars and the right-angle triangle of stars is a faint wide pair, vertical oriented, i.e. arrange north-south. This is ARA 2069. SkyTools says they are both magnitude 10.1 but B is fainter by about 1 unit.

There are other doubles within M93 but I cannot split them.

And there are other pairs and triples that look obvious but are not marked in the software.


Wikipedia link: Messier 93.

learned of fake meteors

Flipped to Discovery Channel while winding down dinner. It's Future Tech Week with crew at the CES show. Caught a segment on proposed artificial meteors by ALE. Don't know exactly what to think about this...

It makes me think of the things you can put in a camp fire that make interesting colours. How popular would this become? I suppose that will largely be a function of the price. Would they release these willy nilly? Would there be any date or time restrictions? The biggest negative, as I see it, is how it would ruin many astrophotographs. Will it destroy the natural beauty of a dark sky? We already have thousands of active and dead satellites up there.

Found an article on the National Geographic web site.

imaged Struve 2902 (Halifax)

An hour and a half after starting up, the Burke-Gaffney Observatory imaged double-star HD 212468 aka Σ2902 in Lacerta. It is a beautiful but tight double from the Coldfield 200 list.

double-star HD 212468 in luminance

Luminance only, 5 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

A and B are nearly the exact same brightness. Very close. Touching in the image. SkyTools 3 Pro says the separation is 6.5 seconds of arc. Lovely.

Bonus double star? Included in this image, to the extreme north, at the top edge of the image, is the fantastic unequal pair of BD +44 04117 aka ES 104. The very faint B partner is north of bright A.

confirmed pixels

Heard from Mr Lane. I had asked questions about Burke-Gaffney Observatory pixels...

I verified the Apogee camera chip is 4k by 4k. The system is using bin x 2. So then effectively we have a 2k by 2k (2048) image.

Verified the reduced default image size is now 1336x1336 (from 1536x1536).

This was done with the integration of the second camera (a SBIG STXL 11002) that when binned will be 2004x1336 pixels. The BGO director wanted the default image, which fits most objects, to be the same for both cameras.


This change occurred back on 12 Aug '17.

Monday, January 08, 2018

next meeting announced

Once again I was wondering what was up with the RASC TC council. Tom sent a note out on the forums.
RASC Toronto Centre council will be holding a council meeting at 7:30 PM on Thurs Jan 18 in the Petrie Science and Engineering (PSE) building at York University, rm 258, 4700 Keele St.  Members are welcome to attend, please reply to this post if you intend to do so.
There ya go.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

available early

BGO sent a message that the images were ready for processing. At night! Is this a new feature? Normally they are not offered up until the next morning. I suspect it is more likely because the imaging run stopped short.

imaged 16 Eri (Halifax)

Loaded a double-star job into the BGO queue for the bright Moon phase. Aimed at GSC 05878 0248 and the robot imaged 16 Eridani also known as τ4 (tau) Eri.

multi-star 16 Eri in luminance

Luminance only, 2 seconds subexposures, 20 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Neat system with 6 stars.

B is not visible, lost in the glare of the brilliant primary. Doable at 6 seconds of arc. Looks like I'd need to shoot much faster, a half second perhaps, to split them.

The C companion is to the south-east or down and left of the main star. It is the brightest of all the members.

D, E, and F are on the west running from north to south. D and E are equally bright. F is brighter than D and E but less so that C.

This is an old multi-star system. Well, old in terms of human observations. Reports date back to 1887.


Wikipedia link: Tau4 Eridani.

updated DS plotter

I updated the double star plotter in Excel. Version 3 now supports different orientations i.e. east can be left or right.

snapshot from Excel double star plotter v3

This is becoming very useful...

Friday, January 05, 2018

drafted next piece

Drafted the next article for the RASC Journal column.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

found OMVDS2

Stumbled across Observing and Measuring Visual Double Stars (Second Edition)! I thought for a long time it was in a moving box somewhere. When I did not spot it while looking through boxes over the Christmas holidays, I started to get nervous. Had I lost it? Left it somewhere? Then, while switching out the Observer's Handbooks, I found it with my gear! OMVDS was in astronomy box α prime. The whole time... Whew.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

relaxed CSAC settings

Relaxed the Clear Sky Alarm Clock settings for the BGO - Halifax location as I was not receiving, in general, email alerts on nights whenever the robotic telescope was planning to fire up. I.e. my parameters were too restrictive.

updated GRS position

Changed the Jupiter Great Red Spot (GRS) position in SkyTools to 280 as per the data from JUPOS.

returned to NGC 3521 (Halifax)

Commanded the BGO robot to photography NGC 3521 again. One of the first Finest NGCs I tried to image (back in March 2016).

spiral galaxy NGC 3521 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.


Different framing too. Using the new, smaller frame dimensions...


Tried again on 26 Feb. Possibly the best result.

looked into The Eyes (Halifax)

BGO imaged NGC 4438 (centre). A fantastic galaxy in Virgo, it shows a huge halo greatly distorted by the nearby galaxy 4435. Not surprisingly, it is in the Arp catalogue, number 120. The cores of these galaxies are very bright. This target is another of the RASC Finest NGCs. Many call the two together "The Eyes."

Ugh. A lot of gradient unfortunately. And the bright Moon was 63° away.

RASC Finest NGC target with 4438 and 4435 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

The central region of NGC 4438 shows dust and mottling. Really interesting.

To the north-west, I can see a small round fuzzy. This is LEDA 169314, just below star J122716.5+130838.

South-west of the big galaxy is a faint oval ball of lint: LEDA 169320. It is in the outskirts of the wisps of NGC 4438.

PGC 40890 is south-south-west of the warped spiral. It is faint and small and does not look completely round.

PGC 40915 is a small almond shaped fuzzy south of a pair of stars with J122743.1+125233.

East of the pair is a round diffuse shape but it is not marked in SkyTools.

Nestled in the bright stars south-east of centre is the somewhat large elongated smudge of PGC 40958.

Much further away, in the bottom-left corner of the image, is a large round fuzzy. This is IC 3388.

And to the north-east, well away, there's a small oval lint thing: PGC 40981.

I think there are many faint and small galaxies in the neighbourhood.

Near the centre of NGC 4438, to the north-east, there's a faint streak. I don't know what this is. Asteroid? Cosmic ray? Background galaxy?


Wikipedia link: Eyes Galaxies.

imaged NGC 4388 (Halifax)

The Burke-Gaffney Observatory imaged edge-on galaxy NGC 4388. Located in Virgo, this spiral has some interesting structure near the core. Large diaphanous disk. One of the RASC Finest NGCs.

RASC Finest galaxy NGC 4388 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

There is a triangle of small and very faint fuzzies north (above) the big spiral. SkyTools 3 Pro shows two of these, PGC 40611 to the east (left) and PGC 40577 to the west. The southern one is not IDed.

NGC 4387 is the bright but small oval elliptical to the extreme north (at the top edge of the frame).

To the north-west, near star GSC 00880-0593, is a faint round smudge: LEDA 169262.

Diffuse IC 3303 is to the west-north-west of NGC 4388. It looks like a canted spiral to me; ST3P says it is a lenticular.

PGC 40519 is the somewhat large but very faint oval to the west-south-west.

The brighter, smaller concentration further along is LEDA 169248.

To the south-east there is a large, round, but very dim ball. This is MCG 2-32-45.

And to the north-east, far away, is a small oval fuzzy: LEDA 169283.

First viewed NGCs 4388 and 4387 back in May 2013.


Wikipedia link: NGC 4388.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

returned to NGC 1232 (Halifax)

I wanted to improve on the data quality for NGC 1232, first captured on 21 Dec '17. This result is better, despite the bright Moon, as there is no satellite trail. Stretched it in a different way which increased the contrast.

face-on galaxy NGC 1232 in luminance

Luminance only, 60 seconds subexposures, 10 stacked shots. FITS Liberator, Paint.NET. North is up; east is left.

Monday, January 01, 2018

proofed for Feb

Proofed the Journal piece for the February issue. Something was wonky with one of the captions but otherwise OK. I still write choppy.