Observing session report - Hosahalli - 12th March'11

By amar_universe; Published 12 Apr 2011

THREE YEARS...!!! Aeons ago, exactly 35 months to be precise, I had a session of this kind, apart just one in mid-December 2009 @ Coorg. I have branded that etched 10th April 2008 session as the "Hand of God @ eyepiece session" for reasons as in the name, apparent.

Udayan's brand new 8-inch f/6 Dobsonian SkyWatcher was to have first light from a dark place. Me, Udayan, Gautham, one Suresh, Keerthi-Kiran and Subhankar with his imaging setup headed to the usual school ground at Hosahalli. The Moon was to set before midnight and plan was to "observe" the Moon & not just glance at it. Without a good Lunar finder chart we couldnt do much.

What an optics Sky-Watcher has...! Having observed through 2 earlier ones, Parag's 8-inch and Madhu's 6-inch. This one made my this time's observing possible such par excellence.

The sky was an average good ~5.8 mag. But the local bulb lights around were terrible, yet we have gotten accustomed to it. One a.m. onwards I began galaxy-hunting while he was beside. I chose a region not routine like UMa, Leo or Virgo. But the untouched regions of the sky have always mystified me; like the Hydra-Centaurus galaxy region, apart few others down south.

I opened the Pocket Sky Atlas page # 47 & 48, and saw a couple galaxies around star Gamma-Hydra. Starting with one, courtesy the optics of the scope, revealed to me half a dozen in a chain in that region. All were 10th mag, but some were small and low surface brightness. I maintained with what I of late have initiated; draw a crude field-sketch for EACH object, for verification and reference later.

However as happens, I am not able to verify a couple of them, from what I had observed. Wonder why 11th mag galaxies were so faint, whereas all these were 10th mag?!

In all, from my observing log, 24 NEW galaxies were attempted, apart 9 old/already observed. Around 5 observations are disputed (details below). It makes around 20 new galaxies observed in three hours!! Sum of galaxies (old and new) observed through the night is 30!

--- NGC galaxies - (field sketch not clear 5018 and 5068), 5084, (field sketch not clear 5054 & 5044), 4984, 4856, 4902, (discovered 4899 at mag 11.90 when observing previous one!), 5170, 5247, (5078 supposed to be extremely long but I saw only a smudge), 5101, (wonder why adjacent 5061 is not in list?), 5419, 5408, 5161, 5483, 5530, 5643, 5786, 5253.

--- IC 4444, IC 4296, One brand new catalog's galaxy ESO 383-G087.

--- Antennae (NGC 4038 & 4039), 4027 close by, 4559 and 4448 in Coma Berenices. M108 beside Owl Nebula, M83 and M51 very bright and hinting inner feature with 8" scope, Needle Galaxy NGC 4565 with central dust lane, and the down south long galaxy 4945 were the old ones.

Gals were bidding a bye, anyway I had it too much of galaxies this time! As the Summer Milky-Way rose, objects like Swan Nebula (M17), random clusters like M18 and just couple others were simply beautiful.

I had switched on to high power, the other eyepiece we had - 10mm - coupled with a UHC filter, just like that. I was tired to revert to wide, and was spell-struck when I could find the next 4 Planetary Nebulae (PN) with the low field (10mm eyepiece), directly! Ring Nebula (M57) with its stark central hole and outer smoky structure, Cat's Eye (NGC 6543) just stellar and tiny as was NGC 6210 in Hercules with 10mm. Dumbbell (M27) appeared very nice and large. The blue morning twilight washed my attempt for finding the next PN, NGC 6836 (Blinking Planetary). Waited for Veil Nebula but it was lower.

Some ending notes:

a) I believe to be amongst those few people who would have a high reverence for a small aperture (8" here), as compared to a 17-inch aperture, and would say "I am not moving to a bigger aperture for another 5 years of 8-inch exploitation!" Have vouched this in front of Akarsh and Udayan several times. Trust me, a 25x100 binocular can do half as much! You only need to SPEND TIME dedicatedly with your equipment.

b) What do you think your 8-inch scope is capable? Just planets and Messiers? No! If you mark my words, I envision with 5-years of dedicated observing with it under dark skies, you can observe 1000 galaxies alone, and another 1000 deep sky objects! All upto 12.0 mag and just more.

Hope you enjoyed.