Observations of Deep-Sky Objects
These are the observations made by amateur astronomers from around the globe. I'm keen to present the work of an observer (members or not) to further the aims of the Webb Deep-Sky Society. Images, sketches or even your observing notes are of interest.
If you have any observations of your own that you'd like to submit I'd be delighted to hear from you. Please try to include as much detail about the object (after all that's why we observe them) as possible. Time, date, location and observing conditions are useful.
We have observations of these Objects
Which fall into these classes
And these Constellations
Or if you'd just like to browse through our most recent observations
NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 in Virgo
I have a new sketch of the May 2020 galaxy of the month (NGC 4567-8) that I made with my 20-inch, observing from our dark site in the Appalachian region of Pennsylvania (SQM 21.8). The sketch was made at 360x with North up.
Ivan Maly - (20 May 2020).
M 63 and NGC 4631 in Canes Venatici
I noticed someone’s picture of Messier 63 in the last magazine that consisted of many 900 second exposures through various filters and thought I’d give it a go.
I have another one taken two nights ago of the Whale Galaxy (NGC 4631). The Hockey Stick (NGC 4656) is visible in the bottom right too.
Both images are a single colour shot of 1000 second exposure. The sky is so much clearer at the moment so tracking programmes perform better. Probably never be as good again.
- Telescope: AG14 Orion F 3.8
- Camera: FLI Microline Camera
Richard Weatherley - (20 May 2020).
Messier 91 (NGC 4548) and Starlink Satellites in Coma Berenices
Messier 91 was discovered by Charles Messier on March 18 1781, and at magnitude 10.2, it is the faintest object in his catalogue. However, he made a mistake recording the position of M91 and other observers could not find any object at its recorded location. William Herschel observed the same galaxy on April 8, 1784.
M 91 became one of the "missing Messier objects", and it wasn't until 1969 that amateur astronomer, W C Williams, reconstructed Messier's mistake in recording the position. There are few bright stars in this area of the sky to provide fixed points, so Messier had recorded the location of M91 relative to another galaxy. Messier had recorded the position relative to M89, but Williams wondered if he should have written M58, rather than M 89. He tested this hypothesis and landed on NGC 4548 to better than one minute of arc. So M91 is now accepted as NGC 4548.
M91 is classified as an anaemic galaxy, that is a spiral galaxy with low star formation and gas content compared with other galaxies of its type. The core and bar are relatively bright, but the outer regions and spiral arms are very faint with a surface brightness around mag 22/arc-seconds-sq, providing a tough observational challenge.
On the evening of April 25, my data gathering was interrupted by the passage of a stream of Starlink satellites. One of my red subs captured the passage of three of them through Coma Berenices around 20:12 to 20:22 UT. The camera shutter closed as the last one crossed the field of view. I've used this sub as a luminance layer on the finished image to give an impression of their appearance.
Data were gathered between April 20 and 26, and test subs confirmed the faint nature of the outer regions of the galaxy. The image, therefore, comprises 50 x five-minute luminance and 15 x 10-minutes, each of RGB, binned 2 x 2.
I processed the image in Pixinsight and used the photometric colour calibration tool to check the star colours. The galaxy has a B-V value of 0.8, that is the orange side of white, so I think the presented colour is more or less correct.
- Telescope: 8" Ritchey-Chretien.
- Camera: QSI 683 with Astrodon filters.
- Mount: Skywatcher EQ8.
David Davies - (13 May 2020).
Back to Leo
I wasn't totally expecting a session last night but I was happy to oblige thank you :) My sky was a good one! I picked out Sue French's Deep Sky wonders from the shelf for inspiration and settled on NGC 3501 as a starting point as it was the faintest thing listed in 'Leo's 11th hour' I also checked my NGC files to ensure that I hadn't observed it before!
First: NGC 3501 in Leo, nice relatively small , clean sided edge on magnitude 12.9, only points of note were a central region obviously brighter with small nucleus, this region didn't 'bulge' as is common but actually gave the galaxy a slim waisted appearance. Two faint stars stand guard at the northern tip.
Second: Lying just North of the first observation, also listed in Sue's book but I hadn't noted that fact until this write up! This magnitude 10.9 barred spiral, NGC 3507, was the finest object of the night! The main spiral appeared as a over-extended backwards letter 'S'. A foreground star lies over the galaxy and is brighter than the nucleus to its right. Outer arms form a diffuse halo that took a long video camera integration time of 21 secs to be sure of.
Third: A nice contrasting pair arranged north and south of a reasonably bright star. NGC 3454 is an edge on, clean sided no brightening or other features. NGC 3455 is to the south, another grain or seed shaped galaxy bright central nuclear region which extends slightly NW-SE. An interesting pair.
Fourth: A small cluster, principle members are NGCs 3473 and 3474 with a number of small faint unknown galaxies in the field. I should imagine through most scopes the main galaxies would appear stellar. The difficulty of resolution being exacerbated by the fact that NGC 3476 appears closely associated with a bright star, its galactic halo extending around the star itself. NGC 3473 to the south is plain slightly elongated E-W.
Started 10.30 BST, closed down 01.30, most enjoyable.
Dale Holt - (25 April 2020).
Messier 59 and Messier 60 in Virgo
The galaxies of the Virgo cluster in Messier's catalogue are among the outstanding Messier objects on my Messier imaging marathon. I have found these galaxies to be challenging objects to observe. The spring weather is usually contrary and the rapidly brightening evening skies give little time for imaging. I was very pleased, therefore, to image both M59 and M60 in the field of view of my 8-inch RC.
I have found this image to be fascinating to examine as it contains many faint galaxies including the compact dwarf galaxies associated with M59 and M60. I've included an inverted version of the image for lovers of faint fuzzies. On this image, I've discovered galaxies fainter than magnitude 19, including the dwarf galaxies M60UCD1 and M59UDC3.
I've attached two crops from the main image, showing M59 and M60 separately - and making better compositions.
Messiers 59 and 60 in Virgo were discovered by Johann Kohler on 11th April 1799 whilst observing a comet. Messier himself discovered them, independently, days later and noted them in his list. Messier 60 (lower left) is interacting with NGC 4647, discovered by William Herschel and was given the designation of Arp 116 by Harlton Arp.
Capturing the image data proved to be quite challenging as there are few bright stars in this part of the sky and my off-axis guide camera had to use a magnitude 12 star as a guide star, needing constant monitoring of the image capture process.
- Telescope: 8" Ritchey-Chretien.
- Camera: QSI 683.
- Mount: Skywatcher EQ8.
The image comprises 20 x five-minutes luminance and 10 x 5-minutes each of RGB, binned 2 x 2.
David Davies - (22 April 2020).
Galaxy of the Month and other Galaxies in Virgo
For me last night was very good indeed. I often say that the Watec cameras perform well in poor and hazy conditions, and they do. But as with eyepiece views on a cracking night, images on the monitor really zing when the sky delivers!
My initial target last night was NGC 4410A the Galaxy of the Month. I looked at the image on the Webb website, immediately assumed the target was one of the larger face on spirals and star hopped off after syncing on Denebola. When the last goto move put the larger spirals out of the field of view, centering on what appeared to be two small but bright galaxies touching or joined.
I went and read the instructions! All was then of course revealed and made perfect sense, the monitor view with 15 secs integration showed pretty much all the goodies in and around the target so I sketched before moving onto the larger but much fainter duo NGC 4411A and B that had caught my eye initially.
A different ball game, much tweaking of knobs trying to increase contrast so I could pull out more detail. I had no hope of seeing spiral structure the like of which was displayed so finely on the Webb web page. So I sketched all that I could make out and moved onto NGC 4567 and NGC 4568: Copeland's "Siamese twins" wow!
Why hadn't I been here before? Fantastic, these must be an Arp I thought, checked and no, really! Spent a while sketching these making sure that angles were about right on the paper. The screen view really was something, then I started to think the star I could see in the lower portion of the larger left-hand galaxy NGC 4568 I couldn't see in image I could pull up in Sky Map Pro, I looked in Bratton's no star there either! I will leave it at that as I quickly scanned and fired it off to Guy Hurst just in case I had struck lucky, I doubt it but you never know we all look at many galaxies, most off the beaten track, hopefully one of us will strike lucky one day :) At the time of writing I have not heard back from Guy but I'm not holding my breath, there is bound to be another explanation.
My penultimate target was M58, very close by the sketch in my Messier file was mediocre at best and made using the 14" back in 2009! With images tonight being good I would make a revisit. There was more detail to be had than my first sketch but this remain quite an elusive Messier for real intricate detail the outer arms are very tenuous!
Last stop because the outline in Sky Map pro looked so long and slender was NGC 4762 and it turned out to be a corker of an edge on, very sharp, especially the brighter inner region radiating from the core and the outer halo isn't too fat and fluffy so it doesn't detract from the spear like view of the galaxy, this is a real winner. close to 3 stars, 2 of them bright enough to show diffraction spikes, this must be a great target for the visual boys? The star to the right was just above a tiny goings on of very distant galaxies.
Brilliant session, time 01.30, eyes were burning, deffo time for bed, but sleep to a while to come as I was buzzing.
Dale Holt - (15 April 2020).
I also made another observation in Hydra whilst I was visiting, an interesting tadpole like duo NGC's 2292 and 2293.
Dale Holt - (22 March 2020).
The Integral Sign Galaxy (UGC 3697) in Camelopardalis
This is a magnitude 13.68 galaxy in Camelopardalis. UGC 3697 is an edge-on spiral 'super-thin' galaxy with warped arms located approximately 151 million light-years away.
Scientists believe the warping is the result of interaction with the dwarf galaxy UGC 3714, the (magnitude 12.6) round spiral galaxy below and to the left (east) of UGC 3697.
There are many other faint galaxies in this image, including PGC213372, the magnitude 17.7, face-on galaxy to the right and just below UGC3714.
One of the challenges in capturing and processing this image is the presence of the two, bright orange stars. HD54070, to the left, is an orange star (B-V 1.1) of magnitude 6.3, and HD52762 is a magnitude 7 star of a slightly deeper orange hue (B-V 1.3). By comparison, the three blue-white stars to the left of UGC 3697 are magnitude 10 to 11.
- Telescope: 8" Ritchey-Chretien at 1660mm focal length.
- Camera: QSI 683 with Astrodon filters.
- Mount: Skywatcher EQ8.
Image data were captured on the evenings of 17th to 27th February 2020. The data comprise 24 x 5-minutes luminance and 6 x 10-minutes each of RGB.
David Davies - (2 March 2020).
Arp 245 in Hydra
The February 2020 galaxy of the month is one of the most intriguing pairs in the Herschel catalog, although when I observed these two with my old 12-inch three years ago I could not see any details.
I am attaching a new sketch that I made with my 20-inch, observing from our dark site in the Appalachian region of Pennsylvania (SQM 21.5, seeing 2").
The sketch was made at 250x, and I also examined the field at higher and lower magnifications. The arm in NGC 2993, the connecting material, and the RFGC remained invisible. I blame reflection from fresh snow, which was noticeably brightening the sky even though we had excellent transparency.
The sketch on black paper was finished at the telescope.
Ivan Maly - (15 February 2020).
A few finds in Lepus
It was my initial intention to stay in Orion and look for more faint planetary nebulae. Here I have to report 2 failures.
The first one was absolutely zero seen of PK204-8.1, this according to images is a lovely ring structure. I could detect nothing, not a hint. I spent an hour trying with settings on the monitor and camera turning the exposure up to 20-sec integration and still nothing. I could see the stars that are superimposed on the nebula, all the field stars down to magnitude 19 or fainter but no nebulosity and I knew exactly where it would be!
Next PK215-30.1, I could see nothing at the location, looking at images this was less surprising than the first failure as it was a diffuse and tenuous nebula. Studying the monitor with the knowledge of what the nebula looked like, well maybe there was some milky structure there but I was far from sure so I moved on.
I dropped down into Lepus and changed quarry to galaxies.
Arp 123 was a revisit, last sketched back in 2013. This time I pulled out a little more of the dust lane than previously and sketched in some fainter stars than back in 2013. I also caught a nice little PGC 172117 with a central bulge just out of the field-of-view to the south. I made a quick shape sketch in the info margin of the main sketch.
Next I got a nice little first, NGC 1843 a fine SC spiral, magnitude 12.7, two arms seen, mottled central region and a couple of superimposed brighter stars, a nice object.
IC 418 (PK 215-24.1) was an interesting and surprising observation, to cut a long story short, using the camera in the usual setting format the nebula appeared as a bright circular and uniform disc.
I know it is basically a fairly bright star and a faint spherical nebula in line of sight association. The camera appeared to be combining the two! If I turned it up to max 20-sec integration then the object displayed diffraction spikes. However if I turned the camera right down to a very short integration time that would just show down to magnitude 5-7 stars then a small nebulous disc appeared with an obvious associated star, as drawn. I can't work it out but I have recorded what I saw, and from my perspective it is what it was on the video camera.
That is all I have to share. This persistent haze or clag as they say north of Watford really has put the kibosh on what could have been a nice little winter run for us deep sky peeps.
Dale Holt - (21 January 2020).