Saturday, October 30, 1999

Dogs, Hicksons, AAA and time warps

Saturday the 30th of October, TAC went to Pacheco State Park for a short night of deep sky observing. Moonrise was minutes before midnight, but conditions were so nice for an end of October that we had a very good turnout, and an enjoyable evening.

There were two mishaps worth noting, one before observing and one after. The before involved my 18" Obsession, and a neighboring property owner's dog. The canine marked his territory on the side of the scope's rocker box. What a shock to turn around and see a leg-raised dog in mid-relief. I cut his actions short by instinctively yelling an unusually profane command, which the dog obeyed, running off at full tilt.

My friends, enjoying the spectacle, suggested that I should mark over the dog's claim, in order to reassert my ownership. No way.

As the sun set, them temps dropped, but soon settled into a comfortable fall evening. By dark, the Milky Way was overhead and the hum of pre-observing activities settled into the quiet of dozens of observers doing what they came for. It was a really pleasant evening.

We were also surprised by Rich Neuschaefer and Jay Freeman showing up in new vehicles that were much more astro-friendly than either's previous ones. Rich handed out mortar-shell sized ice cold Fosters, which we all enjoyed, and Jay pulled out two delicious large pizzas!

The largest aperture we had on-site was a 25" Obsession. There were several 18" scopes, a 17 or two, a 16", 14.5" StarMaster, multiple 12.5" inch, various sized SCT/LX-200's, a 6" Takahashi and more. I could not keep up counting the people and scopes in the area by true dark, but there were at minimum 25 scope.

My program for the evening was to continue in the Pegasus entries on the SAC database. It was to be a relaxing, slow-paced session for me. One observer logged some 80+ objects for the night in his 16" Dob, mostly on compact galaxy clusters, but I spent quite a bit of time talking to other observers, looking in other scopes, and letting my observing buddy catch up to me (or try anyway.... he's jumped into the deep end with little star hopping experience, so it takes a bit of time to develop the skill). Here are my finds for the night. I used an 18" Obsession with two oculars, a 20mm Nagler and 12mm Nagler. My star atlas for the night was Software Bisque's current high-end version of The Sky for Windows.

NGC 7568 is a round galaxy that Dryer described as extremely faint, pretty large, irregularly round and with several stars involved. The Sky lists it at mag 14.5, with SAC showing mag 13.5 with a 12.6 surface brightness (sb). I found it faint, small and rather unremarkable. It is under 1 arc-minute in size, elongated slightly E/W. It sits about 14 arc-minutes NE of a mag 8 star that is the closest in an easily identifiable chain of 5 stars. Another bright star, mag 6.5, sits 20 arc-minutes N. Find this object by placing your Telrad circles inside the NW corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Three naked eye stars in the mid to high mag 4 range are visible there. Use those to orient your Telrad.

Next was NGC 7624, UGG 12546 and UGC 12545. Dryer says it is a round galaxy, very faint, little extended or irregularly round, diffused, very little brighter middle and shines at magnitude: 13.4. SAC is close at mag 13.1 with sb at 12.6. This, while dim, is not difficult to locate since the 2 degree circle on the Telrad lies just S of the Great Square line from Scheat to Alpharatz. While difficult to detect the galaxy, there are some distinct star patterns that give-away the correct location. About 26 arc-minutes WWNW of the galaxy lies a bright pair, at mag 6.4 and 7, the brighter one closer to the galaxy. Forming an arc N-S on either side of the mag 6.4 star is an easy chain of dimmer stars. Between the mag 6.4 star and the galaxy, slightly off-line to the N is another bright star, mag 7.6. Using those guideposts, you should be able to pinpoint the galaxy's location. ESE of NGC 7624 by about 10 arc-minutes is a parallelogram of stars, two brighter one on the galaxy side, two dimmer away. Roughly 10 arc-minutes further ESE, barely visible was UGC 12546 and UGC 12545. I confirmed these by identifying a very tight triangle of stars almost N of the galaxies. The brightest of the three stars was closest to the galaxies, dim at mag 14. A third UGC galaxy in the group eluded me.

NGC 7056 sits alone in the eyepiece. At mag 13.8 (The Sky), it is not difficult to perceive as a smallish round glow. There are not many identifier stars in the field, but very nearby, maybe 30 arc-minutes S, is a distinct pattern of four bright stars with a few nice yet dim straight chains involved. These will help confirm the correct field. Some observers will find the locating the piece of stellar real estate to hunt a challenge. It is in the middle of the empty sky between Enif (Pegasus' nose star) and the eastern wing star in Cygnus - 53 Cygni. In fact, you should note a mag 4 star between them. That star is 1 Pegasi, and should be touching the northwestern 2 degree Telrad circle.

NGC 7347 is probably in the easiest location of any target I looked at. Find Pegasus' neck, and note the bright star between Markab (beginning of neck) and Biham (end of neck). That star, is called Homam, easy to see at mag 3.4. The target galaxy is right there, such that the inner 30 second Telrad circle's east edge touches the star. The galaxy is described as extremely faint, pretty large and elongated. There is another galaxy in the field, but too dim for me this time. I found I needed to confirm star fields to make sure I was seeing NGC 7347. About 16 arc-minutes N of the galaxy is a chain of stars, one mag 10, another mag 11.4. There are distinct doubles in that chain. There is also a mag 10.8 star 6 arc-minutes to the NE.

NCG 7461, NGC 7463, NGC 7465, NGC 7448 and NGC 7464. This galaxy field is fun. There are plenty of bright mag 9 stars to use as references when star hopping in the eyepiece, and the galaxies are fairly easy to pick out. NGC 7461 et-al are in an even easier to locate naked eye position than NGC 7347 (which now moves to number two in ease of locate ratings for the night). If you can find Markab, you can find NGC 7461, as it is one degree west of the bright star. NGC 7461 is small and, at mag 14.3 (SAC 13.3 and sb 12.7), not too difficult to pick out as its fairly compact. It sits 4 arc-minutes W of a mag 11.7 star. Three mag 10 stars are W and SW of the galaxy about 20 arc-minutes. To the north, you should see a mag 8 star. Find it and you've found NGC 7463, NGC 7464 and NGC 7465. It is easy to see NGC 7465 and NGC 7464, since they are large and close to the bright star. NGC 7464 is particularly nice, although dim at mag 14.27, it is an edge-on about 1x4 arc-minutes in size. I could tell there was something unusual about the object, so in went the 12 Nagler, and out popped NGC 7463, small and perpendicular to NGC 7464 on its S side. About 20 minutes W of this group was NGC 7448, very easy to see and quite large at mag 12 and 2x4 minutes size.

During all this, I was wandering around, helping confirm a star field here and there, peeking through other scopes, having a few coffees, chatting about clubs, equipment, observing sites and anything else that typically comes up at a star party. I began to head toward the restrooms when I noticed the 25" Obsession aimed in the direction of the Veil. I climbed up to find it on NGC 6990, along the "Witch's Broom." I could see the difference aperture makes. My 18" does very nicely here, but the 25 had more "pop" as I was seeing definite structure within the tubular shape of the ribbon of nebula. It was a very good view.

Sometime during the night I was also called over to Steve Gottlieb's scope, to have a look at a very nice planetary ring-nebula in Grus. This was a very low object, but Pacheco State Park has a very good low and dark southern horizon. At about 100x, the object looked like a dead-ringer for the more well know Ring in Lyra. It was big and bright. He also showed a great view of a diffuse nebula in Cepheus, near NGC 6946, but I do not recall the numbers. Perhaps he'll chime in here and fill in the blanks.

The night was getting along, and midnight was too close. I pressed on with NGC 7485. It is a mag 14 round galaxy with a bright core. It's location is tricky. I had success reeling this one in by using a chain of stars that hook off the belly of Pegasus, between Scheat and Alpharatz. Coming from Alpharatz toward Scheat, you'll note a chain of three or four stars, all in the 5's mag-wise. By imagining the first three continuing out, I could see the position should be 2 degrees beyond where the temporary imaginary star would be. This landed me almost dead-on the target. This was not easy, since I tried perhaps three other methods to locate it first. The galaxy was small and dim, seeming to have some elongation NW-SE, but it was subtle. A chain of bright stars ran NE/SW to the NW of the galaxy, about 5 arc-minutes away at its closest point. The brightest star was at the W end of the chain, and was the center point of a small but distinct chain of stars. Another chain of stars helped confirm, running E-W of the galaxy, to its NE. This was a pleasant field to confirm, since there were so many identifiable star patterns in the field.

The last galaxy I went after was NGC 7558. This turned out to be a really nice surprise. The first thing I noticed when preparing to track it down was a difference between the reported magnitude in The Sky (says mag 16.0), and the SAC database which catalogues it as mag 14.9 but sb of 12.7. I did not think I'd see mag 16 that night. I moved the scope to the area just inside the square near Markhab. A mag 5.8 naked eye star was blinking in and out of view, but I could see it. I placed the SW edge of the Telrad just outside the star and was in position. After a bit of looking, and again pumping up the magnification with a 12 Nagler, I could detect 5 galaxies. NGCs 7549 (3'x1' N/S) and 7550 (round at 2'), at mags 13.8 and 13.6 respectively were easy, jumping out 4' apart and nailing down the location. A mag 10.7 star is within one minute of 7549. Soon, NGC 7547 at mag 14.7 popped in, 3' W of NGC 7550. NGC 7547 is elongated E/W, and is maybe 2' in length and 1' width. Next in view was NGC 7558, my initial target. This was very faint, and could not be held steady more than half the time. I do believe the mag 14.9, but not 16.0 for this object. Finally, the last of the group began to glow E of NGC 7549 by perhaps 5 arc-minutes. This was CGCG454-15, a mag 15.3 elliptical. The group turned out to be cross-catalogued as Hickson 93 and Arp 99. Steve Gottlieb looked at it, and e-mailed later that NGC 7558 (HCG 93e) had a much higher red shift than the other group members. As a point of interest, here are Steve's notes:

This is also HCG 93 and Arp 99. The redshifts are interesting: once again (like Stephan's Quintet, etc.) this group has a discordant member -- HCG 93e -- which has a much higher redshift than the other members. The radial velocities (heliocentric) in km/sec are:

Name v
(million l.y.)
HCG 93a 5140 260
HCG 93b 4672 235
HCG 93c 5132 255
HCG 93d 5173 260
HCG 93e 8881 445

Someone (Jamie?) asked about distances we are observing when tracking down some of these dim galaxies. There's an answer!

About 28 arc-minutes mostly east of NGC 7558 was another pair, which I finished the night on. NGCs 7578A and B are a double galaxy system. With the 12 Nagler I was able to begin breaking these apart. I'd like to try them with more power and more time. But by this time, the moon cresting the eastern hills, silhouetting a lone tree on the horizon from behind. It was a beautiful view, but signaled the end of the night's observing.

A few of us stood around, reminiscing about the great Loma Preita earthquake in 1989 that shook us all, comparing notes and talking about other earthquakes. Our observing site sits very close to California's notorious San Andreas fault. A few more bites of Jay Freeman's garlic and cheese pizza, and I was packing up to go home.

Then, for the final excitement of the night, a friend came over and said there was a car stuck in the drainage ditch that borders our setup area. The car was nosed in, with the chassis on both sides resting firmly on the ground. I had a huge laugh when told about the good soul (sorry about this, if you're the one, and are reading this) who tried helping the driver out. Standing on the opposite side of the ditch, he was looking at the left front tire from in front, and told the driver to try backing out. Well, the tires spun and launched dusty soil forward, engulfing the helper. As the dust settled, there he stood, slowly emerging from the clouds and patting himself down to clean off! This had to be one incredibly funny sight!

One person suggested not rolling the car out, since its frame was on the ground, saying isntead to call a tow-truck. The driver (who we shall all keep anonymous) shot back "sure.... how am I going to get a tow truck out here at this time of night".... I thought of calling AAA, but decided to watch for a bit more...

One of the observer pulled up his Jeep behind the stuck car, hooked on a tow-rope, and all was again well with the world.

It pays to observe in a group!

It was 1:47 a.m. and I was driving out of the park. Daylight savings time would end in 13 minutes. I arrived home almost an hour later, cleaned up and crawled into be at 1:46 a.m.

It was a great night. We had good skies, good friends and lots of laughs.

I'm looking forward to next weekend already.

Saturday, October 9, 1999

Horse Bits and the Hunter Hunted

I awoke in my tent at Pacheco State Park on the morning of October 9, 1999, my daughter still soundly sleeping. The sun was now baking the tent as one of the other observers had just driven off for home, and the shade of his SUV no longer blocked the heat. I made a quick exit.

After a nice breakfast, we sat and let the day pass. I cleaned my eyepieces, dusted off the primary mirror (still dusty from Henry Coe the weekend before).

Company began arriving and by dark we had a larger group than the prior night. Everyone was impressed with the observing site at Pacheco.

I have to note how good the sky was the night before, the better night of the two (something that I say whether it is true of not, for the benefit of those who came out only one night). I had views of M31 and M42 that were absolutely spectacular. M31 was in my opinion superior to any view I've ever had at Mt. Lassen. I mistook the spiral structure at the galaxies northern extremity for M110. When I did go to M110, it was so big and bright, on any other night a view like that would surpass M81 or M82. It was amazing. Over in the southern section, by NGC 206 (the blue giant star cloud), the dust lanes *wrapped* around, dark lanes obviously curving to head to the other side of the galaxy. M32 seemed more like a globular cluster than a galaxy. M42 had six stars without trying in the Trapezium. The dark lane between M42 and M43 had clearly defined areas of grayish nebula incised at the edges by a river of dead black. The view had nearly the effect of some psychotropic substance! I could hardly tear myself away, but by that time of night I was literally stumbling around. We also had an absolutely rock solid view of the Horsehead Nebula, using my scope and Ray's H-Beta filter. The curve of the head off the neck was easy.

It was a good night.

As sunset turned to dark, there was a hum of excitement in the air. It is fun to be at a good site and listen as the night sky comes out. By dark, the sky had less of a light dome toward San Jose than the prior night, but there seemed to be poorer transparency. I think the humidity was up.

I began my second night as I had my first, in Pegasus. My first target was NGC 7567, a mag 15.4 (The Sky) galaxy just under 3 degrees east of Markab on the southerly line of the horse. Mag 15.4? Maybe the transparency was okay. The galaxy shown almost between a close pair of dim stars (mag 12+), which were part of a recognizable chain. The dim stars were a "crook" in the chain, with four other stars attaching to the crook and leading away to the southeast.

NGC7387 is 4 minutes west of a tight pair that is part of a recognizable chain. 2 minutes ESE is MCG2-58-23, blinking in and out on the edge of vision. 4 minutes ESE then 2 minute more are NGC7389 and NGC7390. Mostly W about 14 minutes are 2 bright and large galaxies, NGC7385 is about 2 minutes in diameter and elongated N-S, while NGC7386 is to the NW about and about 2 minutes in size. Still another, NGC7383 is 14 minutes E of 7385, and sits close to a dim star. This excellent field is found easily just off 46-Xi Pegasi, along the neck of the horse.

Now I moved back toward Andromeda. I knew before looking at a chart or the sky, since the NGC number was so low. NGC41 is just east of the center point on the line between Algenib and Alpharatz. The only thing that might stop you from seeing this one is not aperture, or bad condition. I had both working in my favor, and logged the object as having a nice sine-wave of stars (Ken Head found this one, showed me the sine-wave) beginning 20 minutes south and extending to the edge of my 20 Nagler's field. NGC42 is 7 minutes N and halfway to a nice tight double star.

NGC7033 and NGC7034 have a bright star 20 minutes ENE. Both galaxies are about equal brightness, and are small and dim. They are in the middle of no-man's land, sitting between Enif (the bright star at the nose of Pegasus) and toward Delphinus. This was no easy find, without decent guide stars in the neighborhood. Both galaxies are listed as in the mid-14's. NGC7033 is a bit easier to pick out, with NGC7034 being identified more by its position than its shape (it looked like a fuzzy star).

Next I placed the Telrad in the crook of the horse's neck. I could form an almost perfect parallelogram with the target position, Homam, Biham (where the neck joins the head) and Enif. Soon I was viewing NGC7236, a fairly bright small galaxy sitting inside a small triangle of stars all about 4 minutes away at the N, E and SSW. NGC7237 is very close and only shows at higher magnitude. NGC7236 is also listed in the SAC database as 3C442, and there is a bright point embedded in the galaxy (whether this is a foreground object or not, I do not know).

I was taking my time this night. I had no choice. Up almost all night the prior evening, little sleep, the heat of the day. All things that sapped energy. I was tired and would as much visit other observers as I would do my own observing. I looked through a beautiful AP 180 EDT, saw some great CCD taking place using an ST7 and Tak 152, peeked through various aperture Dobs, and saw a local master astrophoto watching ones and zeros.

I would eventually continue, pointing the scope at NGC7345. This was a nice edge-on galaxy, faint, 2 minutes N of a chain of 3 stars, the brightest at mag 9.5 as the closest of the three. Also in the field was NGC7342, a round galaxy 14 minutes W. The pair sit very close to famous NGC7331, but a bit to its N (on the opposite side of 7331 from Stephen's Quintet).

By this time, things were wearing down. It was close to 3 a.m. and many of the partiers had left. I wanted to go on, but there was only a handful of objects left before I was exhausted.

I move to NGC7514, sitting by itself in the field, not quite halfway between Scheat and the Blue Snowball. This is another area spare in naked eye finder stars. But, I recall using a chain of naked eye stars that began along the line from Alpharatz to Scheat, that looped out away from the square and to the west. These dim stars pointed the way th NGC7514. The object's magnitude is in the mid 13's. It sits 5 minutes S of a bright star that is art of a straight chain. My notes call it fairly large and bright. Oddly, The Sky refers to this object as extremely faint. Sure.

My last object in Pegasus for the night was NGC7586, located on the opposite side of the constellation, on the Pisces border in the rich galaxy fields between Markab and Pisces' Circlet. The galaxy was dim, but decent size. An arced chain of 5 stars begin 15 minutes NW of the object and end at the edge of the 20mm Nagler field of view. There were other galaxies in adjacent fields, but it was getting late.

I shot over to the east, to have a few moments hunting the Hunter. NGC1924 was first on my list. It was very nice, bright and round at about 2 x 2 minutes, west of the Hunter's sword. A dim pair of star were 4 minutes WWSW and EESE. A bright star was WWSW of that double. A chain of 4 dim stars were evenly distributed at the opposite end of the FOV. What a nice field!

I ended the night with NGC1661. This object sits on the Orion - Eridanus border, close to Taurus. It is in a star poor area and only the presence of a pair of mag 4 stars that sit inside and outside the Telrad make it less than impossible to locate. The galaxy was small, faint, with a chain of four stars, dim, dimmer, dimmer, dim, very close to its south.

I had had enough. I said goodnight to the few remaining observers, mostly planetary types, and crawled into my tent. I awoke the next morning, packed up quickly and left, having a meeting at 2 p.m. that afternoon. I had spent two nights off the beaten path, enjoying some objects that are rarely seen by the human eye.

I turned off highway 152 again at Bloomfield Road, and tried a new way back to highway 101. Through the fields, orchards, following an unknown stream past small roadside businesses and ramshackle homes. There was still a bit of adventure left in me after all.

Friday, October 8, 1999

Horse Bits and the Hunter Hunted

Friday afternoon the traffic on highway 152 out of Gilroy was miserable. The other main highway south was closed for some reason I was unaware of, and all traffic was now heading down the dozen or so miles of two lane rural highway 152. I came to a stop just outside the Gilroy Garlic Works (I'm sure that is not the correct name), and sat, in a big city traffic jam, right next to the factory that loves the Stinking Rose. And there, traffic crawled, giving me ample time to divert my attention from the drive, to what I would do that night.

Just as one take a lemon and makes lemon aide, I had enough negative impetus to try something I'd never done on that drive. I saw some other drivers turn down a small side road, and there I went too. It was an adventure, as I didn't know where it led to, but I knew it was going the right direction and I had a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Bloomfield Road is a beautiful detour from the tedium of heavy Friday afternoon traffic. The road bisects a broad valley, 152's stationary vehicles to the east, and highway 101 somewhere to the west. We rode between, on this small thread of blacktop between fields of tomatoes and peace.

What a relief... of the beaten path!

And that's what I decided to do with my weekend, get off the beaten path. I would set my sights on logging objects within two constellations, using a printed copy of the Saguaro Astronomy Club's Deep Sky Database as my list. I had downloaded the list and sorted it by constellation and then diminishing surface brightness. It is a very healthy sized two folder set of objects in small font, mostly off the beaten path.

I had my 18" Obsession, a laptop computer with the current version of The Sky, a deep cycle marine cell batter and inverter, a Telrad and would use two eyepieces, a 20mm Tele Vue Nagler and the 12mm Tele Vue Panoptic.

The observing site is Pacheco State Park, near the top of the eastern portion of California's Coastal Range mountains. The park itself is an exquisite piece of California's heritage and is historically significant from the time of the great land grants to the gold rush, to modern day commerce and transportation as a crucial link between the San Francisco bay area and southern California. Horizons at the park are outstanding, access is excellent as good freeway virtually drops you at the location, and it is farther removed from light pollution than other local observing sites.

As the sun set, our group prepared and watched the Milky Way appear, and it did so very quickly after the Summer Triangle became obvious. An hour later black clouds of interstellar dust and gas stood out prominently, especially north of Deneb. There was the slightest breeze, the temps were cool but not unseasonably, and other than the sound of highway 152 to our north we were alone. Perhaps 25 observers shared the location that night.

I began in Pegasus. I'd completed logging Herschel's in Pegasus, so now I was down to the Horse's bits and pieces. I would also change the way I observed, deciding to take detailed notes while observing, rather than using The Sky to log objects.

NGC 7594 is located almost a little south of mid-point between 10-Theta Piscium, which is the member of Pisces' Circlet closest to Pegasus, and Alpha Pegasi, which is the southwestern-most member of Pegasus' great square. The object is very faint, in fact The Sky lists the magnitude as 15.6. It was very difficult to get even a glimpse of it. There are a pair of dim stars, perhaps 12th magnitude, pointing at the galaxy, and other pair of mag 10 stars almost paralleling the dimmer ones a few arc-minutes west.

An easier object in the same field was IC 478, a mag 14.7 galaxy that showed well, and give hints of N-S elongation when I bumped up my magnification with the 12 Nagler. I am not trying to give dimensions on most of the objects, as it is enough of a challenge right now to estimate angular distances accurately. I'm sure the ability is earned. Anyway, IC 478 is much easier than NGC 7594. It sits just minutes NE of a noticeable chain of 3 dim stars. The thee dim stars are just NE of the brighter and dimmer pair mentioned before.

NGC 7244. This is where the difficulty lies in non-DSC/GoTo amateur astronomy. Objects like NGC 7244 that lie in no-mans land, away from any good asterisms or lack bright stars that put the object on a "line"... But there was a way. 42-Zeta Pegasi is the brighter of the stars in the horse's neck. Using it with the "bend" star in the neck, and the nose star (Enif), you can create a parallelogram. With the SW corner of the Telard's 4 degree circle on "the spot" where the 4th star of this imaginary parallelogram should be, you will be in approximate position. The first thing you'll notice is the rich field of view. There are lots of stars in the field. There is a nice bright chain of 3 stars 6 to 9 arc-minutes almost due east, then a much dimmer arced chain of stars just south. The galaxy appeared small and elongated, and a difficult find at mag 15.0.

I found NGC 7360 to be dim, round and small. There was a small chain of stars pointing with equal brightness at the galaxy in a very tight formation minutes to the NE. The object is located close to the intersection of Aquarius, Pegasus and Pisces. A tight grouping of three stars above the Y of Aquarius was my key to logging this object.

NGC 7584 is just northwest of the wonderful Pegasus 1 Cluster. It is located on the same line as NGC 7594, but closer to Pisces. NGC 7584 is very faint. It sits between two bright field stars, and appears as the westernmost member of a dim triangle of stars between them. Also in the same field is NGC 7587, an elongated mag 15 galaxy approximately 14 arc-minutes north of NGC 7584.

NGC 7712 is a moderately dim galaxy, mostly round but with a slight elongation N/S. About 14 arc-minutes NNW of a nice pair of stars, each being a double, both having relatively equal brightnesses in their components. To the ESE is another double about 10 minutes away. To find NGC 7712, look for 68-Upsilon Pegasi, two-thirds to the center of the Great Square from the northwest corner star (Beta Pegasi), and place the 3 o'clock position on your Telard just east of Upsilon. Happy hunting!

Next we head northwest, out toward Ophiuchus and Serpens Cauda. From Beta-Pegasi, find the "leg" stars of the horse, Matar (44 Eta-Pegasi) -- which many of us know as a pointer to NGC 7331 and Stephen's Quintet, and further out on the same line to 29-Pegasi (mag 4 star). The target is NGC 7275, one-third the way from 29 to 44 Pegasi, and a tick north. The galaxy appears very dim and small, 7 minutes W of a bright pair and 3 minutes E of a very tight dim pair of stars. The bright pair of stars also point at NGC 7270, which is bright and about 12 minutes west of the westernmost star. NGC 7270 appears to be either round or a small face on spiral.

NGC 7803 is very dim, sitting 3 minutes W of a pointer pair of stars. On a really good night, there would be several other galaxies in this field. This night, there was one other, NGC 7810, which I saw as dim and involved with at least one star. These galaxies are found by placing the Telrad's outer northern edge so it just touches three degrees west along the line from Alganib (88 Gamma-Pegasi) to Markab (Alpha Pegasi).

All the while this was taking place, people would come over and look, asking where the object was in the field, and when told would give a knowing "ah-ha"... Maybe they see them, maybe they don't. I do. I would take a break, go over and look at the new AP Voice-controlled 1200 mount set up next to me, have a peek at Jupiter (with my non-deep-sky eye) through a friends 180mm AP, and then visit with some old and many new friends. It is relaxing (but tiring on a Friday night).

Back to observing, I hit NGC 7286 next. This was a bit dicey to find. Again taking the line from 29-Pegasi to 44-Pegasi, as we did on NGC 7275, but instead of one-third in from 29 and north, we come in one-third from 44 and place the northern 4 degree Telrad circle just south of that line. The galaxy appears dim, small, and perhaps elongated. A bright star sits 24 minutes E and another 20 minutes W. The first star has a nice double pair close to its N.

NGC 7362 is not as dim as the others, I call it moderately dim (holds steady with averted vision), roundish and easy to see. There is a bright wide pair of stars 10 minutes N and NW, another pair S and SW by 12 minutes. Finding this made me feel as if I was running around the horse, since each object seems to be alternating corners. This one places the N edge of the Telrad Circle on Homam, the bright star in Pegasus' neck (Zeta Pegasi). The top of the Telrad circle is just slightly east of this star.

NGC 7387 treated me to other objects visible in the same field. Just a bit NE from Homam is the star 46-Xi Pegasi, at mag 4.2 it is an easy pair with Homam. The middle Telrad circle should touch this star, and the outer one should be just east of Homam, and the center of the Telrad south of the "neck" of Pegasus. NGC 7387 is 4 minutes W of a nice tight pair of stars, but the galaxy is dim. NGC 7386 is easy at about 11 minutes NNW of the pair. NGC 7385 10 minutes due W of the pair and right next to an equally bright pair of stars. NGC 7383 is 7 minutes SW of the pair. UGC 12202 is 30 minutes S of the pair and an easy find.

By this time of night, Pegasus was in full descent to the west, and the Hunter was well up.

I would spend a few hours on Friday night or Saturday morning hunting the Hunter.

The first object in Orion was a welcome change of pace, a stellar planetary nebula! The object catalog is PK190-17.1, for which I used an OIII filter. The object is also catalogs as J320. It is nearly stellar using my 12 Nagler (to my friends, yes, I promise to buy a 7mm eyepiece), but a bit roundish and has distinct coloration compared to the surrounding stars (with the OIII filter on). The planetary is 7 minutes N of a bright star and about 18 minutes W of a bright pair. I would not have identified this at lower power, and especially not without the OIII filter.

On to PK198-6.1 (Abell 12), also in the Hunter. This was a neat object, and very easy to find! If you know where to find Betelgeuse, you can find this one. The first star in Orion's "club" is mag 4.12 61 Mu-Orionis. That's the spot. On a high power eyepiece and OIII filter, and in the glow of the bright star, when you avert your vision, you'll see a nice small planetary nebula, ghostly in the glow.

By now I was beginning to become weary. I would walk and feel almost as if I were stumbling, but I could still stand at the eyepiece, and what a wonderful night it had been already. My notes reflect my condition, as they were scribbled and short.

I went to NGC 1719, south of Orion's bow (or shield). The last two stars in the bow bend sharply east compared to the others to their north. We want the last two. Place the northern edge of the outer Telard circle on the last and most eastern star at the bottom of the bow. The center of the Telrad is slightly east of due south. In the field, you will find not only NGC 1719, but 25 minutes W is the elongated galaxy UGC 3214, ghostly but there. About 8 minutes N of 1719 is mag 15.5 MCG0-13-61, just popping in and out, and involved with a star on the way to our UGC buddy is MCG0-13-51, between two bright stars about 16 minutes apart. Very nice field!

I was on to another dim planetary, but other observers were now dropping like flies. There were three left standing. Many had left for home, other crammed into places too small to really sleep, and a few in tents and sleeping bags. My tent and sleeping bag waited. I was doing two nights and intended to be comfortable.

PK197-14.1 is not too bad to find. I used an OIII and found it was not stellar (what a relief!). It is 25 minutes E of a bright star with a chain of dim stars to the ENE. This object also carries the designation of Abell 10. To find it is pretty easy. Take Orion's western shoulder, mag 1.6 Bellatrix and place it just inside the western outer Telrad circle. Now, place the center 2 degree circle's S end on the line between Bellatrix and Betelgeuse. There you are.

I had two objects left in me. The remaining observers were closing shop, and I was tired. I moved on toe NGC 1691, positioned so the bottom two stars in the bow (we've used these two before) are on the outer and middle circles of the Telrad. The southern more star sits on the outer Telrad circle just east of south. Notes describe NGC 1691 as bright and compact, elongated E/W, and with a chain for 3 stars 7 minutes to its ESE.

NGC 1819 was good sized, elongated NE/SW, with 3 bright stars at the perimeter of the field of view, forming a large triangle. The brightest of the 3 stars has a dimmer triangle of stars pointing directly at the galaxy. You can also see CGCG421-36, in and out, between a two pair of stars. These are located back toward Bellatrix from the bottom of the bow. The S edge of your Telrad should almost touch naked-eye star GSC 103:2874 (mag 4.6).

Finally, I observed NGC 1875. This was an easy find, as the inner 2 degree Telrad circle's eastern edge almost touched Bellatrix (it sat just east), and the center of the Telrad lay on the line to the center star of the bow (mag 4.3 2-Pi2 Orionis). I did not make any note on 1875 other than I observed it. I was probably too wasted to write any longer.

I soon was in my tent. Mimi, my daughter was sleeping well in her bag next to me. The top of the tent is mesh, and as I lay back, the sky was brightening in the east and Orion was visible overhead. I had enjoyed a great night of challenging objects... bits and pieces Pegasus, and later in Orion. I would hunt these areas again the next night.