Monday, January 15, 2001

Lynx in my backyard

I was out in the backyard last night observing in Lynx. It was pretty good, I was easily seeing mag 5.0 stars without working hard. I did not try anything more to determine limiting magnitude. I was using my 10" f/5.6 Dob on an Equatorial Platform, and switching between a 20 mm Nagler, 12 mm Nagler, and 7.5 mm Meade Research Grade Ortho. I worked from the Night Sky Observers Guide, combined with Sky Atlas 2000 and Uranometria. I had a great time. Here is what I observed:

Dolidze 26, and open cluster in Canis Major. This dim patch of stars lies just east of 6 CMi. It has a few bright members overlaying a haze of dim stars. This group is quiet easy to find, and shows decently with averted vision.

That was the one "dog" object for the night. Next, I moved into Lynx the Cat.

NGC 2419 is a globular cluster listed at mag 10.3. It was at first very dim, but improved as I watched it. It formed a nice line with a double star and a single star. The double, single and cluster all sat about the same distance apart in a line, the stars sitting W of the cluster. As I watched, the cluster remained unresolved but became pretty obvious. Going from the 20 Nagler to the 12 improved the view and revealed some granularity.

NGC 2459 is a mag 11.2 galaxy. It seemed quite dim, but still obvious. The bright star 30 Lynx sits almost due S. The galaxy seemed elongated N/S, and was smallish but showed a nearly stellar core.

NGC 2683 is another galaxy in Lynx. This one was a blast. At mag 9.8, it should be bright, but it has an SB of 12.9. Large, elongated and obvious, even in the backyard skies here in Los Gatos. It contained a large bright core and appeared mottled on the SW end. The galaxy runs NE/SW with a triangle of bright stars to its S.

NGC 2782, mag 11.6 with a challenging SB of 14.1. This galaxy was a dim roundish haze and relatively small. I could pick it up only with averted vision, and thought there might be some dim foreground stars involved. It might be slightly elongated E/W and had even brightness throughout. It was a tough find.

NGC 2415 was cool. At mag 12.4 but with a SB of 12.0, this one was pretty obvious. In fact, I'll call it easy. It is small and relatively bright, just west of a finder star that sits close-by in the same 12 mm field of view. It is also close to 70 Geminorum. It is fun to see this one from in town. It was roundish with a bright core. I believe the Night Sky Observers Guide has a mistake in describing the direction of the noted star from the galaxy.

NGC 2500 was my last object. Another galaxy in a rather empty part of Lynx, it is mag 11.9 with a SB of 13.5. This one was the real challenge for the night. Extremely faint from in town - it was just barely there popping in and out with averted vision. It seems round and has a dim star close to the EENE. Sometimes it seemed some very dim stars were involved.

It was a nice night all in all. It started out with phone conversations with other observers, then one came by to look at my Equatorial Platform. I really got started observing after 10 p.m. There was no dew whatsoever, and a slight breeze. I did not need hat or gloves until about 11:30. I hope to be back out tonight.

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