OR: D.A.R.C. Observatory, 5/16: Galactic Fun In Warm Temperatures

Although I knew there was a slight chance it might get a bit windy, I decided to observe at the D.A.R.C. observatory because I needed the darkness to observe delicate galaxies from the Herschel 400 list in LMi, Com and CVn. After a short and uneventful 1h40m drive from the south bay, I arrived at the D.A.R.C. observatory. The thermometer in my car was clocking 92F! The wind, coming from the north, was not terribly strong, so I proceeded to setup my equipment.

Early on, the seeing was pretty good, but the transparency was just about average as indicated by the light domes from Fresno, Hollister and Los Banos. The seeing remained good for the entire night, and the transparency got progressively better, yielding very decent images of deep sky objects. The wind almost completely disappeared and the temperature dropped from 92F to about 75F by 2am. It felt pretty good to observe in shorts and T-shirt. Only Rogelio was pesting against the warm and varying temperatures. It’s harder to cool a CCD when the air is warm, and the focus shifts as the temperature changes.

Since the night was short (about 4 hours of darkness), I kept pretty busy all night. I ended up logging 25 new objects from the H400 list, which makes it a good and productive night. Thanks again to Dr. Lee Hoglan for letting us observe on his property. Below is my log for the night. Cheers!

Location: D.A.R.C. Observatory [Elevation 1400ft]
Telescope: Meade Lightbridge 12″ F/5
Eyepieces used:
- Televue Panoptic 27mm (56x - 1.2° TFOV)
- Televue Nagler 16mm type 5 (95x - 52′ TFOV)
- Televue Nagler 9mm type 6 (169x - 29′ TFOV)
- Televue Nagler 7mm type 6 (217x - 22′ TFOV)
- Televue Nagler 5mm type 6 (305x - 16′ TFOV)
(All times are PDT)

NGC 2859 GX LMi 09h24m53.7s +34°28’28″ 11.8 mag 09:45p
Small, moderately bright, with a small non stellar core and a round halo.

NGC 3245 GX LMi 10h27m51.1s +28°27’37″ 11.7 mag 09:53p
Fairly small, moderately bright. Fairly bright non stellar core. Halo elongated 2×1 N-S.

NGC 3277 GX LMi 10h33m28.1s +28°27’50″ 12.5 mag 10:05p
Small (appeared smaller than expected - about 1.5′) with a round, faint, broad core, progressively brighter toward the middle, surrounded by a very faint halo.

NGC 3344 GX LMi 10h44m03.2s +24°52’23″ 10.5 mag 10:15p
Fairly faint almost stellar core. Round, faint halo does not appear perfectly uniform. Two fairly bright superimposed stars, mag 11.2 and 10.4, located respectively 1′ and 2′ E of the core. Fainter superimposed star about 30″ SW of the core.

NGC 3414 GX LMi 10h51m48.5s +27°55’32″ 12.0 mag 10:25p
Small, fairly faint. Small core, progressively brighter toward the middle. Very faint round halo. Much fainter NGC 3418 located about 10′ N.

NGC 3486 GX LMi 11h00m56.0s +28°55’29″ 11.1 mag 10:35p
Elongated 3:2 E-W. Progressively and very slightly brighter toward the middle. Very faint nucleus.

NGC 3504 GX LMi 11h03m43.1s +27°55’19″ 11.6 mag 10:45p
Moderately bright. Small, fairly bright and sharply defined core. Halo appears elongated 2×1 NW-SE. Fairly faint superimposed star <1' ESE.

NGC 4314 GX Com 12h23m02.3s +29°50’33″ 11.4 mag 11:10p
Elongated 3×1 NW-SE. Fairly bright with a broad central concentration. Hint of a nucleus at 305x. Moderately bright superimposed star at the NW tip. Another slightly dimmer superimposed star about 1′ SE of the nucleus. Star of similar brightness about 1.5′ ENE of the nucleus.

NGC 4414 GX Com 12h26m56.9s +31°10’13″ 11.0 mag 11:20p
Elongated 3:2 NNW-SSE. Fairly bright halo, progressively brighter toward the middle. Bright, sharply defined nucleus.

NGC 4494 GX Com 12h31m53.9s +25°43’20″ 10.7 mag 11:25p
Round, fairly bright, progressively brighter to an almost stellar nucleus.

NGC 4559 GX Com 12h36m27.4s +27°54’27″ 10.3 mag 11:40p
Fairly large and uniform, only slightly brighter in the middle. Medium surface brightness. Elongated 2×1 NW-SE. Fairly bright (11.9 mag) superimposed star about 2′ E. Slightly fainter (12.3 mag) superimposed star about 2′ S. Did not notice a third superimposed star of mag 13.4, located about 2′ SE, seen on DSS image.

NGC 4565 GX Com 12h36m50.6s +25°56’06″ 10.1 mag 11:55p
Superb edge on spriral. Best seen at 169x. Very reminiscent of photographs. Dark lane easily seen, splitting the central bulge slightly to the northeast. The southwest “half” thus appears larger and brighter, sporting a fairly bright nucleus. Extensions spotted up to 8′ on either side of the core.

NGC 4725 GX Com 12h50m56.1s +25°26’55″ 9.9 mag 12:05a
At low power, this galaxy forms a nice trio with NGC 4747 and NGC 4712. Fairly large and bright. Elongated 3×1 NE-SW. Bright, fairly large core. Two superimposed stars located about 3′ E and 3′ ENE. The halo showed hints of an “S” shaped spiral, although photographs do not show evidence of that.

NGC 4143 GX CVn 12h10m06.5s +42°28’58″ 11.8 mag 12:15a
Fairly small and bright. Elongated 2×1 NNW-SSE. Almost stellar core.

NGC 4111 GX CVn 12h07m33.8s +43°00’50″ 11.7 mag 12:25a
Fairly small and bright. Elongated 4×1 NW-SE. Elongated core. Nice FOV with nearby double star and NGC 4117/4118.

NGC 4151 GX CVn 12h11m03.0s +39°21’14″ 11.3 mag 12:30a
Very bright stellar nucleus, surrounded by a very faint halo showing hints of spiral structure. Forms a nice couple with much fainter NGC 4156.

NGC 4214 GX CVn 12h16m09.3s +36°16’34″ 10.2 mag 12:40a
Fairly bright. Elongated 3:2 WNW-ESE. Appears to be irregular in shape. Although fairly uniform at first, some mottling starts to appear at higher magnification.

NGC 4258 (M 106) GX CVn 12h19m27.6s +47°15’09″ 9.1 mag 12:45a
Fairly large and bright halo, elongated 2×1 NW-SE. Very bright small nucleus. Obvious signs of spiral arms, especially to the north. The core region appears elongated NE-SW (possibly a central bar?)

NGC 4346 GX CVn 12h23m57.7s +46°56’34″ 12.1 mag 12:50a
Fairly small and bright. Elongated 3×1 E-W. Small elongated non stellar core.

NGC 4449 GX CVn 12h28m40.5s +44°02’28″ 9.5 mag 01:00a
Fairly bright and uniform. Appears to be irregular in shape. Elongated 2×1 NE-SW. Faint almost stellar nucleus. Faint superimposed star about 1.5′ E.

NGC 4485 GX CVn 12h31m00.7s +41°38’54″ 12.3 mag 01:05a
Round, very uniform, very slightly brighter in the middle. Forms a nice couple with NGC 4490.

NGC 4490 (Cocoon Galaxy) GX CVn 12h31m05.9s +41°35’32″ 9.8 mag 01:05a
Elongated 3×1 WNW-ESE. Broad diffuse core. Faint superimposed star at the eastern tip. Forms a nice couple with NGC 4485.

NGC 4618 GX CVn 12h42m01.8s +41°05’59″ 11.3 mag 01:10a
Appears to be irregular in shape. A brighter bar is readily visible, elongated 3:2 ENE-WSW. The halo extends to the south of that bar. Forms a nice couple with NGC 4625 located 8′ NNE.

NGC 4631 (Whale Galaxy) GX CVn 12h42m37.1s +32°29’27″ 9.5 mag 01:15a
Fairly large and bright. Seen in 9×50 finder scope. Elongated 8×1 E-W. Fairly uniform at low power. The eastern half looks larger. At 169x, the galaxy appears mottled. Forms a very nice tight couple with NGC 4627. Fairly bright superimposed star between these two galaxies. At low power, forms a superb view with nearby NGC 4656 (the “hockey stick” galaxy)

NGC 4656 GX CVn 12h44m27.0s +32°07’06″ 9.7 mag 01:25a
Very elongated NE-SW. Bends toward the east at its north eastern tip, hence it being called the “hockey stick”. At higher magnification, some mottling was detected. At low power, forms a superb view with nearby NGC 4631 (the “whale” galaxy)