January 23, 2017 – Morning
Got up early with mixed thoughts on being able to see anything. The weather reports were not promising. Looking outside, the sky was covered with thin clouds from overhead to the southern horizon. I would not be able to view in the area I had wanted to look for the remaining galaxies I needed in Virgo. The sky was, however, open to the North.
88-M106 This galaxy is located in Canes Venatici, near its northern border, but I associate it more with Ursa Majoris. I started out at Gamma Ursa Major, the bottom of the big dipper’s pan, under the handle. From there, I went downward, as down under the bottom of the dipper pan bottom, to the next bright star, Chi Ursa Majoris. This star is about six degrees away from Gamma and, at that time of the morning, to the east to my eyes. I could just barely make it out. Using my finder chart, I worked my way to the west of Chi (really downward), following the star pattern, about five degrees, to M106.
M106 was quite obvious, compared to the galaxies I have recently located. It was a rather large grey elongated oval, with its long axis running from about the eleven o’clock position to five o’clock in my field, using a correct image diagonal, at 13X. Changing to a 20mm eyepiece, the object was even better. I tried higher magnification, but 20X seemed to be about the best. As with this run on the Messier Objects, I am using an Infinity 80, f/5 refractor.
After viewing M106 for a bit, the galaxy started to fade. Looking at the sky, the clear part was fogging over, so I packed up my equipment and went in.
88-M106 Elongated grey oval showing almost vertical in eyepiece. Visible at 13X but optimum at 20X. 1/23/2017 04:50 AM CST
March 31, 2017 – Evening
When I went in from my last morning out, little did I know it would be over two months until I would be in a position to go after more new Messier Objects. Therefore, I was quite happy to make an attempt when the weather forecast proved to be partially wrong. By this time, my targets had moved enough to allow me to make an attempt in the late evening, rather than in the early morning.
In terms of seeing, I would rate it as 4 of 5, but transparency would be marginal. I rated it at 2.5. I did not know if I would find anything, but thought it was worth the try. After getting set up with the Infinity 80, and reviewing my charts, I decided to try for the remaining four galaxies that I needed in Virgo.
89-M85: Using Beta Leonis, the bright tail star of the lion, which was approaching zenith as a starting point, I figured out my orientation, using the smaller stars around Beta. Using my Pocket Sky Atlas and my finder chart, I was able to identify enough dim star patterns to work my way the eight degrees to the WNW of Beta to M85.
This galaxy showed up much as I expected it to, as a rather large round patch of grey. It was not bright by any means, but was discernable with my finder eyepiece at 13X, but was much better at 20X. With no real detail visible, I really could not see any improvement at higher magnification. My watch showed 10:45 PM CDT.
90 and 91- M84 and 86: For these, I went back to Beta Leonis for a starting point and headed in a different direction, a little more southerly. Having a true field of view at nearly 4 degrees was an asset for this search, since there were not very many bright stars to the east of Beta for a space. I was, however, able to keep going and find some star patterns that I could identify. I went back and forth some, to verify I was on the right track. Eventually, I ended up with a star pattern that matched the charts and both galaxies should be in the field. At 13X, I did not see anything. I tried different magnifications and finally settled on 20X, which had been working for me lately.
Eventually, I began to get “whiffs” of something in one spot and then another, but not at the same time. After a while, it dawned on me to use averted vision, and I started seeing more. Finally, I did get some winks when both galaxies were visible at the same time. M84 appeared to be smaller and a bit more elongated while M84 showed to be a tiny bit brighter to me and was round. Charts show M84 to be pretty round also, but that is not quite what I saw. I re-verified the star pattern in the area and I was looking at the right spot.
Looking at my watch, the time was 11:15 CDT. These objects were really tough, compared to M85. A lot more than I had expected. However, I did find them. Thinking back on the situation, I think the sky was deteriorating.
The next object I needed was M49 in the southern half of the galaxies in Virgo. I made several attempts to follow star patterns but got lost each time. Looking at the sky, it was fogging over, so I packed things up and went in.
89-M85 Relatively large grey spot visible at 13X, but was better at 20X 3/31/2017 10:45 PM CDT
90-M84 Very faint spot seen in the same field as M86 at 20X with averted vision. Looked a bit smaller than M86 and to its right. 3/31/2017 11:15 PM CDT
91-M86 Very faint spot seen in the same field as M84at 20X with averted vision. Looked a bit larger than M84 and to its left. 3/31/2017 11:15 PM CDT
April 3, 2013 – Evening
The weather forecast said the evening would be partly cloudy. That term can mean a lot of different things around here, everything from what one would normally consider part clouds and part open sky to clear below and clear above a continuous cloud deck. I did not talk about it much to anyone, but I was hoping for a little open sky at least for a while. Sure enough, the sky was reasonably clear and very still, did have a bit of a transparency issue in the earlier evening. I did not think I would be able to go for dim galaxies, but I might be able to see a globular cluster or two that I have left on my list. Since they would not reach high enough until later in the evening, I waited until nearly ten o’clock to go out.
92-M3: The sky was very still, but there was a hint of opacity, and a half Moon, so I continued with the idea of at least finding a bright globular. Bootes was rising nicely in the east, so I decided to go for M3. I did a triangulation off of Arcturus and Rho and put my red dot finder on the spot that looked about where M3 showed on my Pocket Sky Atlas. At 13X and a TFOV of a little under 4 degrees, there would be a good chance M3 would be in the field. It was not, but as soon as I moved the scope upward to search, M3 came into view!
I put in a 20mm eyepiece to get 20X. Not only did I have the nice bright core, but I had a very faint grey circle spreading around the core. I am not sure if this was some optical effect or I was seeing the outer portions of the glob, but it definitely looked nice. I do not think I have seen the outer portions of M3 like that before, assuming that is what it is. I am guessing that my eyes and brain are learning better how to see dim things at low contrast.
I had the one Messier Object, which is really all I was hoping for and the sky seemed to be deteriorating a little, so Jupiter was my next target. All four moons seemed to be visible with Io and Europa being close on either side of Jupiter. I played my normal game of trying different eyepieces, with the 10mm winning the contest. The two equatorial bands were quite evident and the southern temporal band was coming and going. Occasionally, I could see “box cars” in the main two bands. Not bad for a less than pristine night and an 80mm f/5 refractor!
After a while, the sky seemed to clear a bit in the Virgo area that I needed for M49! I could make out several of the main stars, but not Omicron, which is what I had tried to use with little success a few nights before. This time, I decided to triangulate the spot of M49 using Delta and Epsilon (Vindemiatrix) and put my red dot finder on the spot that matched where my atlas said M49 should be. I would then search around for a particular star pattern (shown on my finder chart) near the galaxy at 13X. I worked this method, going back for a new triangulation followed by a search until I finally found the stars I was looking for.
The pattern of stars consisted of three in an east/west row, with another one just above the middle of the three. The right-end star (I am using a correct image diagonal) is brighter than the others. Imaging traveling down the line of three from left to right, then making a 45 degree turn toward the North. Traveling along this new path, there is another star about as bright as the right end star in my field. This second leg is about twice as long as the leg of the first three stars. M49 showed be in between these two brighter stars. I could not see the galaxy at 13X, but I did at 20X. The grey area was centered maybe 40% along the way from the right-end star and the farther one and covered maybe 25 % of the distance between the two stars. I tried some other magnifications to see if any were better, but none were. 20X was best.
As I was watching M49, it slowly faded away. I looked up and either thin clouds were moving in or some were forming. Looking at my watch, it was 11:30 PM. I decided to pack it in. I had one more object than I had hoped for and was quite happy.
92-M3 Very noticeable central core with a surrounding, barely visible circular span of outer stars maybe a half degree or a little less. Visible at 13X but best at 20X 4/3/2017 10:11 PM CDT
93-M49 Round grey circle reasonably visible at 20X but not at other magnifications. Located in the correct location of a star pattern on finder chart. 4/3/2017 11:30 PM CDT