Two ‘sort of clear nights’ in a row. While conditions were not ideal – again – it wasn’t something to be missed.  With Leo being well placed for observation, I thought it was about time I had a serious attempt at some of the galaxies on offer in the area

Session Data

Date: 02/04/2013
Time: 20:18 – 22:58 UT

Temp: 1.2c, Air Pressure: 1003Mb, Humidity: 72%, Dew point: -3.2c, Wind Speed: 4 MPH . Seeing: I Perfectly Stable, Transparency: Mostly Clear , Airmass: for all objects 1.4

The first long clear night for a while. Conditions were not ideal though. Seeing was good with no noticeable movement at low powers. While there was little cloud around, you could see the light scatter from distant conurbations indicating a lot of moisture. While I didn’t systematically check the faintest stars in the FOV, the only noticeable stars down to about 12.0 mag were seen.

M66

M66:  Easily seen with the longest dimension orientated N/S in the FOV. No actual shape other than ovoid could be made out, except for one fleeting moment when the galaxy took on the form of a ‘comma’ at x113. No amount of magnification made any difference to the detail seen.  When viewed with the 40mm both M66 and M65 filled the FOV. The only stars visible were the four (ranging from 9.6 down to 11.4 mag) located  N/W of the galaxy. See notes on M65

M105:  M105 appears to be slightly off round, but I found it wasn’t possible to say what orientation this took. NGC3389 NCG3384 also visible in the same field of view.

M65: Like the observation of M66, no structure observed was observed, but when looking at both M65 and M66 together, M65 was obviously thinner in width than its counterpart. Orientation N/S

NGC3384:  Seen in the same field as M105 and NGC3389. Easily seen, but not able to pick out any structure.

NGC3389:  Seen in the same field as M105 and NGC3384. Really chuffed as this is my first 12th mag galaxy that I’ve managed to observe. I guess if it had been larger the light would have been spread over a larger area and therefore the overall surface brightness would have been less.

M96: Like my observations from a year ago, both M95 and M96 were easily seen, but no structure could be made out.

M95: Like my observations from a year ago, both M95 and M96 were easily seen, but no bar or any other structure observed.

While M66 was the only galaxy observed that showed it’s true shape, I’m still disappointed that at high powers, I’m still not seeing structural detail in my observations of these smaller Galaxies. I do realise that transparency conditions on all the occasions have not been good and this must therefore account for this. Basically, I need to make better use of the nights when conditions are perfect for my Galaxy observations.

As a matter of interest I used the Statistics option in Astroplanner and selected all my logged observations going back to November 2011. Looking at the transparency ratings for all of the 115 observations I have made, it shows that where I logged the transparency as ‘Extremely Clear’ that is only happened for 5.2% of the time 🙁