The forecast was for clear skies and that’s exactly what I got. It’s a pity that we are now getting to that time of the year when it never really seems to get really dark. It also means you can’t see anything meaningful before about 11:30 🙁
Conditions were pretty good. Seeing was perfect and apart from a few clouds way off in the far horizon, transparencey was good. It was also the first session of the year, where I wasn’t loaded up with three fleeces, a hat and gloves, in order to stay warm – Summers nearly here. Bring it on!
With Virgo transiting the Meridian, now was a perfect time to bag all those galaxies that have been waiting  on my Messier list. So tonight, I was determined to get these ticked off.
 
Session Data
Date: 20/05/2014
Time: 22:08 – 00:02 UT
Temp: 10c, Air Pressure: 1009Mb, Humidity: 72%, Dew point: 9c, Wind Speed: 6.0 MPH . Seeing: I Perfectly  Stable, Transparency: Clear.
 
M58
M58
In the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 14mm, 145 X, 29.8′ West is to the 9 O’Clock. There is a 7.8 mag star to the West, an 11th Mag to the N/W and a couple of even fainter ones to the S/W and S/E . All are about 10 arc min from the centre.
Changing to Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 10mm., 203 X, 21.3′ Things are very faint, but you can see the Galaxy core and while it looks to be initially stellar, further staring using averted vision it seems to be made up of various brighter clumps giving a mottled appearance like you would see when looking at a very small globular cluster with a long F/L eyepiece. It’s as though my eyes are recording noise which when you try and look at it, disappears. While I sensed what would be the outer arms, these could not be seen as anything more than a very faint halo around the core. If I were to sense any orientation of the galaxy I would have said it was NE to SW, but seeing these was fleeting.
M59
M59
In the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 10mm., 203 X, 21.3′ West is to the 9 O’Clock
The core is slightly stellar and the outer halo is running roughly N/W – S/W. I’m seeing a vertical ‘S’ shape in the outer halo, but know that this galaxy doesn’t show any kind of structure in the DSS image, so my mind must be playing tricks as I flick from normal to averted vision – Really Wierd.
M60
M60
In the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 14mm, 145 X, 29.8′ West is to the 9 O’Clock.
If you move M60 to the edge, M59 can also be seen in the same field of view… NICE .  Concentrating on M60 again, there appears to be a faint galaxy about 3 arc mins to the N/W. This is NGC4647. After a few minutes, I can start to see what looks like a nebulous bridge connecting the two galaxy cores. ( Marked in Red on the image) It’s not very wide and continues through the core of NGC4647 a little way, so I guess I’m seeing the merging of the galaxy outer halos.
The core of M60 appears to have structure, but looking at the DDS image, I know it doesn’t. This structure looks like the core of a globular cluster when viewed through a long focal length eyepiece.
Switching to the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 10mm., 203 X, 21.3′, the bridge between the galaxies seems to dim in the centre and the two become separated. ( Edges marked in Blue on the image)
M49
M49
In the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 14mm, 145 X, 29.8′ West is to the 8 O’Clock.
This is really wierd. Embedded on the outer edge of the galaxy halo, there appears to be a star.( Circled in Red on the image) This is not shown on the star chart, but diametrically opposite is a faint 15th mag galaxy NGC4467.( Circled Blue on the image) I’m sure it cannot be this and I’m doubting if I have correctly located where West is. Checking again – yes, West is to the West. Once I refer to the DDS image, all becomes clear. The Star is indeed a star and yes, it is not shown on any of the star charts I have. The core is a little mottled ( noisy eyes syndrome again) but apart from that I cannot make out any orientation of the outer halo of the galaxy.
M88
M88
In the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 10mm., 203 X, 21.3′ West is to the 8 O’Clock.
This is much bigger. The core is smaller and doesn’t show any of the noisy eyes syndrome previously mentioned. There are a couple 11th and 12th mag stars 6 arc min to the South.( Circled in Red on the image) To the S/E and embedded within the outer halo is a 14th mag star 2.5 arc mins out from the core.( Circled in Blue on the image) The outer halo is easiliy seen with averted vision and looks to be about 7 arm mins across. No detail is seen within the outer halo, but its orientation of N/W – S/E is easy worked out.
M85
M85
In the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 10mm., 203 X, 21.3′ West is to the 8 O’Clock.
I can make out another small galaxy 7 arc min to the East. This turns out to be NGC4394. I’m unable to make out any orientation for this object. M93 is oriented N/S and after a while and with averted vision, I can make out a a faint star embedded within the galaxies halo about 1 arc min out to the North. (Circled in red on the image) Again, the star charts don’t show this, but the DSS image does.
M64
M64
in the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 10mm., 203 X, 21.3′ West is to the 8 O’clock.
This is quite bright. The core looks mottled and I’m seeing this with direct vision, so isn’t ‘Noise’ The shape is a flat oval and is oriented roughly E/W. ( The DSS image shows this to be more N/W- S/E though)
Changing to the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 14mm, 145 X, 29.8′ it looks a bit brighter and spans about a third of the eyepiece at about 10 arc min in diameter. The galaxy sits to the top of centre of a triangle of three stars 10th, 11th and 13th mag with the base running N/W – S/E ( Circled in red on the image)
M16
 
M16
In the Altair Astro 250mm, UWA 18mm, 113 X, 43.6′ West is the 7 O’Clock.
The cluster is split into two groups. One to the N/W and the other to the S/W. The N/E group is considerably more populated  and on first glance this forms and upright ‘T’ . Both groups appear to be embedded with nebulosity, although with conditions starting to deteriorate a little, it’s difficult to see the edges of where this nebulosity stops.
Changing to the Altair Astro 250mm, Delos 14mm, 145 X, 29.8′ The N/E group seem to form into a question mark shape and the S/W group which initially looked like ‘T’ now looks more like a ‘Less than’ symbol. ( Marked red on the image).
The 14mm provides so much more contrast between the stars and the background than the 18mm. I guess that’s why they cost three times as much 🙂 Looking at the two groups, I now see a shape of a rectangular box that is oriented N/E – S/W. (marked blue on the image). Cannot make out the Eagle Nebula shape at all.
Looking at my logs from the 9th June 2013, this object in a similar orientaion, stars take on a completely different pattern.
 
All in all, a very satisfying session. My Messier list only needs 10 more observations and it’s complete 🙂