Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 2014 Indiana Astronomical Society Novice/Urban Observing List

Phil Dimpelfeld from the Indiana Astronomical Society creates a Novice/Urban Observing List each month for newbies like myself with not-so-dark skies and not-so-powerful equipment. Phil recently announced the addition of a Level 1 list for true beginners to get familiar with important and recognizable objects. I'll continue pursuing the Level 2 list with slightly more challenging objects.

Last month I squeaked by with 7 objects (6 required to "complete" the challenge). I got 6 objects in the same night in a little mini Messier Marathon with my T5i on a fixed tripod. I ended up with 1700 frames to stack and process, and didn't post the images until well into April (which is also why this post is late).

To save time, I've also started linking results to the original observing list post - which also cuts down on redundancy. Now as I image the objects I'll return to the original post and check them off with links to the respective observations.

April looks like another time-saving month, with several objects in close proximity. This list includes two sets of triplets that should easily fit into my field of view at 300mm.

“Algieba” (Gamma Leonis), Double Star in Leo, 10h 20.0m, +19° 51', mag = 2.2, 3.5, sep = 4.4"

“The Ghost of Jupiter” (NGC 3242), Planetary Nebula in Hydra, 10h 24.8m, -18° 38', mag = 7.8, size = 45" x 36"

M95, galaxy in Leo, 10h 43.9m, +11° 42’, mag = 11.0, size = 4.4' X 3.3'

M96, galaxy in Leo, 10h 46.7m, +11° 49’, mag = 10.5, size = 6' X 4'

M105, galaxy in Leo, 10h 47.8m, +12° 35’, mag = 11.0, size = 2.0'

NGC 3384, galaxy in Leo, 10h 48m, +12° 37′, mag = 10.9, size = 5′.5 × 2′.5

M65, galaxy in Leo, 11h 18.9m, +13° 6’, mag = 10.5, size = 8' X 1.5'. (Part of the Leo Triplet, with M66 and NGC 3628.)

M66, galaxy in Leo, 11h 20.2m, +13° 0’, mag = 10.0, size = 8' X 2.5'

Langrenus, crater, first quarter Moon

Mare Frigoris, last quarter Moon

Challenge Object:
Xi Ursae Majoris, double star in Ursa Major, 11h 18m, +31° 32’, mag = 4.3, 4.8, sep = 1.7”. First double star confirmed to be a true binary star (orbital period = 60 years).


M65, M66, and NGC 3628 form the “Leo Triplet”, a nice trio of galaxies in Leo that are often photographed together. NGC 3628 is significantly fainter than M65 and M66, so is often more difficult to see.

The galaxy NGC 3384 is very close to M105, and (to my eye) is very similar. How did Messier miss this one? M95, M96, M105, and NGC 3384 are members of the “M96 Group” (or the “Leo I Group”).

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