Spring Forward

Observing notes from the evening of Friday, April 5, 2002

The title of these notes has various meanings.  On one hand, I was finally springing back into action.  My last written observing notes were from the Leonid meteor shower of 2001.  And even then, it was only a naked eye session, just looking at the meteors.  My last true object hunting session was way back at the Mid Atlantic Star Party of 2001.  So it was good to be back at work, observing more Herschel objects.

On the other hand, I was observing what is typically thought of as the spring galaxies.  I've got several huge chunks of Herschel objects to observe and most of them are galaxies in Coma Berenices and Virgo.  Tonight I worked on finishing off the galaxies in Coma Berenices.  And it really felt good to be back at the eyepiece, taking notes (via cassette recorder), and checking off each object on my list.

On the third hand, this is the weekend that we move our clocks one hour forward.  In other words, we are springing forward in time.  I really dislike this practice but my home state of North Carolina insists on it.  So when Sunday morning came, I had to drag my body out of bed because it felt like it was an hour too early to be getting up.  Plus now we have to wait another hour until it gets dark to do any observing.  I guess you could say that I get an extra hour in the morning to observe, but I'm definitely not a morning observer.

What ever the case, it was really delightful to be back under the stars, gazing at ancient photons, and sharing them with my fellow astronomers from the club.

Here's a list of objects I observed, using my 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope at the Big Woods, Lake Jordan, NC site:

NGC4251. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Medium brightness. Lenticular, edge-on, running mainly east and west, kind of northwest to southeast. Bright core. Small.

NGC4293. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Faint, oval shaped. Not much to it. Brighter center but not stellar.

NGC4350. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Faint, oval shaped. Bright center or involved star. Kind of edge-on. Right next to it in the same field of view is the galaxy NGC4340.

NGC4450. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. More round shape. Bright core. Relatively bright. Spotty or a little mottled, but not too much. Star off to the west, like a stellar buoy.

NGC4394. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Very faint. Round with slight oval, mostly north-south direction. Brighter toward the center. Just west to it is a brighter galaxy, NGC4382. Bigger and brighter with bright core. Actually is M85.

NGC4414. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Bright, oval shape in northwest to southeast direction. Bright stellar core, or involved star.

NGC4419. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Small. Oval or elongated in northwest to southeast direction. Bright core which seems offset to the southeast.

NGC4448. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Small and faint. Elongated running east-west. Brighter center.

NGC4459. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Relatively bright. Bright star to the southeast, like a marker. Star has some color to it, maybe orange part of spectrum. Kind of pretty. Galaxy has irregular brightness and a bright core. Panning, I see galaxies all over the place in this region of sky.

NGC4473. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Elongated in the east-west direction with a bright core. Relatively bright. Galaxies all over the place. To the north I see the galaxy NGC4477.

NGC4477. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Same field of view as NGC4473. Fainter and more round than previous galaxy. Relatively bright core.

NGC4494. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Relatively bright. Just south is a star, marker buoy. Round with bright core. Brightest really drops off as you head away from middle of galaxy.

NGC4548. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Round. Known as M91. Kind of faint. Brighter center.

NGC4559. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Large, elongated in northwest to southeast direction. Some involved stars, three of them in southeastern portion.

NGC4565. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Nice, big, extremely elongate galaxy, running northwest to southeast direction. Bulges in middle. One side looks kind of flat or different. Might be a dust lane. Center is brighter. One nice galaxy!.

NGC4689. Galaxy in Coma Berenices. Last one for Coma Berenices and seems to be the worst galaxy so far. Relatively large or oval shape. Kind of uneven "lighting" to it. Just to the north there are a few faint stars.

Jeffrey L. Polston

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