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Observation Report
Winters, Monday, April 23, 2001

by: Gregg Blandin

The evening of April 23 was exceptional from my location in Winters, CA. With a transparency of 8 out of 10 and mag 6 stars visible at the zenith, the air was very still and dry. Dry enough that no dew had formed on anything that I had left outside the entire night. Contrast was superb, even at the lowest powers, though I would spend most of the evening above 250X.

I started with a galaxy group in Ursa Major around NGC3619, a diffuse, round galaxy with a slightly brighter core. That galaxy and 3 other stars form a parallelogram just outside which lies MCG10-16-108, barely visible as a round blob at 400X with averted vision.

Continuing on in the same direction is NGC 3613, a fairly bright large face/edge on with a large, mottled core. Some structural detail was visible. The galaxy lies exactly halfway between two Mag 10 stars which make finding it easy. Further on still are Galaxies MCG 10-16-111 (16.26), a micro dot of rarefied photons and MCG10-16-112 (15.24) which is only slightly brighter and appears more oval shaped.

Back up into the bowl of the dipper is another small group NGC3733, MCG9-19-126 and NGC3737. I found the brightest of this group, NGC 3733, the most difficult to see, in part because of it's low surface brightness and close proximity to a mag 6 star which further reduces contrast in the area. The galaxy is fairly well surrounded by stars making it look featureless and diffuse. NGC3737 is very round with no core visible. An attempt was made to view MCG9-19-132 (Mag 16.32) but it's too small and faint to see. I was able to catch an averted vision view of MCG9-19-131 (Mag 15.50. It looks slightly elongated?

On the edge of Ursa major, almost into Coma Berenices, is a galaxy group NGC 3991, 3994 and 3995. NGC 3994 is fairly bright with a semi edge-on orientation and irregular shape. The core is bright and off-center. NGC 3995 is slightly oval and appears uniform in brightness. NGC 3991 is an edge-on that's brighter on one end. To the south of the group lies a rough "T" shape of fairly bright stars.

Two other galaxies nearby are IC2943, small and diffuse and the round face-on galaxy NGC3759 with its relatively bright stellar core.

Continuing into Coma Berenices, I viewed globular cluster NGC4147. At 408X, a roughly triangular shape of stars extending out from a bright core practically fills the field of view. No stars in the core can be resolved; however, there are plenty of outlying stars which can. High power views of M13 and M92, were of course much more satisfying and the night's incredible contrast was even evident in my light-polluted eastern sky.

The ring nebula's central star was visible more often than not and I enjoyed the Blinking planetary and Cat's Eye with their much more pronounced central stars. And speaking of nebulae, I think I notice new and different details on the Dumbbell every time I observe it. This night's view was awesome and for the first time I could very clearly see the large circular shape which seems to connect each half of the dumbbell. I also viewed a small mag 12.6 planetary in Cygnus, NGC 6884, after several previously unsuccessful attempts. It took me quite a while to find all 6 arc seconds of it at 400X. It has a very distinct blue color, but no central star that I could see. Another planetary in the area (NGC 6833) was not visible, but at 1 arc second and mag 14, I'm not surprised!

At 4:15 I decided to call it a night, one of the best I've had in quite a while.

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