What’s happening this month at Orion’s Belt Remote Observatory?
A new project is started on the 16″! The “Needle Galaxy” NGC 4565. This is a fantastic edge-on fairly bright galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices. It is well positioned, now visible almost the entire night so we should be able to complete the project in the next month or 2.
Single raw red filtered image of NGC 4565 , the “Needle Galaxy” viewed edge-on from Earth. 15 minute image taken with the RiDK 400 telescope, SBIG 16803 camera. Note the galaxies visible to the lower left, NGC 4562 and lower right IC 3546. The image is annotated with some of the Tycho catalogued stars labeled as well in yellow
Work continues on M77 galaxy in Cetus. Luminance is completed and red channel almost done. The recent supernova in the galaxy discovered in Nov. continues to fade. M77 is getting pretty low in the sky and is only a suitable target until around 10pm or so. This will likely have to wait until next year to complete. Weather in Mayhill has generally been poor this Winter, uncharacteristically.
M77 galaxy in the constellation Cetus. Single raw luminance image, 15 minutes, also obtained with the RiDK 400mm and SBIG 16803 camera
No major operational issues to report except 2 of the mirror shutters on the 16″, which we have been struggling with since the initial installation, have basically failed. We had to manually open them at a recent observatory visit and leave all of them full open. This does not affect the imaging operations at all. It’s a very cool feature but so far I think more of a hassle than perhaps it’s worth. You have to accept gradual accumulation of dust on the mirrors regardless! An upgraded shutter system is supposed to be available soon.
That’s it for now! Thanks for reading.
I really had my sights on M104, the Sombrero, since I never could get there from my previous spot in Western Mass. Between the weather and the 70 foot pines blocking the southern sky, it was impossible. Here it is definitely possible and there are no physical barriers to the view, but to the south there is a light dome from El Paso, and after testing it out I was running into issues with plate solving there (see last post). It looks like I will have to wait until I have more time. We are going to be moving to a permanent spot up the street from here and in the next month we will get the high winds and dust everyone is warning me about! I will have to take my gear down and put it away until probably late April/May. In the meatime I have time for 1 more project and happened to come across this galaxy just to the west of Leo’s head. NGC 2903 is surprisingly large, 12 arc minutes in diameter and is perfectly positioned right now, rising just before sunset. Basically it looks like a smaller version of M81 with a more interesting core! I’m surprised I never saw it before. Of course, as always we are going to go deep with it and hopefully will get at least 30-40 hours in over the next couple of weeks. I started off with about an hour and a half of red and luminance before some clouds came through.
12 minute raw uncalibrated luminance frame. Note the bloomed star image in the upper left. I thought I was going to do photometry at some point so I went with the non antiblooming camera. Also the curved streak in the lower left is junk on the chip glass and unfortunately NOT a newly discovered galactic tidal tail!