University Lowbrow Astronomers

Observat’n Resolution ‘08.

by Christopher Sarnecki
Printed in Reflections: February, 2008.

As we are sitting here in our annual cold-and-cloudy period otherwise known as December/January/February, I thought it might be more productive to research some observing challenges for the upcoming 2008 observing season. Yes, this is an Observat’n Challenge list. Most of these, I intend to pursue myself over course of this year. Some of these may need the combined talent of our club (John—Get the 61 ready). Many of these objects have been on my observing list for years. Do I expect to see every one of these? Who knows, but I’ll be giving these objects my best efforts this year. In no particular order, other than right ascension, starting in February and in the total darkness of course.

Name/Cat No.MagSizeCoordinates—RA/DecConstellation
Sirius B806h45m/-16^43’Canis Major
This 8th mag white dwarf is the companion to the brightest star in the sky, the -1.4 mag Sirius. Now separating in their 50 yr orbit, will be at maximum separation of 11” in 2029. This year the separation begins at 8.2” and ends the year at 8.6”. Use the highest power the seeing will permit and observe when Sirius is highest in the southern sky. Check out page 33 of Sky & Telescope’s February issue for more observing tips.
Leo I1010’10h08m/12^18’Leo
Low surface brightness Dwarf Galaxy. 1/3 degrees north of the bright star Regulus, which shines at 1.3 mag. Keep Regulus outside the FOV. I think I overheard Doug Nelle claim he has seen this one; but, hey I don’t believe everything I hear.
Wolf 35913.710h54m/07^19’Leo
Red Dwarf. Third closest known star, 7.75 LY, after the Alpha Centauri system and Bernard’s star. I have always wanted to say I have seen a red dwarf star. Red dwarf stars are the most numerous stars in galaxy. This red dwarf is one of the smallest stars known, at about 10% the mass of the Sun and about the size of Jupiter.
3C27311.7-13.2 12H26M/02^19’Virgo
The brightest Quasar (visually) as seen from the Earth that is. On a clear day you can see 93 million miles, or about 8 light seconds to the Sun. On a clear night, you can see about 2.2 million miles naked eye to the Andromeda galaxy. Wouldn’t it be nice to say on a clear night, you can see almost 2 Billion light years in your scope by sighting quasar 3C 273? See page 83 of Sky & Telescope’s May 2005 issue for maps and observing tips. Now come on folks, no complaints, this one is doable.
Abell 3913.02.9’16h27m/27^54’Hercules
Billed as possibly the most spherical of all planetaries. This planetary has been on my must see list for some time. I did see Abell 39 at last summer’s Black Forest Star Party in Robert Wade’s excellent 22” Obsession. I failed to glimpse it in my 18”, both at Peach and BFSP last year. So it’s still on my ‘08 list.


Wintertime is ‘Stout’ time, and this winter, I’ve had some good-uns:

Black Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery, Utica, NY—Deep chocolaty goodness. Can’t tell you how many sixers I had of this one over the course of the winter (5). If this stuff wasn’t in a bottle, I would have thought it was a chocolate bar.

Breakfast Stout, Founders B.C., Grand Rapids, MI—Chocolate, smoky and toasted malts. Thick without being too filing. This brew is what we beer snobs strive for. Very close to perfection!

Bid Eddy Russian Imperial Stout, Leinenkugel B. C., Chippewa Falls, WI—Deep toasted malt nose at arm’s length. Rich raisins, dark molasses, smooth w/o any bitters. Mmm, my mouth must be in heaven.

Name/Cat No.MagSizeCoordinates—RA/DecConstellation
NGC 1049130.5’02h40h/-34^17’Fornax
Extra-galactic globular cluster in the (unobservable) Fornax galaxy. Looking for this object is ‘grazing in the grass’, as I can attest when I went looking for it at the Black Forest Star Party a few years ago. I intent to try again on this one. This time I will be equipped with the nice sky photo locating this 13 mag, 1/2 arc minute spot very low in the southern sky. See page 104 in the October 2002 (I told you I have been following some of these objects for some time...) Sky & Telescope for a fine photograph locating NGC 1049 that I intend on using to help locate this one.
Davy Crater Chain45Km11.S lat./7W long.Moon
Who said the objects on this observing list had to be difficult? I always wanted to see this string of craterlets just north and west of the famous carter Alphonsus. You know the large crater with the small but distinct volcanoes or cinder cones. Approximately 2 dozen craterlets formed in a row inside the squared off Crater Davy Y. Possibly formed when a comet or asteroid that was torn apart by Earth’s gravity just before slamming in to the Moon. See the excellent picture/ map locating this object on page 112 in the November, 2002 Sky & Telescope. If you need a copy, see me and bring cash, the folding kind. The Davy Crater Chain is also highlighted in Sky & Telescope’s October 2007 issue.

Challenge objects for an Observat’n Challenge list:

OK, I get it. Some of these objects I am probably not going to see, but hey, what about using the combined efforts of our club to pursue these?

Polarissima Borealis

That diminutive 13 mag galaxy that is within one degree of Polaris. I did try and locate this one at a Black Forest Star Party a few years ago and failed. I’m probably giving up on this object. OBTW, this object is Doug Nelle’s signature object. He can find it even from the southern hemisphere!

G1 in the Andromeda galaxy

Another extra-galactic globular cluster. Reportedly a 13.5 mag non-stellar smudge southwest of M31. Consult the finder charts on Sue French’s December 2005 Sky & Telescope article for more information on this one.

The jet in M87

A relativistic plasma jet produced by the galaxy’s black hole. This one is not on my personal list as it would take a BIG scope, high magnification (higher than the Tasco limit of x600), and steady seeing of course. Too bad we don’t attend a southwestern US star party in the spring.


Perhaps I’ll report later in the year on how well I fared on this list of challenge objects. I’m sure many Lowbrows have their own list of challenge objects and I would like to hear about other targets that we may want to pursue in our Observat’n Resolution ‘08. (See “Observat’n Resolution ‘08—Follow up Report, Part Une.” by Christopher Sarnecki, June, 2008.)


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