FUZZY SPOT,  April 2001, Crater

Crater, the Cup, is a small constellation in the southern sky adjacent to Hydra and Corvus.  According to the Greco-Roman stories, the three constellations are related in the legend of the bird.  Apollo send Corvus, the Crow with the Cup to fetch some pure water for a sacrifice to Jupiter.  However, the Crow came upon a fig tree and dallied in its branches until the fruit had ripened. When the Crow finally came back with the Cup full of water, he also was holding Hydra, the Water Serpent, in his claws claiming that the Serpent was the cause for his delay.  However Apollo was not fooled and punished the Crow by placing him in the heavens along with the Cup and the Water Serpent, such that the Crow could not dip his beak into the cooling waters of the Cup, hence the harsh, poached croaking call the Crow makes.

For such a rich story, the constellation is poor both in bright stars and in deep sky objects.  It's brightest star, delta, is only magnitude 3.56.  I only have one observation of a deep sky object (NGC 3962) which was needed for the Herschel-400 list.  However Luginbuhl and Skiff list 9 objects visible in a 15 cm (6 inch) scope in their book "Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects", and Kepple and Sanner have a total of 18 objects in "The Night Sky Observer's Guide", of which 5 are rated "4 star" and 3 more are rated "3 star".  As such, I will be focusing on these objects, and the observations taken from either of these great books will be cited.

        NGC 3511 (11h03.4 -23 05) In Luginbuhl and Skiff's book, they describe it as "In 15 cm this galaxy has a low surface brightness and is difficult to view.  The halo is a dim 2.5' x 1' streak elongated nearly E-W.  The broad uncondensed galaxy is 4' x 1' in 25cm, elongated in pa 75 degrees.  A stellaring is visible N of center, and a mag. 12.5 star lies at the E tip.  30 cm shows it 5' x 1' with a broad core and no nucleus.  Three stars (including the mag. 12.5 star) are visible in the nebula: in decreasing order of brightness, they lie 1.7' E, 2.1' WSW, and 35" NE of center."

        NGC 3672 (11h25.0 -09 48) In Kepple and Sanner's book, they describe this object as "8/10" Scope - 100X:  NGC 3672, located 20' west of a 7.5 magnitude star, appears faint, evenly concentrated, and elongated 2.5' x 1' N-S.  12th magnitude stars are 3' WNW and 4.5' north of the galaxy.  16/18" Scopes - 150x: NGC 3672 has a fairly bright halo elongated 3.5' x 1.5' slightly NNE-SSW containing a highly extended but weak core with a stellar nucleus.  The halo is flanked by 13.5 magnitude stars 2' to its west and 2.5' to its east."

        NGC 3887 (11h47.1 -16 51)  According to Luginbuhl and Skiff, this object is "In 15 cm, this galaxy is closely involved with two faint stars that make the elongation uncertain.  The halo is about 3' x 2', elongated N-S.  A mag. 13 star lies 1.3' NE, and a very faint star is visible 2' ENE.  25 cm shows an irregular oval outline without central brightening.  The halo extends to 2.25' x 1' in pa 165 degrees.  With 30 cm the almost unconcentrated halo is 3.5' x 2.25'.  A darker area lies in the southern half of the core, and a faint stellar nucleus is occasionally visible in the northern half with averted vision."

        NGC 3955 (11h54.0 -23 10)  Luginbuhl and Skiff describe this object as "This galaxy is just visible in 15 cm 5' SW of a mag. 9 star.  It is elongated approximately N-S, but needs more aperture for details.  The object is small and quite elongated with 30 cm, about 1.5' x 0.5' in pa 165 degrees.  Overall the halo has only a slight broad concentration to the center, where a faint nonstellar nucleus can be discerned at 250x.  A threshold magnitude star lies 1' NNW."

        NGC 3962 (11h54.7 -13 58)  The only object in Crater that I've observed so far, at 100X in the 10" scope I saw it as pretty big, pretty bright, bright center and elongated NE/SW.  No nucleus was noted.  There are 3 stars nearby.  It is kind of hard to find due to lack of guide stars.

        NGC 3981 (11h56.1 -19 54) In Kepple and Sanner's book, this object is described as "12/14" Scopes - 125x:  NGC 3981 is a faint 3' x 1' NNE-SSW streak with tapered ends and a uniform surface brightness.  A 12th magnitude star is 1' ESE, a 12.5 magnitude star 2.5' east, and two 9th magnitude stars 4' NW and 5' SE , of the galaxy's center."

Herschel 400 Objects
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects