FUZZY SPOT, August 1997, Scutum

Scutum is one of those tiny constellations that doesn’t have much going for it in the way of bright stars.  While it is sparse in bright stars, the deep sky objects more than make up for it.  Even though this is one of the smallest constellations in the sky (the 5th smallest), it contains 2 Messier objects, 2 Herschell-400 objects, and 1 Best of the NGC objects.  The SAC database shows 77 objects, with planetary nebula being the primary ingredient.

Dark nebula also abound in Scutum.  Although these objects are usually of little interest to observational astronomers, B-118 is shown in Vickers Deep Space CCD Atlas and has a comment as Very Opaque.

The other object type of great abundance in Scutum is the open cluster.  Some of the lesser known catalogs are represented here including (from the SAC database):  Do (Dolidze), Ru (Ruprecht), Tr (Trumpler), and Bas (Basel).  Although these obscure catalog objects aren’t usually very rewarding visually, it is sometimes fun to hunt down a few just to say that you’ve done it.

Anyhow, on with the observations.

        NGC 6664 (18h36.7 -08 13). This open cluster is very large, very bright, fairly loose, and somewhat condensed.  I counted 41 stars in five levels over a fairly hazy and granular background.  The stars form a sort of ‘U’ pattern opening to the S.  To the W is a bright star, Alpha Scutum.  This cluster is big and bright enough to be visible nicely in binoculars.

        NGC 6694 (18h45.2 -09 24)  M-26 is an open cluster that is not very big, moderately bright, not very condensed, and somewhat poor.  I counted about 15 stars including 2 fairly bright stars, and a total of 4 levels of stars.  On the WNW side is a very nice curving chain of stars.

        NGC 6705 (18h51.1 -06 16)  M-11 is considered the premier of the Messier open clusters.  It is so loaded with stars, that I decided not to draw the individual stars, just the outline.  I saw it as pretty large, very bright, extremely rich, and pretty well condensed.  The cluster is dominated by a bright star, with two more levels of stars surrounding it.  I estimated about 80 to 100 stars (on a 5/10 night for transparency) in the 10 inch.  I noted a star poor lane bisecting the cluster N/S, just to the E of the bright central star.  Also, about halfway out of the cluster on the W is another star-poor area, this one protruding in from the S.

        NGC 6712 (18h53.1 -08 42).  A globular cluster (the only one in Scutum listed in the SAC database) which I saw as pretty large, pretty bright, and round.  I was able to resolve about 20 stars in the center using averted vision, otherwise I considered it as a granular haze.  A nice globular, and a nice break from all the open clusters.

        IC 1295 (18h54.6 -08 50)  This is a planetary nebula next to NGC 6712.  It sits in the middle of a flattened triangle of stars.  I was virtually unable to see it without the UHC filter, however with the filter it was nearly as bright as 6712.  This is a nice round planetary, and with averted vision, it appeared as slightly dimmer in the middle.  I was quite surprised to see an IC planetary this nice.

        B-118 (18h53.9 -07 27)  This dark nebula is a challenge to all of us.  I have not attempted to observe this object (as of the time this was written), and I do not have any notes, only the picture in Vickers book.  Let’s see at the Deep Sky meeting if this is an observable object.

Herschell 400 Objects
6664, 6712
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects