FUZZY SPOT, August 1998, Sagittarius

Welcome to one of the richest constellations in the sky.  You can find good examples of every type of deep sky object in this constellation, with globular clusters being especially numerous.

Sagittarius is supposed to be a archer/centaur (who is half man, half horse), but I find it much easier to pick out the teapot asterism.  The rich Milky Way cloud even looks like steam coming out of the spout!

As I mentioned earlier, this is a very rich constellation.  There are 15 Messier objects, 3 110 Best of the NGC objects, and 18 Herschel 400 Objects.  Here is a small sample of these objects, enjoy looking at these as well as the many other objects in Sagittarius.

        NGC 6440 (17h48.9 -20 22) Here is one of the many globulars in Sagittarius.  At 170X it is pretty small, somewhat faint, round, and slightly brighter in the middle which is slightly offset.  No stars are resolved, even with averted vision it is only slightly granular.  It sits in a nice string of stars, but other than that, there’s just not much.

        NGC 6445 (17h49.2 -20 01) Here’s a planetary nebula, at 170X I saw it as pretty bright, pretty large for a planetary, irregularly round, annular, and showing no color.  To the NW is a star, and there are bright spots on NW, E, and SW sides.  The E spot appears to be on the outside of nebula.  These bright spots may be involved stars.

        NGC 6494 (17h56.8 -19 01) M-23 is a great open cluster.  At 50X I considered it as pretty big, pretty bright, fairly evenly concentrated with 1 prominent level of stars.  Overall it contains 3 layers of stars with 70 stars counted, and a real nice string of 6 faint stars leading to a bright star.  This is one of the most even of the open clusters that I have observed.  In 10x50 binoculars, it is very obvious and just resolvable.

        NGC 6514 (18h02.3 -23 02) M-20 is the Trifid Nebula.  At 100X it is very obvious, pretty large, fairly round, somewhat bright, and contains 3 dark lanes going through it which gives it its name.  The middle contains a beautiful double star, roughly equal magnitude.  There are a handful of other stars involved.  To the N is dark area followed by the reflection nebula portion.  This part is not as bright or big as the main portion, kind of half-round shaped with the chopped off end to S.  Using the UHC filter, a little bit of detail comes out in the emission portion.  Lots of detail comes and goes with seeing and averted vision.  Take your time when looking at this one.

        NGC 6531 (18h04.6 -22 30) M-21  Here is an unusual shaped open cluster near M-20.  It is not too big, pretty bright, not real rich, and contains 2 fairly bright stars with a smattering of fainter stars.  The central part is real nice with 2 bright stars, a string of 4 stars, and a horseshoe of 9 stars looping WNW away from the central.  The whole area looks like a diamond ring.

        NGC 6568 (18h12.8 -21 36) This open cluster is close to 6583, but they are not like the double cluster.  This one is very large, somewhat bright, somewhat loose, slightly rich, and not that well detached from the Milky Way.  There are 3 levels of stars with many nice arcs and triangles.  I counter about 100 stars, but it is hard to tell where edge is.  More patterns come out the longer one looks at it.  The stars mostly blue, but there are a few yellow ones.

        NGC 6583 (18h15.8 -22 08) Next to the loose cluster 6568, this open cluster requires power.  At 140X it is pretty small, pretty faint, very condensed, pretty rich, and elongated N/S 1.5:1.  There are perhaps 2 levels of stars over some granular haze,  using averted vision makes the stars pop out.  It is hard to count stars since they are so faint.  I could hold about 10 stars, others pop out with seeing and averted vision.  An arc of 3 stars to S and a pair of stars to E were noted.    At low powers, it looks more like a globular.  It kind of reminds me of the cluster at the end of the coathanger.

        NGC 6629 (18h25.7 -23 12) Here is a small planetary nebula that required high power.  I went all the way up to 240X to see a pretty bright, very small, round and non-annular nebula.  The middle fades evenly to the halo.  Using the UHC filter doesn’t bring out any more detail, but it was helpful in finding the planetary.  The central star was suspected, especially with averted vision.  Stars were noted to SE, the NW, and the ENE.

        NGC 6642 (18h31.9 -23 29) At 170X, this globular cluster was seen as somewhat bright, pretty small, and containing a somewhat brighter middle that is offset to the NW.  I resolved perhaps 5-6 stars with averted vision, and possibly a few more stars were resolved on the outskirts.  During moments of good seeing, it did resolve a little better.    The middle is granular, but the halo is at best suspected granular.  The cluster sits in the middle of an uneven “y” asterism of somewhat bright stars.

        NGC 6818 (19h44.0 -14 09) This nice planetary sits well east of the teapot.  At 240X it is very small, very bright, slightly elongated NNE/SSW maybe 1.2:1.  I noted a definite blue glow with a slight darkening to the middle.  Otherwise it glows fairly evenly and fades quickly to the edges.  The nebula is bright enough you can really crank up the magnification.  While in the area look slightly south and see if you can find galaxy 6822 (19 44.9 -14 45).  This is Barnards galaxy and one of the many faint dwarf galaxies surrounding the Milky Way.

        Mel 197 (18h17.0 -18 35) What the heck is a Mel object?  Melotte open clusters are normally very large clusters that escaped the small field of observers such as Herschel.  They include such objects as the Hyades, the Coma Star cluster, and in this case, M-24, the Small Sagittarius Cloud.  Use very low power, or binoculars on this object.  At 35X, I saw it as very very large, very bright, extremely rich, and much condensed.  Even at this power, it takes up about 3 fields of view.  There is some very nice dark nebulosity in it, with one particular nebula that is very dark with a single star in the middle and several dark lanes leading away from it.  Notice open cluster NGC 6603 embedded in the cloud.  In 10x50 binoculars, I could resolve about 20-30 stars and noticed the elongation NE/SW.  The SE edge tended to drop off much faster than the NW edge.

Herschel 400 Objects
6440, 6445, 6514, 6520, 6522, 6528, 6540, 6544, 6553, 6568, 6569, 6583, 6624, 6629, 6638, 6642, 6645, 6818
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
6445, 6520, 6818