FUZZY SPOT, August 1999, Lyra
Being a musician, Lyra is a special constellation to me as it is the only musical instrument in the sky. It is the stringed instrument of the Greek God Orpheus, and as the Lyra body was traditionally made from the shell of a tortoise, Sheliak (Beta) and Sulafat (Gamma) are the Persian and Arabic words for tortoise.
Though small in size, it contains three well known objects, the bright magnitude 0 star Vega, the spectacular double-double star Epsilon, and the beautiful Ring Nebula. Most other objects are small and faint, as is evident by there being a no show for both the SACs 110 best of the NCG list and the Herschel 400. Here are the star object of the constellation along with a few of the fainter object.
NGC 6702 (18h46.9 +45 43) and NGC 6703 (18h47.3 +45 34) NGC 6703 is the brighter of this pair of galaxies, it is somewhat faint, pretty small, and round. The halo is quite faint, but suddenly brightens up to a somewhat brighter middle and contains an occasional stellar nucleus. NGC 6702 is very faint, pretty small (about the same as 6703), and barely visible with direct vision, but pretty obvious with averted vision. I was unable to tell any other detail.
NGC 6720 (18 53.6 +33 02) M-57 is the famous Ring Nebula, probably the most observed planetary nebula in the skies. It is not too big, very bright, annular, with a slight elongation E/W. The center is not as bright as the ring, but is brighter than the background sky, giving the impression of a faint mist in the middle. There are stars on E and NW. Enjoy this cosmic smoke ring, as it is an object you will return to many times.
NGC 6765 (19h11.1 +30 33) I observed this planetary nebula in the 20" scope at 320X, and saw it as pretty large, somewhat faint, and very elongated 3:1 NNE/SSW. It brightens slightly to the middle, and arcs slightly to the E. This is an unusual object for a planetary nebula.
NGC 6779 (19h16.6 +30 11) The other Messier object in Lyra is the globular cluster M-56. Being overshadowed by the ring nebula it is easy to forget about this nice object. It is somewhat big, round, pretty bright, brightening quite a bit towards the middle. There are several stars resolved around the edges with a few possibly resolved over the very granular middle. Enjoy this nice globular in an area where there isn't too many.
NGC 6791 (19h20.7 +37 51) This open cluster is pretty large and somewhat bright, with 7 or 8 stars over a lot of unresolvable granular haze. Cranking up the power or using averted vision does not resolve any more stars. The object is possibly elongated, but the amount or direction is not certain.
Epsilon (18h44.3 +39 40) This is the famous double/double star system of Lyra, consisting of two pair of closely spaced stars, oriented perpendicular to each other. The two pair are easy to split, but the individual stars are hard to split (does this make any sense?). Getting a wide enough field to resolve all four stars can be tricky. To me, all the stars are white.
R-Lyra (18h55.3 +43 57) This star was pointed out to me by Adam Sunshine and Chuck Manberg one night at the White Tanks West site. I don't have any written observation of this, but I do recall it as a very beautiful red star.
Herschel 400 Objects
SACs 110 Best of the NGC Objects