FUZZY SPOT, December 1997, Eridanus

Eridanus is a constellation that really reminds me of it’s name.  The rambling river starts near the feet of Orion, makes a big loop west near Cetus, loops back east around Fornax, and finally disappears below the southern horizon between Horologium and Phoenix.

In this column, I am going to cover the northern part of the constellation, which is where the Herschel 400 and Best NGC objects are.  I’m also going to dip slightly into Fornax for a few objects.  Don’t expect the objects to jump out at you in this area of the sky.  Mainly galaxies reside here, and none of these are show pieces.  Observing these lesser object not only helps you hone your observing and star-hopping skills, it will make you appreciate the major objects in the sky, and actually will help you observe more detail in such objects.

With this column, I have complete my first year.  I hope you have enjoyed reading and observing from this column as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  Once again, please let me know of any comments or suggestion you may have.

        NGC 1084 (02h45.9 -07 35)  This galaxy sits right on the border with Cetus.  At 70X it is seen as fairly bright, somewhat elongated NE/SW, pretty bright in the middle with no nucleus, and a fainter halo.  Averted vision makes it grow a little.  At 170X, the middle is still fairly bright and somewhat mottled.

        NGC 1232 (03h09.7 -20 34)  This is what I call a BARF object (big and real faint).  At 100X it is pretty faint, pretty large, slightly brighter in middle, but no nucleus seen.  2 stars are involved and there is another star to E.  According to Uranometeria, there is supposed to be galaxy NGC 1232A between the star on the E and 1232, but I was unable to see it.

        NGC 1407 (03h40.1 -18 34)  This Herschel 400 galaxy is fairly bright, somewhat small, round, with a much brighter middle and an occasional non-stellar nucleus. Use averted vision to help make the halo come out a little better.  Take a look to the SW, and you will also find galaxy NGC 1400 which adds a nice touch to this observation.

        NGC 1535 (04h14.2 -12 44)  If you are looking for something other than galaxies, here is a planetary nebula.  At 100X, it is pretty bright, fairly small, and pretty even.  Neither averted vision nor the UHC filter helps much.  I cranked the magnification all the way up to 240X, and, other than spreading it out, there wasn’t much difference seen.

        Here are a few nearby objects in Fornax:

        NGC 1360 (03h33.3 -25 51)  Here is another planetary nebula.  Unlike NGC 1535 in Eridanus, this one is very large, pretty bright, and elongated 2:1 NE/SW.  There is a very bright star in the middle which I’m not sure if it is the central star or a foreground star.  I didn’t notice any color in this object as is seen in some planetaries.  Using the UHC filter really brings this object out, and shows that it brightens slightly towards middle.

        NGC 1398 (03h38.9 -26 20)  Somewhat large and pretty bright, this galaxy has a very much brighter middle, non-stellar nucleus, and a faint, round halo.  Averted vision doesn’t help much here.  Although I didn’t note it, my drawing shows a nice star field around this object.

Herschel 400 Objects
1084, 1407, 1535
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
1232, 1535