FUZZY SPOT, December 2000, Perseus
Perseus is one of the heroes in the sky, who rescued the changed up Andromeda from the great sea monster, Cetus. He did this by showing Medusa's head to Cetus and turning him to stone. It is interesting to note that Perseus avoided being turned to stone by looking at Medusa's reflection in his shield. Apparently the particles emitted by Medusa's eyes (stonetons?) do not reflect! Medusa's eye is represented by the eclipsing binary star Algol.
Being a large autumn constellation sitting in the Milky Way, it is rich in open clusters and nebula, but since we are facing away from the center of the galaxy, there are no globular clusters. Surprisingly, there are quite a few galaxies, including the Perseus I (Abell 426) cluster of galaxies.
NGC 650/651 (01h42.3 +51 34) M-76, the little dumbbell nebula, has two NGC designations as each "half" is identified separately. I found that using a UHC filter really helps brings the object out. I saw it as pretty small, somewhat bright, and very elongated NE/SW with the 2 patches being obvious. I found this object to appear much more as a dumbbell shape than M-27.
NGC 869 (02h19.0 +57 09) This is the western half of the double cluster. The object is very bright, pretty large, very rich, and somewhat condensed. There are 2 bright stars in the middle which are on the red side, a dark spot to W of a rich spot, a lane following out W, and a bright start to the S with a nice arc of 5 stars leading E. There are 5 levels of stars, possibly some haze, with a star count of 70 plus more popping out with averted vision.
NGC 884 (02h22.4 +57 07) Moving E from 869, one comes to the other half of the double cluster. This half is pretty bright, pretty large, but not quite as rich as 869. There is 1 predominant bright star, with some condensation on the SW and dark area to E. There are 4 levels of stars with a count of about 75 stars. To the E of the central group is a wide red/blue star pair.
NGC 1023 (02h40.5 +39 03) This galaxy is surprisingly bright for being in the Milky Way. I described it as pretty bright, pretty big, very elongated E/W with a much brighter middle. A non-stellar nucleus was suspected, but no other detail was seen.
NGC 1039 (02h42.0 +42 47) M-34 is a nice large open cluster best viewed at low powers. I observed it at 35X and described it as very very large, bright, fairly rich, but not very condensed. There are 3 layers of stars with about 70 stars counted. A nice grouping of stars was seen in the middle with another layer outlining the central group. This object is bright enough and large enough that it even shows up quite well from in town.
NGC 1342 (03h31.6 +37 20) I dubbed this cluster the Arrow due to the brightest stars forming a crooked arrow pointing W. The object is large and pretty bright with 4 levels of stars and a possible background haze. I counted 48 stars plus a few more with averted vision. The cluster was visible in my 9X50 finder scope.
NGC 1491 (04h03.3 +51 18) This nice nebula was seen as fanning SW from a bright star. It is somewhat small and not too bright, with no color seen. There is a little brightening around the star. The nebula does respond to UHC filter.
NGC 1513 (04h10.0 +49 31) This unusual cluster is horseshoe shaped opening to the NE. It is somewhat small and somewhat faint with 2 bright stars on the N end, and a circlet of 5 stars on the E end. I counted about 20 stars, and using averted vision made a few more stars pop out.
Mel 20 (03h22.0 +49 00) The final object of the month is the Alpha Perseus association. It is seen naked eye as a haziness around Alpha Perseus, and in 10X50 Binoculars it is a nice sprinkling of stars. I counted about 20 stars in addition to Alpha. A group of 8-9 stars on S side forms a nice saxophone shape as pointed out to me by Ron Schmidli.
Herschel 400 Objects
650/651, 869, 884, 1023, 1245, 1342, 1444, 1513, 1528, 1545
SAC's 110 Best of the NGC Objects
869, 884, 1023, 1491