FUZZY SPOT, January 1997, Perseus
Welcome to the first installment of the Fuzzy Spot column. This column is a follow-on to Steve Coe's ``What's Up'' column. Steve has some new projects he is working on and he asked me to take over the Deep-Sky column. I am going to try to keep the same general format as his column, but since I don't have the experience (2 years verses 20 years) or the observations (about 200 objects verses about 2000 objects, I'm guessing), I will be listing mostly brighter objects, some of which I may not have even observed myself. If the notes are not from my observations, I will cite the source, most likely Observe the Herschel Objects by the Ancient City Astronomy Club (available directly from the Astronomical League, 901 S 10th Street, Burlington, IA 52601) or Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects by Christian B. Lunginbuhl and Brian A. Skiff (unfortunately out of print). Two other sources I will frequently reference are Burnham's Celestial Handbook by Robert Burnham Jr. (3 volumes, available at most book stores or astronomy mail order companies) and The Deep Space CCD Atlas by John C. Vickers (2 volumes, directly available from John C. Vickers, Back River Observatory, P.O. Box 1292, Duxbury MA 02331).
I will be focusing on the Herschel 400 list and the SAC's 110 Best of the NGC objects, but will include some other objects for variety. I will also include a list of all Herschel 400 and 110 Best NGC objects in the constellation of the month since in many cases there won't be room to include each object.
One last thing, I am always open to ideas and comments (both good and bad), so feel free to give me any suggestions.
Now let's get on with this months constellation, Perseus.
Perseus is a great Winter Milky Way constellation in the north, loaded with open clusters. Take some time sweeping the constellation with binoculars, the rewards are high and it's a great way to kick back and relax. All observations noted here are in a 10 inch, f/4.5 telescope.
NGC 869 and 884 (02 19.0 +57 09, 02 22.4 +57 07) The Double Cluster. From my front yard (fairly light polluted), I called both of these very easy, very large, very bright, and pretty rich at 70x. In 869, I counted about 50 stars with a nice group forming a Christmas tree pattern. 884 is not quite a condensed or bright with 40 stars counted. Both had some unresolved haze from in town which would probably resolve into many more stars at a better site. This is a very beautiful sight that I return to again and again and a very good object pair to show to friends.
NGC 1023 (02 40.5 +39 03) I see this galaxy as pretty bright, pretty big, very elongated E/W at 140x. It has a bright middle with a nucleus suspected (one of my notes said stellar and one said sub-stellar) and a pretty large but faint halo. This is a nice galaxy for being in a Milky Way constellation. I also believe that I have seen this galaxy from my front yard, which is unusual for galaxies.
NGC 1444 (03 49.4 +52 40) At 100x, I saw this open cluster as a double star with 7 or 8 stars mostly to the NW of the double star. This is a very loose cluster. Had this not been marked as a cluster on the maps and in the catalogs, I probably would have passed it over. I'm pretty sure I was at the right place for this cluster, and I was surprised for such a poor cluster to be included in the Herschel 400 list. Also since it is not included in the CCD Atlas, I was unable to check my observation against that.
NGC 1491 (04 03.3 +51 18) 100x shows this nebula is somewhat small and not too bright. The nebula fans away SW from a bright star. It also responds quite well to the UHC filter although the filter didn't bring out much more detail. I was unable to see any color in this nebula.
NGC 1513 (04 10.0 +49 31) At 70x, I saw this cluster as somewhat small and somewhat faint with about 20 stars. What is unusual about this cluster is that it appeared horseshoe shaped opening to the NE. On the N tip of the horseshoe are 2 bright stars while on the E tip is a circlet of 5 stars. This is one of the more unusual shaped clusters I have seen to date, and is probably my favorite cluster (outside of the double cluster) in Perseus.
NGC 1528 (04 15.4 +51 14) An open cluster which is very bright and very large, elongated E/W. I saw 3 levels of stars with some nice strings. At 70X, it fills about half the field of view. An all around nice cluster.
A few other objects worth mentioning:
The Alpha Persei group (Mel 20, 03 22.0 +49 00) is a very nice grouping of stars for binoculars. Note the saxophone shaped string to the S and SE of alpha. This asterism was pointed out to me by Ron Schmidli.
Eta Persei is a nice wide Yellow/Blue double star. I came across this one by accident while sweeping around in my front yard. It is always nice to stumble upon an object this way.
Finally if you want a good challenge, try Abell 426 (03 19.7 +41 30), the Perseus I Galaxy Cluster. At 140x, I saw 3 galaxies with 2 of these only being suspected. I was unable to line up my drawings with the image in the CCD Atlas. Finally a photo in Burnhams matched my field almost exactly. The three galaxies turned out to be 1272, 1275, and 1278. The CCD Atlas shows 15 objects and Uranometria 2000 shows 22 objects, so those of you with very large aperture telescopes should have a good time here.
Herschel 400 Objects
650/651 (M-74), 869 and 884 (the Double Cluster), 1023, 1245, 1342, 1444, 1513, 1528, and 1545
SAC's 110 Best of the NGC Objects
869 and 884 (the Double Cluster), 1023, 1491