FUZZY SPOT, January 1998, Orion

Orion is probably one of the best known constellations in the sky.  Most everyone knows the three stars that form the belt, there is even some speculation that the three great pyramids of Egypt represent the stars in the belt of Orion.  Rigel and Betelgeuse rank up with the brightest stars in the sky and even though they are on opposite sides of the constellation, the color difference is obvious.  M42, the Great Orion Nebula, is undoubtedly the most observed deep sky object, and a description of that object could easily fill an article this size, if not the entire news letter!

However, if one gets away from these ‘star’ objects of Orion, there are many not quite so obvious objects that have their own charm.  Looking only at the Orion Nebula and skipping over all the other objects is like going to Yellowstone and just looking at Old Faithful.  So this month, let’s look at some of the less known objects, the Little Whirligig and Plume Geysers if you will.

        NGC 1788 (05h06.9 -03 20)  This nebula has a neighboring bright star more or less to west and either a star or a much brighter spot in the middle.  Use averted vision to make it grow.  The description the I took was not very detailed, but from what I remember, it did not respond to the UHC filter, so I assume it is a reflection nebula.

        NGC 1973 (05h35.4 -04 48)  This area of nebulosity is confusing as far as the NGC designations go, so I lumped it all into one.  It includes 1973, 1975, and 1977.  I noted 6 stars involved in very bright nebulosity on the south end of complex.  The nebulosity follows an arc of 4 stars and extends quite a ways east.  It darkens quickly to the south.  To the north is a grouping of 7 stars, the brightest star having quite a bit of nebulosity surrounding it.  On the far north end is a double star with some nebulosity  Between the 2 main sections, it darkens up somewhat.  I notices a blue/green glow to the nebulosity, but didn’t notice much improvement with the UHC filter.  Pay close attention to the brightest nebulosity, some mottling and details may be seen.  If the Orion Nebula wasn’t right next door, this would be a major show piece.

        NGC 1980 (05h35.2 -05 55)  This nebula is at the south end of the Orion Nebula.  The main part surrounds Iota Orion, but I find this part somewhat drowned out by the star.  The UHC filter helps bring out the glow slightly.  Go to the south of Iota to find a double star with some better defined nebulosity.

        NGC 1999 (05h36.5 -06 43)  Another nebula, this time even further south of the Orion Nebula.  This one contains a very bright central star with a faint glow around it.  Perhaps there is a little mottling in the nebulosity, but it mostly looks like a fuzzy star.

        NGC 2022 (05h42.1 +09 05)  Here we move north near the head of Orion to find a planetary nebula.  It is small, reasonably bright, and possibly annular.  It did respond to the filter somewhat, but averted vision didn’t make much difference and, surprisingly, neither did high magnification.  Without the filter, I did notice a somewhat blue/green hue.

        NGC 2024 (05h42.0 -01 50)  I consider this nebula the best in Orion (next to the main nebula), and have heard it referred to as the “Tank Tracks”, but I prefer the name of the “Flame Nebula”.  The main trick here is to keep Zeta out of the field.  There are several dark lanes and branching of the nebula.  Spend some time looking at this one.  I definitely considered this as the “WOW” of the evening.

        NGC 2169 (06h08.4 +13 57)  This is a very interesting open cluster.  Although it is fairly small, it is very bright.  Normally clusters this poor (I counted only 18 stars in 2 or 3 levels) aren’t noteworthy.  However this cluster is not situated on a rich background, and has a unique shape.  I see it as a “37”.  I considered it as a nice bright cluster that can rival many of the Messier clusters.  Also, this is a good cluster to look at from a light polluted site.

        NGC 2186 (06h12.2 +05 27)  This open cluster is located about half-way between Betelgeuse and the Rosette Nebula.  I saw it as pretty small, somewhat bright, fairly poor, a little condensed, and having a bright central star dominating it.  I counted about 27 stars in the 10” scope with a nice string of about 5 stars in the middle.  This is a charming cluster with a nice personality.

        NGC 2194 (06h13.8 +12 48)  Another open cluster, which is near the “37” cluster, this one is very rich, not real bright with 10-15 stars over some haze.  East is two other groupings of stars that looks like clusters.  Very nice tight clusters.

Herschel 400 Objects
1788, 1980, 1999, 2022, 2024, 2169, 2186, 2194
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
1788, 1973, 2022, 2024, 2194