FUZZY SPOT, July 2002, Hercules
This month we are looking at one of the great heroes in the sky, Hercules. The star pattern is very distinctive, although I always seem to have a hard time initially finding it in they sky. I look for the pattern of Pi, Eta, Zeta, Beta, Delta, and Epsilon which, at least to me, looks like a stick figure of a butterfly.
There are a few bright objects in Hercules, specifically the Great Globular Cluster M-13. Beyond these few showpieces, most of what remains are faint galaxies. We'll take a look at the star objects plus a few of the fainter ones. Unless specified, all observations are in the 10" scope.
NGC 6058 (16 04.4 +40 41) This planetary nebula is pretty faint, pretty small, round, and is sitting in the middle of a triangle of stars. It responds somewhat to the UHC filter. There possibly is a star involved on the E, and I suspected a central star with a dark area around it. Using averted vision helps a little.
NGC 6166 (16 28.7 +39 34) In the 10" scope, this galaxy is a very faint spot situated in a small half-circle of stars. I couldnt make out any detail, and almost lost it completely at higher magnification. In the 20" scope it is a little bright, little large, and elongated 1.5:1 E/W. The middle is slightly brighter. What makes this object interesting (and the reason I included it here) is the many faint companions seen using averted vision. I was able to see 6 companions including MCG+7-34-76, MCG+7-34-65, MCG+7-34-65, MCG+7-34-54, MCG+7-34-48, and the last one unidentified. As a note, this object is not listed in Sky Atlas 2000.
NGC 6205 (16 41.7 +36 28) M-13 is the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, and is the first globular cluster that most people observe. It is very bright, very large, with 5 strings of stars noticed. There are many many stars observed, I estimated 100 stars seen with direct vision, using averted vision brings out tons more. The background haze is even and round, brightening up quite a bit to the middle.
NGC 6207 (16 43.1 +36 50) This galaxy is next to M-13 and is somewhat overshadowed by its brighter partner. Next to M-13, it is real small but easy to find. As a galaxy (ignoring M-13), it is pretty large, elongated, and much brighter in the middle. There are 4 brighter stars around it and 4 fainter stars just E of galaxy. If you want a real toughie roughly half way between this object and M-13 is IC 4617. I have been barely able to detect it in the 20" scope sitting next to two faint stars which are part of parallelogram of stars.
NGC 6210 (16 44.5 +23 49) In the 10" scope, this planetary nebula is pretty small, pretty bright, and elongated E/W. The halo is subtle at best, with the UHC filter bringing it out only slightly. There is a very definite blue tinge to it. No central star or other details were noticed. In the 20" scope, it is very bright, pretty small, and round. There is a very slight halo (not sure what I meant by that) which is much fainter. The central star was suspected with averted vision.
NGC 6229 (16 47.0 +47 32) This globular cluster is the 3rd best one in Hercules (behind the two Messier objects). It makes a nice triangle with 2 bright stars. The cluster is somewhat small, fairly bright, round, and brighter towards middle. I couldn't resolve any stars, but the texture of the haze is grainy.
6341 (17 17.1 +43 08) Our last object, M-92, is the second
great cluster in Hercules. Had this object been in any
other constellation and a little easier to find, it would rate as
a top notch object, and is indeed one of my favorite globular
cluster. It is pretty large and pretty bright, with 5 nice
strings of stars. Unusual for a globular cluster, it has a
slight elongation N/S. The halo gradually brightens up to a
bright middle. Many stars were resolved over both halo and
middle, I estimated 100 stars seen with direct vision.
Herschel 400 Objects
SACs 110 Best of the NGC Objects