FUZZY SPOT, June 1998, Bo÷tes

Bo÷tes is a prominent northern constellation, containing the premier star Arcturus.  The constellation is normally describes as kite shaped, but I like the description that Michael E. Bakich has in The Cambridge Guide to the Constellations, as looking like an ice cream cone with Arcturus at the tip, and with Mu, Beta, and Gamma forming the scoop of ice cream.  It used to be a two scoop cone, but the second scoop fell off and is now lying to the east as Corona Borealis.

Though this a large constellation, there aren’t any Messier objects in it (although M3 is just out of the constellation, see the May column).  The objects are not show-stoppers, but still worth hunting down.

        NGC 5248 (13h37.4 +08 53)  I have yet to observe this galaxy.  According to Brian Skiff and Christian Luginbuhl in Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep-Sky Objects, “In 25 cm it lies on the E side of an isosceles triangle of stars 8’ long whose acute apex points S.  Slightly elongated E-W, it is about 1’.5 diameter with a sharply concentrated core.  A mag. 13 star is visible 1’.7 SSW.”  In Observe the Herschel Objects by the Ancient City Astronomy Club, it is listed as “Spiral galaxy located in Bo÷tes, magnitude 11.3, 6.1’x4.4’ in size.  Very large, oval, bright nucleus fading towards outer edges.  Use averted vision for best results. (8-inch Refl.)”

        NGC 5466 (14h05.5 +28 32)  Here is a globular cluster in the midst of galaxy country.   At 70X, it is very large, little bright, very rich, and pretty loose, with about 15 stars over some granular haze.  Use averted vision and look at this for a while and you will see many threshold stars pop in and out.  Overall, it is irregularly shaped, maybe kind of triangular.  The stars are pretty faint as the cluster starts to disappear at 100X.  To the SE is a fairly bright star which does interfere slightly.  Try not to compare this against M3, M5 , or M13 and let this globular take on a charm of its own.

        NGC 5557 (14h18.3 +36 29) At 100X, this galaxy is fairly bright, pretty small and round.  The halo is pretty faint but suddenly brightens up to a good bright middle, and reveals an occasional stellar nucleus.  There is a bight star to WNW which does not interfere.  Staring at this for a while, I noticed some possible mottling.

        NGC 5676 (14h32.8 +49 27) This nice galaxy is somewhat bright, somewhat small, and elongated 3:1 NNE/SSW.  It consists of a fairly faint halo which brightens up slightly towards the middle with a  faint non-stellar nucleus occasionally seen, and with some mottling suspected.  CH Bo÷tes is just out of field of view to E.  This along with 2 more bright stars on the W and S make a nice frame for the galaxy.

        NGC 5689 (14h35.5 +48 44) The final galaxy for this month is somewhat bright, somewhat small, and elongated 3:1 WNW/ESE.  The halo is a little faint, but slightly brightens up to the middle, with a non-stellar, possibly binary nucleus.  Averted vision only helps slightly.  Look nearby for faint galaxies 5682, 5683, 5693, and 5700.  I suspected all of them with 5693 being the most certain.

        Although Bo÷tes is not rich in bright deep sky objects, there are several binary stars worth observing.  Delta is an easy and wide white/blue pair, while Epsilon is a toughie yellow/blue pair with only 2.9” separation.  Mu is a fun triple star.

Herschel 400 Objects
5248, 5466, 5557, 5676, 5689
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects