FUZZY SPOT, June 2000, Coma Berenicies
This is the time of year for galaxy observing, and Coma
Berenicies is one of the best constellations for galaxies.
Although it is small in size, it contains many objects from the
Virgo cluster of galaxies, and if that's not enough, there is the
Coma Cluster of galaxies which although
is much further than the Virgo cluster (and therefore much fainter), is much richer. In addition to galaxies, there are a few globular clusters, one of which is a Messier object. In all, Coma contains 8 Messier objects, 6 SAC 110 Best of the NGC objects, and 24 Herschel 400 objects.
So with this much to look at, lets jump right in.
NGC 4278 (12h20.2 +29 18) The first galaxy of the evening is somewhat bright, a little small, round, and has a halo with suspected mottling. The object evenly brightens up to the middle which contains a prominent non-stellar nucleus. To the E is NGC 4283.
NGC 4382 (12h25.5 +18 12) This galaxy is M-85. At 100X, I saw it as pretty bright, pretty big, round and with a bright star to the SE and a star involved to the N. The middle is very bright and contains a non-stellar nucleus. Using averted vision makes the halo grow and shows some possible mottling. A clockwise spiral structure is suspected, but very uncertain.
NGC 4448 (12h28.2 +28 38) This edge on galaxy is somewhat bright, pretty large, and elongated 3:1 WNW/ESE. The halo slowly and slightly brightens toward the middle which contains a non-stellar nucleus. Averted vision makes the halo grow somewhat and may show some sort of mottling. There is a nice string of stars to the N. This object is easy to find next to Gamma.
NGC 4494 (12h31.3 +25 47) Here we have a galaxy which is pretty bright, pretty small, and shows a slow and even brightening toward the middle with a non-stellar nucleus. There is little elongation if any at all, possibly 1.2:1 E/W. Averted vision makes the halo extend out quite a ways, and may show a star or stellaring near the nucleus.
NGC 4559 (12h35.9 +27 58) I saw this galaxy as very large, a little faint, and elongated 3:1 NW/SE. There is a slow and slight brightening toward the middle with no nucleus seen. Averted vision does make the object extend quite a bit. The E side of the galaxy is cut off with some possible glow beyond this dark area. Three real nice stars are involved.
NGC 4565 (12h36.3 +26 00) Many people consider 4565 to be the premier object in Coma. I took some poetic liberties and considered this as a "super-duper object!" It is very bright, very large, and extremely elongated NW/SE. The middle is quite a bit brighter, but contains no nucleus. The brightness drops of quickly on the SW side, probably a dark lane. To the NE of the galaxy is a star. Averted vision really makes halo stand out. This is an object you could just sit and stare at, it is better than many of the Messier galaxies.
NGC 4725 (12h50.4 +25 33) This galaxy is somewhat bright, very large, and elongated 2:1 ENE/WSW. It has a mottled halo which slightly brightens up to the middle and contains a very much brighter and prominent almost stellar nucleus. Using averted vision makes the halo more prominent and shows up the patchiness better.
NGC 5024 (13h12.9 +18 10) Lets take a break from galaxies and move on to the globular cluster M-53. I considered it as pretty big, fairly bright, and well resolved on the edges. There are several strings of stars heading away from the center, especially on the N side. The background is granular which brightens toward the middle. As with many globular clusters, using averted vision makes more stars pop out and makes the halo grow somewhat. I observed that the halo is flattened on the E.
NGC 5053 (13h16.4 +17 42) This is the companion to M-53, and other than both objects being globular clusters, there aren't may similarities. This is a BARF object (Big and real faint). I observed it as pretty large, very faint, very poor in stars, and very loose. About 10 stars pop out when observing with averted vision over a loose granular haze. No concentration toward the middle was noted.
1656 (12h59.8 +27 59) This is the great Coma Cluster of
galaxies. The two brightest objects in the cluster are NGC
4889 and NGC 4874 which should be accessible to most
scopes. In the 20" scope from Sentinel on a night I
rated 7/10 for seeing and 8/10 for
transparency, I drew 24 galaxies as well as two objects that were not galaxies (these turned out to be faint stars).
Herschel 400 Objects
4147, 4150, 4203, 4245, 4251, 4274, 4278, 4293, 4312, 4350, 4394, 4414, 4419, 4448, 4450, 4459, 4473, 4477, 4494, 4548, 4559, 4565, 4689, 4725
SAC's 110 Best of the NGC Objects
4274, 4414, 4494, 4559, 4565, 4725