FUZZY SPOT, March 2003, Antlia/Pyxis
This month we are looking at two south late-winter constellations. Antlia was one of the 14 constellations created by Lacaille to honor the invention of the air pump by Robert Boyle. Pyxis was also invented by Lacaille as the compass of the ship Argo Navis. This was always a separate constellation from Argo, even though many references state that it was originally part of it.
Pyxis is a small constellation with its brightest star only being magnitude 3.6. I see it as an exclamation point to the east of Puppus. It sits on the edge of the Milky Way, so there are some open clusters and planetary nebulae as well as galaxies. Antlia is even fainter with its brightest star being magnitude 4.3. I've never seen much of any pattern in this constellation. Since it is completely out of the Milky Way, most of the objects here are galaxies.
My observations in these constellation have been few, only 3 in Pyxis and none in Antlia, so there will be a few entries from the Night Sky Observers Guide (George Robert Kepple and Glen W,. Sanner). This is an excellent observers guide, and I highly recommend it to any deep sky enthusiast.
NGC 2613 (08 33.3 -22 58) This galaxy in Pyxis was seen in the 10" scope as somewhat bright, somewhat large, very elongated 3:1 NW/SE, slightly brighter in the middle, and with no nucleus. There is some possible mottling or a dust lane, especially on the NE side. Nearby are several nice star patterns.
NGC 2627 (08 37.3 -29 57) This very nice open cluster in Pyxis is pretty large, pretty bright, very rich, and pretty well condensed. There are about 3 levels of stars over some granularity, with about 65 stars counted. The cluster is "V" shaped with the bowl very dark. The apex consists of a very bright star on the west end. Of the two arms of the "V", the north branch is the richer of the two.
NGC 2818/2818A (09 16.0 -36 37) I refer to this as the "mini M-46", a cluster with an embedded planetary nebula. The cluster is somewhat small, pretty faint, somewhat poor, and somewhat condensed. There are 2 levels of stars over much granularity, with about 20 stars counted. Many more faint ones come out with averted vision. The planetary nebula is on the SW side, it is a fairly featureless blob, but does respond well to the UHC filter. It is very small, a little bright, round, and brighter toward the middle. I saw no elongation or annularity.
NGC 2997 (09 45.7 -31 12) This galaxy in Antlia is rated as 4 stars in the Night Sky Observers Guide. For a 12/14" scope it is described as "125X: NGC 2997 has a fairly bright 6' X 4' E-W halo with a bright extended core. A dark ring surrounds the core; but the surface brightness increases near the outer edge of the galaxy".
NGC 3268 group (10 30.0 -35 20). Antlia has many groups of galaxies, including this group of 4 galaxies, NGCs 3267, 3268, 3269, and 2371. All of these descriptions from the Night Sky Observers Guide are from 12/14" scopes at 125X. "NGC 3267, situated near the center of the NGC 3267-81 galaxy group, is nearly the same size as its companion NGC 3268, which lies 2.5' east. NGC 3267 has a diffuse 1.5' X 0.5' NNW-SSE halo with a small, faint core. A tiny triangle of 14th magnitude stars lies between it and NGC 3268." "NGC 3268 is the brightest member of the 3267-81 galaxy group, of which at least a dozen members are visible in medium-size telescopes. It has a fairly bright stellar nucleus in a faint core embedded in a diffuse 1.50' X 1' ENE-WSW oval halo. Its companion NGC 3267 lies just 2.5' to its west." "NGC 3269, located 2.5' SSE of a 9.5 magnitude star in the NGC 3267-81 galaxy group, has a fairly faint 1.5' X 1' N-S oval halo with a nonstellar nucleus. A 13th magnitude star lies just beyond the SE edge, and a 14th magnitude star touches the NNW edge. Galaxies NGC 3267 and 3268 are 6' south." "A member of the NGC 3267-81 galaxy group, NGC 3271 appears slightly fainter but larger than companion NGC 3268 lying 5.5' to its WNW. NGC 3271 has an oval core with a faint stellar nucleus surrounded by a diffuse 2' X 1' ESE-WNW halo. A jagged row of 14th magnitude stars runs along the galaxy's southern edge."
Herschel 400 Objects
NGC 2613 (Pyxis), NGC 2623 (Pyxis)
SACs 110 Best of the NGC Objects