FUZZY SPOT, May 1998, Canes Venatici

Spring time means one thing for deep-sky astronomers, galaxies!  This month covers the constellation Canes Venatici.  Although not a rich as Virgo or Ursa Major, the SAC database lists 238 galaxies, enough to keep one busy for a long time.

Alpha or Cor Caroli is the brightest star in the constellation, and in addition to being a good jump star for star hopping, it is a very nice double star.  Speaking of stars, be sure to take a look at Y Canes Venatici, or La Superba.  Although I have yet to observe this star, it is described as one of the reddest stars known.

There isn’t room to describe all of the Herschel 400 objects in this constellations, so here are a few of the ones I have observed along with a few Messier objects.  Working your way around this area of the sky can be somewhat frustrating, but the objects are well worth the trip.

        NGC 4111 (12h07.1 +43 05) This galaxy is quite bright, contains a reasonably bright halo, a good bright middle, but I saw no nucleus.  It is very elongated NW/SE.  Using averted vision makes the halo grow only somewhat.  Also notice the nice double star on NE side.

        NGC 4258 (12h18.9 +47 19) Here you get a chance to get a Herschel 400 object and a Messier object, M-106.  At 100X, this galaxy is big, pretty bright, contains a fairly bright halo, a brightening towards the middle, and an occasional non-stellar nucleus.  Averted vision makes the halo grow somewhat and show some possible mottling,  There is a star on both ends of the galaxy, and the nucleus appeared to be skewed from the axis.  The galaxy is elongated NW/SE, with the halo darkening suddenly on the NE side.

        NGC 4485 (12h30.5 +41 43) and NGC 4490 (12h30.6 +41 39)  Here is a real beautiful pair of galaxies.  4485 is not very big, not too bright, but contains a somewhat bright middle (about as bright as halo of 4490 half way out), and is round.  4490 is pretty large, pretty bright, and gets much brighter towards the middle.   It is elongated NW/SE.  This observation was at 70X, cranking up the power seemed to make 4485 fade out.

        NGC 4631 (12h42.1 +32 33) At 70X, this quite nice galaxy is pretty bright, very large, extremely elongated E/W, and shows a definite bulging toward the middle.  The W side is much brighter.  Averted vision helps especially with E side.  Immediately to the N of the middle, just out of the halo, is a star.  Going NW from this star, I spotted a faint smudge which is NGC 4672.

        NGC 4656 (12h43.9 +32 11) This unusual galaxy is a little bright, pretty big, and very elongated NE/SW.  The middle is a little brighter with no nucleus seen.  Look carefully at the NE end for a ‘hook’ which points E.  This hook is NGC 4657  Due to the unusual shape, this galaxy pair is nicknamed the “Hockey Stick”.

        NGC 5005 (13h11.0 +37 03)  Here is a nice edge on galaxy, pretty bright, somewhat large, and containing a brighter middle.  It is elongated E/W with a possible dark lane on N side.  Use averted vision to help brings out the halo.

        NGC 5194 (13h30.0 +47 11) and NGC 5195 (13h30.1 +47 16) This is the famous whirlpool galaxy and it’s companion.  NGC 5194 which is M51 is very large, very bright, contains a much brighter middle and a non-stellar nucleus.  In the 10” scope, there is a very obvious counter-clockwise spiral pattern and some very definite mottling.  NGC 5195 is located to the NNE, and is about 1/3 the size of M-51.  It is very bright, contains a brighter middle, and is fairly formless.

        NGC 5272 (13h42.2 +28 23).  After an evening of viewing galaxies, it’s time for a change.  Go to the far end of Canes Venatici, almost into Bootes to find the spectacular globular cluster M3. There are 3 fairly bright stars bordering the cluster.  In the cluster, I was able to resolve about 20 stars over a granular haze.  This haze brightens up to a very bright center.  The core is round, but there is a kind of blank spot on the E edge.  This observation was on a night when the 1st quarter moon was up, so the transparency was quite poor.

Herschel 400 Objects
4111, 4143, 4151, 4214, 4258, 4346, 4449, 4485, 4490, 4616, 4631, 4656, 4800, 5005, 5033, 5195, 5273
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
4111, 4214, 4244, 4449, 4490, 4631, 4656, 5005, 5033