FUZZY SPOT,  May 2001, Ursa Major

This month, I'm going to concentrate on some galaxies in the western portion of Ursa Major.  This constellation is the third largest in the sky, only Hydra and Virgo are larger.  Its size, combined with its location on the fringe of the Virgo Cluster, makes for many galaxies to be seen.  This is one of my favorite spring constellations to observe, it seems that the variety of galaxies is better here than in Virgo although that's probably my imagination.

In addition to all the galaxies, there is a great planetary nebula (M-97, the owl nebula) and a number of nice double stars.  Since I'm not covering any of the Messier Objects here (they were covered last year), there is an obvious omission of M-81 and M-82.

All of these observations were made with the 10" F4.5 scope.

        NGC 2681 (08h53.6 +51 18) I observed this object as a little bright, somewhat small, with a slightly brighter middle, and a much brighter non-stellar nucleus.  There are 4 stars close by, three of which are involved, which makes the noted possible elongation WNW/ESE uncertain.  The halo is quite faint, use averted vision to bring it out. The star on the far ESE end is not involved, but is a double.

        NGC 2742 (09h07.6 +60 29)  This galaxy is pretty faint (much fainter than NGC 2768), pretty small, very slightly brighter in the middle, and with no nucleus seen.  It is a little elongated E/W about 1.5:1.  There is a nice triangle of faint stars to the S and a bright star which does interfere slightly.  Averted vision is almost needed to see this galaxy.

        NGC 2768 (09h11.5 +60 03)  Much more obvious than NGC 2742, this galaxy is pretty small, somewhat bright, and brightens up to the middle which contains an occasional non-stellar nucleus.  It is elongated about 2:1 ENE/WSW, and by using averted vision, I suspected a little mottling in the halo.  The star on the ENE side just touches the halo with averted vision, and there are brighter stars on the N and W.

        NGC 2787 (09h19.3 +69 13)  This galaxy is pretty small, a little bright, much brighter middle, and has a non-stellar nucleus that comes and goes.  The galaxy is elongated N/S, with the middle being more elongated than the halo.  Using averted vision helps extend halo and shows a faint star involved to the S.

        NGC 2841 (09h22.0 +50 59)  Here is a nice edge-on galaxy, very bright, pretty big, and much brighter in the middle with an occasional non-stellar nucleus.  It is extremely elongated NNW/SSE.  There is a very nice star on tip of halo on the NNW end.  Using averted vision makes the halo stand out a little and reveals some mottling. A very spectacular galaxy in a nice field of stars.

        NGC 2976 (09h47.3 +67 55) This is a galaxy that kind of grew on me.  It is somewhat large, pretty faint, and very slightly brighter towards the middle.  The elongation is about 2:1 E/W, and there may be some mottling going on.  On the S is a star right on the edge of the halo, but other than this, not many stars are nearby.

        NGC 2985 (09h32.4 +57 29)  This interesting galaxy is somewhat bright, somewhat small, slightly brighter middle, and contains a bright stellar nucleus.  Averted vision helps only slightly.  The shape is round with some detail noted in halo, with a spiral structure in suspected.

        NGC 3077 (10h03.3 +68 44)  A companion to M-81 and M-82, this galaxy is pretty bright, somewhat small, and brightens up steadily to the middle which contains a bright stellar nucleus.  It is round and very smooth with no texture seen at all. It’s not too bad of a galaxy if you don’t compare this to M-81 and M-82.

        NGC 3079 (10h04.3 +60 08)  This is another edge-on galaxy, seen as pretty large, somewhat bright, with a slightly brighter middle which bulges slightly, and is extremely elongated NW/SE.  It sits just outside of a triangle of stars.  The SW side drops off quite rapidly, indicating a possible dust lane. Using averted vision extends the halo quite a bit and shows some possible mottling.  Galaxy NGC 3073 is suspected as a round faint blob to the SW.

        NGC 3184 (10h18.3 +41 25)  The last object of the month is very large, pretty faint, and brightens up slightly to the middle with a possible nucleus.  I didn't note the elongation, but I did note some mottling. There is a star involved and there is a bright star to the W which is best kept out of the field of view. This galaxy is best described as weird.

Herschel 400 Objects
2681, 2742, 2768, 2787, 2841, 2950, 2976, 2985, 3034, 3077, 3079, 3184, 3198, 3310, 3556, 3610, 3613, 3619, 3931, 3665, 3675, 3726, 3729, 3813, 3877, 3893, 3898, 3941, 3945, 3949, 3953, 3982, 3992, 3998, 4026, 4036, 4041, 4051, 4085, 4088, 4102, 5322, 5473, 5474, 5631
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
2841, 3077, 3079, 3184, 3675, 3877, 3941, 4026, 4088, 4605