FUZZY SPOT,  May 2003, Canes Venatici

Canes Venatici is a small constellation sitting between Ursa Major and Coma Berenices.  This constellation represents the hunting dogs which are on a leash held by Bootes.  The brightest star, Cor Caroli or Heart of Charles, is named in honor of King Charles I of England.  Because of Canes Venatici's position in the sky, it is very rich in galaxies including many galaxy pairs.  Within this constellation are 4 Messier galaxies including the wonderful M-51 or Whirlpool Galaxy, 9 SAC's 110 Best of the NGC objects, and 17 Herschel 400 objects (with some overlap).  Amongst this rich array of galaxies is the bright globular cluster, M-3.  All observations are from my 10" F4.5 scope except for one from M-51 which was made from my 20" F5 scope.

        NGC 4244 (12 17.5 +37 49)  We'll start of with a nice elongated galaxy.  At 70X, it is somewhat bright and extremely elongated 5:1 NNE/SSW, seen as a pencil thin streak.  Perhaps it is cut off on the WNW side.  To the N is a star just out of the halo, and to the S out a ways is a bright star.

        NGC 4258 (12 18.9 +47 19)  This is M-106.  At 100X, it is big, pretty bright, elongated NW/SE, has a fairly bright halo which brightens to the middle, and occasionally a non-stellar nucleus is seen.  There is some possible mottling and the nucleus may be skewed from the axis. Using averted vision makes the halo grow somewhat and shows that the halo darkens suddenly on the NE side.

        NGC 4485/4490 (12 30.6 +41 39) This is a real beautiful pair of galaxies.  4485 is not very big, not too bright, somewhat bright middle (about as bright as halo of 4490 half way out), and round.  It does not take magnification very well.  4490 is pretty large, pretty bright, much brighter towards the middle, and elongated NW/SE.  Averted vision does make halo grow somewhat.

        NGC 4631/4627 (12 42.1 +32 33)  At 70X, 4631 is pretty bright, very large, extremely elongated E/W, with definite bulging toward the middle.  The W side is much brighter.  Using averted vision helps especially with E side.  To N of the middle is a star.  NW of 4631 is 4627.  This galaxy is seen as a faint glow with no detail seen.

        NGC 4656/4657 (12 43.9 +32 11)  This galaxy pair is known as the hockey stick galaxy.  At 70X, 4656 is a little bright, pretty big, very elongated NE/SW, contains a little brighter middle with no nucleus seen.  The NE end has a ‘hook’ pointing E which is 4657.  This is pretty faint and mainly suspected.  If I didn’t know it was there, I would have skipped right over it.

        NGC 5194/5195 (13 30.0 +47 11)   This is M-51, the famous Whirlpool Galaxy and its companion.  In the 10" scope at 100X, I saw it as very large, very bright, with a much brighter middle and a non-stellar nucleus, round, and  with a very obvious clockwise spiral.  The connecting arm to 5195 is suspected with averted vision.  The bright star to the E is best kept out of the field of view.  I tried using the UHC filter to bring out nebulous knots, but it didn't appear to help any.  5195 is very bright, has a brighter middle, and is fairly formless.  The size is about 1/3 that of M-51, and is located to the NNE of M-51.  In the 20" scope, M-51 is very large, bright, and very slightly elongated N/S.  The middle is suddenly brighter with an occasional non-stellar nucleus.  The halo is pretty bright with a very obvious clockwise spiral.  Using averted vision really brings it out.  A star is involved to the SW.  5195, N of M-51, is about 1/4 the size of M-51 and pretty bright.  It has a very slightly brighter middle and a bright non-stellar nucleus.  The E side is cut off, presumably from the arm of M-51.

        NGC 5272 (13 42.2 +28 23)  The last object is globular cluster M-3.  When preparing this column, I realized that the only observation that I have of M-3 was an old one made when there was a 1st quarter moon in the sky. At 100X, it is very nice with 3 fairly bright stars bordering the cluster, and a lot of outliers.  I was able to resolve about 20 stars over a granular haze which brightens up to a very bright center.  Over all, it is very large, very bright, pretty well resolved, has a round core, and is kind of blank on E edge.

Herschel 400 Objects
4111, 4143, 4151, 4214, 4258, 4346, 4449, 4485, 4490, 4618, 4631, 4656, 4800, 5005, 5033, 5195, 5273
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
4111, 4214, 4244, 4449, 4490, 4631, 4656, 5005, 5033