FUZZY SPOT, November 1997, Cetus

Cetus, the whale, spans a large section of the Fall equatorial sky.  Ranging in RA from about 0 hours to 3.5 hours and in declination from about -25 degrees to +10 degrees, it is the 4th largest constellation in area.  I have always had a hard time drawing any stick figure for this constellation, with the possible exception of the head.  However, the stars are sufficiently bright enough to easily find you way around.

Though not as rich as the spring skies, Cetus contains many interesting galaxies, a fairly easily observable non-NGC/IC galaxy, and a nice planetary.  M77 gets the distinction as being either the first or second object usually hunted down in the Messier Marathon.  Cetus is also famous for Mira, the first discovered long period variable star.

Now that the weather is (hopefully) cooling off here in the desert, drive out to Buckeye Hills, White Tanks West, or Sentinel and enjoy the many objects in Cetus.  Most of these observation were taken from Sentinel on a night I rated 9 out of 10 for both seeing and transparency, I night I will cherish for a long time.

        NGC 157 (00h34.9 -08 24)  At 100X, this galaxy is pretty bright, pretty large, elongated ENE/WSW, and a little brighter in middle.  Using averted vision makes it grow somewhat and shows a little mottling.  The galaxy is situated nicely between 2 stars N and S, and on the ENE end is a faint star.

        NGC 246 (00h47.1 -11 53)  This is a nice planetary situated in galaxy country.  At 70X, it is very large, somewhat bright, and irregularly round.  3 bright stars are involved in the nebula, with 2 just outside, and 3 or 4 fainter ones inside.  I was unable to see any color in this planetary.  Use averted vision to help make it stand out, or better yet, use a UHC filter.  It emphasizes the roundness of planetary, and shows the middle as a little darker.  I consider this as one of the nicer planetaries.

        NGC 584 (01h31.3 -06 51)  Cetus contains a nice string of 3 Herschel-400 galaxies, 584, 596, and 615.   At 100X, 584 is bright, pretty small, very much brighter in the middle, and contains a non-stellar nucleus.  No elongation was seen, but I did note some mottling around the core.  Bright stars are seen to the NNE and SSW, not quite forming a straight line with this galaxy.  To the south is a nice double star.  Look closely between the 2 bright stars, almost exactly in the middle is NGC 586 faintly glowing.

        NGC 596 (01h32.8 -07 01)  The middle of the string of galaxies, this object is pretty small, pretty bright, with a very much brighter middle and a non-stellar nucleus.  It is quite similar to 584 without the mottling.  To the E is a very bright star which does disrupts viewing this object.

        NGC 615 (01h35.1 -07 19)  Of the 3 galaxies in a row, this is the faintest.  I considered it as somewhat bright, somewhat small, much brighter middle and containing a non-stellar nucleus.  It is very elongated N/S.  No other detail was seen, but averted vision helped the halo a little.    It sits in a nice grouping of 3 stars.

        NGC 779 (01h59.7 -05 58)  At 100X, this galaxy is somewhat faint, somewhat small, and very elongated NNW/SSE.  The middle is a little brighter, but no nucleus was seen.  Those of you that have observed with me know that I record my observation on a pocket tape recorder.  This can provide some interesting notes when I go to transcribe them later.  At the end of this observation, I noted that no dark lanes or elongation was seen?

        NGC 1052 (02h41.0 -08 15)  Yet another galaxy, 1052 is pretty bright, somewhat small, brighter in the middle, no nucleus seen, and no elongation seen.  To the SW is galaxy NGC 1042, which is large and really needs averted vision to see it, slightly brighter in the middle.  Some graininess was noted almost like a faint globular cluster, a few field stars pop out over it with averted vision.  Nice to see small bright and large faint galaxies close together.  If you are having a hard time seeing 1042, try moving or wiggling the scope.

        NGC 1055 (02h41.8 +00 26)  For those of you looking to observe past the Messier list, this is a good object to start with.  It is real close to M-77 and has two 7th magnitude stars right next to it to help direct you.  At 100X, I noted that it forms an equilateral triangle with the 2 bright stars, is somewhat bright, fairly large, and a little brighter in the middle.  Using averted vision makes it grow somewhat, and shows some possible elongation E/W.  The glare from the stars does makes it kind of hard to observe.  The surrounding star field is nice with a star NE and a  trio to the SW.

        NEW 1(01h05.1 -06 13) Also known as MCG-01-03-085, this galaxy is accessible for people with moderate aperture scopes.  In the 10”, I observed it as very faint, pretty large, slightly brighter in the middle, and no elongation detected.  To really see it, use averted vision or jiggle the scope.  This one is fun just to capture something in an obscure catalog.

Herschel 400 Objects
157, 246, 247, 584, 596, 615, 720, 779, 908, 936, 1022, 1052, 1055
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
246, 939