FUZZY SPOT,  November 2003, Pisces

Pisces is one of the well known sea constellations which depicts two fish tied together.  It is a winding constellation that somewhat wraps around the great square of Perseus.  It is also one of the constellations of the zodiac, and currently contains the vernal (Spring) equinox.  Precession has moved this from Aries into Pisces.

Though Pisces is large in size, it is weak in bright objects.  It contains a single Messier object, M-74, which is considered by many to be the most difficult object of the Messier catalog to observe.  There are several galaxy clusters, one of which we will look at here.  Except where noted, all observations were taken in my 10" F4.5 scope.

        NGC 128 (00 29.3 +02 51) This galaxy was seen at 100X as pretty small, somewhat faint, containing a much brighter middle with a non-stellar nucleus, and elongated N/S 3:1.  There are other galaxies in the area, all of which were uncertain.  There is a double star to SW, may be nebulous (one of the other galaxies?).

        NGC 383 Complex (01 07.4 +32 25) This galaxy cluster is near Andromeda, and was introduced to me by Jim Stevens.  In the 20" scope, I see a string of 7 galaxies, a very beautiful field.  There is a bright stars to S which somewhat interferes.  When trying to use low power to get all galaxies in the same field, many of the galaxies are hard to see, so it is better to use higher power and look at them in several fields.  NGC 383 is the brightest object with 382 pretty much merging with it.  To the S is 386, 385, and 384, and to the N is 380 and 379.  Though none of the galaxies themselves are anything to speak of, the grouping makes them spectacular.  I have not tried looking at these objects in the 10" scope yet.

        NGC 474 Complex (01 20.1 +03 25) In this complex, 3 galaxies are visible in the 10" scope.  NGC 467 is somewhat small, pretty faint, and possibly elongated 2:1 N/S.  The halo is extremely faint.  A slightly brighter middle is seen with an occasional stellar nucleus.  There are 2 fairly bright stars to the WSW which, with the galaxy, form an equally spaced group in a straight line.  NGC 470 is somewhat large, very faint, slightly brighter in the middle, and round.  It is pretty much an amorphous blob with mottling occasionally suspected.  Finally, NGC 474 is somewhat small, somewhat faint, and elongated 2.5:1 NE/SW.  It gradually then suddenly brightens toward the middle which contains a prominent stellar nucleus.

        NGC 488 (01 21.8 +05 16)  This galaxy is somewhat bright, somewhat large, and much brighter towards the middle with no nucleus.  Using averted vision helps the halo grow.  To the ESE is a very bright star, and to the S is a star in a string of 4 stars running E/W.  The galaxy may show some mottling and a possible spiral structure, but this is very uncertain.

        NGC 520 (01 24.6 +03 48) This galaxy is somewhat faint, somewhat small, and elongated 3:1 NNW/SSE.  It contains a slightly brighter middle which is also elongated the same direction as the galaxy.  Using averted vision makes it grow and brings out suspected detail near the ends of halo.

        NGC 524 (01 24.8 +09 33) This galaxy is pretty bright, pretty small, much brighter in the middle, and round.  It contains a stellar nucleus that comes and goes.  The galaxy is located in a very nice grouping of 6 stars.

        NGC 628 (01 36.6 +15 48)  Our final object is M-74.  In the 20" scope, M-74 is considerably large, pretty faint, round, and very mottled with counter-clockwise spiral suspected.  The center is somewhat brighter.  Stars flank it on E and W side. In the 10" scope, it is very large, pretty faint, has a much brighter middle with no nucleus noted, and is round.  The spiral structure is not seen.  Using a hood doesn’t help much, but averted vision does helps a little, possibly showing a counter-clockwise spiral structure.

Herschel 400 Objects
488, 524
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects