Sunday, March 10, 2013

It’s been said that the “sickle” of Leo is the nighttime signal that spring is coming.

As for me as a galaxy observer the first sign of spring is my first good and renewed view of Ngc 2903 on the northwest side of the sickle.

For decades now and every late winter observing run no matter which telescope I’m using, I always take a gander at this great spiral galaxy. Even thru the spring it’s usually the first object I view for the night. It’s like a great song (for me Foghat’s Night Shift) that you can listen to over and over. So Ngc 2903 is a galaxy that I can view anytime and anywhere.

I guess part of the reason is if you live in the northern states, you get anxious for spring after a cold winter, but this is really a fine galaxy for deep space observers.

On the night of March 8 2013 I had a very good observing night at one of our dark sites. I took two scopes, which since the Galaxy Log videos started I’ve seem to be doing more & more. This night I had my 6” f/6.5 refractor and my 12.5” f/4.8 dob.

After setting both scopes up, I viewed a couple regulars of late winter like M-1, M-35 (with Ngc 2158), and so on.

I then put both scopes on Ngc 2903. Even at low power at 55x and 76x respectively the views were great, and though it was a cold slightly windy night, those views warmed me up.

Increasing the magnifications to where both scopes were around 125x brought out some interesting views.

In the 6” refractor Ngc 2903 showed a very bright large elongated core in an oval mottled disc, with a patchy look and a hint of spiral.

The 12.5” dob of course produced a brighter image. Here the same detail was seen as in the 6” refractor, but more vivid. The central bar structure was easily seen, as well as a “patch” in the outer northern section. Here the spiral arms started to come into view. So pumping the power to 190x and showed the beginning or “hooks” of the northern and southern spiral arms.

The larger scope showed the best view of course, but the 6” refractor’s view was quite good, and could satisfy many galaxy observers with those eyepiece views.

8" f/9 refractor by Sheree Krasley

In the 22” f/4.5 dob this magnificent galaxy takes on a photo-like view, but that will be something we’ll talk about in a future Galaxy Log here and the video series.

Spring is coming and so are those great spring galaxies…the most wonderful time of the year!!!

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