Constellations of the Month
by Rick Raasch
The constellations of Pegasus and Andromeda contain many galaxies, most of which are relatively faint. They challenge the observer not only to find them, but to detect detail in them. Ive sorted through my notes, and am here presenting what I feel are the best of my finds. Happy hunting!
M-15 This is a nice, bright globular cluster that is easily seen in the viewfinder or binoculars. It handles magnification well, showing a tight mass of stars 8' in diameter with a much brighter central region. Individual stars are resolved around the edges and across its face but not quite to the center.
NGC 7177 A small, moderately bright galaxy, 3x1' in size, oriented NE-SW. It has a definite central bulge about 1' in diameter, a stellar nucleus, and is broadly concentrated to the center.
NGC 7331 This is a large and bright galaxy, about 7x2' oriented NW-SE. It has a bright core, a sharply brighter stellar nucleus, and at times, dust lanes can be seen along the SW edge. Very pretty.
NGC 7332 A small, but very nice edge-on spiral. It is about 4x7', oriented NE-SW, sharply brighter to the center, has a stellar nucleus, and a definite central bulge. A much fainter companion (NGC 7339) lies 10' to the east, and is 4x1', oriented E-W, and is only very slightly brighter to the center.
NGC 7479 Large, 5-6x3', extended NNW-SSE, with a slightly brighter center. There is a 13th magnitude star seemingly imbedded in its northern tip. The tips of the galaxy show hints of curving slightly, indicating that it is a barred spiral.
Stephans Quintet These five, tightly gathered galaxies are faint and nearly impossible to see in moderate instruments, so find a friend with a light bucket you can borrow. I found its brighter members in my scope, but was unable to definitely identify all of them.
M-31 Truly one of the showpieces of the northern sky. Our nearest spiral neighbor in space, it extends over 3 degrees, and is easily visible to the naked eye. It has two companions, M-32 to the south, and M-110 to the north, both of which are small elliptical galaxies. M-31 itself is best seen at low powers, and one of the best views Ive had was through 16x80 binoculars. The galaxys full extent could be seen along with several dust lanes and its companion galaxies. Marvelous!
NGC 404 Easily found right next to Beta Andromedae, this galaxy is only well seen when that star is out of the field of view. It is 4x2-3', extended NNE-SSW, broadly concentrated to the center, and has a stellar nucleus.
NGC 752 A large and splashy open cluster which is best seen in the viewfinder or binoculars. It is about 3/4 degree in size, with over 150 relatively bright stars arranged in many curving chains. Well detached from the background stars and very pretty.
NGC 891 In photographs, one of the finest objects to be seen. Visually, however, it is large and faint, with little. It is 12-15x3', oriented N-S, with faint dust lanes along its eastern side and through the center.
NGC 7662 A fine, bright, bluish-green planetary nebula, about 30" in diameter which handles magnification well. No annularity was noted, but the SE edge appeared to be brighter than the NW side. Some observers do see annularity at very high powers.
NGC 7686 A small, sparse open cluster surrounding a wide orange and blue double star. Not well detached from the background, I counted only about 15 relatively faint stars in the cluster.
Pi And. A nice double star composed of a bright white primary and a fainter, dusky blue companion. Easily split.
Gamma And. One of the finest double stars, it is easily split, and shows a yellowishwhite and beautiful blue pair.
Next Month: Cassiopeia and Cepheus
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