Here I would like to share with all some of the interesting details and minutes of some specialities of what I’ve, a sky-observer, has witnessed in the fascinating night-sky in a short span of time.
I am a sky-observer, primarily deep-sky and as of the time of writing (September 2006) my total object count stands with a small number of around 231 objects observed. So I like to call myself as between beginner and intermediate experienced observer. Detailing further it is : 113 galaxies, 63 globular clusters, 15 planetary nebulae, 28 open clusters, 6 diffuse nebulae, 5 comets, 1 asteroid. Other objects include 6 planets (excluding Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), 7-8 planetary satellites and innumerable artificial satellites (probably less than 400-500) and innumerable meteors (probably less than 500-600). And not to forget, 2-3 unknown, unidentified phenomena/objects too !!
My observing career spans lesser than 2 years and I have used only telescopes in the range of 4″, 6″ 8″. The most used aperture was a 8″. I’ve also used a 12″ no more than just once, for a few minutes that too.
1) Once the sky condition at our current northern observing site, Hosahalli was so good that with a 8″ I could spot something like the filamentary structures in the first Messier object, a supernova remnant, M1, The Crab Nebula !! It was evident with some staring in the eyepiece.
2) Once the condition of the bright, long and thin edge-on galaxy NGC 4565 in Coma Berenices was so good that just after 3-4 seconds of looking in the eyepiece I could easily see the dust lane and the view of the galaxy “exactly” resembled that of photos. My observing partner Akarsh also observed the same easily. Again and again looking into the eyepiece revealed it with no pains, it was so easy !! This was strange !!
3) Two extra-galactic globulars : M54 and M79 in Sagittarius and Lepus constellations respectively. They belong to Sagittarius Dwarf and Canis Major Dwarf galaxy respectively and not to our own galaxy, the Milky-Way.
4) A planetary nebula, NGC 2438 in front of an open cluster, M46/NGC 2437. This is a line-of-sight effect and they both are not related.
5) Palomar 9 / NGC 6717, one of the handful of the farthest and extremely faint category of globulars in the Milky-Way, discovered only photographically. This is the brightest and easiest in the lot.
6) A split comet 73/P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 with it’s 2 major fragments B and C. I think I even saw a dual-nucleus for one fragment, maybe B. We’ve seen this object very often. This comet has broken up into more than 70 tiny pieces during it’s 2006 return, who knows what’s in store for it’s next return in 2011 or so? A long train of cometary fragments??
7) The only globular cluster in Virgo, in a region away from the galactic plane which is abundant with clusters and where galaxies are abundant (around 3000), home of the Virgo Galactic cluster. It’s NGC 5634.
8) The nearest globular cluster, NGC 6397 in the constellation of Ara (The Altar). On the contrary I’ve also seen…..
9) The farthest globular cluster, NGC 2419 in the Northern Constellation of Lynx (The Lynx). It’s called Intergalactic Wanderer !! Rightly named, isn’t it?
This globular cluster is one of the most remote globulars of our Milky Way galaxy, both from our solar system and from the galactic center, at nearly 300,000 light years from each. It is thus nearly double as far out as the Large Magellanic Cloud !! As it is however the most remote Milky Way object visible in moderately-sized scopes. NGC 2419 is approaching us at about 20 km/sec.
10) The current number 63 of globular clusters observed by me is just 42% of the known globular clusters in our Galaxy, Milky-Way !! Yes, there are only around 150 ones known in the Milky-Way. Leave the 15-20 ones which are the faintest and farthest ones known as Palomar globulars. Out of the remaining, say, 130 this is around 48% observed. And leave out another 20 or so, which are not visible for our location and which are too below the horizon always, so out of 110 ones this is 57% of all the known ones from our location. Hope this is a good fraction for all the globulars visible from Bangalore. And my current agenda is to finish all of them, first before anything else.
11) Many times I’ve seen strange artifical satellites. Some of them follow each other. Means, one satellite has another one right behind it and both are moving with the same speeds. And these satellites blink periodically after some interval, as if following a similar pattern.
12) I’ve nearly “discovered” the Junior Red-Spot feature on Jupiter just days after it’s discovery !! None of us had know about it’s existence at the time of observation. And this observation was carried on with a simple 8″ f/8 telescope, without filters or any tools/gadgets to ease out the observation !! This event took place on 1 March 2006.
13) In January 2006, 5 out of 6 of us saw a meteor which exploded in the atmosphere. And meteors generally do explode due to certain reasons but this one was without any sound. But the thing what it did next was out of this world. The silent explosion was so powerful that it created nearly daylight, as you have around sunset at 6 pm or so !! Such powerful was the explosion !!
14) Everyone sees meteors at many times leaving a smoke trail behind as they burn up in the atmosephere. During the Geminid Meteor showers in the chilly and windy winter weather of December 2002, 5-6 of us from ABAA observing from our Southern site, Sivanhalli saw a meteor which left a trail for not a minute, not 5 minutes but for entire 20 minutes that is around 1200 seconds !! We were extremely shocked at this sight, as that 20 minutes seemed to stretch for eternity. And hardly there are meteors reported with trails existing for such a long time.
For more please visit my astronomy homepage:
This is not the end of the wonderful and mystifying facts our Universe beholds. I hope to see as many mystifying sights as Eternity and Infinity, Universe has till I’m around, surviving on this extremely insignificant third rock from the Sun, Earth. This is just the beginning…