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NGC Galaxy magnitude 9/10 observing challenge
Up for something new? Done all those Messier galaxies? Why not work your way through
this list of special magnitude 9/10 NGC galaxies?
It is Friday the 4th April. It is 9.30pm and its dark and the sky is clear. Time to start. Due
South, almost overhead is Lynx.
Use the TAKI charts and detailed CDC charts attached to find the objects.
Object 1 – NGC 2683 (Taki page 53)
A lovely edge of spiral galaxy some 30 million light years away. At magnitude 9 this galaxy is
visible in large binoculars and is awesome in a large dob.
Object 2 – NGC 3344 (Taki page 51)
Move the scope left to pint SE and down to 70 degrees Declination to Leo Minor. This galaxy
is completely different in appearance. It is another spiral and it is only 20 million light years
away but is presenting itself face on to us. It is next to a field star and the hazy patch and
star make a nice combination. It is also magnitude 9 but its low surface brightness makes it
much more of a challenge.
Once you have seen a few spirals face on you will find you can identify them even before
you have looked them up on google!
Object 3 – Leo triplet (Taki page 50)
No not the famous one. Look half way between delta and theta Leo and then a fraction left.
This group NGC3605 / NGC 3607 and NGC 3608 are part of the Leo II group of galaxies.
NGC 3605 is however in the background and NGC 3607/8 (both magnitude 9) are
interacting around 65 million light years away. How many can you see? Two or Three?
Object 4 – NGC 3521 (Taki page 74)
Down again, under Leo look for this at just over 30 degrees of declination. It is a really quite
superb magnitude 9 spiral galaxy. This is so bright it can be seen in large binoculars. Its
relatively local at 25 million light years away.
Object 5 – NGC 4565 (Taki page 49)
No Magnitude 9 NGC challenge would be complete without visiting what I think is my
favourite galaxy in the sky. Move left from Leo and resist the urge to dip in to Virgo but carry
on left to Coma. This galaxy is edge on which I think makes it special and it has a star right
next to its core which adds to the dynamics. If you are looking through a big dob, look for the
dust lane which cuts across the core. Try to see how far you can follow the arms. Which side
is longer in your view?
Object 6 – NGC 4244 (Taki page 25)
For a comparison try this LONG edge on magnitude 10 galaxy in Canes Venatici. It is really
special in a large dob. Is it bigger than 4565 to you?
Object 7 – NGC 4111 (Taki page 25)
Now go up a little further. NGC 4111 is another nice edge on galaxy. This is a magnitude 10
galaxy but it has a very high surface brightness and again has a field star nearby which adds
to the view and reminds me of a baby NGC 4565.
Object 8 – NGC 3675 (Taki page 26)
To the right in to Ursa Major and we pick up this magnitude 10 spiral galaxy. If you are
missing NGC 7331 in Pegasus this is the next best thing. A lovely bright oval object. Once
seen never forgotten.
If you are following its now 11pm and Bootes is rising in the east with the Plough now high in
the sky.
Object 9 – NGC 5248 (Taki page 72)
See if you can spot the brightest galaxy in Bootes. It is another face on spiral. At 75 million
light years of distance it is magnitude 10 and has that characteristic low surface brightness
face on spiral look.
Object 10 – NGC 6503 (Taki page 4)
So the final object of the hunt. Swing the scope to the NE and find Draco. Here we find NGC
6503. It is another magnitude 10 spiral but it is a special sight as it nestles next to its field
star. It is almost as if many of these galaxies were placed next to stars to deliberately. It is
less than 20 million light years away and sits on the edge of the local void which is 150
million years across.
How did you score out of 10? I hope this trip will inspire you to become a galaxy hunter.
Mark Stuart
April 2014