(IAAC) Object: M64 Instrument: 16" Dob LM: 5

Observer:  Todd Gross
Your skill:  Intermediate +
Date and UT of observation: 2/7/97 0900 GMT
Location & latitude: 22 miles west of Boston, Ma. 42.3N
Site classification: Suburban

Limiting magnitude (visual): 5 (estimated),  5 (est)  in vicinity of object
Seeing (1 to 5 - best to worst):  3
Moon up (phase?): No

Instrument: f/4.59 16" Dob, f.l. 1839mm, excellent optics, 
96% QSP coating, 3.1" dialectric 99 % secondary 

Magnifications:  175x, 97x, 155x (binoviewer)
Filters used: none, deep sky
Object:  M64, The "Black Eye" Galaxy
Object data: Spiral Galaxy in Virgo Cluster

Description: This object was an easy to view, roughly oval ball of haze, with
a bright, nearly stellar core. However, like the nucleus of a comet, higher 
magnification does not bring out a stellar "point", but continues to show a 
"nearly stellar" suddenly brightening smaller core. (Kind of a like those 
boxes that all fit inside themselves, as soon as you take the smaller one out, 
there is yet another smaller one inside.) 

The highlight was the comma shaped dark "spot" or dark lane, to the right of
core that covers offhand, about a third of the circumference of the imaginary
circle one would draw if you continued the dark lane all the way around the 
nucleus. It is a very "fat" dark lane, many arc seconds wide.  The dark spot
was offset from the core a bit,  but was still somewhat centered when taking 
in the whole galaxy overall. 

M64 is a medium sized object, making it good in suburban skies (extended
objects more easily get washed away in light pollution) Plus it was near
the darker zenith. It held up remarkably well to higher magnification.
Indeed it 
looked just as well defined, if not more so at 175x, than 97x. A deep sky filter
seemed to add a bit of contrast to the dark spot. Also, using a Televue 
binoviewer at about 155x, it again looked just great, with no substantial
loss of
definition. (binoviewers split the beam and sometimes detract light gathering). 
No substantial detail other than the mid-size, pretty oval haze, the bright
and the dark lane were noted.

I have seen this galaxy before in smaller scopes, and the dark spot was 
much more obvious this time, previously in my slightly light polluted skies,
it was seen only with averted vision.

- Todd
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