(IAAC) Obj: M106, NGC4248, NGC4231, NGC4232, NGC4217, NGC4226, NGC4346 - Inst: 36" f/5 Obsession dob


Observer: Lew Gramer
Your skills: Intermediate (some years)
Date/time of observation: 1998-05-24/25 02:00 UT
Location of site: Stinson Lake, NH, USA (Lat 44, Elev 500m)
Site classification: Rural
Sky darkness: 7.0 <Limiting magnitude>
Seeing: 4 <1-10 Seeing Scale (10 best)>
Moon presence: None - moon not in sky
Instrument: 36" f/5 Obsession dob
Magnification: 130x, 207x, 381x
Filter(s): None
Object(s): M106, NGC4248, NGC4231, NGC4232, NGC4217, NGC4226, NGC4346
Category: External galaxy.
Class: Sb+p, Ir-:, S0p, S(B)b+p, Sb, Sa:, E6
Constellation: CVn
Data: mag 8.3, 12.6, 14.5p, 14.6p, 11.9B, 12.2B, 12.2B  size (') 18x8, 3x1, 1.4x1.3, 1.5x0.9, 5.5x2, 1.3x0.7, 3.5x1.4
Position: RA 12:19  DEC +47:18
This weekend was my first opportunity to look through Barrie Sawyer's and Ralph
Pass's recently purchased 36" dob, "Godzilla". The gigantic galaxy M106 in this
aperture was nothing short of breathtaking! The first and most astounding thing
I noticed was the COLOR: yellowish and orangish tinges glimpsed in the brilliant
core and stretching along the inner following edge of the brighter spiral arm.
This latter arm, spurting NE from and then wrapping very gracefully around the
bright, complex inner halo, showed large variations in brightness throughout its
length. Most prominent of these was a significant brightening some 7' NE of the
core, where the orangish tinge was readily seen at low powers. The lower SW arm
of M106 by contrast, was less varied, more diffuse, larger, and fainter. Several
faint stars or HII regions could be seen involved in and near both spiral arms.
Interestingly, at the heart of the great galaxy, a very definite stellar nucleus
was noted inside a slightly oblong, intensely bright inner core. About 1/2 field
(15') NW of M106's nucleus, in the dark area above its bright upper arm, NGC 4248
was visible as an elongated fairly diffuse haze, with hints of dark mottling and
what might have been a bar at its innermost core. Continuing NW half a low-power
field I happened on two other faint, oblong hazes set amid a pretty polygon of
mag 10-11 stars. The brighter and more elongated of these (n4231) showed a clear
central core, with a faint, irregularly round halo all round its spindly length.
The fainter and more diffuse (n4232) appeared somewhat involved with '31 to its
W, but otherwise uninteresting. Another galaxy, and the only loner in this group,
was n4346, actually the first one I happened on while star-hopping to the area.
Although quite bright and well elongated in a lonely dark field, it was otherwise
mostly uninteresting: wonderful guidepost to M106 however, as it lies just two
field widths (30') E of the big galaxy, sweeping past a pretty, bright orange/red
star (HD107610) along the way. And last of all before leaving the area, I swung
the Big Eye to a gorgeous baseball cap-shaped grouping of bright (mag. 8) stars
WSW of M106's core. Just S of the E tip of the cap lies n4217, an elongated haze
of low surface brightness, containing three separate diffuse "brightness steps"
within a stretched, tight spindle over 6' long. Engulfed in these three zones are
at least three stellarings, including a possible off-center nucleus and two stars
or HII regions, SW and N. Finally, a bit further S, n4226 was barely visible to
direct vision as an elongated NW-SE haze, with a possible long halo seen in AV.
As with all observations through friends' scopes, this one was a cursory glimpse
at best - sketching or more extensive logging was impossible. But based on this
first vision, I know I'll be returning to this Prince of the Messier galaxies
whenever another chance presents itself at the vertiginous eyepiece of Godzilla.

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