October 2014

This month, Dale Holt sent in three sketches.  The first is of Abell 70, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquila.  This PN is between 13,500 and 17,500 light years away from the Earth.  The central star is actually a binary, one component being a white dwarf, the other a barium star, which is a giant star, spectral class G-K formed by mass transter from its companion.  The background galaxy just at the edge of the ring is named PMN J2033=0656.


Abell 70



Dale’s second sketch is of globular cluster M2, also in Aquila.  It is around 37,500 light years from the Earth, and is one of the biggest known, being 175 light years across.  It is also very old, of the order of 13 billion years, making it one of the oldest orbiting our galaxy.


NGC 6956

The third sketch is of a spiral galaxy NGC 6956, which lies in the constellation of Delphinus.  It’s angular dimensions are quite small, 1.8 x 1.5 arcminutes, and its magnitude is given as 12.3.  It is a barred spiral galaxy, class SBb

Geoff Elston, Director of SPA Solar Section,  continued to send in his images taken whilst on holiday in Northumberland (see September report).  M103 and  NGC 457 are both open clusters in the constellation of Cassiopeia; the latter is also known as the Owl cluster or the ET cluster. M103 is more distant from the Earth than most open clusters at around 9,000 light years.  NGC 457 is a little closer to us at 7,900 light years.

NGC 457


Also in Cassiopeia are open cluster NGC 436, and  M52.  The latter can be observed with binoculars;  it is a 5th magnitude cluster around 13 arcminutes in diameter

NGC 436



Geoff’s final image is of globular cluster M13, in the constellation of Hercules.  This firm favourite with amateur astronomers was discovered by Sir Edmund Halley in 1714.  At magnitude 5.8, and with an angular diameter of 23 arcminutes, (it is actually 145 light years across) it can be seen with the naked eye when the sky is very clear and dark.


 Michael Kinns made two drawings of open clusters in the constellation of Cygnus.  M29 was discoverd by Charles Messier in 1764, NGC 6819 was discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1784.

NGC 6819

The following images and drawings were sent by new section members.

Graham Taylor imaged NGC 2403, a galaxy in the constellation Camelopardalis.

NGC 2403

This was captured using the Bradford remote telescope, a Celestron C14, working at f5.3, situated on Teneriffe, Canary Islands. The camera was an FLI Microline with a 1k x 1k pixel chip.

NGC 2403 is 8 million light years from the Earth, and is 50,000 light years across.  It was the first galaxy beyond our local group in which a Cepheid variable star was discovered (by Alan Sandage in 1968).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Next are drawings made by Graham Sparrow when he attanded the recent Autumn Kelling Heath Star Party.  Graham used a Celestron 8SE telescope, and graphite pencil on white cartridge paper, scanned into the computer and inverted.  Globular cluster M13 is in the constellation of Hercules, and  M15 is a globular cluster in Pegasus.


Graham also observed the M42 nebula in Orion  and the Witches Broom nebula in Cygnus.  The latter is also known as NGC 6960 and is the Western part of the Veil Nebula, a large supernova remnant thought to be between 5000 and 8000 years old.  It is around 1500 light years from the Earth.

Witch’s Broom

Jonathan Shinn sent in three images, taken with an unmodified Canon ED550D DSLR camera attached to a Skywatcher ED80 refractor, on a NEQ6 mount.  NGC 7000, the North America nebula is an emission nebula in the constellation of Cygnus ;   IC 1396 is a dark nebula known as the elephant’s trunk.   M31 is the well known spiral galaxy in the constellation of Andromeda.


NGC 7000
IC 1396



NGC 7331

Mike and Alison Wood sent in sketches of NGC 7331, and NGC 7465 using a 20″ Dobsonian reflector.  NGC 7331 is a magnitude 10.4 spiral galaxy about 40,000 light years from the Earth.  It is in the constellation of Pegasus, and a number of fainter galaxies are visible in this sketch.  NGC 7465 is a member of a group of galaxies also in Pegasus, rather faint at magnitdes around 12.5, of which galaxies NGC 7461, 7463 and 7448 are drawn here.

NGC 7465


Dave Finnigan