LVAS November '17 Challenge, NGC 772 & 770

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Apollo XX
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LVAS November '17 Challenge, NGC 772 & 770

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For the LVAS November Observer’s Challenge I was able to observe the interacting galaxy pair of NGC 772 and NGC 770 several times. I was also able to use several different telescopes, including 8”, 12.5” and 18” reflectors and two 9.25” SCT’s.

My first observation of NGC 772 came on the evening of October 20th, when a few of us got together at a site called Destruction Brook Woods in Dartmouth, MA. The hope was that the site would provide exquisitely dark skies (well, at least relative to what we’re used to) and although the site was somewhat dark, the observing on this occasion was hampered by bottom-of-the-barrel seeing and variable transparency.

I had brought my 8” dobsonian-mounted reflector, and the hop from Mesarthim in Aries to NGC 772 was easy enough. Seeing the galaxy was a challenge though, and I finally found it bracketed between two 9th magnitude stars and capped by a trio of stars in the 11th to 12th magnitude range. I then asked two of my fellow observers to pull up 772 in their 9.25” SCT’s. Since they were using accurate go-to systems it was merely the push of a few buttons and we were right on target. The view of 772 in the slightly larger compound optics systems was very similar to the view in the 8” Newtonian – dim. We didn’t spend a lot of time dwelling in the area, but for the time we did there was no evidence of 770 in the view.

I subsequently conducted follow-up observations from my driveway with my 12.5” dobsonian-mounted reflector. On the evening of November 12th I was blessed with a sky that had better-than-average transparency, at least according to the CSC rating. Going back to 772, I was pleased as punch to find that I could indeed glimpse the tiny little interacting companion galaxy NGC 770 when I cranked up the magnification a bit. In the 12.5”, 772 exhibited a bright core and 770 exhibited what could only be referred to as a “stellar” core – intermittently it appeared as though a dim star existed right in the middle of the very faint fuzz. NGC 770 was only visible in a medium/high magnification range. Less than 100x showed only 772, and over 200x also caused 770 to do a disappearing act.

I took one last stab at the interacting duo on the evening of November 19th while looking through the eyepiece of a fellow observers’ 18” reflector. I was hoping for great things with the significantly larger scope, but the sky just wasn’t going to give it up and we had to settle for a view quite similar to what I had experienced in the 12.5” with a clear sky –barely viewable little 770 with a stellar core again.

So that’s my report on observing the interacting galaxies NGC 772 & 770 in the constellation Aries. Fun stuff –I highly recommend them!

"The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens." - Anaxagoras
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