April Observer's Challenge - NGC 3079

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Apollo XX
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April Observer's Challenge - NGC 3079

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Observer’s Challenge Report – April 2022 – NGC 3079 – The Phantom Frisbee Galaxy

April 19th, 2022, 21:15 EDT: It’s a pleasant spring evening with temps in the mid-40’s, and although the breeze is gusting to about 15mph out of the southwest, I’m well shielded from it by the building I’m set up next to. On this particular night I’m out test driving a new-to-me old classic telescope (a 1984 Celestron C8 to be exact) and things are going well. I’m finding that the setting circles on the Celestron/Byers RA drive and on the fork mount arms are a delight to use, not like the tiny things on most of my GEM mounts. This thing is regularly landing targets in the restricted field of view that 2,032mm’s of focal length provides, and I decide that this is as good a time as any to give the April Observer’s Challenge a try.

NGC 3079, aka “The Phantom Frisbee Galaxy” looks like a formidable challenge on paper. The listed visual magnitude for this object is generally in the 11 to 11.5 magnitude range, with a surface brightness about a magnitude dimmer. With apparent dimensions of 1.5’ by 7.9’, the fairly compact stature should negate any issues with diffuse and thus invisible nebulosity, but the thing that intrigued me most as I did my pre-observing research was its appearance in images. This thing is insanely dusty, so much so that I was left wondering if there would be enough lighter material to allow this galaxy to be visible to the visual observer.

As it turns out I was borrowing trouble. Even under my Bortle 6 sky, which I estimated to present a transparency of 3/5 on the evening of the 19th, the galaxy was readily visible in the eyepiece at a power of 78x. The elongated shape and orientation of the position angle were immediately obvious, and the galaxy appeared to sit atop a triangle of 8th and 9th magnitude stars which appeared significantly brighter than anything else in the field of view. Experimenting with a variety of higher powers revealed that the galaxy was best rendered at 135x given the equipment used and conditions experienced during the observation.

NGC 3079 McCabe-G.jpg
NGC 3079 McCabe-G.jpg (654.77 KiB) Viewed 261 times
Keep Looking Up!

Mike M.
"The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens." - Anaxagoras
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Pete
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Re: April Observer's Challenge - NGC 3079

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Mike, how do you store your observations?
Pete P.
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Apollo XX
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Re: April Observer's Challenge - NGC 3079

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Hi Pete,

Interesting question. From a digital perspective with something like the Observer's Challenge I have a folder on the computer, and in it are separate folders for the years and in those are separate folders for the months and object I.D.

As for the rest of my observations it's pretty much a helter-skelter arrangement of folders by years and months. Admittedly my system is not very good when it comes to digging up past observations or images years down the road. If I can't remember what year and month I made a particular observation then I'm typically left with plodding through folders looking for them, but on occasion I do have success with the little windows search gizmo at the lower left of the screen - provided I can remember what I named the file or the folder. It can get a little frustrating at times but I can usually come up with what I'm looking for.

As far as paper records are concerned, a couple of years ago I started keeping a binder for each year which has all my observations for the year in chronological order. It's actually kind of fun to sit with those on occasion and leaf through the pages, probably much in the same way that someone would enjoy any other type of scrapbook.

I see examples out there in the hobby of people who seem to be able to dig up years-old observations by object I.D., so I'm assuming that they have some kind of indexing system that enables them to do that. I think some people have kept diligent records from the day that they started observing. I wasn't one of those for many years. All I cared about was making observations and note taking meant nothing to me. Only when I finally started taking on observing projects like those offered by the Astronomical League did I start to get serious about logging, so much of my record keeping has to do with whatever project I'm working on at the time.

Mike M.
"The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens." - Anaxagoras
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Pete
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Re: April Observer's Challenge - NGC 3079

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My first observing log is dated May 2001 and there's a Winword file by year and date for every observing night including outreach. Lately the log name includes the target names so a rudimentary search is possible on more recent observations.

Just checking - 1032 files total :P
Pete P.
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