LVAS October 2018 Observer’s Challenge: NGC 7129

Report by ASSNE Member Mike McCabe

The LVAS Observer’s Challenge object for October, 2018 was NGC 7129, a cluster associated with nebulosity in the constellation Cepheus. I got my first look at this object on the evening of October 9th, which also happened to be the night of the new moon. I was also in a unique location for this observation, having rented a cottage for the week in a place called The Gurnet, which is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The sky quality at the Gurnet, at least up where Cepheus is located at this time of year, is about a magnitude better than what I typically have at home on a good night. So while I had a pretty good sky to work with during that first observation, the aperture of my observing instrument was limited by the amount of room I had available when packing the vehicle for the trip, which was not an astronomy-specific venture.

So while the instrument itself was of good quality, the size of it (4.5” F8) left something to be desired when chasing dim nebulosity. The cluster itself was readily obvious, with four relatively bright stars populating the area of the cluster. The nebulosity however could only be described as a ‘suspicion’ with averted vision, but it was definitely a strong suspicion. I think had I known the exact layout of the nebulous patch, then I could’ve made a more definitive observation on that night, even with the small optics.

My second look at this object came on the 14th of October from my home location, with the seeing and transparency both decent at 3/5. This time I was using my 10” F5 Newtonian reflector, and the nebulosity was readily visible with averted vision. I can’t say that I was able to see the patch with direct vision, but it was definitely there every time I applied averted vision, and was never an intermittent apparition. I’m confident that from a dark sky site the nebulosity would be definitively visible with direct vision in the same telescope, and probably a positive averted vision object in the smaller scope.

Cepheus is a wonderful constellation for these types of objects, and now that I know about NGC 7129 I’ll be sure to return in the future for more sightings of this object.

December LVAS Observer’s Challenge, NGC 925

By ASSNE Member Mike McCabe

For the LVAS December Observer’s Challenge I attempted to observe the galaxy NGC 925 several times. I viewed it with two different telescopes, including 8” and 12.5” Newtonian reflectors.

All of my observations of this galaxy were similar – a very dim, fleeting apparition that never showed me any shape or structure. It didn’t seem to matter whether I was using the 8” or the 12.5”, as with either instrument the view was hurt by the poor transparency of the sky, the light pollution in the sky, or perhaps both.

My frustration with not being able to see this galaxy well led me to research the experience of other observers, and several threads on viewing NGC 925 could be found on the Cloudy Nights forum. I read accounts of people seeing this galaxy in 4” instruments, claims of spiral structure being seen in 10” instruments, and generally a host of accounts that made me question whether or not I was going blind.

Of course I’m not going blind – my sky stinks – with a capital “S”. It’s apparent that NGC 925 is best observed from a dark sky site, the likes of which are typically less accessible for me during the winter. I’ll go back to this object someday when my schedule allows me the freedom to travel to dark places at the appropriate time to view it.

I did the best I could with my drawing to convey how dim 925 was in the eyepiece, but I’m not sure I got there. However I did find that if I stood back about fifteen feet from the computer, that the live eyepiece experience was reasonably replicated. Just keep backing up until you can’t see the faint smudge anymore and there you have it, NGC 925 from my driveway.

Supernova 2017EAW in NGC 6946

From ASSNE member Bruce D

This supernova is appearing in the  “Fireworks Galaxy” in Cepheus. At mag 12.6 this will be visible for some of us, and these often get brighter before they begin to fade.

Details from Calsky follow:

  • Sunday 14 May 2017 Object
  • Supernova 2017eaw in Cep
  • Discovered 2017/05/14.238 by Patrick Wiggins
  • Found in NGC 6946 at R.A. = 20h34m44s.240, Decl. = +60°11’35”.90
  • Located 61″.0 west and 143″.0 north of the center of NGC 6946
  • Mag 12.6:5/14, Type IIP (zhost=0.000133)
  • References: ATEL 10374, 10373,10372,PSN-J20344424+6011359; SN 2008S,2004et2002hh,1980K, 1969P,1968D,1948B,1939C, 1917A

More information and maps can be found here: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/possible-bright-supernova-discovered-in-fireworks-galaxy-ngc-6946/