Deep Sky Spring/Early Summer Observations May 2017

Observation Conditions | Observation Overview | Observed Objects | Remarks | References

From the end of April to the end of May (1st of June, actually...), it is the time for "spring observations", which also comprise some sky objects that might be assigned to early summer and which might be of interest to other beginners and are therefore described here.

List of observed deep sky objects (the links lead to pages describing the DSOs):

I mostly selected my observation objects on the basis of my list of deep sky objects that I extracted from books.

 

Observation Conditions

Sky Region and Objects

I initially restricted myself to the sky region around Ursa Major (Great Bear), Canes Venatici (Hunting Dogs), Gemini (Twins), Coma Berenices (Berenice's Hair), Cancer (Crab), Leo (Lion) because all there were located in about the same direction (Southwest to South). Moreover, I looked to the East in the direction of Hercules.

On my "observation list" there were firstly: M 81/82 (Ursa Major/Great Bear), M 3 (Canes Venatici/Hunting Dogs), M 53 (Coma Berenices/Berenice's Hair), M 35 (Gemini/Twins), M44 and M 67 (Cancer/Crab), as well as M 65/66 and M 96 (Leo/Lion). From May 10 on, I sometimes "drifted" to the East for M 13 und M 92 (Hercules). From mid-May on, I was also able to observe M 5 (Serpens/Serpent). The list of observed objects is, in fact, a little bit longer...

At the end of May, the moon returned to the night sky and made observing deep sky objects increasingly difficult. I then focused on the moon, Jupiter and its moons, the open star cluster in Coma Berenice (Mel 111), and Castor (Gemini/Twins) and Mizar (Ursa Major/Big Dipper) as as double stars. The first of June 2017 was my last observation day in this observation series.

Overview Map

Map, More Oriented Towards the West

The following map is more oriented towards the West. It shows approximately the sky area that I primarily browsed during my observations (the center area is most important here). This map shows better than the following one, which is more oriented towards the East, that many sky objects in the West were rather low on the horizon at this time of the year.

Click the map for a larger version - it opens in a new window. The deep sky objects that I tried to observe (and a few more) are indicated by red dots.

Alternative Map

The following map is more oriented towards the East. It also shows approximately the sky area that I primarily browsed during my observations (the center area is most important here). This map already announces a few "summer sky objects", which I was already able to observe.

Click the map for a larger version - it opens in a new window. The deep sky objects that I tried to observe (and a few more) are indicated by red dots. M 10 and M 12 were not observed.

Observation Time

The observations started every day when it was sufficiently dark, typically only from about 10 p.m. on. Later in May, they started even at 11 p.m. oder later.

Observation Location

All observations were conducted in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (Germany):

General Conditions

The first observations took place before the moon was full. Later on, the moon had less and less influence on my observations. From 10 to 12 May, however, the sky was still very bright, so that I was not able to find a lot of targets. Thereafter it became better, but toward the end of May, the moon returned to the night sky, so that hardly any deep sky objects could be found.

In general, the sky above Mühlhausen/Kraichgau is "light-polluted" and does not invite you to search for deep sky objects. This is certainly one of the reasons why I found some of the deep sky objects that I wanted to observe only sometimes or not at all. In May, the days are also very long so that my observations typically started late in the evening (see above).

 

Observation Overview

Observation Dates

Date Observed Objects Further Observations Devices Used Eyepieces Used Remarks
Apr 29 G: M 65/66, M 96
OC: M 67, M 35
Crescent of the moon, Jupiter (4 moons, 2 stripes) Explorer 150PDS (6" Newton) on Star Discovery AZ GoTo Mount 32 mm Plössl, 24 mm WA, 16 mm, 7 mm, and 4 mm UWA, 10 mm WA Moon and Jupiter were worth-while targets
May 5 G: M 81/82
OC: M 67, M 44
GC: M 3

Moon, Jupiter

M 53 not found

ditto ditto Moon and Jupiter were worth-while targets, first attempts at globular star clusters
May 9 OC: M 35
GC: M 3, M 53
--- ditto ditto  
May 10 KS: M 3, M 53, M 13 --- ditto ditto ditto
May 12 OC: M 44
GC: M 3, M 13
M 92 not found ditto ditto ditto
May 14 G: M 81, M 51, M 64, M 104, M 65/66
OC: M 44, M 67, M 35
GC: M 3, M 5, M 13, M 92, M 53
Jupiter

M 36 and M 38 not, M 37 perhaps seen
M 48, M 50 covered/too low
M 96 probably not found
M 106, M 101, M 49 not found

ditto ditto highlight: the globular star clusters M 3, M 5, M 13, and M 92 (7 mm eyepiece), plus M 53, at about 11:30 p.m.
some galaxies "assumed" this time, the sky gets darker each day...
May 15 G: M 106, M 81/82, M 51, M 64, M 49, M 104, M 65/66
OC: M 44
GC: M 3, M 5, M 13, M 92, M 5
Jupiter

M 101 not found
M 48, M 50 covered/too low
M 96 probably not found

ditto 24 mm WA, 16 mm, and 7 mm UWA probably somewhat darker sky than the day before
globular star clusters seen well (24/16 mm)
May 16 G: M 106, M 81/82, M 51, M 64, M 87, M 104
GC: M 3, M 5, M 13, M 92, M 53
Jupiter

M 101 not found
M 49 forgotten
M 90 perhaps a glow...

ditto 24 mm WA, 16 mm, 7 mm, 4 mm UWA (for SC), 10 mm WA globular star clusters seen well again (24/4 mm)
observing conditions obviously good again and the sky fairly dark at the end of my observations
May 20 G: M 106, M 64, M 94, M 104
GC: M 3, M 5, M 13 M 53
Jupiter

M 63 not found
M 81/82 not found

ditto 24 mm WA, 16 mm, 7 mm, and 4 mm UWA  
May 23, 24 OC: Mel 111 Jupiter Binoculars, naked eye    
May 26 OC: Mel 111
GC: M 3

 

Jupiter Heritage 100P, binoculars, naked eye 4 mm UWA, further (not documented)  
May 29 DS: Castor   Heritage 100P 4 mm UWA (100 x), further (not documented)  
May 31 DS: Castor, Mizar Jupiter ("3" moons => 2 moons not separable)
nearly half moon: beautiful craters at the border between sun and shade
ditto ditto  
Jun 1 DS: Castor, Mizar Jupiter (4 moons, 2 quite close avove each other)
nearly half moon: beautiful craters at the border between sun and shade
ditto ditto  

Bold: First observation during this observation period; G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double star; all observations done in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau

Observed Sky Objects (Objects Found)

Details can be found by clicking the links to the respective deep sky objects.

DSO Details
Name Constellation Type Bino*   100P 150 PDS
GT
Remarks
M 81/82 Bode Galaxy/Cigar Galaxy Ursa Major G     yes two galaxies, the left one oblique and flat, the right one rounder
zeta UMa Mizar Ursa Major DS   yes   double star; visual double star with Alcor
  Canes Venatici G     yes found, weak glow?
  Canes Venatici GC     yes similar to M 5 and M 92, somewhat grainy at higher magnifications
Whirlpool Galaxy Canes Venatici G     yes glow (perhaps with brighter core), undefinded something, somewhat larger
M 94   Canes Venatici G     yes glow
Coma (Berenices) Star Cluster Coma Berenices OC yes yes   wide-spread open star cluster with relativly bright stars, best seen with opera glasses; a faint glow with the naked eye
Blackeye Galay Coma Berenices G     yes glow, but faily good to see
  Coma Berenices GC     yes smallest observed GC, somewhat grainy, brighter core at higher magnifications
  Virgo G     yes small, but seen quite well
M 87   Virgo G     yes perhaps a round glow, not much seen
Sombrero Galaxy Virgo G     yes oblique flat glow, no sombrero...
  Serpens Caput GC     yes similar to M 3 and M 92, somewhat grainy at higher magnifications
M 44 Praesepe Cancer OC yes yes yes very nice in binoculars (not documented)
M 67   Cancer OC     yes somewhat wide-spread open star cluster
M 65/66   Leo G     yes sometimes I was able to recognize two galaxies
M 96   Leo G     yes sometimes I was able to recognize a galaxy, but often not so...
M 35   Gemini OC     yes very nice OC, fairly large
alpha Gem Castor Gemini DS   yes   double star
M 13   Hercules GC yes yes yes largest observed GC, with 4 mm eyepiece (187,5 x) a few stars recognizable, grainy, fairly well resolved into stars
M 92   Hercules GC     yes similar to M 5 and M 5, somewhat grainy at higher magnifications

*) 10 x 25 binoculars; G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double star

Searched for but not found: M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy), M36, M 37, M 38, M 48, M 50, M 63, M90?, NGC 4449, NGC 4490, NGC 4565

 

Remarks

See the remarks on page Deep Sky Winter Observations February/March 2017.

Preparation

When looking for deep sky objects, a good preparation is mandatory - you can read this, and I can confirm it. "Good preparation" basically means that you compile a list of the objects that you would like to observe, and to find out where and how the objects can be found.

Is it it or not?

If you point your telescope with the help of the red dot finder approximately to the desired sky object, look into the eyepiece and see nothing or only "nebulous clouds," but not something that resembles the object in question, the question arises: Is the sky too light-polluted that I can recognize the object or does the telescope point in the wrong direction? Admittedly, I was - even after repeated attempts - not able to clarify this question for some of the objects that I tried to observe manually.

Using my Sky-Watcher Synscan AZ GoTo mount, I now have the possibility to access sky objects correctly (this does not always work as intended, though...). If I nevertheless should not recognize anything in the eyepiece, then there is not more possible with the given telescope under the given conditions...

 

References

All the star maps were created with SkySafari Plus/Pro for Apple Macintosh.

Books

On this Website

 

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23.03.2018