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:

I mostly selected my observation objects on the basis of my longer 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 Details

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 in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau

Overview of the Observed Sky Objects (Objects Found)

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

*) 8 x 20 binoculars; +) Sketches by Michael Vlasov, DeepSkyWatch.com; 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

 

Observed Objects

Ursa Major: M 81/82 (Bode Galaxies)

The Bode galaxies M 81 and M 82 are located in the constellation Ursa Major/Big Bear (Big Dipper). M 81 is the main galaxy of a galaxy group, which also includes the M 82 galaxy. Only in a small telescope, the two can be observed together, because the viewing angle should, according to Stoyan, be at least 1.5°. M 81 is a spiral galaxy, which is seen from above, whereas M 82 is an irregular galaxy, which is seen in edge position. Without the GoTo mount, I probably would never have found these galaxies. They were only hard to see under the given observing conditions.

M 81 and M 82, the Bode galaxies in Ursa Major

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch): Sketch of the Bode galaxies by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Note: I only have the author's permission to link to the sketch.

Observations

Without the GoTo mount, I probably would never have found the galaxies...


Canes Venatici: M 106

According to Stoyan, the galaxy M 106 in the constellation Canes Venatici can be seen in the smallest binoculars and is an easy object for small telescopes. This is probably true only for dark skies, because I had trouble to recognize this object in the telescope at all.

M 106 in Canes Venatici

Observations


Canes Venatici: M 3

The globular star cluster M 3 in the constellation Canes Venatici belongs, according to Stoyan, to the brightest and most worth observing globular star clusters in Messier's catalogue.

M 3 is located in constellation Canes Venatici, but is easiest to find from Arcturus in constellation Bootes

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch): Messier 3 (Globular Cluster) - Sketch by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Note: I only have the author's permission to link to the sketch.

Observations

  • May 5, 2017 (Mühlhausen: Explorer 150PDS on GoTo mount): Observed, glow that is brighter at the center; in higher magnifications still a glow...
  • May 9, 10, 12 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): M 3 seen well
  • May 14, 15, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): M 3 and several globular star clusters seen well (7 mm on May 14, 24/16 mm on May 15), all somewhat "resolved", M 13 was the largest
  • May 16, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto) M 3 and several globular star clusters seen well - wohl so gut wie noch nie, vor allen so groß (24/4 mm)
  • May 20, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): M 3 and several globular star clusters still seen well
  • May 26, 2017 (Mühlhausen: Heritage 100P): M 3 was hard to find...

Canes Venatici: M 51 (Whirlpool Galaxy)

The galaxy M 51 in the constellation Canes Venatici is also called Whirlpool galaxy. According to Karkoschka, it is easily visible with its bright core, but the long spiral arms are only faintly visible even in the telescope. A spiral arm winds to the galaxy NGC 5195 (see sketch by Michael Vlasov). Stoyan writes that there are two interacting galaxies: NGC 5194 and NGC 5195. He also writes that one can recognize changes of the famous spiral arm structure only with an opening from 8" upwards, and for a clear impression and the connection between the two galaxies even 12" are is required. No wonder that I could only see a glimmer and at best a bright core ...

M 51 in constellation Canes Venatici

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch): Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51, NGC 5195) - Sketch by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Note: I only have the author's permission to link to the sketch.

Observations

  • May 14, 2017 (Mühlhausen: Explorer 150PDS on GoTo mount): M 51 glow, maybe a bright core
  • May 15, 16, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): M 51 glow, a diffuse something...

Canes Venatici: M 94

The galaxy M 94 in the constellation Canes Venatici has, according to Karkoschka, a bright prominent circular core. Only in the telescope, weak structures can be recognized. During my observations, the galaxy, as expected, did not show more than a weak glow...

M 94 in Canes Venatici

Observations


Coma Berenices: Mel 111 (Coma [Berenices] Star Cluster)

The open star cluster Mel 111 in the constellation Coma Berenice, also known as Coma [Berenices] star cluster, has been known since antiquity and makes up the main part of Berenikes's hair. Following the Hyades, it is the second largest stars cluster in the sky (3.5 °). I was able to see the shimmering star cluster with the naked eye, and the cluster should only be looked at with very low magnification.

Mel 111 in constellation Coma Berenices, as well as the globularr star cluster M 53 and the galaxy M 64

Observations

  • May 23, 24, 26, 2017 (Mühlhausen: binoculars, naked eyes, on May 26 also Heritage 100P): Mel 111 beautiful, about a dozen stars were visible

Coma Berenices: M 64

The galaxy M 64 in the constellation Coma Berenice is also called the "galaxy with the black eye." In binoculars, according to Stoyan, it appears as "nebular star," and I did not see more in the telescope...

Map see Mel 111.

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch): Blackeye Galaxy (Messier 64) - Sketch by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Note: I only have the author's permission to link to the sketch.

Observations

  • May 14, 15, 16, 20, 2017 (Mühlhausen: Explorer 150PDS on GoTo mount): M 64 glow, but quite well

Coma Berenices: M 53

The globular star cluster M 53 in the constellation Canes Venatici shows, according to Stoyan, the typical appearance of mayn globular star clusters: a bright light ball with increasing brightness towards the center. Only in large telescopes, M 53 can be seen as a compact star cluster rich of stars.

M 53 is located in constellation Coma Berenices, but is easiest to find from Arcturus in constellation Bootes; see also Mel 111 for further map.

Observations

  • May 9, 2017 (Mühlhausen: Explorer 150PDS on GoTo mount): Faint glow that is brighter at the center; fainter than M 3 (therefore not found on May 5, 2017)
  • May 10, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): Ditto
  • May 14, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): M 53 glow, but quite good, brighter core?
  • May 15, 16, 20, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): observed M 53 in my final "observation series" of globular star clusters, glow, brighter core, quite good

Virgo: M 49

The galaxy M 49 in the constellation Virgo is, according to Karkoschka (Stoyan confirms this) the brightest galaxy of the Virgo galaxy cluster and a large luminous galaxy. I've only visited and found it once.

The galaxy M 49 in the constellation Virgo (in the Virgo galaxy cluster) plus the galaxy M 87 (higher up)

Observations


Virgo: M 87

According to Karkoschka, the galaxy M 87 in the constellation Virgo is the central galaxy of the Virgo A cluster and has a brighter core, which I, however, was not able to see.

Map see M 49.

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch): Markarian's Chain, M87 in Virgo Cluster (Messier 87) by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Note: I only have the author's permission to link to the sketch.

Observations


Virgo: M 104 (Sombrero Galaxy)

The galaxy M 104 in the constellation Virgo is, because of its shape, also called Sombrero Galaxy. In a telescope it can, according to Karkoschka, be recognized - which I can confirm (but no details...).

The galaxy M 104 in the constellation Virgo

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch): Sombrero Galaxy (Messier 104) by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Note: I only have the author's permission to link to the sketch.

Observations

  • May 14, 15, 16, 20, 2017 (Mühlhausen: Explorer 150PDS on GoTo mount): M 104 longish glow, on May 15 a little fainter than the day before

Serpens Caput: M 5

The globular star cluster M 5 in the constellation Serpens Caput is the brightest of its kind in the northern hemisphere, next to - or following - the globular star cluster M 13 in Hercules. In binoculars it appears, according to Stoyan, as a round nebula. However, I was not able to confirm this (but I was able to see M 13 in my 8 x 20 binoculars).

M 5 in constellation Serpens Caput

Observations

  • May 14, 15, 2017 (Mühlhausen: Explorer 150PDS on GoTo mount): M 5 only visible in the east later in the night; several globular star clusters seen well (7 mm; 24/16 mm on May 15), all somewhat "resolved", M 13 was the largest
  • May 16, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): M 5 and further globular star clusters seen well as probably never before (24/4 mm), particular at that large size (4 mm)
  • May 20, 2017 (Mühlhausen: ditto): M 5 and further globular star clusters once more beautifully seen with 4 mm eyepiece

Cancer: M 44 (Praesepe)

Cancer / Crab belongs to the constellations that I do not really know. And I had not heard of the open star cluster Praesepe (M 44) before, which is also called Crib or Beehive and impressive 70' large. But now I knew its look from my previous observation series in spring 2017.

Praesepe (M 44) in Cancer / Crab and its position relative to Castor and Pollux in Gemini / Twins

Observations


Cancer: M 67

Cancer / Crab belongs to the constellations that I do not really know. At the bottom left of this constellation, right next to the star alpha Canceri, there is, in addition to the open star cluster M 44, a further, smaller open star cluster called M 67 (15' - 20', according to different authors), which I observed at the end of March 2017 for the first time ever.

M 67 in Cancer/Crab

Observations


Leo: M 65/66

The galaxies M 65 and M 66, together with the galaxy NGC 3628, belong to the Leo triplet in the constellation Leo. Both galaxies are said to be brighter than those of the Virgo cluster, whereas NGC 3628 is very weak. I have seen the two galaxies only very faintly, and NGC 3628 not at all.

The galaxies M 65 and M 66 in the constellation Leo as well as the neighboring galaxy M 96

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch): Leo's Triplet (Messier 65, 66, NGC 3628) by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Note: I only have the author's permission to link to the sketch.

Observations


Leo: M 96

The galaxy M 96 in the constellation Leo is part of a galaxy quartet (the M 96 group). All these galaxies are, however, difficult to find in light-polluted skies, as I also had to find out.

The galaxy M 96 in the constellation Leo as well as the neighboring galaxies M 65 and M 66

Observations


Gemini: M 35

The open star cluster M 35 in Gemini / Twins is already quite far in the west and low on the horizon in May. Therefore, observing it became increasingly difficult for me in the course of May. It is less of a spring than a winter constellation and served me mostly to test the mount ...

For details about the open star cluster M 35 see Deep Sky Winter/Spring Observations End of March 2017 and Deep Sky Winter Observations February/March 2017.

M 35 above the right upper end of constellation Gemini/Twins. At this time of the year, it was turned to the right for nearly 90 Grad, so that M 35 was located at the bottom right of the constellation.

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed (my impression was much fainter than the sketch):

Sketch of the M35 Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

Observations


Hercules: M 13

The globular star cluster M 13 in constellation Hercules is probably the largest of its kind at the Northern sky and actually belongs to the "summer objects." Using a trick, I was, however, able to observe from our terrace, although it was still located in the East.

For details about the globular star cluster M 13 see Deep Sky Summer/Autumn Observations August-October 2016.

M 13 is located at the right edge of the Keystone asterism (1/3 down from the top) and is relatively easy to find, as soon as you have discovered the Keystone trapeze.

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed in Summer/Autumn 2016 (my impression was much fainter and smaller than the sketch):

Sketch of the M 13 globular star cluster by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission

Observations


Hercules: M 92

The globular star cluster M 92 in constellation Hercules is somewhat smaller (7' or 8', depending on the source) than its better known "brother" M 13 and also actually belongs to the "summer objects."

For details about the globular star cluster M 92 see Deep Sky Summer/Autumn Observations August-October 2016. For the sky section see M 13.

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I observed in Summer/Autumn 2016 (my impression was much fainter and smaller than the sketch):

Sketch of the M 92 globular star cluster by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission

Observations

 

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

Websites

On this Website

 

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gerd (at) waloszek (dot) de

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08.09.2017