Deep Sky Winter/Spring Observations End of March 2017

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

At the end of March 2017, I conducted simple "late winter/early spring" deep sky observations, 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 using the Sky Safari 5 Pro app.

See also the deep sky observations that were closely ahead in time Deep Sky Winter Observations February/March 2017 and the observations that followed in time Deep Sky Spring/Early Summer Observations May 2017.

 

Observation Conditions

Sky Region and Objects

I first restricted myself to the sky region around the constellations Canis Major (Small Dog), Monoceros (Unicorrn), Gemini (Twins), Cancer (Crab) to the left, and Auriga (Charioteer) to the right. This sky region is therefore similar to that of my February 2017 observations. On my "observation list" there were initially: M 41, M 93, M 46, M 47, NGC 2362, M42/43, and M 78 (n.f.). These objects were followed by M 48, M 50, M 1 (n.f.), NGC 2392 (Eskimo Nebula), NGC 2264 (Christmas Tree Cluster), and NGC 2237-9/46/NGC 2244 (Rosette Nebula). Later, M 35, M 36, M 37, and M 38, as well as M 44 (Praesepe/Crib in Cancer/Crab) were added to my list.

Overview Map

The following map shows approximately the sky area that I primarily browsed during my observations. The major part of the observed deep sky objects is located in the mily way, a few of then to the east of the milky way:

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

Observation Time

It was sufficiently dark for deep sky objects only after 8 p.m.

Observation Location

Most of the observations were conducted in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (Germany):

At the beginning, I observed one day in Erkerode (near Braunschweig, Germany).

General Conditions

The observations started two to four days after full moon, and because the observations took place between 6 and 8-9 p.m. the moon still did not have any significant influence on the observation conditions. At the end of February, we were already passing the new moon (February 26), and the moon did not play a role in the observations. From the beginning of March (March 2) on, the moon returned to the sky and made observations progressively harder. In mid-March, the moon waned again and appeared later during the night so that it did not disturb my observations any more.

The moon did not disturb my observations. In general, the sky above Mühlhausen/Kraichgau is "light-polluted" and does not invite you to search for Deep Sky objects. In Erkerode, in Northern Germany, the sky was a little bit darker.

 

Observation Overview

Observation Details

Date Observations Further Observations Devices Used Eyepieces Used Remarks
Mar 27 M 46, M 47, M 93, M 41, M 42/43, M 44, M 78 (n.f.) --- Sky-Watcher Heritage 100P telescope (4" Dobsonian) 32 mm Plössl, 16 mm, 7mm, and 4 mm UWA Erkerode
Mar 28 The same deep sky objects as a confirmation, also observed with bigger telescopes for confirmation of the findings. --- Sky-Watcher Heritage 100P telescope (4" Dobsonian), Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 telescope (5" Dobsonian) on Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo mount, GSO GSD 680 telescope (8" Dobsonian) 32 mm Plössl, 16 mm, 7mm, and 4 mm UWA Mühlhausen
Mar 29 The same and a few more deep sky objects: M 48, M 50, M 1 (n.f.), NGC 2392, NGC 2264, NGC 2239/2244; I forgot to observe a few objects from the initial list... --- Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 telescope (5" Dobsonian) on Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo mount 32 mm Plössl, 16 mm, 7mm, and 4 mm UWA Mühlhausen
Mar 30 Everything repeated. M 35, M 36, M 37, M 38 Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 telescope (5" Dobsonian) on Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo mount 32 mm Plössl, 16 mm, 7mm, and 4 mm UWA Mühlhausen

Bold: First observation during this observation period
Searched for, and not found or results forgotten: M 1, M 78, M 67, NGC 2360. I list these objects here because they are also possible observation objects.

Brief Overview of the Observed Sky Objects (Mostly Objects Found)

DSO
Name Constellation 100P P130
GT
GSD
680
Type Remarks Sketch+
Details Page
M 1 M 1 Crab Nebula Taurus       GE not found or forgot results link
M 42/43 M 42/43 Orion Nebula Orion yes yes yes GE very nice yes
M 78 M 78   Orion       GR not found link
M 44 M 44 Praesepe Cancer yes yes   OC very nice  
M 67 M 67   Cancer       OC not found or forgot results  
M 46/NGC 2438 M 46/NGC 2438   Puppis yes yes   OC star cluster M 46 weak but nice, looked like a nebula at low magnification; nebula NGC 2438 not found  
M 47 M 47   Puppis yes yes   OC brighter than M 46  
M 93 M 93   Puppis yes yes   OC nice at higher magnifications, only glow otherwise link
NGC 2237-9/46/NGC 2244 NGC 2237-9/46/NGC 2244 Open star cluster in Rosette Nebula Monoceros   yes   OC saw star cluster NGC 2244 only, did not fnnd Rosette Nebula link
NGC 2264 NGC 2264 Christmas Tree cluster Monoceros   yes   OC saw the "christmas tree", but not the nebula within the cluster  
M 50 M 50   Monoceros   yes yes OC nicer than M 48, filled the view  
M 41 M 41   Canis Major yes yes yes OC nice, particularly at higher magnifications link
NGC 2362 NGC 2362 Canis Major cluster Canis Major yes yes yes OC I saw primarily an "L" shape... link
NGC 2360 NGC 2360   Canis Major       OC not found or forgot results  
NGC 2392 NGC 2392 Eskimo Nebula Gemini   yes   PN there seemed to be a small little dot... link
M 35 M 35   Gemini   yes yes OC nice, many stars link
M 36 M 36   Auriga   yes   OC the brightest cluster from M 36, M 37, and M 38  
M 37 M 37   Auriga   yes   OC located outside of the "Auriga body!  
M 38 M 38   Auriga   yes   OC the most difficult to see from M 36, M 37, and M 38  
M 48 M 48   Hydra   yes   OC nice, not bright  

*) 8 x 20 binoculars; +) Sketches by Michael Vlasov, DeepSkyWatch.com; ** found in France in autumn 2016; PN = planetary nebula, GE = galactic emission nebula, GR = galactic reflection nebula, G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double star, P = star pattern

 

Observed Objects

Taurus: M1 (Crab Nebula)

The galactic emission nebula M 1 (NGC 1952), also known as Crab Nebula, is located at the left end of the constellation Taurus / Bull and slightly above the end star zeta Tauri. With a size of 5 'x 4', M 1 is not large, but it received a "three-star rating". Unfortunately, this does not affect the fact that I was not able find it during these observation days.

M 1 (Crab Nebula) between Gemini / Twins and Taurus / Bull and below Elnath in Auriga

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 Crab Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission


Orion: M 42/43 (Orion Nebula) and M 78

In constellation Orion, in the middle of Orion's sword, the Orion Nebula M 42 (galactic emission nebula) and its "Appendix" M 43 are located. The Orion Nebula has approximately the same size as the Moon or Sun (25 'x 30'). How extended it actually appears depends, on the one hand, on the viewing conditions and, on the other hand, on the dark adaptation of one's own eyes. at the center of the nebula, there is the Trapezium, an arrangement of 4 closely spaced stars (see sketch further below). I was able to resolve it only at higher magnifications.

M 42 and M 43 Orion's sword; M 78 (top left) is located between Alnitak and Betelgeuse

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 Orion Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission

Observations

The galactic reflection nebula M 78 in the Orion constellation is not on my "Winter list" (it has only a "one star" rating...), but because it seemed easy to find to me, I looked out for it, as well. It is located at 1/4 of the distance between the left girdle star Alnitak (the name does not need to be remembered ...) to the left of "shoulder star" Betelgeuse and a small amount outside (or to the left...) of Orion's body. Well, all search was in vain - I did not find M 78 during these observation days.

The sketch by Michael Vlasov (DeepSkyWatch.com) provides a rough impression of what I should have observed:

Sketch of the M78 Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission


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 February/March 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


Puppis: M 46/NGC 2438, M 47

The constellation Puppis is also one of the constellation that were unknown to me, particularly, because it belongs to the southern sky. It contains the two open star clusters M 46 and M 47, which are located so close to each other in the sky that, at low magnifications, they can even be observed together. M 46 is visually included in the planetary nebula NGC 2438, which I was not able to find, though.

M 46 (left) and M 47 (right) in the constellation Puppis

Observations End of March 2017


Puppis: M 93

The open star cluster M 93 in the constellation Puppis is less known because it appears quite close to the horizon - Puppis belongs to the southern sky. In addition, according to Stoyan, light pollution is very bad for the visibility of the star cluster.

M 93 in the constellation Puppis

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 M93 by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

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

Observations End of March 2017


Monoceros: NGC 2237-9/46/NGC 2244 (Rosette Nebula)

I also looked out for the Rosette Nebula NGC 2237-39/46 (galactic emission nebula) in the constellation Monoceros/Unicorn during these observation days. I was not able to see the nebula, only the open cluster NGC 2244 inside the nebula.

Galactic emission nebula 2237-39/46 (Rosette Nebula) and cluster NGC 2244 inside the nebula; on top of it NGC 2264, the Christmas Tree cluster

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 Rosette Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

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

Observations End of March 2017


Monoceros: NGC 2264 (Christmas Tree Cluster)

I visited the Christmas Tree cluster NGC 2264 in the constellation Monoceros/Unicorn also during these observation days. This time, I had indeed the impression of a Christmay tree, in constrast to the previous observation series. However, I was not able to recognize the Cone Nebula, a dark cloud.

NGC 2264, the Christmas Tree cluster; below it, the galactic emission nebula 2237-39/46 (Rosette Nebula) and cluster NGC 2244 inside the nebula

Observations End of March 2017


Monoceros: M 50

The constellation Monoceros/Unicorn is also one of the constellation that were unknown to me. It contains the open star cluster M 50, according to Stoyan, a brilliant bright cluster, which I can confirm. Stoyan even writes of a "jewel of the winter sky," which is wrongly often ignored.

M 50 in the constellation Monoceros / Unicorn

Observations


Canis Major: M 41

The open star cluster M 41 in the constellation Canis Major is located fairly low in the sky, even below Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. With the help of Sirius, M 41 should be easy to find (provided that Sirius is already visible). As can be read in Karkoschka's book, this star cluster does not impress in the telescope, and so it was.

M 41 below Sirius (Canis Major)

Observations


Canis Major: NGC 2362

The open star cluster NGC 2362, called Tau Canis Major Cluster, in the constellation Canis Major/Great Dog calls at least for a telescope, a larger one is even better. Admittedly, I did not see much more than an "L" shape in my telescopes...

NGC 2362, the Tau Canis Major cluster in the constellation Canis 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 NGC 2362 by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016)

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

Observations


Canis Major: NGC 2360

The open star cluster NGC 2360 in the constellation Canis Major/Great Dog is, according to Stoyan, relatively unknown, but worth it being observed with smaller telescopes.

NGC 2360 in constellation Canis Major/Great Dog

Observations


Gemini: NGC 2392 (Eskimo Nebula)

The planetary nebula NGC 2392, called Eskimo Nebula, in the constellation Gemini/Twins is the brightest planetary nebula in the winter sky. But it is a very small nebula, so that one has to use a relatively high magnification (50 x, better 100 x, according to Stoyan) in order to recognize something. In any case, I had a great deal of effort to recognize anything at all ...

NGC 2392 (Eskimo Nebula) in constellation Gemini/Twins

Observations


Gemini: M 35

I did not know the Gemini / Twins constellation so far, but recently a friend pointed me to Castor and Pollux, a pair of stars, which can be easily found at the nightly sky. The older form of the Gemini constellation reminds me of a jug lying on its side. I can therefore remember this and use it as an aid for finding the open star cluster M 35, which is supposed to be visible even to the naked eye. M 35 is, however, located on opposite (open) side of the jug (on the right) above the final star of the constellation (which somewhat "turns upwards" = the "spout").

M 35 above the right upper edge of Gemini / Twins

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) - presented with the author's permission

Observations


Auriga: M 36, M 37, M 38

Auriga (with main star Capella) belongs also to the constellations that were more or less unknown to me thus far. At the core the constellation forms a hexagon if you take it exactly, but it is likely that you will perceive only a pentagon... This is a very striking pattern, but it is located very high up in February, so you have to look steeply upwards to see it. Perhaps this is a reason for my ignorance with respect to it...

In Auriga there are three more striking Messier objects, the open star clusters M 36, M 37, and M 38. They are located almost on a line, which projects from the outside into the hexagon. The exact sequence is: M 37 (outside) - M 36 Inside) - M 38 (further inside).

M37, M 36, and M 38 in Auriga with surround for easier finding (larger version)

Observations


Hydra: M 48

The constellation Hydra is also one of the constellation that were unknown to me. The open star cluster M 48 in the constellation Hydra is, according to Stoyan, the final "messenger" of Hydra that can be seen until summer.

M 48 in the constellation Hydra

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. If you, as I did this time, observe the same objects three days in a row, this introduces a certain routine, and searching for the objects is faster and safer. At some point in time, boredom may set in, but this is much more the case if you are not prepared and only observe your "prime objects"...

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 on the first day.

That is why I repeated the observations of the first day on the following days in two different ways: On the one hand, with my 8 "-Dobsonian telescope (GSO GSD 680) and, on the other hand, with my Sky-Watcher Synscan AZ GoTo mount and the Sky-Watcher Heritage 100P telescope. In the first case, one or the other object that was not visible with the 100P should become visible because of the higher light gathering power of the 8 "telescope provided that the object was correctly accessed. In the second case, the sky objects ought to be accessed correctly thanks to the GoTo control (this does not always work, however...). If I should nevertheless recognize nothing at all in the eyepiece, this telescope is, under the given conditions, not able to show the object.

The results above show that especially in the case of M 35, M 36, M 37, and M 38 some clarity could be brought into these questions. Similarly, M 78 and M 1 remained unobservable in all cases (as I thought...), suggesting that the light conditions were not good enough for these objects. However, on the last day, I was able to spot M 1 with my largest telescope.

 

References

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

Books

Websites

On this Website

 

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05.09.2017