Deep Sky Winter/Spring Observations End of March 2017

Observation Conditions | Observation Overview | 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 (the links lead to pages describing the DSOs):

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, Northern Germany, the sky was a little bit darker.


Observation Overview

Observation Dates

Date Observations Further Observations and Remarks Devices Used Eyepieces Used General Remarks
Mar 27 GE: M 42/43 (Orion Nebula)
OC: M 41, M 44 (Praesepe), M 46, M 47, M 93
M 78 not found 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, 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:
GE: NGC 2239/2244
PN: NGC 2392
OC: M 48, M 50, NGC 2264

I forgot to observe a few objects from the initial list...
M 1 not found

Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 on SGoTo mount 32 mm Plössl, 16 mm, 7mm, and 4 mm UWA Mühlhausen
Mar 30 Everything repeated OC: M 35, M 36, M 37, M 38 Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 on GoTo mount 32 mm Plössl, 16 mm, 7mm, and 4 mm UWA Mühlhausen

Bold: First observation during this observation period; PN = planetary nebula, GE = galactic emission nebula, GR = galactic reflection nebula, OC = open star cluster
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.

Observed Sky Objects (Mostly Objects Found)

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

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

PN = planetary nebula, GE = galactic emission nebula, GR = galactic reflection nebula, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster



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


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.



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


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