The Palantir of Taurus

NGC 1514

NGC 1514
Sketch and Details by Bill Ferris

NGC 1514: Planetary Nebula (Taurus) RA: 04h 09.3m / DEC: +30º 46′.6
Instrument: 18-inch Obsession

NGC 1514 is pictured in the sketch [above]. Observing at 199X (12-mm Nagler Type 4) with the 18-inch Obsession, I initially mistook this large planetary as fog on the eyepiece producing a hazy glow around a bright star. But while sweeping the area, I realized that bright star was the only one encased in haze. I’d found the nebula. NGC 1514 covers a 3′ by 2′.5 area. At its heart is the blue tinged 9.4 magnitude central star. The nebulosity features a bright outer ring. After a few minutes observation, averted vision reveals striations within the nebula, and the east and west edges appear brighter than the surrounding ring. Slipping an OIII filter into position teases very faint outer lobes into view. These appeared along the east and west edges of the planetary nebula, and are confirmed by long exposure astrophotos and CCD images. Eighteen stars frame the view in the big Dob. You’ll find NGC 1514 in far northern Taurus about 3.5 degrees east-southeast of Zeta (44) Persei.

A Wink of Color

NGC 6826

NGC 6826
Sketch and Details by Jeremy Perez

Observation Notes:

NGC 6826, also known as the Blinking Planetary, was pleasantly bright when I tracked it down at low power. It exhaled a blue-green color at all levels of magnification. At 240X, it displayed a shelled structure with an outer shell that appeared circular while the inner shell was elongated at a PA of about 135 degrees. This inner shell was bright enough to make the central star appear to almost blend into it. I did not notice a blinking effect on the nebula, but detail was lost to direct vision. I estimated its diameter to be about 40 arc seconds. This estimate turned out to be fairly poor, as the actual diameter is 27 x 24 arc minutes. If you’re in the area enjoying M27 and M57, reward yourself a look at this beautiful planetary nebula too.

Object Information:

NGC 6826 was discovered by F.W. Herschel in 1793. High resolution photographs reveal an elliptical nebula with an eye-like appearance. Between the inner and outer shells, along the long axis, two red “FLIERS” can be seen. The cause of these structures is yet to be determined, but Hubble telescope images seem to indicate that these FLIERS are stationary while ejected stellar material flows past them–sculpting them in the process. NGC 6826 is also catalogued as PK83+12.1, H IV-73, h 2050, GC 4514.

Subject NGC 6826
Classification Planetary Nebula (3a(2))
Position Cygnus [RA: 19:44:48.17 / Dec: +50:31:30.4]*
Size* 27″ x 24″
Brightness* 8.8 vMag / 9.8 bMag (Central Star 10.4 mag.)
Date/Time August 13, 2007 – 01:30 AM MST (August 13, 2007 – 08:30 UT)
Observing Loc. Flagstaff, AZ – Home
Instrument Orion SVP 6LT Reflector (150 mm dia./1200 mm F/L)
Eyepieces/Mag. 10 mm Sirius Plössl + 2X Barlow (240X)
Conditions Mostly clear, calm
Seeing 4/10 Pickering
Transparency ~ Mag 5.8 NELM
*References NGC/IC Project, Bruce Balick, University of Washington

The Emerald Eye of Ophiuchus

NGC 6572

NGC 6572
Sketch by Michael Vlasov

According to Stephen O’Meara’s Deep Sky Companion’s, NGC 6572 is 1.5 magnitudes brighter than M57 and five times smaller. This makes for a bright, and as many discover, colorful planetary nebula. Wilhelm von Struve discovered it in 1925 and described it as one of the most curious objects in the heavens, ” a star surrounded by a bright green ellipse of fuzzy light.”

Gazing into Cleopatra’s Eye

NGC 1535

NGC 1535
Sketch and Commentary by Eric Graff

NGC 1535
Planetary Nebula in Eridanus
Parks Astrolight EQ6 • 6″ f/6 Newtonian Reflector
7.5mm Parks Gold Series Plössl + 2x Barlow • 240x
Field of View 13′
Lumicon OIII Filter
31 December 2007 • 04:30-05:15 UT

Secluded in an out of the way region of meandering Eridanus, the planetary nebula NGC 1535 is lost in a world of its own, far from any conspicuous guide stars. It is unfortunate that such an exceptional object languishes in relative obscurity; it is, arguably, the finest deep-sky wonder to be found on the shores of the celestial river. I found this hidden treasure by centering my scope on 5th magnitude 39 Eridani (the brightest speck of light within a triangle formed by Gamma, the Omicron1,2 pair, and 53 Eridani) and sweeping 2½° due south.

At low to moderately high magnifications NGC 1535 appears as a slightly out-of-focus blue-green star of about the 9th magnitude. It is this low-power aspect that has earned it the moniker “Ghost of Neptune”. In the low-power, wide-field ocular the planetary is situated near the center of a ragged semi-circle of 8th-11th magnitude stars with a radius of about 30 minutes of arc.

To understand NGC 1535’s other nickname, “Cleopatra’s Eye”, you’ll need to push your scope to the higher magnification ranges. I used a 7.5mm Parks G.S-5 Plössl coupled with a Parks G.S. 3-Element 2x Barlow for a magnification of 240x in making the sketch presented here. Magnifications above 200x are generally required to separate the 12th magnitude central star from the bright inner ring. This ring is somewhat irregular, about 20″ across, slightly brighter on the eastern side, darker in the middle and surrounded by a faint, diffuse outer envelope to a diameter of about 45″ and elongated slightly toward position angle 35°.

Sir William Herschel discovered NGC 1535 on February 1, 1785 with his 18.7-inch reflector. The expansion velocity of the outer atmosphere of this dying star has been measured at 19 km/sec. NGC 1535 lies at a distance of about 5,200 light years; it actual diameter is about 1.2 light years. It is five times further away and 3 times larger than the famous Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra.

A Ring in the Bouquet


M46 (NGC 2437) and NGC 2438
By Kiminori Ikebe

From Mr. Ikebe’s observing notes:

M46 (NGC 2437) Pup open cluster Difficulty level 1

NGC 2438 Pup planetary nebula Difficulty level 3

Date of observation: 1998/11/21 03:29
Observing site: Hoshinomura
Transparency/seeing/sky darkness: 1/4/3
Instruments: 32cm Dobsonian with Er32 at 50x
Width of field: 1 degree

This is a large and bright open cluster. Even at 50x it is almost completely resolved. This fine cluster is filled with numerous pin-points of faint stars and very difficult to draw. This sketch shows it as nebulosity. There are also many bright stars embedded in this cluster. The neighboring M47 makes a good contrast with M46. M47 has fewer stars with unequal brightness. M46 presents itself as a dainty cluster while M47 shows its coarseness. Another similarly contrasting pair is NGC 2451 and NGC 2477 in Puppis. They are more contrasting than the M46 and M47 pair.

At this magnification the planetary nebula NGC 2438 is clearly seen. Its image overlapping with the open cluster is mysterious and unreal. It is rather large as planetary nebulae go. Switching to high powers a ring structure becomes clearer. This nebula is interesting by itself but it is usually viewed in association with M46 playing second fiddle to it.

(Mr. Ikebe’s sketch gallery can be found here: Visual Observation of Deep Sky Objects)

NOTE TO OUR VISITORS: Please accept my apologies for the lapse in updates for the last three days. I returned from a trip out of town to hear that Rich Handy has come down with pneumonia. He is getting some much needed rest and antibiotics and sounds like he is slowly getting better. I’ll work on keeping the posts going until he is feeling well again. Your submissions are always appreciated!

Jeremy Perez

A Spiral That’s Not a Galaxy

NGC 5189

NGC 5189
By Eiji Kato

NGC 5189 is an unusual planetary nebula located an estimated 3000 light years away in star-rich region of the constellation Musca. It is sometimes referred to as the “Spiral Planetary” and gets its unusual shape from our edge-on perspective.

An in-depth discussion of this fascinating celestial object can be found in this article by Andrew James.

More of Eiji Kato’s deep sky and comet sketches can be found in his gallery.

The Water Bearer’s Spiral

NGC 7293
NGC 7293 – The Helix Nebula
By Eiji Kato

The Helix Nebula lies roughly 450 light years away, making it one of the closest planetary nebulae (distance estimates range from 85 to 590 light years). With a diameter of 16′ for the main portion of the nebula and an outer halo diameter of 28′ its apparent size is among the largest known planetary nebulae. Although the nebula is intrinsically bright, its large size makes it a difficult target for visual observation under less than ideal sky conditions. It was discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding before 1824.

More of Eiji’s deep sky and comet sketches can be found in his gallery.

Formal Wear for Planetary Nebulae

Bow Tie Planetary Nebula 

Bow Tie Planetary in Northern Cepheus
  In the northern reaches of the constellation Cepheus one can find a planetary
nebula designated NGC 40 or Caldwell 2. This planetary has a bright easily seen
11.5 magnitude central star. The star is extremely hot and was formerly a
Wolf-Rayet star that is currently progressing to the white dwarf stage of stellar
evolution. The portion of the nebular shell I could see was round in appearance
and looked to be about 25” of arc in diameter. The shell glows at 11.7 magnitude
and is best seen by averted vision when not using a nebula filter. With a narrow
band light pollution filter, the nebular shell looked brighter and 30% larger. I
found the unfiltered view more pleasing to the eye and sketched the view without a
filter. Photographs of this object show it to have a pair of bright margin ring
arcs in the east-west direction. These arcs and the central star give the nebula a
bow tie like appearance. I was not able to see bright ring arcs under my observing
conditions with a  10” telescope. The shell spans a bit more than one light year across and lies 3500 light years away. Cepheus is in a favorable viewing location this time of year for northern latitudes.
  Date and Time: 9-15-2007, 2:30-2:55 UT
  Scope: 10” f /5.7 Dobsonian. 21mm and 12mm eyepieces 70x and 121x
  8”x 12” white sketching paper, B, 2B graphite pencils, scanned and inverted, star
  magnitude adjustments using Paint
  Averted vision was a very useful aid in drawing the extent of this planetary nebula.
  Seeing: Pickering 7/10
  Transparency: above average 4/5
  Nelm: 4.7
  Frank McCabe