With wildfires raging in Napa and shifting winds all over the state, choosing a location to go observing was more difficult than usual. I had booked Willow Springs with Mark J, but Bob warned us away given the Red Flag warnings and concern of cars driving over the dry grass. There was to be smoke over the area in any case. So I started driving south on 101, intending to get to Lake San Antonio or maybe Williams Hill, but I was running late and besides, as I approached Soledad, I saw thick smoke haze on the horizon which would surely impede any views. So I turned off and headed up Route 146 to the Pinnacles.
I had read that the moon was to occult Regulus, and that at 3:10am local time, the star would emerge from behind the moon, briefly revealing the 12th magnitude white dwarf companion star. This was something I wanted to see! But where could I set up the scope with a view to the east? The visitor center parking is fronted by a hill to the east; the Chaparral parking lot has the hoodoos in the way, and the overflow lot is ringed with trees. I drove back to the visitor center lot and decided to wheel my scope the 50 yards from the parking lot to a small circular amphitheatre on the east patio of the visitor center building. It was the only view to the east to be had.
SJAA was running a public viewing event, and I was re-introduced to Gary, Tom, and Ed. We chatted for a while as it grew dark. Gary and Tom came over during the night for some views. Since it was a public night I also hosted the guests who wandered over to my area, showing M11, M31, M57, and so on. Sometimes a guest came by while I was looking at something obscure, like some UGC, and they gamely gave it a look.
Conditions were not very good: seeing barely made it above 6/10 and by 1:30am it was horrible, bloated and shivering, 4/10. Transparency was hurt by both moisture and some smoke haze. SQML was 21.3. Nevertheless I saw everything I planned to see, with the exception of Andromeda’s Parachute, for which I need to bring a better finder chart set. The rest of my viewing was free-range observing.
UGC 12310: Small, very faint oval, slight brightening in core, diffuse small halo. Star 60” to N. [cG, 0.45”x0.308”, 12.4v]. 205x
NGC 7512: Bright but small oval core 3:2 NE-SW, stellar nucleus, diffuse thin halo. E3, 12.7v. 205x
UGC 12476: Floats to south of mag 7.8 star HD 219627; oval, gradually brighter to middle, diffuse edges, moderately large, moderately faint. [S0a, 1.1”x0.68, 14.1b]. I showed this to a couple of guests; not the typical public star party object! 205x
NGC 7315: Small, pretty faint, quasi-stellar nucleus, bright round core, very faint round diffuse halo. [S0, 12.5v] 205x
NGC 846: 333x. Moderately faint, round to oval diffuse halo. SBab, 12.1v
NGC 812: 333x. Direct vision, fairly faint, long, 4:1 elongated NW-SE, gradually brightening core. Sbc, 11.3v
NGC 746: 333x. Faint, small, oval E-W 3:2, even glow diffuse halo.
SN 2017glx in NGC 6824 Cygnus: Galaxy an oval 3:2 NE-SW elliptical glow, slightly brighter core [Sab, 12.2v]. SN briefly appears as a brightening to the core but is uncertain, and not held. Type Ia-91T (z=0.011). Discovery mag 14.0 on 20 Sept, but may have faded or is too close to the core to see well – seeing not supporting 333x. Double star with yellow A, blue B is close to the north [Stein 2452].
Hickson 16 in Cetus: Stopped to view this while star hopping to NGC 988. A string of 4 galaxies arrayed in an arc to the south of a star.
a) = NGC 835, is brightest, a moderately large round glow with brighter core region [SBab/P, 12.1v].
b) Almost connected to it and just to the west is b)= NGC 833, fainter and smaller 3:2 elliptical glow E-W with relatively brighter core [Sa/P, 12.7v].
c) = NGC 838 is to the ESE, small, faint, and round glow [S0, 13.0v].
d) = NGC 839 completes the arc, small, very faint 4:1 glow E-W with slightly brighter core [S0/P, 13.1v].
SN 2017gmr in NGC 988 in Cetus: Galaxy sprouts to the SE as a “comet tail” from 7.2 magnitude star 79 Ceti. Long, 4:1 SE-NW, with some mottling in the halo. This would be a spectacular galaxy if the star were not in the way [SBc, 11.0v]. The SN is a stellar point on the N rim of the SE tip of the galaxy’s halo, easily held but quite faint. Mag 14.0 at discovery 18 Sept., Type II.
Comet C/2017 01 ASASSN: 121x: Large half a FOV (0.4°) round diffuse coma, greenish color, what I presume to be the psudonucleus and not a centrally placed star seen momentarily with averted vision. Comet filter enhanced coma showing more variation in coma density and brightness through the amorphous round glow.
UGC 959: Small, fairly bright, slight elongation 3:2 E-W. Brighter to the middle. [SaD, AGN, 0.5”x0.3” 14.27v]
NGC 507 Group: In Perseus. Area speckled with galaxies, most small and needing averted vision to brighten, but many seen direct vision and lying only 1° of each other. Did not see all group members as I did not have a detailed chart prepared, but I did notice a sizeable chunk:
NGC 507 = Arp 209: Bright, large, round, very bright core and diffuse halo. E-S0, 11.2v
NGC 508: Immediately to north of N507, appears as a second core: Small, fairly bright and round, on the outer mist of N507’s halo. E0, 13.1v
IC 1687: very faint and small, round, glimpsed with AV next to a star just to its west. 13.6v
NGC 503: To the NE of N508, N503 is small, very faint, slightly elongated NE-SW, faint. E-S0, 14.1v
NGC 501: To N of N303, N501 is very faint, very small, round with a brighter center. E0, 14.5v
NGC 499: Northern part of N507 Group. N499 is brightest in this area, elongated 3:2 W-E, with a fairly bright core and thin diffuse halo. E-S0, 12.1v. Forms a triangle with N496 to N (very faint, 3:1 NE-SW; Sbc, 13.4v) , N495 to W (very faint and small, 3-1 N-S; S0-a, 12.9v) , and N498 (extremely small, faint, round, needed AV; S0, 14.3v) in between N499 & N496
NGC 483: NW from center of Group, precedes two stars: Bright, small, mostly round to slight oval, bright small core. S, 13.2v.
IC 1682: Very small, extremely faint, needed AV to see, elongated 3:1 NW-SE; bright star to SW. 14.0v.
NGC 494: SW of Group center. Pretty large glow elongated E-W, 4:1, bright core and diffuse halo. Sab, 12.9v.
NGC 504: rather bright but small, bright core, diffuse halo tips, elongated NE-SW 3:1. S0, 13.0v
IC 1690: Excessively faint, needed AV to see and could not hold DV. Very small oval NW-SE. 13.9v
Hickson 10: Andromeda.
a) = NGC 536: Stellar nucleus, 3:1 W-E diffuse halo. Photos show widely warped and swept out spiral arms. SBb, 12.4v
b) = NGC 529: Bright small nucleus, bright core, oval, even surface brightness. E-S0, 12.1v.
c) = NGC 531: Near star to NE; need AV to notice but can hold DV, stellar nucleus, very faint, small, elongated 3:1 NE-SW. SB0-a, 13.8v.
d) = NGC 542: Very small, extremely faint, need AV to see; slight elongation NW-SE. Sb, 14.8v
NGC 1198: Small, faint, elongated 3:2 NW-SE, need AV to brighten up, and with it can see bright oval core and some mottling in the halo. Seeing is becoming poor. E-S0, 12.5v
IC 284: Moderately large, diffuse and unevenly bright halo, small brighter core, 3:1 SW-NE. V = 11.5; Size 4.1'x2.1'
NGC 1175 & 1177 (= IC 281): N1175 is moderately bright, moderately large, 3:1 NW-SW, with a large bright elongated core and halo with fading tips. To the NE is a small, faint round patch which is N1177. Photos reveal three other NGC objects in the vicinity, which it turns out are only very faint stars rather than galaxies.
NGC 1186: 3:1 elongated NW-SE, moderately bright and large. Bright nucleus and core with a superimposed star on the SW rim of the core. Averted vision brightens the core and lengthens the diffuse fading tips. SBbc, 11.4v
NGC 1193: Pretty faint, small condensed open cluster with some dozen stars resolved over a milky glow of unresolved stars. II3m. Near bright star pair to the NW. Rather pretty! The cluster is old, 4.2 billion years.
NGC 1245: Loops of stars in random, intertwining pattern, shot through with dark lanes. The loops are made of cords of unresolved faint stars with the bright / resolved stars over the cords, leaving dark lanes and gaps in between. Overall box-like shape to the cluster. No nebulosity seen. III1r. 1b year old cluster near the Perseus arm.
HaWe 3 (=Hartl-Dengel-Weinberger 3 (HDW 3)): At 87x and using OIII, I suspected an excessively faint large round grey scale change in the plotted area, no central star seen. A tentative observation, which nevertheless matches other reports I can find online.
NGC 1169: Small bright core, elongated, bean shape, large diffuse halo brightens with averted vision, 2:1 NE-SW. SBb, 11.3
NGC 1160: Not too faint, small, elongated 2:1 NE-SW, with a mottled halo hinting of spiral structure. Seems to be an appendage on north rim of halo above the core – might be superimposed star? [‘Tis]. Scd, 12.8
NGC 1161: Large elliptical glow, NE-SW, with large bright central core region and thin faded halo. Bright star pair just to west. In same view with N1160. S0, 11.0v
NGC 613: Bright elongated core and slightly brighter nucleus, well elongated and diffuse halo, 3:1 ENE-WSW. Some mottling and hint of structure in the halo. With some study I notice a spur emerging from the core on its SE rim, the start of a spiral arm, noticed with averted vision but can hold direct. SBbc 10.1v
By now it was 2:40am. Gary came over to keep me company, and we talked while waiting for the moon to rise. Gary checked his tablet and found out the moon was still below the horizon, and would only be 2% above the horizon when Regulus was to reappear in a half hour. There would be no chance for me to see the star after all. So I packed up and went to a dreamless sleep in my van until dawn.