Beyond The NGC: "The Inaugural BNGC"

This is the first article in what (creative juices and editorial whim permitting) will be an occasional column of SUCCESSFULLY OBSERVED examples of deep sky objects that are neither in the NGC or IC lists. The vast majority of these needles-in-the-celestial-haystack are either very small or very faint or both. Like observing quasars, the satisfaction of the observing is not in the spectacle of the object observed - it is the knowledge of seeing something beyond some arbitrary boundary; in this case the Herschel catalogues. Why do we (whoever "we" are) follow these ethereal wisps, these Everests-of-the-sky? Well, to paraphrase Sir Edmund Hilary: "Because they might be there!"

The first of these and the subject of this article was discovered quite by accident. I had decided to observe every object on the page (map 435 of Uranometria) during one of those nights at Ilford when everything (except, thank heavens, the dew!) simply flowed - star hopping proceeded in leaps and bounds, IC galaxy tumbled upon IC galaxy, all listed objects leapt out of the field of the 12" telescope. It was with some trepidation, however, that the duo of IC 4797 and ESO 183-G30 was approached. To my amazement, not TWO but THREE distinct smears of light confronted my delighted eyes! Some 9' almost due north of IC 4797, about a quarter the distance to NGC's 6707 and 6708, was an object not listed in the Uranometria. Greg Bryant's first reaction on being shown this, the centre of attention, was : "maybe it's a comet" (myopic planethead!).

Again, like observing quasars (which all uniformly look like stars), it is not the details of the observation but the making of the observation itself that counts. Hence, a boring blow-by-blow description or artistic impression is not appropriate here - this is only a faint, small, basically elliptical patch of light, with a brighter core: "fsgbm" as the NGC would say.

Here are the dirty details. All figures are estimates from the eyepiece and are only opinions expressed by the author.

Magnitude:	  13
Size:		  1' x 0.5'
Orientation:	  pa 20
Position (J2000): 18h 56.5m -54 13'