Beyond The NGC: "A Toadstool And A Mystery"

Following September's tour-de-force of Ara, this month sees us still very close to the same area.

Chart 1 shows us a reasonably famous pair of galaxies, the "Toadstool". A deep photo, one that shows the faint galactic arms and streams, reveals quite clearly the source of the name, although visually only the two galactic nuclei are visible. Although these galaxies (still in Ara) are somewhat further from the galactic plane than in September's, (perhaps paradoxically) there appear considerably more field stars here. Therefore, to aid in finding, the chart shows fainter close-in stars as well as those in Uranometria.

These galaxies are not difficult, having been observed quite routinely at both Ilford and Mt White, although they were first pointed out to your correspondent during the wonderful 1993 Queensland Astrofest, by that state's most prominent observer, Zac Pujic.

Chart 2 takes us to a most mysterious object across the border in Pavo, closer to the wonderful NGC6397. Your correspondent was one rainy night busily penning in NGC numbers of the various objects on his copy of "Skalnate Pleso", when he noticed to his astonishment, a globular cluster in Skalnate Pleso that was not listed in Uranometria. Astonishment grew when on consulting both the RNGC and NGC 2000, the alleged cluster remained conspicuous by its absence from both catalogues. Clearly, here was a candidate worthy of a BNGC observation.

The exact position in the sky was a little difficult to determine, since Skalnate Pleso's wide coverage introduces the unfortunate but inevitable distortions caused by projecting a curved sky onto a flat chart. Nevertheless, a few moments of searching from the a moderately large (although very faint) object at the position shown in Chart 2. Is it a globular cluster? Presumably a photo would answer this question decisively, although in your correspondent's opinion (for what that is worth) globular clusters of the size observed are generally of a much higher surface brightness.

And what is the identification of this object? Any suggestions would be most welcome?