SSPM1. The Galaxies in Praesepe

By Scott Mellish, 1994

The open cluster M44 (Praesepe) in Cancer is an interesting enough object on its own. But here, with this article, we will look at the faint galaxies that lie within its boundaries. The Society's 17.5 inch f/4.5 Dobsonian telescope targeted these objects over the weekend 12 - 14th March at the Ilford property.

Mick McCullagh pointed the sturdy telescope at Praesepe and began to search for the galaxies during the Saturday night. The galaxies in question were NGC 2624, NGC 2625, and NGC 2643. Although there are five galaxies plotted in Uranometria, two were deemed too faint to observe - a fact that was verified by Steve Mencinsky who said that he had been unable to locate these objects. The two galaxies that escaped our observations were NGC 2647 and 2637. So if there is anyone out there with a larger scope who has observed these objects, please write in the journal about it.

Mick made short work of locating the first two galaxies that appeared as tiny round objects with well defined, bright pin-point cores and consisting of compact halos. These two galaxies are almost identical to each other and at first glance seem to be ellipticals, although I am not quite sure about this and will be looking up their true designations-. Numerous faint stars appear in the same field, and if you appreciate such things, the galaxies really look impressive with some averted vision.

Mick moved on to the next object after I completed my sketch and by the time I put away the first drawing he was centred on NGC 2643, a rather faint seemingly edgewise spiral galaxy that gives away the barest hint of a pin-point core, not a11 that impressive at first glance, but here some careful observations spent studying the object can bring out some detail, mainly concerning the central core of this object which appears and disappears with the use of the trusty old averted vision.

So three out of five is not too bad, despite some strenuous attempts to locate the missing objects. The weekend at Ilford was quite good with Monday night being one of the best observing sessions I have had at Ilford, with the 17.5 inch and myself being the only things in the main observing site and Steve Mencinsky up at the house undertaking his own observations. All in all a most rewarding time.

Next time we will look at some stunning galaxies in Leo.