SSPM23. February New Moon At Wiruna

By Scott Mellish, 2000

The February new moon at Wiruna was an absolutely bumper observing weekend. I arrived on the Thursday afternoon and had a leisurely setup. The scope was ready to go by late afternoon, so at about 6.00pm I decided that a siesta would go down well. The weather was quite warm, so I just lay on top of the sleeping bag. At around 10.30pm I rose from the dead and started observing. The sky was perfectly clear, there was no dew, and it was warm. These sorts of conditions are rare at Wiruna, and what I call luxury observing. The following nights were also perfectly clear and warm. But come Sunday morning a front had moved in, bringing cloud cover. For once the weather actually went our way for a change, a very rare alignment of the elements for Wiruna. And one that will go down in the record books. The following sketches are a sample of some of the objects that I observed during this near perfect weekend.

NGC 2822. This object is a strange little galaxy this is tucked in close to a bright star, which permeates the field no matter how you try to avoid it. None the less the galaxy remains quite evident in the eyepiece at 191x mag. A small featureless smudge is about all one can say of this object. The bright star in question is Beta Carinae; also known as Miaplacidus, at 1.7 mag. you can imagine its brightness in the 16-inch.

It is some 110 times brighter than our Sun.

The contrast between the two is quite stunning. The galaxy would no doubt be much more vivid if the star was not there. NGC 2822 is at mag. 11.0, and about 4.0'x 2.5' in size. R.A. 09 14.0 DEC -69 38.

IC 2448. This is a nice little planetary nebula, and fairly bright in the 16inch at 191x mag. The Oxy III filter makes the object more distinct in appearance, and there is the hint of some mottling present. Perhaps higher power and more aperture would not leave this in question. However, this object is quite small at some 8" in diameter. With a magnitude of 10.4, it should not prove too difficult in scopes around the 8inch mark. R.A. 09 07.1 DEC -69 57.

NGC 2808 An exquisitely beautiful globular cluster and a charming object to observe without question. I actually spent over 20 mins. sketching this little number and never tired of looking at it. The core region of the cluster is not too vivid, though it is somewhat moderately compressed, it just seems to smoothly transcend into the outer stars which form a pretty smattering around the outskirts.

This would have to be one of the jewels of Carina. There are some bright stars in the outlying regions that add to the beauty of this object. Whether they are foreground stars or not, I do not know, but they lend to a lovely contrast. The stars within the cluster average at around mag. 13, and the object would be around 8' in diameter. R.A.09 12.0 DEC-64 52.