SSPM15. June New Moon at Wiruna

By Scott Mellish, 1998

The thought of some pretty cold weather did not dampen my spirits on leaving for Ilford on Thursday 25th June, 1998. One can never judge the weather where Ilford is concerned as pouring rain can turn to clear skies at the drop of a hat.

The drive along Bells Line of Road was a bit of a worry as trees and branches had blown over and were lying everywhere, causing a small portion of the road to be blocked.

Nevertheless, I finally arrived at Wiruna and was soon set up ready to observe. Yet again the trusty clouds were plentiful, so I had an early night at around 8pm, not arising till 9.30am the next morning. Cold weather and a warm sleeping bag make it very hard to get out of bed.

Friday was pretty bleak most of the day but by the afternoon it cleared and it stayed like it all night. Despite being clear, heavy dew and cold conditions caused nearly every telescope to dew up, including the coffin which optically is rarely affected by dew.

However, I soldiered on and managed to get the secondary cleared and a small hand blower kept the eyepieces fog-free.

I finished this very trying and frustrating observing session at around 4.30am and despite the dew and frost managed to observe and sketch some interesting objects.

Sketch 1.
Shown is Fair 134/135, twin galaxies in Tucana. Both galaxies are very close together and very faint at around l4.0 mag. Not particularly difficult to observe in the 16" at 210x mag, but trying to discern any detail other than faint featureless smudges is almost impossible.

Whether these two objects are interacting I have no idea. I just noticed them plotted on the Millennium Star Atlas and thought I might drop in for a visit. Other than that, I know absolutely nothing about these galaxies, but I shall endeavour to locate some information about them, as they do arouse my curiosity.

Sketch 2.
Here we have a nice little trio of galaxies in Corona Borealis. Unfortunately cloud cover prevented me from completing this cluster which contains a few other Galaxies, apart from these three.

The far north from Ilford is rarely good for observing, however I'm sure the view I got of these galaxies is better than from some American towns, where people would observe these much higher in the sky.

Shown at the top of the sketch is NGC 6109, a nice easily defined galaxy of about mag 12.0. It is most likely an edgewise spiral and a bright elongated central region is most evident. At around 10' below 6109 is NGC 6107 / 6105. NGC 6107 is to the left of the fairly bright star. It sports a bright core region with a barely discernible halo. It contrasts well with the close by star and visually it appears to be an elliptical galaxy.

At around 2' below and to the right is NGC 6105, a novel little galaxy which is basically just a faint smudge with no discernible core of any note. This group contains quite a few more members which reside just out of the 23' field, and I will definitely be returning to this region at a later date.

Over to the far south now where we have another two galaxies of differing appearance. First is the larger of the pair NGC 7125, in the 16" at 210x it is merely a faint finger-like smudge of around 13.0 mag with no discernible core region, however photographs show this galaxy as a nice tightly wound spiral with two long and elegant spiral arms, making it a most impressive object.

The smaller NGC 7126 is an elongated object of about 4' x 2' in size. Photographically it is a spiral with very soft nebulous arms that form a ghostly circle around the object, which is probably why the arms are not visible as a faint halo around the object.

All in all they are a nice comparison pair and larger scopes from 20 inches up should be able to pull some detail in these galaxies.

Clear Skies.