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My Top Astronomical Experience of 2011, 50 Galaxies within 10° of the North Celestial Pole

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Galaxies within 10° of the North Celestial Pole - Aug 25 - Sept 5, 2011 Over the end of August new Moon period, along with working on my Herschel 2500 project I went on a trek to the North Pole. On a popular internet forum a bit of a joke challenge went out to observe 50 galaxies within 10 degrees of the pole. This peeked my curiosity. I fired up Megastar and put in a few limits and came up with a chart of the pole with all galaxies that my 12.5" scope should be able to pick up. There are probably close to 100 galaxies on this chart and being the bit of an obsessive that I am, I NEEDED to find them.

I started on the night of August 25th and rather easily found 8. I was immediately hooked. I finished up the list on the night of Sept 5th by staying up late and closly after Moon set logged the last 3. It took a total of 5 sessions to log 8 NGCs, 6 ICs, 26 UGCs, 6 PGCs, 2 MACs, 1 MGC and 1 CGCG for the total of 50. I won't get into the gritty boring details of all these very faint and small galaxies but I will say that I was surprised at the detail I could see in many of them. For all but the NGCs and ICs the descriptions are mostly small to very small and faint to extremely faint. Magnifications used varied between 181X up to 456X to tease out those tiny faint ones. . My favorite view was of the core of the Abell Galaxy Cluster 2247 where I was able to see 6 galaxies all within one 300X FOV. The chain of galaxies that comprise the brightest of the NGC 2300 group was also wonderful.

The galaxies that I observed listed by catalogue are.

NGC 1544, 2268, 2276, 2300, 2336, 3057, 3172, 6251

IC 440, 442, 469, 499, 512, 1143

UGC 115, 392, 1285, 3410, 3435, 3500, 3528, 3549, 3654, 3661, 3670, 3993, 4078, 4262, 4601, 5658, 8264, 9205, 9650, 9668, 10054, 10222, 10280, 10471, 10923, 11495

PGC 6510, 59174, 59211, 59212, 59122, 59143

MAC 0116+8459, 1651+8130

MCG +14-07-021

CGCG 362-35

I actually could have finished the project sooner but I lost count of where I was on the night of the 4th because I also wanted to take advantage of the ubber excellent conditions we had that weekend to work on the Herschels. As well in the middle of it all was a night spent at the Cowichan Valley Starfinders star party, where through a friend's fine f/6 20 inch Tectron dobsonian I had my second ever view of 2 components of Einstein's Cross. And lets not forget how at that time Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) was putting on a very fine show.

So as can be seen that although the focus of the week was the galaxies north of 80 project it was in general just a very fine week to be involved in this hobby.

Bill Weir, Metchosin B.C. (Victoria Centre)

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