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I've been looking for you...




"The Astronomer" invites you to GO TO THE...

SPRING STARHOP

"The only time in life when I felt old, was the few moments I allowed myself to be predicatable..."

Back for more, huh? Well, I'm here to give it to you! Because there's no one in the world that I would rather spend the night with than YOU!! :)

Now let's go rock...

Leo

So... we've had a bit of study time. Are your ready to do some serious "lion taming"? Then the faint galaxies of Leo await us! And I'm ready to take you there... Let's tickle the belly of the Lion first, shall we? The M96 is a classic spiral... its' intense core is much sharper and brighter than the wispy looking wreath of its' arms! Much more impressive than it's companion, the M95. The M95's galactic structure requires a bit more patience to see the structure! Now for the M105, and it's partners, the NGC3384 and NGC3389. These are truly "fur balls"... quite identifable as galactic in nature, but not very exciting. And speakiing of faint "fuzzies", a hop to the north picks up two more... tiny smears of light listed as NGC3367 and NGC3377, and a nudge to the west picks off the soft spiral form of the NGC3338. (Still with me? Good! Let's go...) Ready to search for fleas in the Lion's mane? The head on to Algieba.... Due east picks off structureless pair, NGC3226 and NGC3227. And speaking of structureless, go back to Algieba, and hop north... another trio of very faint patches of light isted as NGC3193, NGC3190, and NGC3185. Enough of the shapeless ones... on to Chort! The M65 and M66 are always outstanding... I love the thread of light that extrudes from the M66's southern tip. (It reminds me of all those great horror movies where ectoplasm comes from the fingertips of a medium...) A hop to the east brings up NGC3593, its' edges are quite diffuse, but it possess a sweet, elongated core! Back over now to catch the NGC3628.... located between two stars to the north and south, it is a slightly grainy appearing, pencil slim edge-on. I like it! Now back to Chort, and dip south for another faint one, the NGC3596... cool, but just another patch of contrast. Head north between Chort and Zosma for another pair, The NGC3608 and NGC3607... very faint, they appear much like tiny globulars. OK, ready to shoot from the hip? Let's go... Once upon a time I chased asteroid Eleanora through this field of faint galaxies.. and I felt a need to revisit (and attempt to name them) before Leo moves out of reach. This cluster of galaxies includes NGC3653, NGC3681, NGC3684, NGC3686, and NGC3691. They are nothing spectacular... once again, just smears on the sky... but I have a penchant for galaxy hunting! Congratulations! Put a notch on your astronomical belt...(This was some serious FUN!! ;)

Ursa Major

Still want to play with me? Then grab some aperature, and let's rock and roll! Since we're using the dob, the study is made in perfect vertical and horizontal motions... and I'm starting at Phecda and the M109, and dropping the scope due north through the "bowl" of the Big Dipper. (And what a bowlful I've found! Yeah, baby! ;) The first one we pass over is the NGC3982, a disk shaped galaxy... And down on to the NGC3932. Next is the NGC3998 , and nice, but not terribly impressive elliptical... Now the NGC3963 , which is in field with Zeta... And on to the NGC3945 -excellent!!! Now we're talking about resolvable structure. This lovely spiral appears to have a "ring" around it, much like the Moon does on a hazy night. Beautiful! Back up to the top now and move one field west... on we go! This pass brings us across the NGC3888 and NGC3898. These two are same field of view objects, and show just enough detail that I can tell they are spirals... Up again, and one more field west... (ready? let's fly!) Now we run across the NGC3780. This is "classed" as a spiral galaxy, but shows only as a soft ball of faint light... (And again...) Bump one field west - This is more like it! The NGC3729 and NGC3718 share the same field, but the 3718 has really elongated spiral arms!! (Looks like one of those old "Stretch Armstrong" dolls gone amuck!) Now on to the NGC3756 and NGC3738 , also same field galaxies... but wow! Talk about "tight" ! The 3738 looks like one tiny, high compressed stellar core! This just keeps getting better... How about NGC3690 ? OUTSTANDING! ! This one is totally cool! It either has two stellar cores (impossible.) or it is two interacting galaxies! (look like they're having s... ahem! Best carry on, astronomer... ;) Next field west - Once again the NGC3619 and NGC3613 are same field spirals. (And I've totally blown my own concentration!) Just a couple of faint ovals, with a hint of arms fading into the fringes. On next to the NGC3610 , a nice, even looking eliptical with no real core. (OK, one more field west...) This time to catch the NGC3631... and what a way to end the show! This is an excellent bright spiral, and averted vision really brings out the outer arms and decent nucleas! Now a practice pass over the M97 (Hey Mr. Owl... How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop?). We end at Dubhe... (WOW! That was FUN!) Carve a some hash marks on the tripod leg, (I love scopin' with you!) and let's move on...

Virgo

Now the REAL challenge begins, eh? ;) Let's take a walk with the 12.5... (I've come for you, Virgo... I've done my studies while I've played. And now I'm ready to go...)

Free falling....

Starting at the M88, I admire its' decent arms... not as spectacular as the M51, but very graceful, indeed. (quit stalling, astronomer... fade west, take a breath and let go...) Free falling... Down to the NGC4474, spindle-shaped... the NGC4459, wonderful spiral with a great dust lane around the core... the NGC4477, a soft, "cloud like" spiral with no real core... the NGC4473, a small eliptical... Fade a bit west now, to keep them on center! NGC4461, a faded, open spiral... Now here's a pair! The NGC4435, edge-on... hooked in the same field as the NGC4438, a wierd, "stringy" looking galaxy if I ever saw one!! And still I'm falling... breathing so slightly to the east... Ah, yes! The M87! Howdy! And who's that you have with you? Why none other than a fine pair of edge-ons... the NGC4476 and the NGC4478! Free falling... NGC4503, another edge-on... Now for the NGC4526... Now for an odd-ball, the NGC4532... it looks more like a comet than Schaumasse did! ;) Falling... NGC4527, another edge-on... What's this? Long, lovely curves here... the NGC4536 is a stunning spiral! (WOW!! That took my breath away! Wanna' do it again? Huh? Let's go!! ;) Back up again! To the pairing of the M85, a fine elipitical, and the NGC4394, a delicate spiral... Free falling.... To the NGC4340, an elongated oval of light.... the NGC4350, "Come in here, dear boy... have a cigar!" Falling... The NGC4383, a faint elipitical, and on to the spectacular M100... a very bright, and very fine spiral! Falling to the next pair, the NGC4302... a wonderful streak of light that shows a dust lane! (yeah!) and in the same field, NGC4298, a soft ball of light with no definition... I see the M84 and the M86 go by... and still I fall. It's a long drop, with nothing beneath me... and I cannot stop... at least until I've come here! Another "field" to play in! And this time my mates are the NGC4261, an edge-on... the NGC4260, a soft spiral... the NGC4281, an even eliptical... and the odd-looking NGC4273... it has no shape! Cool! The the large face-on spiral of the M61 comes into view... and I am "grounded" once again! Up again, to the M98 this time... it is a decent spiral, but I can feel myself falling... to the NGC4212, a smear of light that may possibly be a spiral. And on... WHOA! What's this? A VERY fine edge-on, the NGC4216 is an incredible long bright streak on the face of Virgo! Very fine, but falling again to another trio... the NGC4224, yet another edge-on, hinting at a dust lane... the NGC4235 cuts across the field... and the NGC4233, an eliptical that shows detail at opposite "poles"! (Back up again we go!) To the M98 to shift the field... Free falling... To the NGC4189, a tight, delicious little spiral... and to the egg-shaped form of the NGC4168, an even elipitical... and the NGC4178, another terrific edge-on, who's core is a long, thin slice of light!! (Oh my! May we just lie here in the field for awhile? ;) The amount of galaxies in this area staggers the imagination... and I've only just begun to recount them all!! Here's to another year, and yet another splendid hunt.... Cheers!

"Come lay beside me... under wicked skies. Black of day and dark of night... we'll live this paradise. The door is locked now... but it's open if you're true. Because if you can understand me... I can understand you. Or are you unforgiven too?"

So... did you have a good time? (Yeah, it was good for me, too! ;) And just look at all the magnificent deep sky objects we've seen! Now, I suppose I shall have to let you go... But come back, ok? Because I need you here...

--the astronomer