FUZZY SPOT,  December 2003, Cetus

Welcome to my final installment of the Fuzzy Spot.  It's been 7 years from my first column on Perseus, for a total of 84 columns.  A big thanks to all the people who have read and found this column useful, a special thanks to the SAC newsletter editors, Rick Tejera and Paul Dickson, for making the maps to go with the column, and finally to Steve Coe for asking me to pick up where his What's Up column left off.

I'm finishing with one of my favorite Autumn constellations, Cetus.  Cetus is a large constellation sitting out of the Milky Way, and therefore rich in galaxies.  Though it only contains one Messier Object (M77), there are many galaxies in the reach of small telescopes, plus a wonderful planetary nebula.  I've also included a few obscure galaxies that I like for one reason or another.

        NGC 61A/B (00 16.5 -06 14) This interesting galaxy on the Cetus/Pisces boarder was observed in the 20" scope as a little faint, pretty small, and elongated N/S 2:1.  There is a bright core with a possible second bright spot to the N.  Using higher power shows both 'cores' but no more detail.  There are 7 stars surrounding the galaxy.

        NGC 157 (00 34.9 -08 24)  This galaxy was seen in the 10" scope as pretty bright, pretty large, elongated ENE/WSW, and little brighter in the middle.  Using averted vision makes it grow somewhat.  The galaxy is situated between 2 stars N and S and the ENE end has a faint star.  The star to the N is a nice double.  In the 20" scope, it is quite large, pretty bright, mottled, disorganized, and elongated 1.5:1 NE/SW.  A very slightly brightening towards the middle was noticed along with an occasional stellar nucleus.

        NGC 246 (00 47.1 -11 53) This unexpected planetary nebula was seen in the 10 scope as very large, somewhat bright and irregularly round.  There are 3 bright stars in the nebulosity, 2 stars just outside, and 3 or 4 more fainter stars involved.  Using the UHC filter really helps emphasize the roundness of it, and shows some darkness in the middle.  In the 20" scope with an O-III filter, it is very large, pretty bright, elongated 1.5:1 NW/SE, and annular.  The E portion seems to be dimmer than the rest of the rim, and the  W side is the most pronounced.

        NGC 274/275 (00 51.1 -07 04) This nice galaxy pair was seen in the 20" with the separation being obvious, but they are touching.  275 is somewhat small, somewhat faint, and has a gradually brighter middle with a very bright stellar nucleus which really jumps out.  The elongation is uncertain. 274 is somewhat small, somewhat faint, and slightly brighter in the middle with no nucleus seen.  There is a star to SW, but no other stars nearby.

        NGC 309 (00 57.0 -09 57) This galaxy was seen in the 20" as large, pretty faint, and slightly elongated WNW/ESE 1.5:1. It brightens slightly towards the middle and contains a stellar nucleus which is obvious with averted vision, but comes and goes with direct vision.  I suspected a clockwise spiral, but saw a definite mottling.  There is a bright star to the N and a faint star to WSW just out of the halo.

        NGC 1068 (02 42.7 -00 02)  M-77 is the one Messier object in Cetus, and usually the first or second object searched for in a Messier Marathon.  In the 10" scope, it is very bright, not too big, has a fairly bright halo and an extremely bright center with a possible non-stellar nucleus.  There is a star to the E.  In the 20" scope, it is pretty bright and somewhat large.  The object slowly brightens toward the middle which contains a sudden very bright non-stellar nucleus.  Using averted vision, the halo is very large and mottled. There is a star to ESE.

These last two galaxies have strange catalogue numbers.  This first one is from the Sky Atlas 2000, and the second one is from Uranometria 2000.

        New-1 (01 05.1 -06 13)  In the 10" scope, it is very faint, pretty large, and slightly brighter in middle.  It needs averted vision or moving the scope to really see it.  There are stars surround it on the N, S, E, and W.  Also catalogued as M-01-03-85.

        Q6188 (approximately 00 48.5 -12 43) This peculiarly named galaxy is on Uarnometria 2000 pages 261 and 262 just N of NGC 263.  I could find no other catalog number for this galaxy, although I think Brian Skiff sent out an e-mail a while back on this object which I have long since deleted.  In the 20" scope, it is slightly faint, pretty small, round, with a fairly bright middle and a very prominent stellar nucleus.  There is not much else to this galaxy.

One final note.  Just because this series has ended doesn't mean you should stop looking for those fuzzy spots in the night sky!

Clear Skies

Herschel 400 Objects
157, 246, 247, 584, 596, 615, 720, 779, 908, 936, 1022, 1052, 1055
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
246, 936