An Upside-Down Mighty Winged Steed Born from the Blood of a Bad Hair Day

by: Clay Sherrod

In this nineteenth Constellation Guide, "GO TO PEGASUS" of the series "GO TO GUIDES for all GO TO Telescope Users" we begin to get a taste of impending fall....a season that brings with it not only very clearly defined and wonder-filled bright starry constellations, but also the precursor of those crisp and deep clear nights of September and October in the Northern Hemisphere.

Although containing only ONE deep sky object - Messier 15 - Pegasus is a wonderful constellation for close study,with many faint galaxies, scores of wonderful double and multiple stars and some fascinating early lore and history associated with the constellation itself as well as many of the stars within it.

Pegasus is located high north of the Celestial Equator (the "0" demarcation line in declination) and hence all objects for our "GO TO" TOUR will have positive ("+") declinations. The most identifiable "sky mark" of this very large constellation is the famous "Great Square," its namesake derived from the nearly perfectly square asterism (pattern) formed by the bright stars Alpheratz (actually in Andromeda to its east), Algenib, Scheat and Markab, a large quadrilateral that forms a square almost 12 degrees wide in declination and stretches some 15 degrees (almost a perfect "hour" in Right Ascension) across the sky.

At dark on August 15 each year, from about 35 degrees north latitude, the square of Pegasus will be seen rising in the ENE sky about 9 p.m. The star Enif, far to the square's west will rise significantly earlier - about 6 p.m.....that will give you some idea of the great expanse of this constellation! Enif passes (culminates) nearly overhead from that latitude on Midnight of August, while the Great Square sees midnight culmination nearly ONE MONTH LATER! The constellation is very favorably placed for all-night viewing during August and September each year.
One Horse....two wings.....many tales -

There perhaps is no other mythological fable that has invoked so many variations of a theme throughout the early Arabic and Grecian golden period of gods, heroes and tall tales that Pegasus....the beloved horse (although it came to be through evil means) has been the central figure in a wide variety of exploits and fireside stories of old.

There has never been much dissention in that this constellation represents the fabled "Winged Horse" or "Flying Horse". In fact, so important is the Greek legend of this flighty animal that it was immortalized in one of the most symbolic of all American institutions: the oil industry. We all have seen the muscular and mighty flying steed which graces the red, white and blue emblazoned signs of the Mobile Oil Company.

A fitting tribute that could hardly be rivaled by any other association.

In Greek mythology, and reinforced by the Arabian namers-of-the-stars through the beautiful star names given to the brighter members of this constellation, the large star pattern represents a beautiful, peaceful and dedicated (yet most unusual) airborne horse that sprang from the spilled blood of the horrid snake-headed troll of a woman, MEDUSSA after she was slain by the Greek hero Perseus (who, by the way, follows the horse quite closely to the East in the skies). But the flying horse concept is only one of many variations and evolutions of the original association of the constellation:

1) Association with fresh spring waters - the earliest Greek derivative of the name "Pegasus" comes from the translated words for "Ocean Springs"; later versions tweaked the words slightly to denote "the strong one," for his ability to buck so forcefully on the mountains of Cornith that his hooves cracked open the Earth and released the pure spring waters of Peirene, still flowing freely today thanks to the mighty bucking bronco. In addition, Pegasus appears to have mythologically tapped (hoofed?) the spring waters of Mount Helicon nearby. Although obviously important to the writers of the legends, the particular significance of a horse providing spring water to a land not particularly drought-stricken is puzzling.

2) Heroic feats - As if springing from the bloods of snake-headed Medusa was not enough, Pegasus was well know for some very superhuman (oh...."superhorse") deeds. First, and most obvious, was the fact that he could fly. Several Greek interpretations of the origin of the Pegasus name suggest that it signifies NOT an association with the ability to crack open the earth and provide springwater, but that of STRENGTH instead. Pegasus, although tamed into submission by Athena, was still will and heart and brave by ancestry. It was this horse that carried all the lightening and thunder bolts that were so skillfully tossed around by the great Greek god Zeus. It was Pegasus who carried the hero Bellerophon en route to slay the horrible Chimaera (an odd creature with the heads of a lion, a snake and a goat). As legend has it,however, the winged horse and Bellerophon had a "falling out..." Literally. Bellerophon decided that, because of his great deeds and heroics, he was "godlike" and could ascend via the winged horse up to the house of the gods at Olympus, much to the ire of Zeus. The horse grew weary of all the heroic escapades - and assisted by the sting on the rump by a mighty insect sent by Zeus - Pegaus simply bucked him and threw him to earth, blinding and crippling him forever. As a just reward to the steed, Zeus allowed the horse to ascend to Olympus in the sky forever sparkling in the constellation that we see today, to never carry a rider again.

3) Biblical and religious associations - Pegasus has also been linked as the horse which carried Nimrod in the earliest Jewish legends as well as the actual image of GABRIELE the archangel.

Perhaps one of the most curious aspects of just how we have assigned a horse - much less a "winged horse" - to this star pattern is the fact that, in order to make the stars "work" even close to resembling a winged horse, you must look at the pattern upside down...this is similar to the curious situation of Hercules, another Greek hero, who also is denoted upside down....something very unbecoming of such significantly-respected heroes of old!

Regarding the interesting objects in the huge constellation of Pegasus, refer both to the detailed "GO TO" TOUR map shown below; click on this map to open, save it to a file on your computer and open it to re-size to fit your printable desktop paper. Print out and use as your TOUR guide for Pegasus.

01a sherrod pegasus sm
Click for full-size version

Note from the sky chart included here that the CELESTIAL EQUATOR passes directly south of Pegasus. This is the reading "0" degrees on your properly adjusted declination setting circle. All angles NORTH of this equatorial line are positive ("+") and all angular measures (declinations) south of the celestial equator are negative ("-"); hence you will see references in this "GO TO" GUIDE to only "+" declinations when referring to Pegasus objects since all are NORTH the "0" declination equator.

In addition to all the GO TO objects for your Pegasus Tour, you will note an abbreviated listing of many "ngc galaxies" that are good, albeit difficult, objects for the medium sized scopes at the end of the Concise Listing which follows.
Each GO TO object in Pegasus is discussed for your telescope regarding the type of conditions necessary for you to view it optimally for discern the very faintest details.........magnifications and aperture necessary for most objects, and much, much more. This is YOUR complete GUIDE to get you on your way to exploring the best objects in Pegasus with your computerized telescope and its GO TO function. The following listing of "BEST" objects contains the finest or most with our "GO TO" TOUR of Coma Berenices and Virgo (both of which are in the ASO Constellation Guides here on this website) there is ALSO a bonus comprehensive listing of ALL NGC GALAXIES (they are on your AutoStar and all PC sky programs) that can be seen in at least one or more of our telescope size ranges *(faint ngc objects that are NOT visible in at least an 8-inch are NOT included in these "GO TO" TOURS)*.

Use this attached star chart and the following Guide as an excellent reference for your next star party itinerary, or a beginning for further study into the thousands of objects visible in this part of the sky. Truly these extensive Constellation Study Guides will most definitely put your AutoStar to work for you in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible! As a matter of fact, MANY AutoStar users are now programming their own "Tours" based on these guides, using each constellation as a separate GO TO Tour for the AutoStar or PC sky library that can be added in or deleted through the main edit screen on your PC or MAC computer.

We hope you enjoy these comprehensive GUIDES to touring the constellations via your AutoStar or PC sky program and its computer-driven telescope. Each new installment is complete with diagrams, charts and illustrations that you will find nowhere else. Please let us hear YOUR feedback and your observations of each and every constellation after YOU have toured its vast reaches of our skies!

While there are literally thousands of faint galaxies within the borders of Pegasus, only a handful are visible to modest telescopes and even more are beyond reach of all but telescopes 12 inches and larger. Thus, only the brightest (and THEY are still quite faint!) and in some cases, most challenging, objects are chosen for this brief tour. Two of those galaxies listed CAN be glimpsed adequately in a telescope under 5 inches.

I have chosen the finest (or most interesting) 17 objects in this PEGASUS "GO TO" TOUR; as with all GUIDES, all objects listed below will be visible in most telescopes (some naked eye) from 3-inch to 8-inch; of course larger apertures may "show" an object a bit closer and "better," but frequently a wide field and low power view is more desirable than aperture for FINDING the objects initially. Indeed, I strongly encourage you first FIND the target object, or its approximate location through your GO TO function with your lowest power and then - once IDENTIFIED positively - move up slowly in steps with magnification if necessary. Remember, not all objects "like" magnification. Sometimes better "field of view" (such as the wonderful wide fields provided by small refractors) is desired over light gathering (like the larger 8-10 inch) and magnification.

The rule for determining "optimum magnification" is that: 1) too low power results in sky background glow detracting or diminishing the contrast against the deep sky object; 2) too high magnification darkens BOTH the sky background AND the object; 3) medium magnification can be achieved at which you have MAXIMUM contrast between the object and its darkened background sky. I have found through three decades of direct observing that about 15x per inch aperture, for deep sky observing is PERFECT for most objects. That being said, always remember that DOUBLE or multiple stars require whatever power you can crank out....the seeing conditions are the limiting factor here.

For my complete and comprehensive discussion regarding seeing conditions and sky transparency, see my discussion of this topic in GUIDES - Frequent, here on the ASO website .

With all deep sky objects, avoid attempting to observe when the moon is in the sky, even a very thin crescent, as its brightness in the sky will overshadow the very dim contrast afforded by even the brightest deep sky object; if you see the object at all against moonlight, you will NOT see the subtle outlying areas or the full detail of what is presented.

Pisces is dominant in late summer skies; riding mid-way on the Celestial Equator, it is suited for long-period observing for ETX and LX 90 users both north and south of the equator. The "Circlet" in western Pisces rises in the east about dark (9 p.m. local time) on about July 25 and the center of the constellation "culminates " (passes over the meridian at midnight) around October 3, remaining in the sky throughout that night. All deep sky objects and difficult double stars are ALWAYS best observed when they are located nearly overhead (or as high in the sky as possible), thus requiring the observer to look through the thinnest portion of the Earth's "lens" of atmosphere and haze.

As with all of the "GO TO" TOUR constellation lists, I recommend a good star atlas and/or chart which will list all the finest objects, constellation-by-constellation. One very handy reference guide is the PETERSON FIELD GUIDE TO THE STARS AND PLANETS, which features complete lists with declinations, right ascensions, magnitudes, and all pertinent information for you to expand your observing horizons beyond this brief GUIDE.

FOR AUTOSTAR:  Note that your AutoStar will NOT have every object listed on every constellation GO TO tour....this is intentional. You can access some of the most interesting objects of the sky directly from their coordinates. It is quite simple as you merely enter these coordinates as follows in the 10-step process:

1) Press the "MODE" key and hold down for 3 seconds and release;
2) Displayed will be the current Right Ascension and Declination of the center of field of view of where your telescope is presently pointed (assuming that you have properly aligned from "home position");
3) [NOTE: if you have the Meade electric focuser attached to any of the ETX or LX telescopes, holding down the "MODE" key will bring up the "Focus" command first....merely scroll (lower right scroll key) down one step to access the RA and DEC to enter your desired coordinates]
4) Press the "GO TO" button on AutoStar;
5) This will change the display and you will note the cursor blinking over the first digit of RIGHT ASCENSION (R.A.); merely use the number keys and dial in the R.A. of the object you are searching for;
6) When done, press "Enter;"
7) This moves the blinking cursor over the "DEC" coordinates; 8) [NOTE: the declination, unlike R.A., can be either positive or negative and you will see the "+" or "-" sign displayed depending on where your telescope is aimed at that time; if it is NOT the desired setting (plus or minus), merely use your arrow key to move the blinking cursor OVER the "+" or "-" sign and change by using either of your lower corner SCROLL KEYS; 9) Proceed to enter the DEC using number keys; 10) Press either "Enter" or "Go To" when finished and the telescope begins slewing to your desired object!!

The constellation tour Star Chart above (click on and save to a file on your PC; then open it and re-size to fit the page and print for a very handy at-the-scope star chart) will get you started on your journey for this constellation.

Following is the concise object list for your "GO TO" TOUR of PEGASUS; you may wish to find the majority of the objects from the AutoStar Library (for example, you can easily go to "MESSIER 15" if you pull up "Object/Deep Sky/Messier Object/..type in '15'...." and then press "Enter", followed by "GO TO" to access this very nice and bright globular cluster. On the other hand, if you want to experiment and become a "better AutoStar user" try entering the exact R.A. and DEC coordinates of that object as described above after holding down the MODE key. You will find the accuracy of entered GO TO's to be somewhat less than those stored in AutoStar, but the capability of acquiring unlisted objects is fantastic!
Of course, for named objects such as the starter star "Markab" (alpha Pegasi), you might choose to merely key in SELECT / OBJECT / STAR / NAMED....and scroll to Markab. Enter and then press " GO TO" and you are off to your first object!

    bright star - MARKAB (alpha Pegasi) - R.A. 23h 02' / DEC + 14 56 - Magnitude:  2.5 / NW "corner"
    bright red star - SCHEAT (beta Pegasi) - R.A. 23h 01' / DEC + 27 49 - Mag: 2.5 to 3.1, variable reddish!
    test star - HOMAN (zeta Pegasi) - R.A. 22h 39' /  DEC + 10 34 - See if you can find the 11th mag. star!
    tough double - 37 Pegasi -  R.A. 22h 27' / DEC + 04 11 - Mags:  5.8 & 7.0, really tough for 6"+
    good one for LX 90 - 85 Pegasi - R.A. 24h 00' / DEC + 26 49 - Mags: 5.8 & 8.5 - very close, 0.8"
    nice variable - AG Pegasi - R.A. 21h 49' / DEC + 12 23 - Mag: 9 to 6; a permanent nova? 6th mag. now!
    spiral galaxy - ngc7331 - R.A. 22h 35' / DEC + 34 10 - Magnitude: 9.7, very good object for 5" +
    spiral galaxy - ngc7814 -  R.A. 00h 01' / DEC + 15 51 - Magnitude: 12.4, very difficult but distinct!
    spiral galaxy - ngc7479 - R.A. 23h 02' / DEC + 12 03 - Magnitude: 11.6, interesting shape, very long!
    globular cluster -  Messier 15 (ngc7078) - R.A. 21h 28' / DEC + 11 57 - Magnitude:  6.7, very dense, rich
OBJECTS 11 THROUGH 19 - NGC GALAXIES PEGASUS (other than those listed above)
    listing of "ngc" galaxies in Pegasus in order of RIGHT ASCENSION (and NGC # order)
    NOTE:  These NGC galaxies may NOT be detailed in the following "Visual Guide"
    as are those Objects 1-10 listed above...use the abbreviated descriptions as they follow the order:
    NGC# / R.A. / DEC / MAGNITUDE / SIZE (in minutes arc -'-) / GALAXY TYPE , description
ngc7814 / 00 01 / +15 51 / 12.4 / 3.0 X 0.8 - spiral, very edge-on and large...but dim, 8-inch or larger
ngc7177 / 21 58 / +17 29 / 11.9 / 2.1 X 1.1 - spiral, oval tilted, fairly small and should be seen in 5-inch
ngc7217 / 22 06 / +31 07 / 11.0 / 2.6 X 2.3 - nice large & fairly bright spiral, larger telescopes easy object
ngc7332 / 22 35 / +23 32 / 11.8 / 2.3 X 0.6 - very "squashed" elliptical, starlike and faint - larger telescopes
ngc7448 / 22 58 / +15 43 / 11.2 / 2.0 X 1.0 - face-on spiral, fairly bright and possible in 4-6 inch scope
ngc7479 / 23 02 / +12 03 / 11.6 / 3.4 X 2.6 - very nice but faint barred spiral; use larger scopes for this
ngc7741 / 23 41 / +25 48 / 11.6 / 3.0 X 2.0 - similar to above, at same magnitude and size (triplet with below)
ngc7742 / 23 42 / +10 29 / 11.9 / 0.9 X 0.9 - very tiny and faint elliptical; probably only in 8-inch+; starlike
ngc7743 / 23 42 / +09 39 / 12.0 / 1.6 X 1.4  - # 3 of the above triplet, faint tiny spiral, possible in 6-inch

....SO LET'S GALLOP AWAY ON OUR CELESTIAL STEED!! (refer to the Pegasus Star Chart for all the objects described in detail on the "Guide")

Object 1 - Bright Star - "MARKAB" (alpha Pegasi)
Our starting point for every "GO TO" TOUR is always (or usually!) the brightest star of the constellation or region. At a distance of 110 light years and a magnitude of only 2.5, the Rosette stone of Pegasus is not much of a spectacular object. However, this is a really good time to discuss the rich history of star names - beautiful and enriching star names - that were placed upon so many of our brighter stars by the ancient Arabian skywatchers. The brighter stars of Pegasus were aptly named for the most part, perpetuating the lore of the winged horse and its importance in early civilized mythology. Let us examine some of the names of the special stars of Pegasus. Remember that the horse is UPSIDE DOWN in out skies....the four stars of the "Great Square (Markab, Scheat, Al Genib and Alpheratz (this one in Andromeda) comprise the horses' BODY; (see chart above; Pegasus' front legs are marked by the stars Matar and Sadalbari, and his head a great distance to the west, set by the AutoStar reference star "Enif." Let us look into some of the colorful horse-related star names for select Pegasus landmarks:

Alpha - "Markab" - this is most definitely a "horse named-star," except in some of the very earliest Arabic associations. Earliest designations associated this star with "Marchab," the ship on the water. The range of names that place this star as part of a horse's anatomy vary throughout Arabic times, including "Markab" (the horse's saddle), "Matn Alfaras" (the horse's shoulder), and finally "Yed Al Pheras", or the horses hoof.

Beta - "Scheat" - Do you remember another "Scheat" name associated with a star in Aquarius ( there is, and you can find it at ASO GUIDES/Constellations/Aquarius) . The name is from the Arabic "Al sa'id" , denoting the horse's foreleg.

Gamma - "Al Genib" - Two connotations are associated with gamma Pegasi: "Al Janb" is the Arabic term for the "side" or flank of the horse, while "Al Janah" appears to be the more likely origin of this star's name, meaning "the horse's wing." This is the brighter star located at the SE corner of the Great Square.

Epsilon - "Enif" - this frequently used Autostar alignment star is one of the western most of all stars in Pegasus, and derives its name from the Arabic "Al An'f", or the head (nose) of this upside down horse.

Zeta - "Homan" - Here is a total break in horse lore....the Arabic skywatchers, for whatever reason, chose to NOT associate this star - clearly in the forearm formed by the extension southwestward from Markab - to the horse at all! The earliest places the significance of this star with the fortunate fates of all warriors and heroes, or "Sa'd Al Na'amah." Far to the right of this is "the whispering star," or "Al Hamman", a later designation. Other names assigned to this seemingly popular star were: "Sa'd Al Na'amah," or the "lucky Ostrich Star," and Na'ir Sa'd Al Bahaim, or "the bright and fortunate star of the two beasts."

Eta - "Matar" - although comprising the upper part of Pegasus' front leg, this star is named "Al Sa'd Al Matar, or "earliest rains," also having nothing to do with a winged horse nor its legends. So, we can clearly see that unlike today, where rocks, firebombs and pubic dissent rage over territorial rights of Arab lands.....only thousands of years ago were they fighting over the proper naming of the beautiful stars of the dark Arabian skies.

Object 2 - "Scheat" - (beta Pegasi) - A very Nice Crimson Star - Naked Eye Variable!
This is a nice naked eye variable star and also a good star to examine telescopically at very low powers to afford a wide enough field of view for comparisons to other stars of different colors nearby. Scheat is the "upper right" star (NW) in the "Great Square an shines a magnitude 2.5....but it varies irregularly to as faint as 3.2 with no identifiable period; with so many stars of similar magnitudes in the naked eye field of Pegasus and beyond, this is an excellent star to keep an eye on. It is farther than Markab by 100 light years and is a star similar to Betelgeuse in Orion, growing physically larger when brightest and smaller when dimmest. In the modest telescopes, you should be able to pick out to companions (optical - not true physical - doubles to this star). There is a 9th magnitude star due EAST of beta Peg at about 4' arc distance; in addition, an third optical companion can be glimpsed at 11th magnitude SW of the brighter star at about 1.2' arc distance.

Object 3 - "MATAR" (zeta Pegasi) - For 4-inch scope users: Try out your visual acuity on this optical double!
Actually this is a challenging optical double star for all telescopes, not nearly as easy as its separation might suggest. The larger telescopes should make easy game out of this one, but ONLY if you know where to look! These stars have nothing physical in common and are separated by vast distances in space. Zeta is the closer of the two stars, slowly moving away from us at 210 light years. The faint 11th magnitude star is a full one minute (') arc (62" arc) away, just barely east of due SOUTH from 3.2 magnitude Zeta. This should be quite a challenge in a 3-4 inch telescope and I would be interested from users of that scope who have been able to spot the star. Knowing where to look is 99 percent of the battle.

Object 4 - A very tough double star - 37 Pegasi - Challenge for an 8-inch....test your eyesight with something even smaller!
Right now the double star 37 Pegasi, a 5.5 magnitude star only 4.5 degrees north of the star we just discussed (Zeta), is as far separated as it will be during our lifetimes and as far as it has been since its discovery in 1889. Its orbit is "laid out" to our line of sight, thus it appears that the secondary star is merely moving back and forth relative to the brighter star! At present, the companion, magnitude 6.9 is exactly NE of the brighter star by only 1.0" arc, and their similarity in brightness make this a very challenging star for both a 6 and 8-inch telescope. Even under the very best conditions, this is at the limit of resolution for the 5" scope yet should be cleanly separated in the 8" with powers of 220x or more.

Object 5 - 85 Pegasi - Another Fine Double, and Another Test for a 6-inch telescope

02 sherrod 85peg

From the positional chart above, you can see that the 11.2 magnitude companion star of 85 Pegasi is just barely west of SOUTH; I have drawn the chart to correspond with the field of view of a Maksutov and Schmidt-Cassegrain, with North at top, and East to the right as it appears with the diagonal mirror in place. The current separation of only 0.8" arc is right at the limit of the LX 90, but I have seen the faint star clearly with the ETX 125 on several occasions this year. Note that in TWO years, the star will have increased its separation to near maximum (1.0") and will be due SOUTH of the primary. This is a short-period double orbiting in a period of only 27 years, and the true double is ONLY 40 light years distant from Earth! Although the main star - magnitude 5.8 - can be spotted easily in the very small telescopes, the faint and close companion star will not be seen.

Object 6 - A Nova In Progress? AG Pegasi - Robert Burnham's "Permanent Nova"
A very interesting object to talk about, yet one with little action right now....but you never know. In the mid-1800's this star suddenly brightened from it normal magnitude of around 9.2 to brighter than 6 in only 20 years; during and after this brightening the star began to show very peculiar spectral changes as well, indicating that the star was turning more red, and evolving quickly to a very "late" type star of the Red Giant category. At present the star is at magnitude 8.7 and exhibits very minor light variations as it SEEMS to be once again slowly fading back down to its original magnitude. This star can be easily monitored in all scopes - provided that you can zero-in on the RIGHT star! It does have a reddish hue about it and that might help you to locate and center it.....once you "think" you have the correct star, increase the magnification to about 20x per inch for observation in all scopes.

The American Association of Variable Star Observers has only a limited resource chart available for this curious star which I have revised to include magnitudes of comparison stars and shown below. Using this chart, which has NORTH at top and EAST to the right as you would see in your ETX or LX scope, you should be able to find this medium-brightness star in the not-so-crowded star field. Note that it is ONLY 3.3 degrees northeast of bright Epsilon Pegasi, so find that star first and zero in on AG Peg from there!

03 sherrod agpeg

Object 7 - A Beautiful and Relative Easy to See Large Spiral Galaxy - ngc7331
Almost exactly 4 degrees due north of bright Eta Pegasi ("Matar", magnitude 2.9) is a very fine nearly-edge-on spiral galaxy. This has a total magnitude of 9.7 and stretch is a very thin oval shape for 10' x 2' across" This is a very large object, but relative faint since its brightness is spread out over a linear dimension that is nearly one-half the span of the moon's disk! Very similar to the famous Andromeda Galaxy, ngc7331 is much farther than M-31, at a distance of 50 million light years, compared to 2.3 million for Andromeda. As can be seen in the beautiful photograph of ngc7331 below taken through the giant 200" Palomar reflector, the galaxy is oriented almost perfectly N-S in our scopes; in the ETX 60 and 70, you can see a very faint but distinct "smear" of light from this if you look about one field north of Eta Peg. Once found increase magnification in those scopes to about 70x for direct observation; it is clearly seen in a 4-inch and in an 8-inch the object is just fantastic in very dark skies. Averted vision and a power of about 120x in a 6-inch or 8-inch are recommended for best views of this beautiful galaxy!

04 sherrod 7331

Object 8 - Another Nice, But Faint, Galaxy - ngc7814 - The "Little Sombreo"
Here is one galaxy that I personally wish was closer to us than it is....ngc 7814 is a miniature "Sombrero Galaxy", oriented edgewise and appearing photographically very much like that object. In the LX 90 the dark dust lane bisecting the oval shape can be clearly seen on a very dark night. However, this galaxy is very faint (less than magnitude 11) and appears ONLY as a distinct ellipsoidal glow in telescopes over 6-inches; I would not expect to see much if anything in smaller telescopes of this object. It is a relatively large (5.1 x 0.9' arc oval) galaxy and what light we see is very highly concentrated near the center "hub" as you can clearly see in the Mt. Wilson 100" telescope photograph shown below.

05 sherrod 7814

Object 9 - A Galaxy With an Interesting Shape - ngc7479
Here is a good (but very faint!) galaxy to test your eyesight on. Seen only in telescopes 6 inches and larger, this spiral galaxy is fairly large at 3.4' x 2.6' across but - as the photograph below taken through the 61-inch telescope of the U.S. Naval Observatory shows - is quite thin and "spindly". Note in the photograph the very distinct S-shape to the galaxy and particularly the "arm" which extends UP (north) in this photograph.

06 sherrod 7479

This arm, as well as the thin inner portions of the galaxy can be clearly glimpsed in a 6-inch scope even though the total magnitude of the galaxy is a pale 11.7 visually. In addition, I can see a short extension to the right (east) of center in the galaxy as well, but only in the LX 90. This galaxy CAN be seen in the ETX 90 if the skies are very deep and moonless. Expect little or no detail in small telescopes other than a "pencil-shaped" elongation that appears to run NE to SW.

Object 10 - A Large and Bright Globular Cluster - Messier 15
It's never fair to compare globular clusters to one-another, particularly all the others to the likes of Messier 13 in Hercules or Omega Centauri in our southern skies. Nonetheless, Messier 15 can hold its own in very beautiful and rich clusters, probably among the BEST five in the sky. Having revealed over 140 variable stars in this very distant (39,000 light years!) globular, M-15 is a very bright ( 5.9 ) and large (7.4' arc) object for our telescopes. However, it is pale by comparison to the larger Messier 13 which stretches nearly TWICE the span of M-15.

In small telescopes, the object is unmistakable, appearing as a "coarse" and large oval mass, very distinct against the background stars (actually MOST of the stars that you will see in your field of view are CLOSER than the globular cluster!). Moving up to a 4-inch, the outer "rim" stars can be distinctly seen and perhaps in this scope can best be seen a peculiar nature of this cluster...NOT seen in the larger and brighter counterparts. Messier 15 is more elliptical than spherical, and this oval shape is unmistakable in a 3 to 4-inch at medium (about 75x) powers. Because the stars become more and more resolved with increased aperture, larger telescopes do not exhibit this elliptical shape as readily. Expect many stars to be seen in an 8-inch, with a very high concentration (more than with Messier 13) of stars near the center 1/3 of the cluster.

Here is a very interesting QUADRUPLE star for your Autostar library and one that you would likely overlook and never pursue if you could not GO TO it directly. The star is known as "STRUVE 2879" and is a wonderfully bright and easy star for our telescopes (consult with my diagram below for the actual positions of these stars in your telescope). Note that ALL of the four stars will be easy (under dark sky conditions) in the 6-inch scope and larger.....THREE of them with a 3-inch and at least TWO with smaller telescopes. We will call the primary (or brightest) star "A" with its magnitude of a relatively bright 6.4 (can be seen in the 8 x 21 finder and above).

07 sherrod struve

The first companion star "B" is magnitude 8.0 and is the most difficult for all but a 6-inch and larger to locate, right at the limit of resolution for a 3-inch - 1.4" arc. Look for this star using fairly high magnification (about 40x per inch aperture) due SE of "A".

The second star, "C", will be found from "A" at exactly the same angle (SE) except it will be much farther and dimmer than star "B".....about 66" arc, or slightly larger than Jupiter would appear in the same eyepiece, but definitely right in line with stars A & B! At magnitude 9.5, this star will definitely be seen in ALL telescopes, even at medium magnification.

Now look for star "D", magnitude a faint 11.0, about TWICE the distance that "C" is from "A" (124" arc D to A) nearly DUE WEST of "A". This star will NOT be visible in the ETX 60 or 70 and will present somewhat of a test for the ETX 90 as well, although it should be an easy object due west of the primary star in 6-inch and larger telescopes.

On AutoStar, go to: "Select/Object [enter]...." scroll down to "User Object" [ enter]. Now enter the coordinates given above for "Struve2879", using the number keys on AutoStar. After entering the coordinates and pressing "Enter" yet again, scroll down one and you can list the magnitude of the object as "6"[Enter].

Now, in addition to black holes, quasars, novae, places of historical interest and other curious and weird among the celestial have a quadruple star in your USER OBJECT DATABASE! All of these are wonderful for conversation-starters and crowd-stoppers at the big astronomical events!

Next Constellation GO TO" TOUR Installment: LEAPIN' LIZARDS! It's LACERTA. We will explore the scaley, slimy depths of this this celstial reptile and reveal that behind the cold-blooded facade of this small northern constellation are actually quite an array of beautiful attributes! Tune in for a GO TO of some nice deep sky objects, interesting double stars and some beautiful wide field deep sky Milky Way views, even for the naked eye. See....lizards aren't all that bad, are they?

Good Observing and explorations of this wonderful world of deep space!

Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Conway / Petit Jean Mountain
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