Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 63

N

M56: HUN TER WILSON / CC BY-SA 3.0; SK E TCH: ROD M OLLISE

pu CHALLENGING CHASE Time your hunt for M56 to a forecast for
clear, dry air. Because stars only loosely pack the center of this globular cluster, finding it with a small scope can be tough.

with averted vision, by looking away from the cluster instead
of directly at it. That brings the eye's dim light receptors, the
rods, into play. There's also a trio of brighter stars near the
core, but that's it. Yes, it looks better than it did to my teenage eyes, but not that much better.
Moving from the sinking summer constellations brings
us to the heart of the fall sky, to Andromeda for NGC 404,
a magnitude-10.3 elliptical galaxy. "Magnitude 10.3" and
"elliptical galaxy" make it sound like a difficult target, but it
shouldn't be hard with an 8- or 10-inch telescope - if you
know how to see it.
This sprite is frequently called "Mirach's ghost" because
it's a mere 7.0′ northwest of the brilliant magnitude-2.0 star
Mirach, Beta (β) Andromedae. The dim, nearly round galaxy
looks just like a faint reflection of the star in the eyepiece, a
ghost image of Mirach.

To see the ghost, train your telescope on NGC 404's position, then ease Mirach out of the field of view. With the star
in sight, the galaxy may be rendered invisible. An eyepiece
that yields about 150× will help the galaxy stand out better
and will keep Mirach well outside the field.
In the 10-inch, the view was thought-provoking. In my
logbook, I noted, "At times I can fool myself into thinking I
see some sort of detail in NGC 404, but it's really just a gray
oval of light with a bright, small center." While many deepsky object catalogs list the galaxy as being round, it appears
slightly oval visually. In photographs, the glare of nearby
sk yandtelescope.com * S E P TE M B E R 2 018

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky and Telescope - September 2018

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Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - Contents
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