Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 64

huge balls of ancient stars and
Mirach tends to drown the galaxy
don't show much detail. On a
out in all but short exposures, so
WN
NGC 404
superior evening, however, M110
it's difficult to tell what NGC 404's
is attractive and interesting. It's
true shape is.
strongly elongated and at 200× and
What is Andromeda's most
higher magnifications it looks a lot
famous deep-sky object? Even
like M31 does in a pair of binocunovice astronomers know about
lars: it shows a nebulous streak
Messier 31, the Great Andromeda
with a brighter center. On the best
Galaxy. M31 is certainly not difnights, my 10-inch shows a tiny
ficult. Nor is the brightest of its
star-like nucleus and even (very)
satellite galaxies, M32. But there's
faint hints of dark structure. M110
another small galaxy orbiting M31
is a beauty and worthy of extended
that can be a significant challenge
observation.
without being impossible from the
p CELESTIAL SPECTER Sometimes "faint fuzzies" aren't
Not all autumn objects are chalbackyard. M110 (NGC 205) is a
all that much to look at, and on its own, NGC 404 might not
lenging.
There are a few spectacumagnitude-8.5 elliptical galaxy
offer much of a view. But this ghostly galaxy pairs with Beta
(β) Andromedae (Mirach) to form an eye-catching tableau.
lar ones as well. Let's take a break
that spans a large 17.8′ × 9.8′. As
from the subtle and observe one of
always, for a given brightness, "bigthe best globular star clusters in the sky, mighty M2 (NGC
ger" means dimmer.
M110 is famous largely because it's close to M31 - it's just
7089), a magnitude-6.5 ball of suns that spans 16.0′ of sky,
37.0′ northwest of the center of the big galaxy. Otherwise, it
nearly half the size of the full Moon.
can be distinctly lackluster in smaller instruments. In fact, I
You'll be impressed by M2 in the eyepiece. Even my 5-inch
found the galaxy completely invisible in my 4-inch refractor
Maksutov-Cassegrain scope turns the cluster into a spectacle.
on poorer nights. In an 8-inch or larger scope, however, M110 While it's not completely resolved, there are enough cluster
can put on quite a show.
stars on display to make it very pretty. As always with globuElliptical galaxies tend to be boring visually; they're just
lars, higher power brings dimmer stars into view. While M2's
impressively bright center wasn't resolved, it looked grainy at
times, as if just on the verge of resolution. With the 10-inch,
I can see stars all across the face of the cluster.
While we're in the neighborhood, let's visit Aquarius's
other Messier globular cluster, M72 (NGC 6981) - just
don't expect too much. M72 is a magnitude-9.2 Class XI (11)
cluster that's 5.9′ in diameter. It's dimmer and larger than
troublesome M56 and even more loosely concentrated.
I don't think I ever saw M72 from my backyard as a novM110
ice. Today, it can still be challenging, even with a 10-inch and
M31
all my years of experience. The cluster is almost always visible
in the Dobsonian, but it's just a smudge, a dim smudge, and
doesn't show a hint of resolution.
When you spot M72, give it as much magnification as it
will take given sky conditions. Usually it's just a dim fuzz
ball, but occasionally it acts as if it almost wants to resolve in
the 10-inch, showing considerable graininess. I have never,
however, actually resolved its stars from the backyard.
M32
Before leaving the area, if you need to log M73 (NGC
6994), a little group of four 10th-magnitude stars 2.0′ across
that Charles Messier mistakenly thought was involved with
nebulosity, move the telescope 1° 20′ east of M72. Look for
a dim but noticeable kite-shaped group of suns. While the
group is occasionally referred to as an open star cluster, it
appears the members are unrelated; it's just an asterism, a
chance arrangement of stars.
Were you successful with M72? If so, try pushing forward
p GOOD CATCH The general region of M110 is easy to find, as even in
the
backyard frontiers even more with a galaxy in Aquarius's
the suburbs, its neighbor, M31, is visible to the naked eye. Digging M110
out of the deep takes more effort.
neighboring constellation Cetus: NGC 1055, a magni64

S E P TE M B E R 2 018 * SK Y & TELESCOPE

NGC 404: K EN T WOOD; M110: TORBEN H A NSEN / CC BY 2.0

Deep-Sky Suburbia



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

Contents
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Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 1
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - Contents
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