Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Polar Alignment Refined & Observations of Arp 123 & Arp 279

Last week we had a one good clear night and few nights with sporadic clouds, Thuesday night was the one clear night and on that night I took images of two pairs of galaxies that are in the catalog of interacting galaxies of Dr. Halton C Arp, one pair was NGC 1253 & NGC 1253A, collectively known as ARP 279 they are located in the constellation Eridanus and are thought to be lie around 75 million light years away, the other pair is NGC 1888 & NGC 1889 which are collectively known as Arp 123, they can be found in the constellation Lepus, after doing some research I've found that NGC 1888 is thought to lie 33.5 megaparsecs away which is over 109 million light years! for now this is the most distant object I have ever imaged, I'm looking forward to breaking that record soon hopefully, the image below is of Arp 123, image data was captured by Jonathan Green and then processed by Amit Kamble.

On the Thursday I also collected more image data on Arp 279 but not long after the Moon set clouds started to roll in, there were still gaps in the clouds so I attempted to image a couple of comets, I imaged both 81P/Wild and 203P/Linear but finding them took some effort, I realised after finding the 1st comet that our pointing model was off by about 13 arc minutes, this was due to our refinement of the polar alignment on a previous night.

On the Friday night the sky looked nice and clear and the satellite image data also looked promising so I rang Steve to see if he was free to head out to Kumeu to work on the Polar alignment and to create a new pointing model with T-Point, we also had a couple of Auckland Astronomical Society members show up with their Dobsonian telescopes looking to take advantage of the clear skies, unfortunately the clear skies did not last long so the nights observing was a bit of a bust, fortunately we could still detect stars through the cloud so we ended up spending the night until 2 am in the morning refining the polar alignment again, now all we need is some clear skies to do a new pointing model.

Posted by Jonathan Green

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