Progress on the Herschel 400

It’s been a while hasn’t it, so I’ve decided that a short update on my progress with the Herschel 400 – or 281 since I can’t see anything below 0ΒΊ declination – is in order now that the season’s drawn to a close with the approach of Summer Solstice.

Sadly it seems that I’m down to only fifteen more open clusters, three globular clusters, a pair of emission nebulae and a solitary planetary nebula to observe. That’s just twenty-one more of my favoured celestial deep-sky objects. I say sadly because that means there a colossal one hundred and sixty more galaxies to hunt down and this is bad news for a couple of reasons.

I’ve discovered galaxy hunting isn’t as much fun as you might suppose.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with galaxies; I live in one and many of my favourite observations have been made of objects in it; also there are some fantastic galaxies to observe, it just turns out that many of the H400 galaxies aren’t.

And mostly it’s my observing location: bright suburban skies in a very damp climate.

No doubt the weather this observing season has been bad, and even on the few ‘clear’ nights I’ve experienced this Spring (prime time for galaxy hunting) I’ve noticed very poor transparency.

The problem is moisture in the atmosphere which is never helpful, but I’ve learned that for the galaxies it’s terrible. The extra scattered light strips them of any contrast against an already bright background sky, and on the worst occasion I spent four hours barely observing just three galaxies!

May be next season will be galaxy season…

I’m hoping for better skies next season. I found from my notes that some of the galaxies I could see reasonably well in my six inch newtonian a year ago were much worse in my new ten inch this time. That shouldn’t be, and yes, I have checked the new scope on other targets and there’s nothing wrong with it.

So whilst I’m now 100 for 281 in my Herschel quest it’s safe to say that I’m not very excited about most of the rest of it. I’ll do it damn it! Just don’t expect me to be happy about it πŸ˜‰