11th December 2020

Friday, 7:20 pm to 9:00 pm

Triangulum Galaxy and C28!

Aries and Triangulum were high up in the sky and pretty visible. I started by aiming my scope at Triangulum. Although initially it took a bot of jumping around, I was able to hop between the three stars of triangulum, thanks to the distinct shape of stars around γ Tri. Hopping between these three stars is easy even through the telescope.

Now coming to the deep sky objects in Triangulum, M33 and C28. C28 is fairly easy to spot even in light polluted or not so clear skies. Its easier to find since it lies right above a handful of really bright stars - easily identifiable, and also near to Mirzan, the lower left vertex of the triangle. C28 is a very typical open cluster, bright. More stars can be resolved the more we look, and at higher magnifications. It can easily be compared to one of the open clusters from the Perseus Double Cluster even. It is wide, spread over a large area and is very grainy. Like salt sprinkled over a black cloth. The difference between the Double Cluster and C28 is that C28 lacks a central core. The stars are scattered all over the place. Still it is easily recognisable as an open clsuter.

M33 is a bit trickier to find than C28. We can either come down from the cluster or go right from the star Mothallah to find a tetra shaped asterism. We need to go further down from here to see M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, contained within 4 stars which forms a rhombus shape.

The galaxy itself is really faint and was seen only as a faint smudge, seen a little better with averted vision. Eventhough it is a 5.72 magnitude object, it was not that bright to see in the telescope. What I mean is - Dumbbell Nebula, a magnitude 7.5 object, was much more clearer and brighter when seen through the telescope. I guess this is because M27 is within our galaxy, while M33 is almost 3 million light years away! It is still remarkable to think that the smudge in the scope is that far away and what you're seeing is that back into the past!

Finding the galaxy was much easier than my first try and now that I've learnt the positions, I can easily locate it if I get a clearer sky any time soon. Not to mention the prospect of looking at it again with a more powerful telescope

I spent some time learning the constellation of Cetus (for spotting Uranus in the coming days). I also tried to locate the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy, but I had to abandon this because the sky was not clear and the more fainter stars were not visible in the backdrop of light pollution.