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(IAAC) Re: [bigdob] The Antennae in Corvus (vs. other nearby galaxies)



A thread has sprung up on the 'bigdob' mailing list about the Antennae or
"Ringtail Snorter" galaxies, NGC 4038/4039, down near the Crv/Crt border.
Amir Bernat quite rightly asks:
>Maybe you could compare [the Antennae] with another galaxy [for visibility]?
Amir, that's a wonderful question. Again, because of the wide variability of
observers' conditions (and especially these objects' elevation), as well as
the wide variety of observers' experiences, it is a tough query to answer.
Still, I'd like to give you SOME kind of signpost in your efforts to capture
this interesting little galaxy duo in your scope. So I'll try to answer based
on my own limited observations. The Antennae are harder to locate than a well
known neighbor of theirs which lies over the Corvus/Virgo border - M104. Both
"Ringtails" lack the high surface brightness and bright core of the Sombrero,
and so are a lot tougher to spot at low power. And the most defining features
of the Antennae (their respective shapes, and especially the arc between them)
are considerably harder to observe even at higher powers, compared to M104's
much more noticeable defining features - like the serrated dark lane cutting
all the way through it E-W, or its bright central "hubs" protruding N and S.
So if you're having trouble with M104, then the Antennae will be a CHALLENGE.
On the other hand, the cores of both Antennae are easier to spot than another
interesting neighbor less than a degree W - the "Comma Galaxy", NGC 4027. If
you spot the Comma, you can probably catch the Antennae in the same field...
Finally, let's compare the Antennae with an even MORE southerly target (one
which is often overlooked): the "Southern Pinwheel", M83 in nearby SE Hydra.
M83 has an unusually bright, tiny little central core. But outside of this
one, very small but easy-to-spot feature, M83 is a very tough object indeed
for more Northerly observers... In fact, I would say that if you can manage
to see even a HINT of the full 13' extent of M83, with its very low surface
brightness spiral arms, then you had better swing over to the Antennae fast,
for you can expect to be able to log a WEALTH of detail in them that night!
Clear skies, Amir, and once you've logged some of these southerly fainties,
be sure to email us back with your descriptions!
Lew Gramer
Admin, "Internet Amateur Astronomers Catalog" of Deep-Sky Observations:
    http://www.tiac.net/users/lewkaren/netastrocatalog
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