(IAAC) Obj: NGC 691, NGC 680, NGC 678, NGC 697 - Inst: 8" f/10 SCT

Observer: Lew Gramer
Your skills: Intermediate
Date and UT of Observation: 1997-11-29/30, 03:50 UT
Location: Miles Standish State Forest, Carver, MA, USA (41N)
Site classification: rural
Limiting magnitude: 6.6 (zenith), 6.2 (in S)
Seeing: 2 of 10 - excellent
Moon up: no
Instrument: 8" f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain, fork equatorial, 8x50mm finder
Magnification: 80x, 170x, 340x
Filters used: None
Object: NGC691, NGC680, NGC678, NGC697
Category: Spiral Galaxies [SA(rs)bc, SA(s)0, SB(s)b?sp, SAB(r)bc]
Constellation: Ari
Data: mags 11.4, 11.9, 12.2, 12.1  sizes 3'x2', 2'x1', 4'x1', 4'x1'
RA/DE: 01h50m  +22o
Success tonight in finding brightish n660 with this aperture (see
previous observation) tempted me to seek out fainter galactic game
in the same region! Together, these galaxies form an uncataloged(?)
grouping just a little over 1o NW of beta Arietis (Sheratan), and
immediately S of and in the same wide-angle view with the mag. 6
orangeish star 1 Ari. Both 1 Ari and a wide mag 8 companion star
conveniently point S to the brightest member of the "group", n691.
This spiral was visible only to averted vision, but nonetheless was
definitely seen at both 80x and 170x with the 8". Forming the long
W vertex of a right triangle with the mag 8 companion star and 691
was a much fainter averted-vision haze, n680. At higher power (and
mostly just at 340x), this object was extremely faint and roundish,
but with just a hint of complexity to the NW (probably n678, which
sources seem to indicate is interacting with nearby n680?) Finally,
sweeping back NE of 1 Ari, the eye "rested" somewhat on a slightly
brighter object, n697! This brightest outlier of our "group" was
easy with averted vision at 80x, yet seemed washed out at 340x, and
yet showed a hint of detail at 170x: it was clearly elongated E-W,
and concentrated vision was rewarded with hints of a central bulge.
Probably altogether a pretty wide-field group for larger apertures!
NOTE: Only 691 and 697 were confirmed by fellow amateur Dan Smoody.