December Observing List

Our next club dark sky star party will be Dec 28th at the usual Kaʻohe site, in the lull between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The Pleiades, color image through LRGB filters
The Pleiades, color image through LRGB filters

For the evening I have again assembled an observing list for those who want to explore some of the more interesting objects available in the sky this month.

These are all visible in the early evening, all suitable for average telescopes, with a couple more suitable for binocular viewing.

While most of these will be easy to locate and observe, there are a few more challenging objects in the list.

NGC869
RA: 2h 20′ Dec: 57° 12’N Mag: 5.3 Open cluster in Per
A large and bright open cluster visible to the unaided eye, interesting in binoculars or telescope. NGC884 is visible 27′ east.

Almach – γ And
RA: 2h 4′ Dec: 42° 20’N Mag: 2.3/5.5 Binary star in And
A pretty colorful pair, separation 10″

M77
RA: 2h 42′ Dec: 0° 0’S Mag: 8.8 Galaxy in Cet
Small with a very bright core, bright enough to be seen in a 76mm telescope.

NGC1055
RA: 2h 41′ Dec: 0° 26’N Mag:10.6 Galaxy in Cet
If you find M77 look half a degree north for a triangle of stars and the smudge of a galaxy. Larger telescopes will show this to be an edge-on spiral with a notable dust lane.

ι Tri
RA: 2h 12′ Dec: 30° 18’S Mag: 5.3/6.9 Binary star in Tri
4″ separation, yellow and white

NGC1975
RA: 5h 36′ Dec: 4° 40’S Mag: 7 Nebula in Ori
Often overlooked in the shadow of its brighter neighbor, a bright reflection nebula with several bright stars embedded.

Uranus
RA: 2h 02′ Dec: 11° 56’N Planet in Ari (coords for Dec 28, 2019)
A notably blue-green sphere in modest telescopes, use 100x to start, bright and easily noticed once you are close

M79
RA: 5h 24′ Dec: 24° 30’S Mag: 7.7 Globular cluster in Lep
A small and faint globular, easy to locate using αLep and βLep as pointers

R Lep
RA: 5h 00′ Dec: 14° 46’S Mag: 5.5-11.7 Carbon star in Lep
Variable, can be orange to deep red depending on magnitude

NGC1261
RA: 3h 12′ Dec: 55° 08’S Mag: 8.2 Globular cluster in Hor
Discovered by James Dunlop in 1826, well condensed and resolvable with at least 8″ aperture

Keep in mind that this list is assembled for the usual West Hawaii Astronomy Club observing site at Kaʻohe, on the side of Mauna Kea at 20N latitude. It may include southern objects out of reach for anyone much further north.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

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