Deep Sky Category

NGC 147

Sketch of NGC 147Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: NGC 147 fits tightly with NGC 185 in the same field with my 32 mm Plossl. At 120X through the Pentax XW10, it appeared as a large and very soft brightening of the sky background with a star superimposed over...

NGC 185

Sketch of NGC 185Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: NGC 185 was one of two fairly subtle galaxies I observed on this evening. Both NGC 185 and NGC 147 fit into the same low power 88 arc minute true field of view. Unfortunately, the fit was too tight to...
Photograph of Winter Milky Way over Sunset Craterwith sketches of deep sky objects in the area. Move mouse over sketch above to see where each deep sky object resides.Click image for larger version. Click here for larger version without call-out lines.. . . . . Other Print Versions: Vertical...

Mottled Galaxies

I enjoyed some wonderful galaxy observing in my front yard Tuesday night. It only amounted to 3 galaxies: M49, M61 and M99. But what a sight they were. I've learned that despite being inside the East-Flagstaff Industrial Light Circus, once objects have cleared about 45 degrees elevation, I've got the...
I've had my 15 x 70 Oberwerk binoculars for nearly a year now and have really enjoyed observing with them. In September, I started putting them to use on the Messier catalog. My goal was to see if I could observe all 110 objects from home, with as little fuss...
The 2009 All Arizona Messier Marathon has been over for a few days. And only now have I been able to recover my senses enough to write about it. My first Messier Marathon in 2006 was plagued by a clouds, and was only able to log an even 100 objects....
Move mouse over images to see labels. Observation Notes This evening, 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 C was due to brush past M57 by just 3.5 arc minutes at 03:00 UT (8 PM MST). Unfortunately, Lyra was just beginning to crest the horizon at 8 pm. I finally got a good look...

95 Herculis (Struve 2264)

Sketch of 95 Herculis (Struve 2264)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: 95 Herculis/Struve 2264 is another beautiful, bright pair in Hercules. The primary was sky blue with a hint of green and it's companion was a rich, golden yellow. The diffraction pattern looked great. Rings buzzed out to...
Sketch of Alpha Herculis (Rasalgethi/Struve 2140)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Rasalgethi is a fantastic, colorful double. The bright primary shone a yellowish orange with--get ready for it--a sage green secondary. The diffraction pattern was captivating in better than normal seeing. SubjectAlpha Herculis (Rasalgethi / STF 2140 /...
Click above image for larger version.  Rollover Comparison Graphic: Move your cursor over this image to see comparison photo. (Comparison photo courtesy of NOAO/AURA/NSF and STScI/AURA/NASA.) Observation Notes: It's been nearly a year since my first observation of Barnard 33, and I wanted to have another serious go at it....

Barnard 34

Observation Notes: Barnard 34 lies about 1.5 degrees west of M37. Compared to some others I tried to locate earlier, including Barnard 5, this one was easy to spot. For a dark nebula. It appeared as a very soft hole in the Milky Way starlight behind it. The main...

Barnard 142/143 (Barnard's E)

Sketch of Barnard 142/143 (Barnard's E)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes Barnard's E was a beautiful binocular sight amid the mist of stars in the Milky Way. In addition to the three arms and upper stem of the 'E', there were additional faint points and webbed extensions primarily...

Beta Monocerotis (Struve 919)

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Sketch of Beta Monocerotis (Struve 919)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Beta Monocerotis is a great multiple star. At low power, it appears to be a double star, but bumping up the magnification shows the eastern component to be a close double itself. Despite all three components being...

Delta Serpentis (Struve 1954)

Sketch of Delta Serpentis (Struve 1954) Observation Notes: Over the last couple hundred years, the stars in this binary system have been moving clockwise in relation to one another by about 50 degrees. The WDS 1782 measurement was 227 degrees at 2.5 arcseconds. I measured 183 degrees with a...
Subject:Messier 51 (NGC 5194/5195) Issue:April 2009 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white paper Featured Technique:Use of blending stump and kneaded eraser (putty rubber) to build progressively fainter details in a sketch. Suggested Materials: Strathmore 80# drawing paper 2H and HB drafting pencils Blending stump White plastic eraser Kneaded eraser...
Subject:Messier 3 (NGC 5272) Issue:May 2009 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white paper Featured Technique:Using stippling to indicate granularity in a globular cluster. Suggested Materials: Strathmore 80# drawing paper HB, 2H and 4H drafting pencils Blending stump White plastic eraser Kneaded eraser (Putty rubber) Clipboard and adjustable red light...

Epsilon Monocerotis (Struve 900)

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Sketch of Epsilon Monocerotis (Struve 900)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Epsilon Monocerotis resides in a populous star field. Color was subtle, and it seemed that the A8 primary was pale yellow while the F5 secondary appeared steel blue-gray. Other observers see the colors as follows: Smythe: Golden...
Click image for larger version. G1, the brightest globular cluster in the local group, is associated with the Andromeda Galaxy nearly 3 million light years away. By itself, it is bright enough to be visible to even modest sized scopes under dark skies. Which is pretty awesome to consider: you...
Sketch of Stephan's Quintet (HGC 92 / ARP 319) Move mouse over sketch above to view labelsClick image for larger version. Observation Notes This is a tough observation from home. The soft patches flickering in the vicinity of the cluster were frequent, but difficult to pin down. NGC 7318...

Messier 1 - The Crab Nebula

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original 37X version to clean it up and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: At 37X, M1 is a smudge with soft, but not diffuse edges. It seems to be elongated northwest to southeast....

Messier 2

Observation Notes: This globular cluster was bright and concentrated. The nucleus was not stellar in appearance, but still concentrated. Granularity was barely perceptible at 48X. At 120X, the granularity was still on the subtle side. Only 3 or 4 stars appeared to be flickering in and out. The brightest...

Messier 3

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Observation Notes: After touring a trio of Messier galaxies this evening, I settled in for a long look at the beautiful globular cluster, M3. At low power, it appeared as a soft spot on a gray background. At 120X with a bit of averted vision, however, it exploded with...

Messier 4

Observation Notes: I regret not making this observation at a better time of year and from a better location. Scorpius was headed into bad light pollution as seen from my home, and the neighbors were kind enough to shoot on the porch light as soon as I began the...

Messier 5

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: This is a huge and structurally interesting globular cluster. The core is compact and clumpy in places. The outer halo is extensive,...

Messier 6 - Butterfly Cluster

Observation Notes: This open cluster is NW of M7 in Scorpius. I noticed more graininess in the background compared to M7. It was also tighter than M7 and filled about 20' of the 1.4° view. The pattern that stood out to me right away was a parallelagram of 4...

Messier 7 - Ptolemy's Cluster

Observation Notes: A beautiful, wide open cluster near the stinger of Scorpius. While the bulk of the cluster filled the 1.4° view, the more concentrated portion spanned about 15-20'. This concentration was bounded by a square of brighter stars. The SW corner of that square appeared to be marked...

Messier 8 - Lagoon Nebula

Click above image for large version. Observation Notes: M8 has been on my list of "ambitious" sketches to do or re-do for a few months now. I observed and sketched it nearly 2 years ago, and have been waiting for the right opportunity this summer. I tried observing and sketching...

The Hourglass Nebula in Messier 8

Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Deep in the bright heart of the Lagoon Nebula lies a knot of fluorescing gas called the Hourglass Nebula. While observing at Kitt Peak Observatory's Advanced Observer's Program with four good friends, I enjoyed a couple minutes boring into the Lagoon with the...

Messier 9

Observation Notes: This globular had a soft profile with a mottled appearance. Granularity was hard to come by, but it was there. It appeared mainly circular and symmetrical with some faint hints of extensions. Factoids: M9 is one of the closest globular clusters to the galactic center at 5500...

Messier 10

Observation Notes: Granularity resolved nicely on this cluster. The core was not distinct. There was just a subtle brightening toward the center. Overall, it was circular, but some regions in the center seemed to extend north-northeast to south-southwest. It's visual extent looked to be 3.5'. There was some extra...

Messier 11 - The Wild Duck Cluster

Observation Notes: M11 holds a special place for me. It was the first deep space object I viewed through the new telescope--besides M45 & M31 which I had seen before. It was very exciting to see something with my own eyes that prior to that night I never even...

Messier 12

Observation Notes: This is a big, mottled globular cluster. Averted vision gave it an overall grainy appearance with brighter stars flickering in and out across the surface. The central condensation was there, but not it was not strong. It seemed to form a trianugalr shape with one apex pointing...
Observation Notes: Well, the time seemed about right to redo the sketch of this amazing globular cluster. Visually, the cluster displays curving arcs of stars that give it the appearance of a hanging fern, or even a crawling spider. Stars, faint to bright, were resolved right across the surface....

Messier 14

Observation Notes: This is a large, but unresolved cluster. I didn't pick up any granularity. But hints of mottling suggest that I'm a couple inches of scope aperture shy of seeing some member stars. The core was not strong, and the outer halo faded softly to nothing. I believe...

Messier 15

Observation Notes: This was a large, bright globular. It was hard to find at first, due to its nearness to a number of bright stars. So it didn't stand out so well in the finder. 38X showed a hint of granularity. The southern side of the cluster seemed to...
Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: This is the time of year when M16, The Eagle Nebula, is at its best...and the summer monsoon is at its worst. I drove out to Anderson Mesa for a long evening with M16 and some of its neighbors. An early evaporation of...

Messier 17 - The Swan Nebula

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Click above image to view larger sketch. Observation Notes: From Anderson Mesa, this nebula appears much larger than the typical swan shape that I see from home--even without the UltraBlock filter. The back of the swan is the brightest portion with the neck second brightest. The head appears to have...

Messier 18

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up, scale down fainter stars, and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: This was a small condensation of stars. In my 32 mm eyepiece, it could fit in the same...

Messier 19

Observation Notes: M19 was large and loose. Granularity appeared with averted vision. The core, while soft, hand an irregular shape with an arc running northwest to south, and an extension to the east. Factoids: M19 is the most elliptical globular cluster. This may be due to its proximity to...
Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an redraw of the original to clean it up, remove color cast, and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: M20 is a beautiful, two-lobed nebula. The southern lobe had a double-star at its core. The northern lobe had...

Messier 21

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up, scale down fainter stars, and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: I spotted this open cluster in the 1.4° wide field of my 32 mm eyepiece, where it shared...

Messier 22

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Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: I was feeling pretty worn out when I made the trip to Anderson Mesa and wasn't sure that I wanted to tackle a monster observation like M22. But I'm glad now that I did. It really called for a lot more detail than...

Messier 23

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up, scale down fainter stars, and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: This cluster was rich with stars, but not strongly condensed. A box and oval asterism stood out in...

Messier 25

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up, scale down fainter stars, and update formatting. The original and comparison rollover are shown below. Move mouse over image to view comparison astrophoto. Rollover Photo Credit: Hillary Mathis, Vanessa Harvey, REU program/NOAO/AURA/NSF...

Messier 26

Observation Notes: This cluster didn't jump out at me. It was a hazy smudge at first glance in the 25 mm eyepiece. I took the magnification up to 120X and that helped me to see more stars. Seeing and transparency were very poor, and the rest of the cluster...

Messier 27 - The Dumbbell Nebula

Observation Notes: This is my second observation, a year later. The nebula is huge and bright. At first glance, it looked like a two-lobed blob. But closer inspection showed an overall oval, slightly elongated west-northwest to east-southeast. The lobes were on the southeast and northwest quadrants. The southwest lobe...

Messier 28

Observation Notes: At 37X, this globular cluster is small, but still easily visible. I didn't see any granularity at this magnification. The nucleus was circular and tight, but not stellar. At 120X, granularity was still hard to come by. About 7 or 8 stars were blinking in and out...

Messier 29

Observation Notes: My first observation of this open cluster was over a year ago, and happened before I was putting more effort into my sketches. So I decided to give it another go. It's not a spectacular cluster and doesn't exactly pop out of the Milky Way backdrop, but...

Messier 30

Observation Notes: This was a rewarding cluster to observe. It was a pleasant sight at 38X, 120X, and 240X. At 120 and 240 X, it began to resolve into stars along the edges. Several were constantly visible, with many more forming a granular splat just east of a bright...
Click image for larger version. Sketch Refinement - August 1, 2006 I've been wanting to redo the sketch on this observation for some time now. In the original sketch, I plotted a couple key stars near the second dust band too far away from their neighbors. Since I was using...
Observation Notes: This circular galaxy lies about a half degree south of the core of M31. Its luminous profile has a stellar core to it. In the 10 mm eyepiece, the south edge of the galaxy seems to be sharper than the north edge. Factoids: M32 is a bright,...
Observation Notes: Tonight, I thought I would try resolving M33 a bit more. After a brief look in the 32 mm eyepiece, where I noted mottling, I switched to the 10 mm EP. At first, I felt lost. But as I panned around, gradually the core became obvious, and...

Messier 34

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up a bit and update the format. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: This is a large, bright, easily visible open cluster. I didn't notice any dense granularity--maybe the moon-glow in the...

Messier 35 and NGC 2158

Sketch of Messier 35 and NGC 2158 Click for larger version. Observation Notes: This cluster is nice and resolvable at low power. As with M37 and M38, it has a bright central star--orange in color. Some yellow and blue stars to the north and east spiced up the color...

Messier 36

Observation Notes: Messier 36 was loaded with quite a few close doubles. The brightest stars seemed to congregate on the south side, with a bright yellow field star on the south-southeast end of the view. The cluster was nestled within a finely-grained backdrop of Milky Way stars. The color...

Messier 37

Observation Notes: Hoo-boy! This is a dense cluster. It had a roughly triangular shape, trisected by dark lanes focusing on a bright yellow-orange central star. It was very stunning to look at. I was really struggling with how to sketch it. Plotting star positions wasn't giving the feel for...

Messier 38 and NGC 1907

Observation Notes: This is my first official observation of an Auriga open cluster. The member stars are easily resolved. The main body appears to be 20' wide east to west and a bit narrower north to south (which matches up pretty nicely to the 21' dimension on the SEDS...

Messier 39

Observation Notes: A bright, large, open cluster with a couple dozen bright stars and many more dimmer ones. It filled the 1.4 degree field of view. The main area fits in about a half degree area. All stars appear to be white. I saw quite a lot of double...

Messier 41

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up, reduce fainter star weights, and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: This open cluster is speckled with a variety of star brightness and color. A number of orange stars...
Sketch of Messier 42 and Messier 43 (Orion Nebula)Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: In my ongoing effort to refine my observation and sketches of M42/43, I made a new sketch on January 14. I used most of the previously sketched star field as a starting point so I...

Messier 44 - The Beehive Cluster

Observation Notes: This is a bright, bold, wide-open, beautiful cluster. The stars fill the view and the brightest like to form triangular trios. The colors are a brilliant yellow, blue and white. "The Beehive" seems like a very appropriate name. Within the view, there didn't appear to be any...

Messier 45 - The Pleiades

Move mouse over image to see photographic overlay of the M45.Overlay photo: © 1984-2002, Anglo-Australian Observatory/Royal Obs. Edinburgh. Photograph from UK Schmidt plates by David Malin. Observation Notes: I began this observation while waiting for the waxing crescent moon to set and allow for some fainter observations and photography....
Move mouse over sketch to see labels. Observation Notes: On the evening of this observation, I headed to Sunset Crater National Monument with the kids to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. That turned out to be a bust. But the kids had fun...

Messier 46 and NGC 2438

Observation Notes: This is a dense cluster with a granular base of stars. It was a rough circle. On the north side, there was a small round patch of nebulosity about 2'-3' in diameter. The body of M46 seemed to be about 22' in diameter, but not particularly concentrated...

Messier 47 and NGC 2423

Observation Notes: M47 is a wide open cluster with a bright orange star on its northeast side. To the north is a smaller, less prominent cluster (NGC 2423) that has a triangular asterism within it. The shape of M47 is irregular. The brightest stars are scattered randomly. There is...

Messier 48

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up and remove the color cast. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: M48 was a beautiful open cluster bounded by a distinct arc of stars. My first impression was of a field...

Messier 49 (NGC 4472)

Sketch of Messier 49 (NGC 4472)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: M49 was elongated at a PA of about 170 degrees and steadily condensed toward the center. The core appeared stellar and made a notable pair with a star 1 arc minute to the east. The galaxy appeared...

Messier 50

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Observation Notes: This was my second observation and sketch of M50. I wanted to give more attention to the entire thing, and I'm glad I did. The initial impression that I got was of a couple spiraling arms of stars spinning clockwise from the south and eastern sides of...
Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: This amazing galaxy pair deserves much more attention than I gave it nearly 4 years ago. This time, I had the benefit of my 8" Dob and Pentax 10XW to help improve the view from the dark sky at Sunset Crater National...
Observation Notes: Such a beautiful galaxy; such a painful observation. M51's large, circular extent reached almost to smaller NGC 5195. The were both arranged in a north-south direction. Both had bright, distinct cores. NGC 5195 looked to be about one-quarter the diameter of M51. My initial impression of M51...
After catching glimpses of Supernova 2005cs in M51 last week. I thought I'd have a try at photographing it. It's been 10 months since I last hooked the camera into the eyepiece and messed with imaging something. (Piggyback wide-field shots are so much easier =) Anyway, I learned a few...

Messier 52

Observation Notes: A storm had blown out earlier in the afternoon, and bursts of spontaneously condensing rain were blowing overhead at odd intervals. But I wanted to see these northern clusters before they dissappeared for the season. So I clothed the scope in towels over the eyepiece, aperture, and...

Messier 54

Observation Notes: This is the most eastern of 3 globular clusters I observed at the base of the Sagittaruis teapot on 10/3/04. The others were M69 and M70, and M54 was brighter than both of those, with a sharper, more condensed nucleus. I couldn't resolve any stars, even with...

Messier 55

Observation Notes: The 48X view showed a large star cluster. It didn't have a tight core. It was actually very loose. Granularity was apparent across its wide face. The brightest areas seemed to be the NW, but not strongly so. Overall it is dim. The 120X view shows granularity...

Messier 56

Observation Notes: Although it was hard taking my eyes off Alberio, I managed to find M56. The globular looked soft and round at 48X. I used the 25 mm, 10 mm, and 10 mm + 2X Barlow to view it. The 25 mm (48 X) just started to show...

Messier 57 - The Ring Nebula

Observation Notes: This was my second observation of M57, a year down the road. At 38X it was a distinct oval amidst pinprick stars. It was evident to me that it was not colorless, but possessed a subtle smoky blue color that verged ever so slightly toward green. At...

Messier 58

Observation Notes: M58 was my final Virgo Cluster galaxy observation on the evening of July 25. The core was faintly stellar and had a soft plateau of brightness that then dropped off gradually at the edges. It was mildly elliptical at a PA of about 70 degrees. The NGCIC...

Messier 59

Observation Notes: After a satisfying look at M60 and NGC 4647, I moved on to M59. This elliptical galaxy was elongated slightly at a PA of about 160 degrees (ngcic.org lists the PA as 165 degrees). It had a smoothly fading luminosity profile with a pronounced stellar core. Object...

M60 and NGC 4647 - (Arp 116)

Observation Notes: Through my 8" Dobsonian at 120X, M60 was located in the center of an equilateral triangle of stars. It had a stellar core with a smoothly fading luminosity profile. To the northwest at a PA of about 300 degrees, lay a subtle companion galaxy. OK, it was...

Messier 61 (NGC 4303)

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Sketch of Messier 61 (NGC 4303)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: I wasn't sure the Swelling Spiral would cooperate, but it gained enough altitude and structure started to materialize. It appeared circular with a suddenly stellar core at first glance. Next to appear was a north-south patch across...

Messier 62

Observation Notes: M62 was in horrible light pollution. It showed granularity without too much trouble. The core was strongly condensed and seemed to rest toward the south end of the cluster rather than centered. After a bit of research, it turns out that M62 is noted for an off-center...

Messier 63 - The Sunflower Galaxy

Observation Notes: This evening, we were visiting friends and the kids were playing inside. I set up the scope in their back yard and gave a brief tour of some prominent DSOs to them before moving on to an official observation. The galaxy, M63, was bright and large, although...

Messier 64

Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: Home is not the best place to soak in galactic light, but I've got to take what I can get! After scooping up a variety of galaxies with my 15 x 70 binoculars, I decided to take a closer look at M64 with...

Messier 65 and Messier 66

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Observation Notes: This is my first go at the galaxy clusters in Leo and Virgo. M65 and M66 were pretty easy to find in the rear leg of Leo. Both fit easily within the 1.3° FOV of the 32 mm eyepiece. M65 was the dimmer of the two. Its...

Messier 67

Observation Notes: M67 is a nice, subtle open cluster, particularly in comparison to M41 which I viewed earlier in the evening. There is one bright yellow-orange star on the east side of the cluster. There are a few more orange stars scattered around. The main body of the cluster...

Messier 69

Observation Notes: This small globular cluster showed as a fuzzy circular patch at 37X. The 120X magnification showed a hint of 2 or 3 stars across the surface of the cluster. The brightness curve was soft with an obvious central concentration. The brightest neighboring star is to the NW....

Messier 70

Observation Notes: This is one of 3 globular clusters I observed at the base of the Sagittaruis teapot on 10/3/04. (The others were M69 and M54. M70 appeared as a small globular cluster with a soft distribution of luminosity, with a distinct but soft core. The 120X view seemed...

Messier 71

Observation Notes: Through the 25 mm eyepiece, this globular cluster was dim and small, but still remarkably grainy. It was also elongated. In the 10 mm eyepiece a number of stars showed at the edges and a few across the face. The shape was irregular, and seemed to make...

Messier 72

Observation Notes: I had a heck of a time finding this, by drawing a bead off Epsilon Aquarii. It was a dim small globular. I wasn't able to resolve it at 37X or 120X. Luminosity rises softly across its face. Factoids: At 53,000 light years distant, M72 is one...

Messier 73

Observation Notes: This asterism was hard to find. I had to find M72 first, and then move east. It was much smaller and dimmer than I expected--it's 4 stars after all. The 2 stars on the east end are the brightest. The westernmost star is the dimmest. Factoids: This...

Messier 74

Observation Notes: This was the 2nd of 2 galaxies I observed the night of an observing trip out to Wupatki National Monument, north of Flagstaff. It was a large diffuse galaxy. The core was on the verge of being stellar, but I don't think I had enough aperture to...

Messier 75

Observation Notes: This observation was cursed! I tried observing it 3 nights prior and spent 15 minutes gandering, switching eyepieces and seeing if I could resolve it and discern any asymmetry. Before I could pick up my sketch sheet and record it, the view faded to nothing as clouds...
Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: In preparation for an upcoming article, I made a new observation of this interesting little planetary nebula. I noticed no color in it. The southern lobe was the brightest. Both lobes were brightest at their outer apexes. The bright portion of the northern...

Messier 77

Observation Notes: This was one of 2 galaxies I observed the night of an observing trip out to Wupatki National Monument, north of Flagstaff. The main halo of the galaxy appeared circular, but the core seemed to elongate SW to NE. The center of the core is a thick...

Messier 78

Click image for larger version. The above sketch is an update to the original to clean it up and update formatting. The original is shown below. Observation Notes: This appeared as a cup-shaped nebula surrounding two stars which are aligned north to south. The arrangement looks like two vessels plowing...

Messier 79

Observation Notes: This globular cluster appeared circular and about 2.5' in diameter. It was condensed toward the center, but not strongly. There may be a slight elongation north-northwest to south-southeast. There were a few orange and yellow stars in the field. Seeing wasn't great, but at 240X, I could...

Messier 80

Observation Notes: This was a small, dim globular cluster--at least in the horrible conditions I was viewing: low in the sky, in an areas of heavy light pollution, and bad seeing to top it off. I couldn't see any granularity, or aberration in shape. It just appeared soft and...
Observation Notes: These 2 galaxies are impressive. They were an amazing treat that fit into the same view together--big and bright. M81 was the larger, brighter, and wider of the two galaxies, elongated north to south. It had a strongly condensed nucleus. It seemed to have a sharper edge...
Binocular Observation: February 22, 2007 Move mouse over sketch to see labels. Click image for larger version. The broad stretches of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies are a real treat telescopically, but what does it look like through binoculars? And not just any old astronomy-grade binoculars, but really crummy ones?...

Messier 85 (NGC 4382) and NGC 4394

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Sketch of Messier 85 (NGC 4382) and NGC 4394Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: This was a great pair to observe. M85 had a stellar core and was mildly elongated at a PA of about 25 degrees and appeared to be about 4 x 3 arc minutes in...
Sketch of Messier 87 (NGC 4486), NGC 4478, NGC 4476Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Large, bright elliptical galaxy M87 appeared to be aligned at a PA of 100 degrees. It's core appeared stellar, and it shared the field with 2 other galaxies. The next brightest, NGC 4478...

Messier 88 (NGC 4501)

Sketch of Messier 88 (NGC 4501)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: During the first few minutes of my observation, M88 appeared to be simply an elongated galaxy with a strongly condensed core aligned at about 135 degrees. After much time glued to the eyepiece, the northwest and southern...

Messier 89 (NGC 4552)

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Sketch of Messier 89 (NGC 4552)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Elliptical galaxy, Messier 89 was a simple visual object: small, circular, about 2 arc minutes in diameter with a stellar appearing core. A double star punctuated the view about 8 arc minutes to the northeast. Sketch/DSS Photo...

Messier 91 (NGC 4548)

Sketch of Messier 91 (NGC 4548)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: M91 appeared circular with a strongly condensed core. A prominent bar crossed the disc at a PA of about 80 degrees. The western half of this bar appeared to be a bit brighter. I couldn't detect any...

Messier 92

Observation Notes: I didn't realize how nice this globular cluster would look. It stood up well to magnification, with stars resolving across the face of the cluster. It appeared noticeably elliptical in its outer reaches, pointing southwest to northeast. The core was soft but robust. It seemed that the...

Messier 93

Observation Notes: This is a triangular arrow shaped cluster with its tip pointing southwest. This southwest tip hosts one orange and one yellow star. In the center lies a trapezium-like arrangement of stars. The main body appears to be 16' in diameter. The brightest neighboring star lies 30' to...

Messier 95

Observation Notes: This galaxy appears to be mostly circular, with a gradually increasing brightness toward center, with a stellar core. If anything, it may be slightly elongated east to west. Its width was about the same as the distance between two close stars to the west. Factoids: M95 is...

Messier 96, Messier 105 and NGC 3384

Observation Notes: These three galaxies were kind enough to fit in the field of view together. The two galaxies on the north side, M105 and NGC 3384 appeared about 10' apart, nucleus to nucleus. Their nucleii were softly stellar in appearance. M105 appeared basically circular and the brighter of...

Messier 98 (NGC 4192)

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Sketch of Messier 98 (NGC 4192)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: M98 had a distinct core, although it didn't appear stellar. It was aligned at a PA of about 160 degrees. The southwest edge was sharpest and it was brightest along the southeast spine. I couldn't detect any...

Messier 99 (NGC 4254)

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Sketch of Messier 99 (NGC 4254)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: M99 was difficult to examine, but definitely rewarding. It appeared circular and moderately condensed at first glance. I switched from 120X to 240X and back to try to pick out structure. A star on the edge of...

Messier 100 and SN 2006X

Move mouse over image for labels. Observation Notes: My search for Supernova 2006X, was a good opportunity to observe M100 as well. The galaxy was circular with a bold, condensed core. There was a hint of mottling in its outer stretches. The brightest portion appeared to extend northwest to...
Sketch of Messier 101 (NGC 5457) Move mouse over image to view labels. Observation Notes: Nearly a year ago, I collaborated with Eric Graff to observe as deep into Messier 101 as we could. I didn't end up completing the observation. Nine months later, I finally got around to...

Messier 103

Sketch of Messier 103 - 37.5XClick image for larger version. Sketch of Messier 103 - 75XClick image for larger version. Observation Notes: M103 was pretty simple to find. It was 1° east of Ruchbah in Cassiopeia. It's pretty small compared to some of the recent Messier clusters I've viewed--about 5'...

Messier 104

| 5 Comments
Click images for larger versions. Observation Notes: It's about time I sketched this beautiful, bright galaxy. Once again, I observed from home, which is not the best place to see structure in galaxies--but the Sombrero was very cooperative. It was conveniently aligned at a PA of 90 degrees. The...

Messier 107

Observation Notes: Right after viewing M5, this was definitely a shift to the other end of the globular spectrum. I didn't resolve any member stars, although once or twice I saw what looked like a star flicker into view near the north-center core region. The brightness was very soft...

Messier 108

Observation Notes: My first low power view of M108 was a pleasant surprise as it shared the neighborhood with the round planetary nebula, M97. M108 is a strongly elongated galaxy, pointing east to west. The core region displayed a sturdy, rectangular bar that dropped off in brightness rather quickly,...

Messier 109

Observation Notes: I didn't pick up a lot of detail in this galaxy. It displayed an elliptical shape with a strongly condensed core that almost looked double in nature, due to an overlapping foreground star. The galaxy was elongated west-southwest to east-northeast, with a core that seemed to push...
Observation Notes: M110 appears very dim and diffuse. It is larger than M32, but much harder to see. It is elongated NW to SE and sort of points to M32. It is about 3/4 of a degree from the core of M31 to the west. It has a soft,...

Markarian's Chain and Surroundings

Inverted, Positive Sketch of Markarian's Chain Move mouse over image to view labelsClick for larger version. Original Negative Pencil Sketch Observation Notes Markarian's Chain is a wonder to behold. Island universe after island universe trail one another through a slice of sky little more than 2 degrees across. In...

Markarian's Chain

Sketch of Markarian's Chain in the Virgo Cluster Move mouse over image to view labels (magnitudes listed in parentheses)Click for larger version. Observation Notes: The heart of the Virgo Cluster is a wonderful place to visit from a dark site. Every nudge of the telescope brings another galaxy...or three...

NGC 40

Move mouse over sketch to see the NOAO photo demonstrating how my perception of brightness differs from the actual structure of the nebula.Click the image for a larger version.Rollover photo courtesy of Steve and Paul Mandel/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF. Observation Notes: At low power, the hazy appearance of this planetary nebula...

NGC 206

Move mouse over image to see photographic overlay of the NGC 206 vicinity.Overlay photo courtesy of: Bill Schoening, Vanessa Harvey/REU program/NOAO/AURA/NSF Observation Notes: This was not a particularly spectacular observation, but it was a nice catch. Fueled by an article in the December 2005 Sky and Telescope magazine by...

NGC 404 - The Ghost of Mirach

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Observation Notes: What a beautiful sight! The soft, round galaxy shared the view with the brilliant, citrusy orange Mirach. The galaxy itself had a gradual condensation toward the center. Seeing was too soft to see whether the core was stellar though. It appeared to be about 1.5 - 2...

NGC 559

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Sketch of NGC 559Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: This grainy, irregular open cluster lies at the head of a chain of splattered stars at low power. At 120X, it is bracketed by two bright, wide doubles. Three brighter stars mark its southeast corner as a triangle. I plotted...

NGC 654

Observation Notes: This misty cluster shared the same low power field of view as NGC 663 to the south. At 120X, the cluster takes on a triangular shape with several doubles throughout. A bright star marks its southern apex. Of the 58 stars plotted in the sketch, 28 were...

NGC 663

Observation Notes: Riding the rush of just finishing a sketch of M17, I considered looking for the "Owl Cluster". However, I couldn't recall the designation, so I went after this beautiful cluster instead. The shape of the cluster seemed to be divided into 4 main clumps arranged north, south,...
Digital VersionClick image for larger version Pencil Version Sketch Refinement - August 4, 2006 This is another sketch that I ended up refining recently. I wanted to make the weights of the fainter stars less bold to provide a better sense of variation in stellar magnitude that is apparent through...

NGC 891

| 3 Comments
Sketch of NGC 891 Observation Notes: This large, edge-on galaxy is no friend of man-made light sources. It was not difficult to find, but was still rather subtle from my back yard. It appeared as a slender, soft brightening of the sky and shared space with one rather distracting...

NGC 1023

Observation Notes: While browsing my star atlas for likely targets in the cloud free northern stretches of the sky, I ran across a reference to NGC 1023. Even at low power, while centering the view, the galaxy displayed an elongated profile. The 120X view was the best magnification, and...

NGC 1501

| 3 Comments
Observation Notes: This planetary nebula was a nice detour after traveling along Kemble's Cascade and the sparkling splash of NGC 1502. It was readily evident as a soft disc at 48X. At 120X, it had a very slight aqua tint. I found it too faint to examine well at...

NGC 1502 and Struve 485

| 6 Comments
Click on image above for larger version (86K). Observation Notes: This little knot of stars was a stop I made while cruising through Perseus, Cassiopeia and Camelopardalis. As I navigated to the area, I ran into Kemble's Cascade. It was a pleasant surprise--I'm not very familiar with the area...

NGC 1514

Observation Notes: This was a large, planetary nebula with a bright central star. Using the Ultrablock filter helped verify the nebula, and show it off better. The nebula was circular and centered on the main star. It seemed like there was a bright axis running northwest to southeast through...

NGC 1647

Observation Notes: I first noticed NGC 1647 between the horns of Taurus in a wide-field astro photo I shot of the area in November 2005. I've been meaning to observe and sketch it since then. At 37.5X magnification, the cluster appeared large, bright and sparse. Two colorful yellow and...

NGC 2024 (The Flame Nebula)

| 2 Comments
Sketch of NGC 2024 (The Flame Nebula)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes This year, I finally had opportunities to observe and sketch this amazing nebula in detail. The Flame Nebula snuggles the piercing glare of Zeta Orionis (Alnitak) and at first glance really does look like ghosting in...

NGC 2169 and Struve 848

Sketch of NGC 2169 (The 37 Cluster) and Struve 848 Move mouse over image to view label.Click for larger version. Observation Notes So many old sketches, so little time--this one is over a year old. NGC 2169 really did look like an upside-down, angular #37. I plotted 19 stars...
Sketch of NGC 2244 (NGC 2239) and Sh 2-275 (Rosette Nebula)Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: If you find yourself at a dark site with Orion and Monoceros sprawled across the meridian, don't pass up this gorgeous showpiece of the winter sky. While at Sunset Crater National Monument,...

NGC 2392 - Eskimo Nebula/Clown Nebula

Observation Notes: What an unbelievable planetary nebula. It was very bright and detailed. It rested about 2' south-southwest of a bright star. It was circular, and had a brighter circle within. This inner circle hinted at more detail. So I bumped the magnification up from 120X to 240X, and...

NGC 2440

Observation Notes: This planetary nebula had a faint outer shell that appeared slightly elongated north-south. There was a brighter inner shill with what seemed to be a two-lobed structure that was aligned southeast to northwest. I didn't notice any color. Object Information NGC 654 was discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm...

NGC 3166 and 3169

NGC 3166 lies to the west and NGC 3169 to the east.Click above image for larger version. Observation Notes: After tracking down NGC 3090, I headed for this beautiful pair. Under less than ideal conditions, general elongation and structure were difficult to discern. The view was still stunning as the...

NGC 457 and NGC 436

| 2 Comments
Click image for larger version Observation Notes: On the night of this observation, I settled in for a nice long look at NGC 457 and nearby NGC 436 with my 15 x 70 Oberwerk binoculars. I used my mirror mount which allowed me to sit comfortably and look down while...

NGC 5128 (Centaurus A)

| 2 Comments
Observation Notes: This was probably the fourth time I've made a telescopic observation of Centaurus A, but I finally got down to business and made a sketch this time. I was observing at Cinder Hills Overlook with Eric Graff, his family, David Sanders, and Scott & Dena Garfinkel. Everybody...

NGC 5139 - Omega Centauri

| 2 Comments
Observation Notes Any opportunity to head closer to Earth's midsection is likely to get a Northern Hemisphere amateur astronomer salivating at the possibilities. The awesome trip we took to the Caribbean last month brought us down to 19 degrees North Latitude. That's 16 degrees further south than Flagstaff, and...

NGC 5419

Observation Notes: This little elliptical galaxy had a strongly condensed core, and appeared to be elongated at a PA of about 120° and a diameter of about 2 arcminutes. According to the DSS image, its outer halo looks more like a PA of 80°. Object Information NGC 5419 was...

NGC 5824

Click the image for a larger version. Observation Notes: NGC 5824 was one of the bright objects that Eric Graff had proposed observing in the southern sky. It was a beautiful globular. Through Eric's scope, I thought I could detect some granularity in it. But when I made the observation...

NGC 5866 (Messier 102)

Observation Notes: NGC 5866 appeared small, bright and strongly elongated. I estimated its length at about three arc minutes with a width less than one arc minute. My observation and sketch estimate a PA of 118 degrees. NGCIC.org lists 128 degrees. Although the galaxy possesses a thin dust lane,...

NGC 5873

| 2 Comments
Move mouse over sketch to simulate sliding in the OIII filter. Observation Notes: I got my first look at this diminutive planetary nebula through Eric Graff's 6" f/6 reflector. He was using a filter slider with an OIII filter in one slot. By sliding the filter in and out,...

NGC 6207

| 2 Comments
Observation Notes: I had never taken the time to look for this galaxy next to M13, but it was visible without much effort through the 8-inch Dob. It shared the view with it's huge globular cluster neighbor at low power. The 120X view offered the best view, showing the...

NGC 6210

Observation Notes: Persistent clouds were making it exceptionally difficult to sketch the core of M16. So I took a break and decided to look for something in a part of the sky not dancing with clouds. Hercules was in decent position, so I scanned my SkyAtlas 2000.0 for something...

NGC 6229

| 3 Comments
Observation Notes: I could not resolve stars or even a vague sense of graininess in this globular. It did have a lumpy, mottled appearance. Averted vision showed an extended halo about 2 arc minutes in diameter. The brighter core region was somewhat rectangular with extensions running toward the northwest....

NGC 6302 - The Bug Nebula

| 1 Comment
Observation Notes: After a very lengthy hiatus from dark sky observing, I headed out to Anderson Mesa in hopes of escaping a summer monsoon cloud-out. Right on qeue though, a load of choppy strato-cumulus gushed out from some nearby storms, and I had to change my observing plans. I...

NGC 6520 and Barnard 86

| 2 Comments
Click sketch to view larger image. Observation Notes Since I originally made this observation close to two years ago, I've been a little concerned by a few of the features I portrayed in the sketch. The elongation of unresolved stars in NGC 6520 didn't seem to be aligned correctly,...

NGC 6543 (Cat's Eye Nebula)

Move mouse over sketch above to view comparison Hubble photo overlay. Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: I wasn't sure how much I would see, but this planetary nebula turned out to be a great visual treat. It bore a noticeable aqua color and was elongated at a...

NGC 6572 - The Blue Racquetball

| 2 Comments
Sketch of NGC 6572 (The Blue Racquetball)Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: NGC 6572 is a bright and colorful planetary nebula. At low power, it was nearly stellar, and strong blue-green in color. At 240X, it was slightly elongated at a PA of about 165 degrees (NNW-SSE). Although the...

NGC 6712 and Arrow Asterism

Sketch of NGC 6712 and Arrow Asterism - 37.5XClick image for larger version. Sketch of NGC 6712 - 120X and 240XClick image for larger version. Observation Notes: This fascinating globular cluster lies in a rich Milky Way field. Through 15 x 70 binoculars, it can be seen as a faintly...

NGC 6826 - The Blinking Planetary

Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: NGC 6826, also known as the Blinking Planetary, was pleasantly bright when I tracked it down at low power. It exhaled a blue-green color at all levels of magnification. At 240X, it displayed a shelled structure with an outer shell that appeared circular...

NGC 6866

Move mouse over sketch to view the impression this cluster left on me. Observation Notes: Passing high cirrus gave me grief during this observation. Giselle and some other kids in the neighborhood hollered as Perseid meteors streaked across the sky. After plotting 34 framework stars, I had to restart...

NGC 6888 - The Crescent Nebula

Sketch of NGC 6888 (The Crescent Nebula)Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: The Crescent Nebula doesn't exactly jump out at you in the eyepiece. Some patience, averted vision, tapping/nudging of the telescope, and a dark sky are required. I observed this one from my front yard with an SQM...

NGC 6891

Observation Notes: This was my fourth and final observation and sketch during my recent night at Anderson Mesa. I picked it from my Bright Star Atlas since it was a convenient find next to the tail of Delphinus. Sky Atlas 2000.0 provided the star hopping route. At low power...

NGC 6905 - The Blue Flash Nebula

Sketch of NGC 6905 (The Blue Flash Nebula)Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: NGC 6905 is bracketed by 3 11th and 12th magnitude stars and at low power simply seems to be a patch of unresolved starlight. Higher power drew it out, and it displayed a mild north-south elongation....

NGC 6910

Observation Notes: This is the first deep sky observation I've made from my home in a long time. I feel a debt to my observations and sketches to give deep sky objects the darkest sky I can find. But I'm finding fewer and fewer opportunities to pack up and...

NGC 6960, 6992, 6995 - The Veil Nebula

NGC 6960 NGC 6992 and NGC 6995 Move mouse over images to see photographic overlays of the Veil Nebula.NGC 6960 Rollover photograph courtesy of: T. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage and WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSFNGC 6992 Rollover photograph courtesy of: N.A.Sharp, REU program/NOAO/AURA/NSF Observation Notes: This was my first view of the Veil Nebula...
Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes From a dark location with a good pair of binoculars, this rich, starry field is filled with a tapestry of nebulosity. While staying at Flying W Guest Ranch in Oklahoma, I found myself sitting under the stars one clear, dark evening. I...

NGC 7006

| 1 Comment
Sketch of NGC 7006Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: NGC 7006 appeared as a small, soft, symmetrical disc, moderately condensed. I estimated Shapley class IV and a bit more than 1 arc minute in diameter. I was unable to resolve it or detect any asymmetry. Sketch/DSS Photo Comparison of...

NGC 7008 (Fetus Nebula) and HJ 1606

Observation Notes: This fascinating planetary nebula was pleasantly large, and easy to spot with my low power eyepiece at 37.5X. I could see no color in the nebula, but there was some color right next to it in the double star HJ 1606. The primary of this double was...

NGC 7009 - The Saturn Nebula

Observation Notes: With a prominent Zodiacal Light rising in the northeast, I headed for a planetary nebula. I had a look at the Helix Nebula, but didn't feel like re-sketching it at this point. It's going on two years since Brent Archinal helped me find the Saturn Nebula while...

NGC 7062

Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: This cluster showed up as a soft, grainy, elongated glow at 37.5X which became more resolved at 120X. It was elongated East-West with a PA of about 100 degrees. Its long dimension was about 6 arc minutes and was bracketed on the east...

NGC 7293 - The Helix Nebula

| 2 Comments
Observation Notes: This planetary nebula is huuuge. I really needed the ultrablock to find detail. Without the filter, it was just a slight brightening above the level of the sky. Overall, it was circular with a bit of a wisp running off the southeast side. It had a hollow...

NGC 7331

| 2 Comments
Sketch of NGC 7331 Observation Notes: I have glanced at and passed over this galaxy a number of times on my way to other nearby sights, such as Stephan's Quintet. On this evening, I finally settled down for a nice, long look at it. Although I would have loved to...

NGC 7662

Observation Notes: I made this follow up observation of the blue snowball to get a more detailed look at structure for the October 2009 issue of Astronomy Now. The inner and outer shells possessed a soft, pentagonal shape. The inner shell was annular and had brighter condensations to the...
Move mouse over image for labels. Click image for larger, unlabeled version. Observation Notes: Near the end of a great all-night observing session, the Milky Way was an impressive sight along the eastern horizon. I wanted to catch some of the dark nebulae in Ophiuchus, particularly the Pipe Nebula....

PK 80-6.1 - The Egg Nebula

| 4 Comments
Sketch of PK 80-6.1 (The Egg Nebula) Move mouse over sketch above to see how the view changed when the polarizing filter was rotated to the correct angle.Click image for larger version. Observation Notes: This easily overlooked deep sky object is tucked away above the eastern wing of Cygnus....

Struve 1369

Sketch of Struve 1369Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Color in Struve 1369 appeared best at 120X. The primary was yellow, with a dull red-orange component to the south-southeast, and a dull gray-orange component further to the north-northwest. SubjectSTF 1369 (DI Lyncis / ADS 7438) ClassificationMultiple Star Position...

Struve 1374

Sketch of Struve 1374Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: The primary in Struve 1374 glows a pale yellow next to a dull blue secondary. A wide pair of stars lies about 7 arc minutes to the southwest. SubjectSTF 1374 ClassificationMultiple Star Position (J2000)*Leo Minor [RA: 09 41 21.9...

Struve 1604

Digital Illustration of Struve 1604 Move mouse over image to view labelsClick for larger version. Observation Notes: I observed this triple star nearly a year ago for Sue French's May 2009 Deep Sky Wonders column. I was out at Sunset Crater National Monument so I could get a good...

Struve 2194

Sketch of Struve 2194Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Struve 2194 consists of a 6.5/9.3 magnitude pair separated by 16 arc seconds at 8°PA. I measured this pair at 18 arc seconds and 7°. There is also another 9th magnitude C star further south that I plotted, but...

Struve 2259

Sketch of Struve 2259Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: Struve 2259 hit the top of my double star favorites the moment it came into view. It is a beautiful gold/blue pair at the heart of a starry bow-tie dominated by the brilliant white Nu Herculis. It looked best...
Sketch of the Winter Milky Way (Auriga to Canis Major) Move mouse over image to view labelsClick for larger version. Observation Notes: From a true, dark sky, nothing can compare to a naked eye view of the Milky Way. During the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, we face...
Sketch of Xi Scorpii (Struve 1998) and Struve 1999Click image to view larger version. Observation Notes: There are a number of double-doubles scattered across the sky. Although Epsilon Lyrae may be the best known, there's really some great competition out there. Xi Scorpii/Struve 1998 and its southern counterpart, Struve 1999,...

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