Astronomy Benalla
Reports - 2012
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Astronomy Benalla  Dark Sky Site Report - Saturday 24th March 2012 At our first official viewing night at the Winton Wetlands Dark Sky Site we were rewarded with our best ever viewing  night. Wayne was first to set up his 12” Dobsonian down near the water line at the Old Mokoan Yacht Club venue.   Rupe chose to be near the entrance to welcome any visitors and was soon rewarded with a family of four from  Wangaratta who was coming back from a previous visit prior to Christmas. As it was still dusk only the two brilliant  planets Venus & Jupiter were readily visible in the western sky. We took the opportunity to conduct a guided laser tour  of the sky from the Taurus Constellation through the Milky Way to the Carina Constellation and giving time to allow our  eyes to adjust to the darkening sky. Our new member Les Stacey with his big 16” Dobsonian was next to set up near Wayne and was immediately  astounded by the magnificent choice of deep sky galaxies available. Those in attendance were Wayne Roberts, Jeff  Knight, Graham Stone, Anne Summer, Jan Andrews, Les Stacey, & Rupe Cheetham. The two big Dobs slowly collected the following galaxies thru out the night:- the Constellation of Leo’s famous triplet  M65, (from the Messier catalogue) a spiral galaxy a mere 35 million light years away; M66, another spiral at 36 million  light years and  NGC3628 also known as Sarah’s Galaxy that featured a broad band of dust.    Next was M84, a lenticular galaxy in the Constellation of Virgo, which has been the source of several supernovae, and  sports a supergiant black hole. Nearby was M86, another lenticular galaxy at only 52 million light years distance and  has a high blue shift indicating that it is approaching us at 244km / sec. Moving back to Leo, M95, aka NGC 3351 was next to be viewed, a beautiful barred spiral galaxy at about 33 million  light years distance and last year a supernova was found to emanate from it. Part of the same group, were its brighter  brothers M96, another spiral galaxy and M105 an elliptical galaxy at similar distances.   Moving southwards, NGC 5128  was the last to be viewed for the night which is commonly known as Centaurus A and was discovered by James  Dunlop in 1826. At only 10 to 16 million light years away it is the fifth brightest galaxy in the sky making it relatively  easy to find for amateurs. It is also a source of radio and X-ray emissions.   The last to leave the viewing site made home in the wee hours of the morning.  Rupe Cheetham. 
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