Monday, September 24, 2012

Finally a great night of viewing

Friday Sept. 14, 2012
Pretty clear night, setup at 2030. Temp is 82 F with 58% humidity, although after setting up I'm sweating like crazy, so it fields more humid than it is. Very few clouds and a very light breeze. Mosquitoes are thick but I've got my Thermocells out and I have Deep Woods OFF all over my exposed skin. Hope the sweat doesn't wash it off!! I set up the mount in the house the other night and it checked out pretty tight. (Parish mosquitoe spraying truck just passed. Glad I'm in the tent.)

I haven't had the scope out since Aug. 1 due to persistent clouds and rain. Glad to finally have a clear night and tomorrow night is to be nice as well before it rains late Sunday. This could be my last observing session before my Mallincam arrives !!!

At 2137 I finally got everything setup and the scope aligned on Vega and Algenib. It was just out on Algenib, so hopefully it will yield good go tos tonight. Using Astroplanner on the iPad to choose objects.

M29 in Cygnus is a nice open cluster with a group of 3 stars and a group of 5 stars in a distorted square. The stars in the group are not appreciably brighter than those in the surrounding area.

Went to M27, the Dumbell Nebula. Couldn't see anything so set the scope up in high precision mode and aligned on Alberio and with the B18 (Barlowed 18 mm EP) the Dumbell came right into view, just to the 1400 positon of center. Couldn't see it directly even after staring for a few minutes but with averted vision (AV) I could see a dense squarish grey cloud. The Mallincam will make these much more enjoyable!

It is 2306 and it is still 81 deg with 62% humidity. Very few clouds except high thin ones. A nice night except for the heat and mosquitoes, but the Thermacell, spray, and Deet are keeping them away.

At mag 8.4, M 71 is a very faint globular in Sagita that is difficult to see even with AV. I'm using the laptop to control the scope and I don't see how to use high precision mode via the computer. Need to study a bit.

NGC 6830 is an open cluster in Vulpecula. At mag 7.9 it is faint but has 2 bright stars at 4 fainter ones to the NE in the B18. With AV I can get a peek at a deeper star field.

M56 is a GC in Lyra at mag 8.4. In the B18 I can just make out a faint grey fuzzy. Could be a nebula as even with AV I can not make out anything except an area that is slighlty brighter than the background.

NGC 6819, Fox Head cluster, in Cygnus is mag 7.3. I see 3 semi-bright stars and with AV a hint that there is more.

The Ring Nebula, M 57, is a nice sight in the B18, with AV I can detect the donught shape.

M39 is a very nice and bright OC in Cygnus with over a dozen bright stars. The shape is roughly that of a robot with 4 stars in a line across the bottom, 2 at the waist and a head. Shoulders and arms can be made out. A nice OC, easy to see in the B18

M30 is a nice faint GC in Capricornus at Mag 6.9. It is rather low but a nice sight with AV although I had to really contort my body to see in the EP.

The Andromeda galaxy, M31, is a nice sight in the B18. I can make out a wispy near circular shape of almost uniform brightness. Cannot really discern the core or the arms, but a nice sight. Easy to see and appreciate as a galaxy. Perhaps my best view of it. With the B6.7 I can get a hint of the eleptical shape but no details. I'm impressed I can B the 6.7, good skies tonight. It is 0106 and 78 F with 79% humidity.

With the high precision mode the gotos are very good. Uranus is a nice blue-green disc in the B18. In the B6.7 it is a bit more white and slightly deformed. The 6.7 alone provided a nice view similar to the B18, perhaps a bit less color.

Neptune is a bit smaller than Uranus and the color was just a bluish off white. The color was not as distinctive as Uranus. Hard to discern but its lacking of twinkling and a comparison of the star field against SkyWalk, convinced me I had seen it in the B18. In the B6.7 it is a distorted little disk with no color .

Very nice view of Jupiter and 3 moons in the B6.7. I can easily see 2 equatorial bands. The image wasn't quite steady enough to discern a third band. It is 0215 and Jupiter is around 40 deg up in the E sky.

The Pleadies (M45) is a beautiful sight in the 18 EP. In the B18 you have to scroll around to see the entire group, but many interesting asterisms are noted.

Orion is rising and the great nebula (M42) is a very nice site in the B18. The 4 stars of the Trapezium are easily seen as are tendrils of nebulosity. In the B6.7 the Trapezium is in excellent view and the nebulosity extent can be well seen.

Very nice star field in Persus near Mirfak. Up by Algol, M34 is a really nice OC with over a dozen bright stars. Too tired to describe the shape, but it is nice (It is 0331 !!!).

Last object of the night was NGC 0475, the ET OC. He is standing on his head at this hour but is a nice object in the 18 mm EP. OK @ 0346 I'm shutting down. A good night.

The scope performed well but I did notice that the scope still has a shudder in its movement at times. Need to investigate and fix that. Also the focuser motor slips occasionally.

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