Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 1 Observing Report

My daughter Heather came over around 10 to view on a hot and humid night . I threw in my polar scope and adjusted my polar alignment as my go to  & tracking has been off. It was pointing a bit low and to the SE. As Heather was over, I didn't take the time to drift align as I have been meaning to do, but instead jumped into viewing.

We started with Saturn and despite the humidity and high temps, we were rewarded with unexpectedly decent, but not good, seeing. While surface features weren't clear other than 1 equatorial band, we could detect a graduation in the brightness of the clouds from the pole to equator we also could detect the Cassini division between the A & B rings. At first we weren't sure we were seeing it, but as the seeing improved the dark band ~ 2/3 out the ring from the planet became prominent. With a 2.5X Powermate and 11mm eyepiece (EP) the focus became a bit soft but not bad, but the 11 mm EP provided the best views.

We then embarked on a mini-marathon of almost all of the Messier objects in Scorpius, Sagittarius, Ophiuchus, Lyra, Hercules, and Cygnus. We tried the Trifid and Lagoon nebulas but they were nearly imperceptible from the background in our mag 4.5 skies. So we focused on the star clusters, of which there are many in this area of the sky. Messier 13 & 5 were especially nice. At my scope's native F8, I found an 11mm EP provided the best balance of image scale and detail. At F10 Heather was using 15 mm and above EP.  Comparisons between the two scopes were virtually identical. At a bit after 1 am we called it a night and closed up the observatory.

My adjustment to the polar alignment seemed to help but I still need to drift align.  A fun night under the stars.   

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