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Messier 71 is a globular cluster in the constellation Sagitta. The cluster is at a distance of around 12,000 light years away from Earth and is approximately 27 light years across. This is my first image using an Celestron Off-Axis Guider and it seems to have made a big difference to the overall result. Previously I could not have done 10 minute sub-frames without noticeable distortion of stars. If you want more detail the astrobin link is: http://www.astrobin.com/266668/B
Astronomical twilight ends 6:18pm Transparency: 4/5 to 3/5 (above average to average) Seeing: 3/5 (average) Location: Fort Collins, CO Elevation: 4997 ft. (1523 m.) Bortle 6 to 7 skies depending upon which direction you're looking. The Double Cluster is pretty clear tonight. I can see it in my binoculars as well. M31 is very clear, and in the Binoculars as well. I then try and catch M8 which is just barely above the building down the hill from me. The time is 5:40pm MST. M8 gives up it’s nebulosity only using the LP filter I use. Orion UltraBlock Narrowband LP filter. I find M20, M21, M23, M10, M24 with my telescope (8SE) and then: At 6:15 pm, I go for M22, this is a new object for me. M22 is nice and clear, with good granularity, and some individual stars using the 17mm which gives me 119x. This is usually the best globular cluster eyepiece so i leave it in there for the next object. But before I do that, I decide I’m going to find M22 with the 10x50’s using my red dot star pointer. Note: The nice 9x50 RACI finder scope I’m thinking about will not be usable in this way like the crappy little star pointer does. A telrad would be nice I suppose and certainly it's clear why people like them. I'm just looking into making my 8SE non-GOTO (because I'm clearly a star hopper at heart and really want a 16 inch minimum travel dob from Hubble Optics). We shall see if i really even need to do that since I'm actually successfully using the 8SE to teach me the sky. Since I'm taking notes and all. I actually am able to find M22 with my cheap 10x50 bino’s. Fuzzy little ball but definitely there and visible to my binoculars. Next up: M55. It’s roughly 6:27pm MST and I continued through my list. M55 is a nice bright glob tonight. I get down and peer through the star pointer and gauge which section of sky I’m looking for and stand up, put the bino’s to my eyes and with very little searching I found M55! Next was M25, not sure I found that with my binos really. Then I was at M18, M17, M16 all three were lovely. It was roughly 6:48pm by then. Because I was mainly looking for nebulosity I didn’t try these three with the 10x50’s. I’m sure i should have. I catch a glimpse of M76 when I thought I was slewing to M16 in the prior group. I thought, what a waste of battery power. I looked at it briefly, and slewed back to the object on the list, M16. Next was M11 which I then found with my 10x50’s. A nice little dusting of stars in the binoculars! Following that was M13 which gave a particularly clear view this evening. I have been looking at star charts for quite a while now, and I have something of a photographic memory (comes in handy during band practice!). So I used the star pointer to give me the section of sky. This section of sky is really hard to look at and not loose your dark adaptation. I use an eyepatch and a black t-shirt pulled over my head backwards as a hood to keep stray ground light out. But trying to find something in the sky and star hop to M13 seems really not doable to me. However, the star pointer does show me where M13 is and I find it easily between Eta and Zeta Herculis. Just southwest? Of Eta Herculis. Now, this is the cool part. Because I’ve looked so often at the Hercules constellation, I had a good idea that you just went back to Eta and then you could find M92 between Eta and Iota Herculis. Slightly more than halfway. And there it is, a short star hop after finding M13, I find M92 without the telescope helping me. From a star chart in my memory. Awesome. Emboldened by this additional object added to my list of things I’ve seen with my 10x50 binos, I went back to Cassiopeia and hunted around there using the 10x50's to look for NGC 663 and NGC 7789. I definitely see NGC 663. I find M45, Hyades, Aldebaran, I use Delta and Gamma Cas to point me towards NGC 884 and NGC 869 aka the Double Cluster. As always, it is beautiful to see. I really like the 10x50’s. Really looking forward to the 20x80’s I’m getting next. Next I aimed my 8SE towards M57. I tried to see that with my 10x50’s but couldn’t. I thought I did but couldn’t confirm it. About 7:30pm MST I slewed over to M56. This is a nice Globular. Bright, granularity, some individual stars. Very nice. I go for this one in the bino’s and there it is! At 7:39 or so, M27 was up in the 8SE and i tried for that with the 10x50’s and I do believe I found that as well! M71 right after that, and yes, I did in fact use the 10x50’s on this object and found it as well. From M71 I found the Coathanger Cluster. So there are a couple new, easy to find (i think) objects M27 and M71 between Deneb and Altair just south of the coathanger cluster. I’m sure I can do better at star hopping but this is a lot of fun making my 8SE actually teach me something. M29, the cooling tower, very nice in the scope, very not found in the bino’s. I’ve been looking for this object in the binos for a while. It’s pretty easy to know where it is, there all close to Deneb and all. It being just south and above of Gamma Cygni. But seeing the cooling tower in the 10x50’s might be impossible. Maybe the 20x80’s. I went on to M15 around 7:43 pm MST. Very bright! Wow, this is amazingly bright! I handily found this in my binos as well!. M2, M73, M72 all found first by the 8SE and then by star pointer to my binos. Right at 8:00 pm MST I saw M30 on the list. I know this is a new object. So my crazy memory tells me. So i slew to M30 and gaze upon its beauty for many minutes in the 8SE. I find it easily in my binos with the help of my telescope. Last couple objects on the list: M77 - 8:09 pm MST this is only visible by slewing the telescope and introducing motion. I did not find it with the 10x50’s. M76, which was given a glimpse earlier was not findable by my lazy, about to call it a night, eye. The temperature was 36 degrees and my hands were beginning to hurt from the cold a bit. The thought of going inside and playing guitar instead of freezing in the somewhat stout wind (6 or 7 miles per hour) is probably why I couldn’t find the little dumbbell nebula. I see one object on my list from that night I skipped. M34. It keeps getting on the list then falling off at the last minute… it’s still early in the season for that object though. Although I didn’t even stay out long enough to see Orion coming up (over the tree). I thought to myself, as I packed things up around 8:20pm MST, that was a pretty short session. But it was action packed with lots of new bino objects found! Tonight (11-14-17) the transparency is “transparent” it is supposed to be cloud free but the seeing is bad (1/5) to poor (2/5) and 20 mile an hour winds. So no star gazing with anything but Binoculars in a parka on a zero gravity chair for me tonight. I'll let you know how many of those new targets I can see tonight. Pretty sure I’ll be able to find M13 and M92. M27 and M71 will be trickier But I think I can find M30 again. I'm going outside to try in a few minutes here after I post this.
After the amazing first ever DSO observing session I had the other night I was itching to get out again. Based on the recomendations given in my last post I put together a list of objects to view prior to going out this time. First up was M11, Wild Duck cluster, not sure what to make of this. Just looked like a group of spread out stars in my 12mm EP. I didn't spend long on M11 so went for the much anticipated M27, Dumbbell Nebula...wow! I could clearly see the dumbbell shape and really liked the way it stuck out against the surrounding stars. Not quite as bright as M57 but a bit bigger. I then went back to M13 and again I was really blown away by this object. I switched over to my 8mm BST and was pleasantly surprised by the view. The stars stayed crisp and I could see more structure. This EP is a really amazing performer for the price. I would like to try it against something else so am looking at a 7mm Pentax or 9mm Nagler. I have heard the 9mm Nagler is very good and think it will suit the globs. I decided to take a look at some other globular clusters: M56, M71 & M92. All of these globs were amazing but not quite spectacular as M13. I realised there are many more globs to observe but decided to try something different. After being informed that a glob is not a galaxy (still learning!) I thought I would try and bag my first galaxy. M31, which I believe is the brightest, was behind the house so I tried M51. I am sure it was in the FOV as the GoTo was spot on for the globs however I could not see (detect) a thing. I guess I will have to get in a better position for M31 next time out. After trying Alberio and Mizar the other night I wanted to go after a more challenging double. After reading some posts on SGL I had decided it had to be the Double Double Epsilon Lyrae. I am completely reliant on my GoTo at the moment so other than knowing it was somewhere near Vega I started looking through the SynScan named star catalogue. Much to my dissappointment it wasn't there. I was just about to give up when I spoted a Double Stars menu on the SynScan and sure enough Epsilon Lyrae was in there. Sticking with the 12mm I went to the double double and saw two widely split stars. I then loaded my 3.5mm Nagler EP and much to my amazement the two stars both split again. The 4 stars all fitted perfectly in the FOV and the stars looked amazing. I am really impressed with this object...it is a really interesting one to view. I now need to find a more challenging double star. I went back and finished on M27, M57and M13 again. I definately need to look at tightening my focussers as it kept slipping which slightly detracted from the observing. If I can't get it right I am just going to take the plunge and upgrade it to something decent.