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The forecast indicated clear skies until 11pm but sadly the session was cut short nearly two hours early so I had just 45 minutes with the scope.... better than nothing, I guess! While the scope cooled, I spent a little time trying to glimpse M30 in binoculars, immediately to the West of 41 Capricorni but at that elevation on a less than perfect night, I was unable to see anything. As the sky wasn't great, I thought i'd pick overhead targets and started with the Fireworks Galaxy, NGC 6946 (Caldwell 12). Easy to find going from Alpha to Eta Cephei and then on to the Southwest of HR7938 and HR7925. At magnitude 8.8, you might think this easy but it has quite a low surface brightness and appeared as a quite large, irregularly shaped and diffuse wisp. I had planned the long star hop to NGC 40, the Bow-Tie Nebula but after realising that there were an increasing number of wispy clouds in the sky, the only other target of the night was NGC 663. I had only previously seen this in binoculars and the scope revealed 20 stars (perhaps another four or five with averted vision) in a soft haze. The arrangement looked a bit like a three leaf clover. Hopefully the next session will be a little longer! __________________________________________________ ______ Observing Session: Tuesday 16th October 2012, 20:30 hrs to 21:15 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 5.0 - 5.1 New - Revisited - Failed
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.
Clear skies at last! It's been a while since my last report but hopefully weather armageddon has now past us by and we can get out there doing what we do best. Due to early morning commitments, this was only a short binocular session but still satisfying none the less. I started with a quick check on Ursa Minor and yes, all stars were present and correct. The sky had moved substantially since my last session so I took a little time to familiarise myself with some old friends. M27 (the Dumbbell nebula) stood out quite well in Vulpecula, as did M29 and M39 in Cygnus. Overhead, the Milky Way appeared reasonably clear and it was very enjoyable just sweeping through the rich star fields. To the North-East, Casseopeia was beginning to rise. NGC 663 and M52 were both very obvious in the 15x70s. I couldn't see M32, once I had moved round to Andromeda but M31 filled a substantial part of my field of view. I have only ever seen the Andromeda companions in a scope. I wonder if anyone has managed them with a pair of binoculars. I then moved round to the Southern skies to test the sky out for future reference. In Scutum, M11 (the Wild Duck cluster) looked very nice but I couldn't find M26. To be fair, I didn't spend long looking.... there was Sagittarius (or at least the Northern half of it) just popping his head over the low-ish tree line. M22 was impressive, despite it being so low in the sky. Sadly, I wasn't sure if I could make out M28. Anything further South is impossible due to viewing restriction. M24 was not as clear as I had previously seen it but it is a fine starfield and tolerant of a bit of light thrown up by Medway, which is three miles to the South of me. North in a line from M24, I could find three fuzzies. First was the open cluster M18. I believe this has 20 - 25 members but the binoculars revealed just a very small fuzzy circle. Just North from there was a larger and easier fuzzy area to view. I look forward to getting M17 (the Omega nebula) in my scope sight. Further North again is M16 (the Eagle nebula) though obviously it was just the associated cluster that I could see. Nice to start the season with three new finds. I look forward to spending a little more time with Sagittarius. It is my favourite constellation. __________________________________________________ ______ Observing Session: Sunday 22nd July 2012, 23:30 hrs to 00:05 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 5.4 New - Revisited - Failed