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Unexpected Delights- 11/2/2019

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This is my first report in a long while.  I have not been observing quite as much as I would like, as can be said by many.  Between a busy life and this year having far more cloud cover than almost any other year to memory (stop buying new equipment you space-lovers!!), I have been lucky to get out once each month.  With the end of summer and the lengthening nights, I am trying to change this a bit.  I was keeping a close eye on Clear Outside, and got a stellar forecast:


And so I loaded up and headed out to my viewing spot.  Still being a couple of years new to this hobby, I have recently been adjusting from the phase of "really excited newbie trying to see as many targets in one night as possible" into a new phase of shorter viewing lists, spending more time on each object, and educating myself about the objects I want to observe before I head out so I know more about them and have a greater appreciation of what I am looking at.  Anyway, I digress.  I got myself set up by 21:00, and began my look into the abyss.


I began with a look towards NGC 7319, a galaxy in Stephan's Quintet.  Though I had a little bit of moonlight to contend with, I was able to make out this galaxy's center as quite a bright target surrounded by rather shapeless smudges surrounding that I assumed were the other galaxies, though I didn't increase magnification at all to see if I might be able to discern more detail out of the bright patch I was seeing.  I like this target and will be returning to it again soon.


I next checked out a couple of targets recommended through reading some Stargazer's Lounge reports.  I swung the scope over to NGC 188, an open cluster that is approximately 6.8 BYO.  Again, due to the cold temps (about -18C) I was being a bit lazy about changing EPs, and I could have used a bit less magnification on this object.  It was still a nice first light for me, and another object I intend to return to soon!


I now skipped over to a galaxy in Perseus, NGC 1023.  This was another first light for me, and a bright and mesmerizing look at a new galaxy! I followed this up with NGC 891, the Silver Sliver galaxy.  This was far larger but much more dim.  I couldn't make out much detail, but could certainly see its namesake!


I now sat back into my lawnchair with the binoculars for a while.  Another thing I've found myself doing, as I have slowly quenched my thirst for seeing as much as I possibly could with my telescope, is I now can really appreciate the decreased magnification of my binoculars when taking in larger parts of the sky.  I have had a copy of Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas for a couple of years, and in the beginning I found it a bit overwhelming and didn't get much from it.  As I have become more familiar with the sky and how to navigate it, I have really fallen in love with the sky atlas.  It is great fun sitting back in a comfortable chair with binoculars and the atlas and just working my way across the sky, exploring and familiarizing myself with the general layout of the sky, which targets are too large to make out in my scope, and finally making out some objects such as dark nebulas within the Milky Way that had always proven so elusive to my untrained eyes.  I readily found the Andromeda galaxy, then jumped over to M33 (a target that was once a White Whale to me, but through much determination has become something I now find habitually).  I observed the double cluster between Perseus and Cassiopeia, and also explored the wealth of observable objects within the main body of Auriga.  I then took a good long look at the Pleiades and Hyades before returning to the scope.


I decided to take a stab at Uranus and Neptune.  Both were clear and worth a good look.  Soon I'd like to take a little more time with some magnification looking at Neptune in the hopes to maybe spot Triton.  I also took a good look at Albirio, as it never fails to hypnotize me with its contrast in colors.  Before long the moon was setting over the horizon, and I took the time to watch it make it's way there through the binos.  Soon after this Orion was rising, and I got my first good look of the year at the Orion Nebula through my scope.  Always a beautiful and comforting object, I spent a good amount of time looking at the trapezium and all of the surrounding bright nebulosity.


Now that the moon had set, I decided to see what I could make out of the Veil Nebula.  Once again, the cold made me lazy and I didn't add any filters but could still make out some nice veins of nebulosity.  I didn't spend much time here tonight as I was getting cold and about ready to call it a night.


I saw several meteors during the night, but by far the brightest was just as I was getting packed up.  I turned to the west, and caught the light out of the corner of my eye.  There, directly below Vega, I saw a very bright meteor streak across the sky.  However, unlike the others I have seen, this one suddenly flashed very bright and white (much like a camera flash) and disappeared.  I am unsure whether it dropped below the horizon right then, or whether it had just blown up and disappeared, but a presumed this was something akin to an air-burst.  It was quite the spectacle and a lovely way to end the night!


For a rather casual start I ended up having a very rewarding night and am really looking forward to more sessions in the coming weeks!  Clear skies everyone!

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A truly great trip round the night sky. So many questions, but the one to ask -18c!!!
That lazy feeling may have been approaching death as your brain shuts down blood flow to hold heat in your core.

Well done despite dodging the grim reaper, that is a session to remember.


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On 05/11/2019 at 13:37, Marvin Jenkins said:

A truly great trip round the night sky. So many questions, but the one to ask -18c!!!
That lazy feeling may have been approaching death as your brain shuts down blood flow to hold heat in your core.

Haha, yes indeed it was chilly.  I was bully bundled up with a lot of layers, but it still left me not wanting to take my gloves off to mess around with changing EPs.  It gets far colder here as the winter goes on.  Soon I'll be having to head out into the night when it is -32C and colder.  I have some very serious cold weather gear, and I always take along plenty of hot tea or cocoa.  It makes it quite easy to imagine you are adrift in the freezing vacuum of space while staring through the scope.  It becomes quite the interactive experience, ha!

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