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New clusters...old fuzzies...clear skies!


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I was planning on going to my dark observation spot last night but the clouds rolled in just after sunset so I walked the dogs and spent the evening with my bride. Fast forward to 4am and the skies have cleared and I'm off to a field by my house to get away from some of the light pollution in my neighborhood - so after a mile walk with my equipment I'm ready to go.


Start off struggling to find the Leo Triplet - M65/66 were just on the edge of averted viewing. I made out NGC3628 using averted vision and slowly moving the scope viewpoint. Either way...all three were very faint. LP is still killing me a mile from home...need to go my dark spot. :) My 15mm eyepiece gave me the best views of the triplet this AM.

From there I moved to what I hoped would be an easier pair - Bodie's Nebulae. Using delta UMa as my guiding star I struggled to find the pair with my 6mm eyepiece...switched to 15mm and WAM - there they were clear as day (sort of). M81 showed the bright central core with faint nebulosity extending all around while M82 looked spindle-like...but clearly visible.

Feeling a little better I moved over to Canes Venatici and M94 - it was in the eyepiece for the first look...pretty easy to find. As expected it was just a fuzzy ball in the 4.5' scope. But I knew I was looking at the right patch of fuzz.

Next to M51 and then M63 - neither of which I could get more than a very faint fuzzy patch...it's after 5:10am and the sky glow is starting to get worse.

Next I went for M3 - I've noted that this globular has been up numerous times but often spent more time on galaxies so I never spent the time to find this one. Being just about 1/2 way between Canes Venatici and Arcturus and also being off the extended arm of Coma Berenices made this one a pretty easy find. The fuzz ball was there but not much detail was possible in either the 15mm or 6mm eyepiece. Not enough power in my scope to pull out individual stars. Looked like a dust ball sitting there.

I decided to swing through Coma Berenices to see if I could see any faint fuzzies in the Virgo Cluster...no - the sky was getting too bright and it was too low on the horizon. Didn't spend much time there.

Globular cluster M107 was my next target - found it without difficulty but boy was it faint. Easiest with 15mm because the 6mm just spread the light out too much. Very faint dust ball is all I could make out.

Ptolemy's Cluster M7 was next - it stood out very nicely despite the sky glow. I'll have to revisit this one when it's higher in the sky and darker. Very pretty though. Lots of individual stars.

Moving just a little higher I quickly found the Butterfly Cluster M6 - nice view - several stars stood out especially the yellow/orange star on the 'west' edge. All other stars in the cluster appeared white (hinting at blue).

The scope swung up to the Wild Duck Cluster next - easy find but was underwhelmed by the sight. M11 has often been described as awe-inspiring. It wasn't for me this AM. Perhaps under a darker sky with a larger scope...but for me it was a compact open cluster. I could tell there were a lot of stars but couldn't make out more than 1-2 individual stars. Must revisit.

Last DSO for the night - M26. Pretty easy find coming 'down' from epsilon Sct. Faint open cluster...couple individual stars but overall compact structure that may look better with a big scope to get beyond the general fuzziness.

I pulled the scope over to Venus which was now above the houses. It boiled away at 15mm and 6mm...I could tell the disk wasn't full...but didn't bring a filter to cut down on the light so I couldn't tell for sure.

With frozen fingers I packed back up and headed for a warm cup of coffee and the keyboard. Nice morning...and I hope a sign of continued nice weather ahead.

6 new clusters logged off...multiple old friends revisited...I'm pleased.

Edited by m_j_lyons
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Nice report very enjoyable read.

Interesting that M11 underwhelmed you. It's a real wow! object through my 10" Dob.

I'll have to see if I can find my thoughts when I observed it through a 4.5"

Regards Steve

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Great report, I got all excited when I saw the mention of M6 and M7 as I need these as well. But I forgot they are not up yet at a decent time and then noticed you are from California :)

Enjoyed reading your report.

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