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  1. #1
    samgray1's Avatar
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    Default Oh What a Night! (Long Report)



    I had a real good night of viewing Saturday night August 7-8, 2010 at the San Diego Astronomy Associations’ dark site in Tierra Del Sol, California. I started out with Saturn as it was a nice easy target to use for checking the alignment of my finder scope. Then I concentrated in the South, viewing the open clusters M7 (Ptolemy's Cluster) and M6 (Butterfly Cluster) in my binoculars; they are both really nice and so easy to find that I always spend some time enjoying them. After that I checked out the globular cluster M4, which was nice. Then I found two new globulars for me, M19 and M62. M19 is a very tight globular, so I was happy to see that I could resolve as many individual stars as I could. They’re not the showpieces that M13, M5, and M22 are, but just finding them was fun. After that I went for M22, and what a beauty she was! I’m convinced that with visual observation I can see depth in globulars like this that you just can’t see in photographs; I love a good globular!

    Then I started with M8 (Lagoon Nebula) which is large and bright, but to me it lacks any really interesting details, and moved north along the Milky Way to M20 (Trifid Nebula) where I could easily see the dark lines in the nebula that divide the round emission nebula into three almost equal sized pieces. I scanned around and passed some open clusters and amazing views of massive star fields and ended up on M17 (Swan Nebula), which is one of my favorites because it seems so 3D to me just floating up there. I continued scanning those beautiful star fields and eventually found M11 (the Wild Duck Cluster) for the first time. I was a bit confused at first because it looked like a loose globular, then I remembered reading that the Wild Duck Cluster has so many stars in it that it is sometimes confused with a globular. I verified with my charts that I had found it and was quite chuffed with myself for checking another Messier object off my list.

    From there I checked out the double-double (Epsilon Lyrae) and was able to split and see all four stars nicely in one view at 428X using my 14mm EP and 4X Powermate. The same setup also made M57 (Ring Nebula) nice and large. Although I have tried over and over again, I have never been able to see the dwarf star in the center of it, even using averted vision.

    Then I noticed Cassiopeia and decided to have a quick look at the double cluster. It was, as always, quite nice to look at and well-framed in my 30mm EP at 50X magnification.

    It was about that time that I realized that M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) was high in the sky, so again I took advantage of the 82 degree AFOV of my 30mm EP and was reminded of why I love that EP so much! The view of M31, M32, and M110 all in the EP at the same time was breathtaking! The sky was pretty dark, so I was able to see a lot of M31, not just the brightest part in the center. Nice!

    From there I went on to look at the galaxy pair M81 and M82. I started out with my 30mm and was happy seeing both galaxies in one view, and then I went to my 14mm EP and was absolutely thrilled that I could still see both in one ULTRA WIDE view! This 100 degree AFOV EP works amazingly well on my telescope because at 107X magnification I get a nice high contrast view that still has a .93 degree TFOV! Then just for the heck of it, I put on the 4X Powermate with the 14mm EP to bring the contrast up even higher and checked out both M81 and M82 individually. They both stood up well to high magnification, but M82 (Cigar Galaxy) looks the best up close to me.

    Then I looked at M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy) with the 14mm EP. It was nice, but I have seen it better before in my telescope with the same EP. Previously, I thought that I may have even seen the connection between the two galaxies with averted vision, but this time I definitely could not see it at all.

    Next I checked out M101, (Pinwheel Galaxy) and as with M51, I was able to make out the individual arms of the spirals, but not as well as I had seen previously. I think the light pollution in this part of the sky is worse than where it was last time I observed it.

    After that I went back and found the latest additions to my Messier list again and spent some time just looking around those beautiful star fields in the area of Sagittarius and Scutum and checked out M17 one more time before shutting down for the night. I was about half way finished packing up when I realized that Jupiter was nice and high in the sky… Oh well… I’ll make sure to squeeze it in next time!
    Name: Sam
    Equipment: SkyWatcher 12” Collapsible Dob w/Telrad, Explore Scientific 30mm 82*, and 20mm, 14mm, & 9mm 100* EPs, Tele Vue 4X Powermate & Paracorr T2, 2" Lumicon UHC and ND13 (moon) Filters, 2" Astronomik OIII filter, dew heater system, and Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme ATB 6.4* binoculars & Celestron 15x70 binoculars.

    I'm enjoying learning the sky by star hopping; just charts, my binoculars, and my Dob!

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to samgray1 For This Useful Post:

    DaltonSkyGazer (08-12-2010),dmbryan (08-11-2010)

  3. #2
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    Very interesting filled night you had there Sam, by the sounds of things. Did you find all them targets by star hopping? Well done if so. I think I would get lost in space.
    Thanks for the write up on the night..
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  4. #3
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    Declan:
    Thanks, and yes... all I do is star hop. I get very frustrated sometimes when the objects are difficult to find, but when I actually find them it makes it all worth it!
    Name: Sam
    Equipment: SkyWatcher 12” Collapsible Dob w/Telrad, Explore Scientific 30mm 82*, and 20mm, 14mm, & 9mm 100* EPs, Tele Vue 4X Powermate & Paracorr T2, 2" Lumicon UHC and ND13 (moon) Filters, 2" Astronomik OIII filter, dew heater system, and Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme ATB 6.4* binoculars & Celestron 15x70 binoculars.

    I'm enjoying learning the sky by star hopping; just charts, my binoculars, and my Dob!

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    Sam Great report! I had an awesome night too!, it was pretty clear last night. We don't get that too many times here near the coast....
    Enjoy the Black cause they can't take it back............
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    awesome report Sam. i can hardly wait to get out under some clear skies and repeat some of your feats
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tombstone17 View Post
    Sam Great report! I had an awesome night too!, it was pretty clear last night. We don't get that too many times here near the coast....
    Thanks. Same problem here near the coast. Observing from home has been really difficult this year because of all the cloud cover (and also the light pollution), so I really enjoy getting out to the desert (Tierra Del Sol) for an observing session.
    Name: Sam
    Equipment: SkyWatcher 12” Collapsible Dob w/Telrad, Explore Scientific 30mm 82*, and 20mm, 14mm, & 9mm 100* EPs, Tele Vue 4X Powermate & Paracorr T2, 2" Lumicon UHC and ND13 (moon) Filters, 2" Astronomik OIII filter, dew heater system, and Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme ATB 6.4* binoculars & Celestron 15x70 binoculars.

    I'm enjoying learning the sky by star hopping; just charts, my binoculars, and my Dob!

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    Very nicely written report Sam!

    Sounds like you had a blast and really covered alot of ground! Thanks for sharing!

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    As a follow-up:
    I got back out to Tierra Del Sol again this Saturday night with my son and his wife (it was thier first time observing at the dark site). This time I (we) observed most of the same items as my first report, but in addition we were lucky enough to catch about 20 nice meteors. Then, as a special treat, we finishied off the night by observing Jupiter. To our delight, we were able to clearly see that one of the moons was casting a shadow on the surface!
    Name: Sam
    Equipment: SkyWatcher 12” Collapsible Dob w/Telrad, Explore Scientific 30mm 82*, and 20mm, 14mm, & 9mm 100* EPs, Tele Vue 4X Powermate & Paracorr T2, 2" Lumicon UHC and ND13 (moon) Filters, 2" Astronomik OIII filter, dew heater system, and Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme ATB 6.4* binoculars & Celestron 15x70 binoculars.

    I'm enjoying learning the sky by star hopping; just charts, my binoculars, and my Dob!

 

 

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