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Thread: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

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    Default StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball



    FEBRUARY 8, 2015

    Observer: Tom Campbell
    Location: Gott Observatory, Texas (Long: 101°56'W Lat: 33°47'N)
    Telescope: 8" f/6 Dobsonian
    Eyepieces: 1.25" Plössls - 25mm (49x), 20mm (61x), 15mm (81x), 10mm (122x), 6mm (203x), 4mm (305x)
    2.0" 51.5mm (24x)
    Seeing: Mostly Stable (7/10)
    Transparency: Clear (10/10)
    Temperature: 60s, dropping into the 50s as the night progressed. There was a slight, cold breeze.
    All times are Central Standard Time (UT +6)

    THE KING'S BALL

    Tonight was clear and unseasonably warm. And with the Moon not scheduled to arrive until after 10pm, it looked to be a promising night for observing. A group from the South Plains Astronomy Club decided to meet out at the Gott Observatory to take advantage.

    Most of the evening was spent going from favorite to favorite, comparing the views in different telescopes. We saw dozens of objects throughout the night, but I am only going to list some of my favorites here. They are in the approximate order that I observed them:

    COMET 2014 (Lovejoy)

    I wanted to make sure I took a final peek at Comet Lovejoy before it faded out of sight once again. The comet appeared large and round, with just a tinge of color left in it. The best part, though, was that the sky was dark enough to see parts of the tail, which I had not yet been able to see from my backyard.

    M42 (Great Orion Nebula)

    Although the nebula looked great as always, with dark green, billowy filaments of gas and dust fanning out across the entire field of view, we spent most of the time concentrating on how many stars we could see in the Trapezium cluster nestled inside. Five stars were easily visible most of the time through my 8" dob, but in moments of good seeing, I could make out the sixth star.

    DOUBLE CLUSTER (Perseus)

    This is always a treat, but through Jerry's 10" dob with 100° 20mm eyepiece, it was flat-out gorgeous. The large clusters fit nicely in the field of view, with hundreds of stars visible.

    M31 (Great Andromeda Galaxy)

    The Great Andromeda Galaxy looked great tonight, with its spiral arms stretching out for miles, or rather, light years. The most fantastic view of it tonight, however was again with Jerry's 100° eyepiece, where its two companion galaxies, M32 and M110 could also be easily seen within the same field of stars.

    H3945 (Canis Major)

    Collin pointed us to this pretty double star, nicknamed the "Winter Albireo" after its famous counterpart in the summer sky. One star was a deep orange and the companion was a medium blue, making a striking sight in even a small telescope. The stars were far enough apart to be easily split in a small telescope, yet close enough together to be visually appealing as a double star. This was definitely added to my "favorites list" tonight.

    FLAME NEBULA (Orion)

    This was the first time I had seen this awesome nebula. My first view was through the TTU 18". After nudging the bright nearby star Alnitak out of the field of view, it was obvious, shaped a lot like a Christmas tree and even appearing green, with a dark interior.

    JUPITER

    The King of the Planets was definitely the highlight of the night. It was absolutely fantastic. Many cloud bands were visible, and the Great Red Spot was obvious as well. During moments of good seeing when the atmosphere settled down, the details were incredible.

    But even Jupiter was about to be outdone by his own court. The Galilean moons twirled around the planet tonight, each one easily identifiable by their slight differences in size. Callisto appeared larger than either Io or Europa, and Ganymede was larger still. Through the 18", you could even discern that Io was slightly paler and more of a creamy color than Europa.

    Most of the evening featured Io (and its shadow) crossing Jupiter's disk. The shadow appeared as a very tiny black dot crossing between the equatorial bands of Jupiter. As the moon approached the edge of the disk, Io became visible as a bright dot in front of Jupiter, with its black shadow following right behind. Around 11:30pm, Io completed its journey across the face of Jupiter and eclipsed Europa. It was interesting to see two moons merge into one and then split apart again. As they came together, the two moons looked like what Collin termed a snowman.

    Shortly after this, you could see Europa become noticeably dimmer for several minutes as it slipped behind Io's shadow. The dance of the moons was lovely to behold and made a great finale to a wonderful night under the stars.


    ~ Tom Campbell
    Ad Astra Per Apertura
    Last edited by BobDob; 02-12-2015 at 08:08 PM. Reason: Edited Out Website
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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Hello Tom,

    Great observing report. You had a grand night!

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Bob
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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Thanks for the fine report Tom, it sounds like you had a great night out there under some pretty good sky conditions.
    Michael
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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Great observing report from a nice location. I'll be heading down your way to visit Rafes Urban Astronomy Center, Denton, TX the end of March to try out their 6 inch, f/16 Unitron refractor for a night.

    Dave
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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Hi Tom! A very fine observing report! Well written and very nice descriptions. Those must be some nice dark skies there.

    Thanks for posting that, Tom, and clear skies to you sir!
    Bryan

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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    Those must be some nice dark skies there.
    Yes, they are pretty good, except for the light dome of Lubbock in the southern sky is intense. Still, being originally from Kansas, and only recently becoming a Texan, seeing a few extra degrees of southern sky delights me.

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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Quote Originally Posted by starlogborg View Post
    Yes, they are pretty good, except for the light dome of Lubbock in the southern sky is intense. Still, being originally from Kansas, and only recently becoming a Texan, seeing a few extra degrees of southern sky delights me.
    That would indeed be awesome to get that extra few degrees. I was barely able to catch Omega Centauri this past weekend at 6º above my southern horizon. It would be good to see this one higher up and out of the murk.
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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Nice report, Tom. I need to catch h3945 (aka 145 Canis Majoris) sometime soon, just marked it on my atlas.
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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Hi Tom. A superlative report from you from the Gott Observatory site. It would seem that you had a tremendous night, and observed several great objects, including Comet Lovejoy, many DSOs, double stars, and finally Jupiter. You must have been both thrilled and exhausted after this session. It was great fun reading your well written report Tom, and I hope that you can have a repeat performance like this again soon.
    - Marshall

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    Default Re: StarLog observing report - 2/8/15 - The King's Ball

    Quote Originally Posted by Makuser View Post
    Hi Tom. A superlative report from you from the Gott Observatory site. It would seem that you had a tremendous night, and observed several great objects, including Comet Lovejoy, many DSOs, double stars, and finally Jupiter. You must have been both thrilled and exhausted after this session. It was great fun reading your well written report Tom, and I hope that you can have a repeat performance like this again soon.
    Thanks, Marshall. I never get exhausted while looking through the telescope. Only when it's time to lug it home.
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