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    Default Attack of the Dew Monster!



    March 27th, 2016

    Rain this morning and heavily overcast with a prediction of clearing this evening. About 1800 hrs. the overcast was still in place, but the westering Sun was beginning to poke holes in the cloud cover. I went ahead and set the dob out and got my little astronomical living room established at my observing spot. As twilight came on and began to deepen, the west cleared wonderfully and the tattered remnants of misty gray scooted eastward and dissipated.

    Transparency was looking fine this evening. I could see very many more stars than have dared appear lately. That made me happy.

    I thought of setting the Mak out too, but with only a brief window of full dark before Shelob came round, I really wanted to concentrate on galaxies. Also, when I went outside, I noted the dob was already sweating with a fine coat of dew. The eyepiece and accessory cases were damp on the outside as well as my tables and step ladder. Uh oh.

    First up though, a check in on Jupiter and seeing conditions.

    1. Jupiter - Planet in Leo - 20:51:14 - Fine view of Jupiter this evening with the 6.7mm at 227x. I'm really liking what this eyepiece is doing for me. Just catching the back end of a GRS transit. All four Galilean moons are available too. Little Io was alone below Jupiter in the FOV. Above and closest toward the planet was Ganymede, followed in apparent close proximity, Europa. Callisto was scouting ahead way beyond. Mag -2.4.

    Seeing wasn't quite as good as it has been the past few nights. I say about average, maybe a wee bit below average.

    I realized this evening while preparing my observing targets that I'd not yet had a chance to observe the targets on Alan's March edition of Deep Sky This Month: Deep Sky This Month - March 2016. And I see, having returned inside after the session, that he's already posted the April edition: Deep Sky This Month - April 2016. This March has just been terrible around here for observing.

    2. NGC 3187 - Spiral Galaxy in Leo - 21:01:42 - FAIL - Found my field at 63x. Holy faint fuzzy batman! Fuzzy stuff every where, like flushing a covey of quail. A bit confused by my FOV here for a moment. I think I've got it sorted though. I can easily see NGC's 3190 and 3193. I worked my way up through 173x, pausing each time and tapping the scope, but 3187 would not show for me on this night. I'll keep in on the list and keep trying though. Mag 13.28, size 2.2 x 0.7 arcmin, SB 14.75 mag/arcmin².

    3. NGC 3190 - Spiral Galaxy in Leo - 21:17:49 - This is my second observation of this Herschel 400 target, last observed on my marathon Valentine's Day Massacre of 2015. Quite a fine and apparent galaxy, a nice core embedded within some oval extended structure at 138x. Quite bright. Mag 10.90, size 3.6 x 1.2 arcmin, SB 12.81 mag/arcmin².

    4. NGC 3193 - Elliptical Galaxy in Leo - 21:18:49 - Second peek at this one, another Massacre target. This one is a brighter core with a bit of surrounding extended structure, a fairly typical elliptical in appearance at 138x. Mag 11.03, size 2.3 x 2.1 arcmin, SB 13.17 mag/arcmin².

    5. NGC 3185 - Spiral Galaxy in Leo - 21:21:19 - Second again here, and again a Massacre target. This one is an averted vision subtle brightening, rather difficult to pick out unless really concentrated on and very hard to see for me tonight at 138x. Mag 12.11, size 2.1 x 1.2 arcmin, SB 13.37 mag/arcmin².

    These four galaxies, if one does an image search on them, present as fine galactic specimens.

    If anyone is interested in the 2015 Valentine's Day Massacre, details are here: Extra-Galactic H400 Fun!

    So other than NGC 3187, that was the northern celestial hemisphere contingent of Alan's March edition of Deep Sky This Month. I wanted to try my hand at the southern celestial hemisphere galaxies on Alan's list, but at this point in time, Hydra was still in the south east for me and bungled up behind a bunch of tree limbs. And at 19° above the horizon, they would be tough. Good news is since they were still in the south east, they should arc up a bit higher when they get due south and should be a bit easier to nab.

    I also found that while trying to target Hydra, my telrad had succumbed to the dew, despite having my homemade dew shield installed. This dew shield has saved the telrad on multiple occasions, only losing the battle on a couple of other evenings of terrible dewing. Apparently this evening was yet another one of these attacks of the Dew Monster. Oh well. Upward and onward...

    For a few months now I've been generating a list of targets with SkyTools 3. Turning to the list I made a few nights ago, I started at the top and began working my way down. The first few were in the stellar desert of Camelopardalis, always a bit of a star hopping challenge. Well, sometimes, at least.

    6. NGC 1569 - Irregular Galaxy in Camelopardalis - 21:33:07 - NEW - Herschel 3 - Picked up the subtle dash of a brighter center on this one at 84x, sitting immediately rightward of a foreground star. At 103x the core area becomes a bit more filled out. At 138x, hints of ovoid extended structure become apparent. This one seems to be sweeping from 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock. Mag 10.96, size 3.9 x 2.1 arcmin, SB 13.06 mag/arcmin².

    Check out images of 1569. It's irregular alright. Wow! Galactic roadkill!

    7. IC 356 - Spiral Galaxy in Camelopardalis - 21:43:51 - NEW - Bleh! This is one of those face-on bugaboo's that are always a challenge to see. Finally at 103x I began to pick out a lighter patch in the black, a very subtle whisper, a rumor of light. A wee bit more evident at 138x and a little scope tapping. No improvement at 173x. It remains a ghost, the Spirit of Photons Past. Mag 11.53, size 4.0 x 3.7 arcmin, SB 13.49 mag/arcmin².

    So IC 356 is 70 million light years away. That means this faint and subtle light left that galaxy when the dinosaurs were still roaming the Earth. Wow!

    8. NGC 1530 - Spiral Galaxy in Camelopardalis - 21:57:26 - FAIL - I felt like I should have seen this one. I pushed it up through the 6.7mm at 227x, but this one did not yield to me at all. Bummer. Mag 11.69, size 1.8 x 1.1 arcmin, SB 14.00 mag/arcmin².

    Well, a low surface brightness on NGC 1530, tough, but doable, but only if the Dew Monster hadn't started to eat my eyepieces...

    While working on my next target, NGC 2320 in Lynx, I noticed that my eyepieces were fogging up and not unfogging. They were getting overcome with the dew. Indeed, the dew that was on my cases was beginning to freeze. Since it was now 2200 hrs., I decided to just call it a night and let the Dew Monster win.

    I brought all my wet and fogged-over eyepieces inside and set them on the counter to dry. I brought in the OTA with the telrad and dew/light shields still in place. The primary immediately fogged over.

    Prior to starting this report, I noted my eyepieces were now clear and dry, so I opened my eyepiece case up, and those that were inside immediately fogged up too, so I took those out to dry and put the dry ones back in. Dang. The darn Dew Monster must have followed me inside.

    So that was it. Still fine and clear out up high, but it looks like the fog will be rolling in soon. I think tomorrow evening may be clear too, so hopefully a few more galaxies then.

    Peace and clear skies everybody!
    Bryan
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    Galaxy Hunter's Creed - When you play whack-a-mole, sometimes you hit 'em on the head, sometimes you miss 'em. But its always fun to play, and if you don't play, you ain't gettin no moles! - KT4HX

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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Glad to here that you managed to get outside and bag a few more Bryan sounds like a fun session.
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabby76 View Post
    Glad to here that you managed to get outside and bag a few more Bryan sounds like a fun session.
    Thanks Gabrielle. It was fun while it lasted. The neighboring dogs were raising a ruckus during most of the session, and toward the end the strong smell of jet exhaust filled the air. Jet exhaust smells just like diesel exhaust, so it was probably diesel exhaust. But the over all effect was to remind me of my Air Force days and working on F-4 Phantoms. Every time I smell that smell it reminds me of working on those old pigs.
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    Bryan
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Bryan, at least you got two new objects in, despite the dew.

    Of the first 4 galaxies, NGC 3185 is doable the next time I get out to my darkest sky site, while 3187 is out of my reach.

    Of the next 3, NGC 1569 seems bright enough that I should take a stab at it from my orange zone site; IC 356 I have in my notes "Need to confirm; intermittently [seen] with AV/vision", from orange zone skies. I'll have to re-observe this again, probably from my darkest site. I'll pass on NGC 1530 - too dim.

    Hopefully I'll be able to observe away from home next weekend - need to prepare my list of the brightest "New" galaxies (incl. NGC 1569), especially if I end up at my old orange zone site.
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Dew monster definitely had it out for you, at least you bagged a few new targets, though. Heavy thunderstorms was the story here, glad I took my chance to get out Saturday night!
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Sounds like you got some quality time in in spite of the conditions! Nice report, thanks!
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Dew is one of the main reasons I stopped using foam in the eyepiece case. It sucks up moisture like, well like a sponge. So every time I came in, I had to remove all the eyepieces and let everything dry. I now use bolt cases. While observing as I swap eyepieces I turn the used ones upside down in the carry case so I can remember which to dry overnight. At the end of the session, i simply leave the carry case open so it can dry but I don't have to remove al the eyepieces. I'm familiar with dew, I remember one session last year where water was actually dripping off my 10" tube onto the ground.
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Bryan, great report! Last night was great for viewing here, just crystal clear. I didn't have much problem with dew but by the time I was packing it in everything I had was covered in frost.
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    Thanks everybody! Looks like a clear evening again today. Hopefully the dew monster will take the night off.
    Bryan
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    Default Re: Attack of the Dew Monster!

    The Dew monster like the cloud gods are ever vigilant! Do not let your guard down lest you reap their wrath!
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