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Thread: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

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    Default Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff



    February 18th, 2017

    Holy moly! I’d been watching the Saturday forecast for the past few days. It had been looking “iffy” as if it could go either way. Indeed, most of the day was fettered with a fine array of fluffy clouds mass for an assault somewhere down wind of me. Up until about 1630 hrs. local time, I wasn’t holding out any hope for observing this evening. But lo, right around 1700 hrs. these clouds ran out of steam and disappeared. Cool! Time to set up!

    I grabbed the Twilight II mount and hung the AR127 and the ST80 on it. I set the Twilight I just outside of my shed for a “just in case” mount. Just in case I took a notion for a little singular ST80 star hopping.

    The sky wasn’t the best I’ve seen. Though clear, it was a bit pale, indicative of not-so-hot transparency. Not too bad overall, but it had that look of tough galaxy hunting.

    I saw my little iOptron Cube-G mount still sitting in the shed. What the heck, I grabbed it and set in out too, got it leveled and properly oriented. It would be good to get in some more practice with this mount. I’ve yet to come to terms with it. So far, we’ve been giving we other the cold shoulder when we aren’t trying to claw each other’s eyes out.

    Stubbs materialized during my setting up and seems quite pleased at an observing opportunity, as usually. Underfoot and happy, and always sitting or lying in the exact spot I need to be in next.

    After supper and after the sun set and after a bit of forum browsing, I suited up and ventured forth. It was still 60° F (15.6° C) outside, so only a fleece jacket was needed. It was rather pleasant out with the lightest of breezes to push the air along. The spring frogs were chirping and singing their pleasant songs. Traffic on the highway was light and not too noisy. An occasional distant coyote howled. A few neighbors passed by on evening strolls. Awesome evening!

    Except for the allergies. I almost forgot about that. My wife and I spent a good part of the day cleaning a little car we bought for my son last weekend. We did a good job too. But, allergy season seems to be off to a strong start. All day long, I’d been sneezing and snotting and my eyes were red and itchy despite taking my Zyrtec. Ugh. Gonna be a rough one this year.

    And as I sat outside this evening at the scope, the sneezing continued, along with a few “tissue” breaks inside.

    Well, since the galaxy hunting looked to be a rather tough slog due to the apparent lack of good transparency, I decided I might as well knock off a few of my Herschel 2 open clusters from my list. As good night as any to do so.

    1. NGC 2236 - NEW - H2
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 8.5, size 6’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 19:36:03
    Comment: Ok, here we go. OC time. Yay. So I'm sitting on this guy at 84× and I can’t see anything that denotes an open cluster. At 109× I've got a lone resolved star and a bit of brightening around it. 138× puts another star in the view. At 173×, a dim triangle is present and the surrounding glow is a bit more pronounced. At 227×, I am picking up a few mag 13 and 14 members scattered about in a compact pattern. Finally, bumping up to 323x, not much improvement. This is a very dim cluster and I probably won't be revisiting.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm, 14mm, 11mm, 8.8mm, 6.7mm, 4.7mm

    2. NGC 2245 - NEW - H2
    (Bright Nebula in Monoceros, mag ??, 2’ x 2’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 19:49:41
    Comment: Sliding a bit over to this guy, at 84×, I seem to be getting a bit of a Merope type of glow around star HD 46265. At 109×, I am most definitely picking up some glowy stuff. I tried both UHC and OIII filters here but neither enhance the nebular glow. I pulled the filter and bumped the power up to 138×. Still the same subtle unfiltered glow, so I'll be content with that and call it good.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm, 14mm

    3. Christmas Tree Cluster - NGC 2264 - H1
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 4.1, size 20’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 19:59:20
    Comment: Well, since I was right there anyway...slid up and over to the Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula. Obvious glowing nebulosity surrounding the central star at 84×. I tried both OIII and UHC again here, but I preferred the unfiltered view. I kinda like the series of 3 optical doubles above the central star in my FOV. No sighting of the actual Cone Nebula, but I really didn’t look too terribly hard for it.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm

    4. NGC 2244 - H1
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag ??, size 24’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:06:51
    Comment: I next slid back over and down to this mess. Nicely bright and scattered open cluster, many stars of varying magnitude. I backed off to 63× in hopes of catching some glow from the Rosette Nebula. Nothing. I backed off further with the 30mm for 51× and tried both filters. Nothing. Good enough.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 30mm, 24mm, 18mm

    A particularly ill-timed sneeze escaped me during that observation, necessitating the cleaning of my 18mm. Bleh. TMI, right?

    5. NGC 2252 - NEW - H2
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag ??, size 20’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:17:20
    Comment: Sliding slightly rightward from the Rosette at 84×, I can easily pick up this open cluster. Quite interesting visually, featuring a longish cascading double row of stars sweeping downward and curving outward in a scripted J-hook, almost like some sort of stellar musical note. Another line of stars extends rightward in my FOV and ends in a flat-topped half circle, lending the appearance of a spoon in a bowl. Fun cluster!
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm

    6. Collinder 97 - NEW
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 5.4, size 25’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:22:42
    Comment: Still at 84×, I moved back over to the Rosette and then down underneath to a pattern of stars that reminded me of an outline of a fish, comprised of several brighter stars. Many stars of dimmer magnitudes are scattered about or in the background. A fairly widely spaced cluster and not terribly compact.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm

    Stubbs was being especially vigilant on the zombie watching tonight. She’d sit on the east side of me for a while, watching across the field in that direction, ears perked up, scanning for the animated dead. She’d then trot over to the west side of me and scan in that direction, then back to the east again. The ever vigilant puma…

    7. Collinder 106 - NEW
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 4.59, size 35’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:25:33
    Comment: Back to the right and down below NGC 2252, I centered this expansive loop of stars that appears to have been twisted into a drunken figure eight pattern. Cool! Sorry, as sneezy as I am, I not much interested in counting stars here.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm

    8. Collinder 104 - NEW
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 9.6, size 20’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:30:38
    Comment: Moving upwards still at 84×, I landed on another long stellar stream of stars cascading vertically in my FOV. I counted about 20 members in this chain of stars. At the upper end, the stream branches widely lending the appearance of a skinny tree.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm

    9. Collinder 107 - NEW
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 5.09, size 29’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:33:40
    Comment: And slightly rightward and overlapping my little tree is this widely scattered open cluster. I don't really see much in the center of the FOV, but rimming the edges are three small groups of brighter stars. One could almost draw a heart pattern around the three groupings.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm

    10. NGC 2269 - NEW - H2
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 10.0, size 4.0’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:37:16
    Comment: Sliding further rightward still, I pick up this very compact and dim open cluster at 84×. Pushing up to 138× I'm seeing about 8 mag 9-ish stars and the unresolved glow of dimmer members in the background. At 173×, a handful of dimmer diamonds are resolved with averted vision and the background glow seems a bit more pronounced.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm, 11mm, 8.8mm

    11. NGC 2254 - NEW - H2
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 9.1, size 4.0’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:44:58
    Comment: Pushing westward about five degrees and northward a few more, I catch this tightly compacted and small OC just to the right of mag 6.46 star 14 Monocerotis. At 84×, it resembles a small and loose globular cluster, or perhaps even a large and dim planetary nebula. Pushing up to 138×, I can, using averted vision, pick up a C shaped pattern of stars. At 173×, things are much the same except I can hold the pattern with direct vision.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm, 11mm, 8.8mm

    12. NGC 2259 - NEW - H2
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag 10.8, size 4.5’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 20:56:26
    Comment: Sliding northward a few degrees, I'm sitting on yet another small and compact open cluster. I seem to be picking up a bit of the glow from this guy at 84×. At 138×, I can pick out a small knot of maybe 5 to 6 dim stars in a tight configuration. Not much to look at here.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm, 11mm

    I’d been sitting for about an hour and a half at this point with only a couple of “tissue” breaks. I realized I was starting to get a bit cold. I actually had to zip my jacket and go inside to get my summertime skeeter gloves.

    13. Hubble's Variable Nebula - NGC 2261 - NEW - H2
    (Bright Nebula in Monoceros, mag ??, size 2’ x 1’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 21:03:46
    Comment: Moving southward about three degrees, I found myself again in the midst of the Christmas Tree Cluster. Pushing just southward of that, I spotted this little triangular shaped smudge of nebulosity, quite obvious at 84×. At 138×, the triangle is a bit larger and very obvious. I'm rather surprised that Messier did not catalog this one. One could almost perceive a cometary shape out of it. Perhaps, though, this one is a bit out of his hunting grounds. Also, a small chunk of space junk is moving lazily through the FOV with an obvious tumble as it brightens and dims while catching the sunlight. Anyway, since I've left my two filters exposed to the night air, they've dewed up and are of no use on this nebula. Very cool observation anyway.
    Equipment: AD12, ES 82° 18mm, 11mm

    I really enjoyed NGC 2261. If you haven’t tried this one yet, I encourage you to give it a go. A fairly easy find just south of NGC 2264.

    The next target on my list was NGC 2274, an elliptical galaxy in Gemini. And it was sitting near zenith at 87°. I pushed the dob nearly vertical and tried to sight in θ Geminorum in the RACI. Yeah, that was awkward. To heck with that! I think I’ll just let the dob rest a while and see about this goto business. I’ll probably just get mad and shut it back off quickly enough anyway.

    And I left the hand controller in the house. I grabbed it, plugged it in, and fired up the mount. While it was acquiring its GPS data, I pulled the ST80 from the Twilight II mount and attached it to the Cube-G, grabbed the Rigel QuickFinder from the AR127 and seated it on the ST80.

    It appeared the time and date and lat/long coordinates were now good on the hand controller. I scrolled through my HC menu options and chose Align, then Easy Two Star Alignment.

    Aldebaran. Ok, easy enough. I punched the go-get-‘em button and it slewed the ST80 fairly close to the bright red eye of the Bull. I used the arrow eyes to center the star in the Rigel, then the finder, then in the ES 82° 14mm and hit enter.

    Next star. Hmm, had several to choose from. I scrolled and I scrolled and finally settled on Sirius and hit enter.

    PLEASE CHOOSE A STAR IN THE EAST.

    Ok fine. Jackass. Regulus, then. And off she went to Leo. Adjustments made, hit enter.

    ALIGNED.

    And this is where the fun usually begins. Ok, punched up M45, and go.

    It slewed to M45. The Seven Sisters were just a bit to the right, almost out of the FOV. I chose “Sync to Target”, made my adjustments, and hit enter. I then told it to go to M42. And there was M42 dead center of the FOV. Cool!

    How about M41. Yup, dead center is M41. Ok, good enough. Let’s try one of these little hair puller open clusters in Monoceros…

    14. NGC 2299, aka NGC 2302 - NEW - H2
    (Open Cluster in Monoceros, mag ??, size 2.50’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 21:30:17
    Comment: Huh. This feels a little creepy, goto-ing something. Anyway, I pushed up to 60× with the 6.7mm, and I can pick up a small compact knot of about 5 stars. Not terribly impressive in the ST80. Heck, it probably wouldn't be in the dob either.
    Equipment: ST80, ES 82° 6.7mm

    I looked through my H2 and H3 lists, and I didn’t quite see anything that the ST80 would give an impressive view of. And to be honest, I didn’t quite feel comfortable with myself with logging new stuff in this manner…that’s just me and my log book though. I didn’t feel like I’d earned it.

    I thumbed through my Messier list of remaining refractor targets and settled for M’s 65 and 66 in Leo. When the scope arrived, I could not see either of these galaxies. Not quite sure if the little 80mm was simply not picking them up, or they weren’t quite in the FOV. Meh.

    Let’s try M81…and off she went. M81 was in the far right of the FOV. Adjustments made to center and…

    16. Bode's Nebulae - Messier 81 - NGC 3031
    (Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major, mag 7.3, size 26.9’ x 14.1’, SB 13.6 mag/arcmin²)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 21:41:03
    Comment: Well, there she was in the ST80, a small little fuzzy round glow at 29×. M82 was present also at the 4 o'clock position as a fuzzy slash. Awesome. Good to see the ST80 can get a little galaxy action in.
    Equipment: ST80, ES 82° 14mm

    17. Cigar Galaxy - Messier 82 - NGC 3034
    (Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major, mag 8.9, size 11’ x 4.6’, SB 12.9 mag/arcmin²)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 21:42:46
    Comment: See above.
    Equipment: ST80, ES 82° 14mm

    At this point, the Dew Monster had arrived and things were beginning to dampen in a hurry. One more…

    18. Starfish Cluster - Messier 38 - NGC 1912
    (Open Cluster in Auriga, mag 6.4, size 21’)
    Observed: Feb 18, 2017, 21:44:59
    Comment: Had to adjust things a bit with the hand controller. And there is M38 in all its M38 glory. A bit smallish in the ST80, but a nice cluster nonetheless.
    Equipment: ST80, ES 82° 14mm

    After that one, I parked the scope and shut the mount off. I began packing up my things before they got really wet. By the time I got to the dob, the OTA had rivulets of dew running down the length of it.

    Meanwhile, Stubbs was tearing around the yard like she was at a Saturday night stock car race. That cat has a knack for hiding until you walk past with an armload of scope and then pounces on you.

    I had fun despite the burning itchy eyes and the sneezing nose. Several of Snow White’s dwarves showed up tonight: Itchy, Scratchy, Sneezy, Katchooey, Dewey, and Louie.

    Ok that was dumb.

    So that’s what Stubbs and I got into tonight. I don’t think Sunday is gonna work out for observing. Looks to be clear early on then a sudden cloud breakout. Tuesday, maybe, and right now, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are looking good.

    Peace and clear skies, friends.
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    Bryan
    Scopes: Apertura AD12 f/5; Celestron C6-R f/8; ES AR127 f/6.4; ES AR127 f/9.4; Stellarvue SV102T f/7; ES AR102 f/9.8; iOptron MC90 f/13.3; Orion ST80A f/5; Celestron Premium 80 f/11.4; Celestron C80 f/11.4; Meade NG60 f/10
    Mounts: Celestron AVX; Bresser EXOS-2; ES Twilight I; ES Twilight II; iOptron Cube-G; AZ3/wood tripod; Vixen Polaris
    Eyepieces: GSO Super Plössl 40mm, 32mm, 15mm, 9mm; ES 82° Series; GSO Superview 30mm; Celestron Plössl 26mm, 20mm; ES 70° 25mm; ES Plössl 25mm; Vite Aspheric 23mm, 10mm, 4mm; Orion Expanse 20mm, 9mm; KK Ortho 18mm, 12.5mm; Bresser 70° 15mm; Coulter Optical 12.5mm; BCO 10mm; ES 62° 9mm; Zhumell Z Series 5mm
    Binoculars: Pentax PCF WP II 10×50, Bresser Corvette 10×50, Bresser Hunter 16×50 and 8×40, Garrett Gemini 12×60 LW, Gordon 10×50, Apogee 20×100

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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Congratulations on a fine session Bryan.

    It's good to see that you are getting to grips with your goto mount.
    Don't be afraid of the technology!
    Once you get it up and running its a pleasure to use.

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    XT8 classic../
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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by kingclinton View Post
    Congratulations on a fine session Bryan.

    It's good to see that you are getting to grips with your goto mount.
    Don't be afraid of the technology!
    Once you get it up and running its a pleasure to use.
    Thanks, Clinton! Now I just need to get my hands on one of them VA cameras...

    It'd probably be a real dog fight then.
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    Bryan
    Scopes: Apertura AD12 f/5; Celestron C6-R f/8; ES AR127 f/6.4; ES AR127 f/9.4; Stellarvue SV102T f/7; ES AR102 f/9.8; iOptron MC90 f/13.3; Orion ST80A f/5; Celestron Premium 80 f/11.4; Celestron C80 f/11.4; Meade NG60 f/10
    Mounts: Celestron AVX; Bresser EXOS-2; ES Twilight I; ES Twilight II; iOptron Cube-G; AZ3/wood tripod; Vixen Polaris
    Eyepieces: GSO Super Plössl 40mm, 32mm, 15mm, 9mm; ES 82° Series; GSO Superview 30mm; Celestron Plössl 26mm, 20mm; ES 70° 25mm; ES Plössl 25mm; Vite Aspheric 23mm, 10mm, 4mm; Orion Expanse 20mm, 9mm; KK Ortho 18mm, 12.5mm; Bresser 70° 15mm; Coulter Optical 12.5mm; BCO 10mm; ES 62° 9mm; Zhumell Z Series 5mm
    Binoculars: Pentax PCF WP II 10×50, Bresser Corvette 10×50, Bresser Hunter 16×50 and 8×40, Garrett Gemini 12×60 LW, Gordon 10×50, Apogee 20×100

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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Congratulations Bryan, some nice observations.
    I knew that mount would not get the better of you
    Sounds like you had fun with both scopes.
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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Nice session and report, Bryan. Your skill stretched what would have been a disappointing evening to others into an interesting, session. Good Job!

    "The ever vigilant puma…" HaHaHa The whole astro-community loves that cat.

    I remain socked in with occasional light rain and endless clouds until sometime around Wednesday.

    Clear, Dark Skies
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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Nice Bryan!!! My Saturday night was also outside with the scope and binos but transparency was a mess. My sky was too bright, too dissapointing so of all the stuff I saw I was just happy with Venus and the ISS.
    But...I accomplished my initial objective that was to test newspaper under my clothes (chinese news are really hot ) to endure the cold, specially in my feet and legs. Man I was like a paperman but it worked perfect
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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Now that was fun! Much better than mine! I am both happy and dismayed that you finally got the go-to rolling nicely. Just say it isn't so!

    I see you still persist in using the term "bright nebula", but maybe one day you will learn! And oh, BTW, you wanna know why NGC 2245 didn't respond to your narrow-band and line filters? The answer lies in that it is a reflection nebula, thus not emitting, only reflecting.

    Very nice session with open clusters. See they can be useful if one finally comes to grips with the fact that sometimes there is no other option!
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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Bladekeeper running a go to? If that don't scare the clouds nothing will.

    Great report Bryan, enjoy your descriptions of the clusters around Monoceros - My last session was there - ya, I know, still no report....
    An unplanned session I just pulled some things quickly off of Sky Safari - It did not list the clusters around the Rosette & I was amazed by the cluster clump - had to get to ST3 to figure out what I had wandered into. While the Rosetta itself was no go I did pick up some dark lanes - did you see any of that in the AR127? Was using the AD10 at the time.
    Hubble's nebula - looked back at my description & the word comet is used there too... great minds????

    Thanks Bryan -
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    Moving on.......

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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Now I feel a lot better about GOTO mount issues. I also enjoyed the (Stubbs) Cat Scan data on the things you looked at. Open Clusters are a joy to look at especially with the AT 115 Refractor. They are also nice in the SCT with the GSO 42 or the panoptic 35 in the viewfinder. I even wrote a few of them down. Maybe you should post a list of your best open Clusters of all time list I am sure that it would be wonderful. I certainly enjoyed it. I plan on setting the AT 115 up on a TW II manual mount very soon and just cruise the south and south east sky starting in March as a lot of Star Clusters will be returning to the skies in that direction very soon.
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    Default Re: Half a Bushel of Clusters and Some Other Stuff

    Bryan using a go to? Well I'll be!

    Embrace the technology resistance is futile! It gets easer with practice

    Thanks for the report. I got about 2 hours in last night then all of a sudden the focus quit working and guding went wonky, Iv'e seen this before, sure enough! Clouds!

    fine array of fluffy clouds mass for an assault somewhere down wind of me
    I am blaming you!


    Glad you got some time in!
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