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Thread: Weekend family sky tour

  1. #1
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    Default Weekend family sky tour



    I have my in-laws visiting, and thought this would be a good opportunity for some family outreach. So, on Sat night, seeing as the sky was clear, I took my Dob out in front of the house and pointed it various places, joined by my wife and my father-in-law. Unfortunately, transparency was rather poor, not sure exactly what in the atmosphere conspired to do that, but we made do. Here are some highlights:

    Since it was up, and therefore a required target, we started at Andromeda, M31. Prominent nebulosity, with a very striking M32 next to it. My next door neighbor showed up just as we were starting, so I showed it to him too. He was unimpressed and went back in. Oh well, you win some, you lose some…

    Being in the area, and since my wife loves doubles and colorful stars, we took a look at Archird, Eta Cas, a pretty double with large difference between the two members. I tried Iota Cas, and for some reason I was having trouble splitting it. Since my goal was to show stuff to people, I didn’t spend the time, but I’ll need to remind myself how to find this.
    Then moved to Ruchbach, and from there East to Stock 2 (open cluster in Cassiopeia), and South of it to NGC 869/884, the Double Cluster. The latter looked really beautiful, and engendered the expected reactions. I actually saw it through the Meade 14mm piece, and both clusters, or at least their cores, just barely fit in a field. The added magnification exposed more of the details, making for a gorgeous view.

    In the same Northern skies, I wanted to show them colorful stars, so went over to Mu Cep, Herschel’s Garnet Star. As was my impression, they also thought it was, if anything, more deeply orange than red. To compare, I swung over to TX Psc, or 19 Psc, a Carbon star in Pisces, for comparison. We agreed that this was probably a bit redder, but still not a bright or deep red. That is likely related to the eye’s ability to perceive red in these conditions. Interesting.

    To keep with the fun doubles theme, I went up towards Zenith to Lyra, and showed them Struve 2470/2474, the beautiful “other” double-double in Lyra. Always a fun one, two doubles looking very much like mirror images of each other.
    Since we were there, I aimed between Sulafat and Sheliak and looked at M57, the Ring Nebula, planetary nebula in Lyra. Always a nice one to highlight.

    I then moved a bit East and South in this rich area, to have another look at Albireo, the showcase double; then Cr 399, The Coathanger, a finder scope object; and M27, the Dumbbell nebula, which looked quite spectacular tonight (thinking about it, I wonder if the issue was prominent light pollution lower in the sky, given good views higher up). Pretty, extended shape in the rich star field.

    I spied the pretty shape of the celestial dolphin in the area, so I went to Gamma Del, to showcase yet another double. This is when my favorite moment of the night happened. As I’m showing them this pretty double, my wife looks and says “nice, this has another smaller double right above it too”. “Nonsense”, I say, I know what I’m looking at. Then slip in a higher mag, and lo and behold, the small object to the SW is, indeed, a beautiful little double, mag 7-something. She had “discovered” OR Del, new, which, my ignorant behind learned, is actually often referred to as “the Delphinus double-double” together with Gamma. How cool is that?

    We took a detour to M11, the Wild Duck Cluster. It was not its most spectacular self, getting down into the LP dome, but, interestingly, with less of it showing itself, the actual V shape of the duck flock was now visible!

    At this point we actually moved the whole setup a few feet, because I was seeing Saturn peek between some trees, so we took a good look. The audience was appropriately impressed, Saturn never disappoints. Titan was quite prominent roughly North of the planet.

    The view in the area was limited, but I was able to also ferret out M24, the Sagittarius Star Cloud (not really looking its potential, only the brighter members seen), and M18, good looking compact open cluster.

    Mars was also between branches, and we could take a look, but only the disc was visible, the additional diffraction prevented any good look at surface markings. I need me more horizon!

    The last kind of cool moment of the night involved navigating over to Capricornus and Aquarius. Found Algedi, Alpha Cap, new, with the naked eye, and took a quick look at the widely separated optical double, then navigated to Albali, Epsilon Aqr, and ESE of it went to NGC 7009, the Saturn Nebula. I put in the EP and my wife went “it looks kinda like a planet”. Isn’t it cool, to watch the thinking process that gave us the name “planetary nebula” spontaneously repeat itself? We discussed that indeed it had a disc to it, and a stead appearance, and of course, she then eventually also spontaneously volunteered that it looked like Saturn. Bingo


    That was our fun little family outing. Thanks for sharing it with me.
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  2. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to rocdoc For This Useful Post:

    bladekeeper (10-02-2018),Don Quixote (10-01-2018),ic_1101 (10-06-2018),John Baars (10-01-2018),SpyderwerX (10-02-2018),terrynak (10-06-2018)

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    Default Re: Weekend family sky tour

    Your family were not the only ones having fun, so will have every reader of your report. This must have been great fun, with the family and all being very interested observers. A big smile appeared on my face when I read this. You sure knew how to pick some beautiful highlights! Thanks! Isn't it about time your wife gets a telescope of her own? She is a great observer as far as I can judge!
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    Default Re: Weekend family sky tour

    Quote Originally Posted by John Baars View Post
    Isn't it about time your wife gets a telescope of her own? She is a great observer as far as I can judge!
    Well, as I keep adding to the collection, I try to convince her that I am actually buying the equipment for her I will definitely show her your post, tickling her ego might be the way to go here
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    Default Re: Weekend family sky tour

    This was a treat to read Doc!

    Great post.
    Thank you for sharing this astro-family fun.
    Unbeatable combination! :-)
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    Default Re: Weekend family sky tour

    Nicely done, Codrin! You accompanied your wife and father-in-law on a fine sky tour.

    Your wife has a keen eye. She may be racing you through Virgo come spring.

    Thanks for the excellent report, my friend!
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    Default Re: Weekend family sky tour

    Great session Rocdoc! Nice set of targets and I particularly appreciated inclusion of a few fine doubles. Nice descriptions and kudos to your wife on catching OR Del.
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    Default Re: Weekend family sky tour

    Wonderful report, Roc! I should do something like this for myself from my light-polluted front driveway. I don't usually revisit objects I've seen before, but I've been doing more random observing lately as I've almost run of new DSO targets to observe from home...

    But great you were able to do outreach for your in-laws!
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