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Thread: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

  1. #1
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    Default Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.



    So, I put out the telescope to equalize with the air temperature around 8:30p on the night of the 15-16th. The sky was partly cloudy with mid-level clouds, but the forecast promised clearing through the evening. After I drove the 60 miles round-trip to Duluth to pick up my son, I returned home after 10p, and the twilit sky still showed a lot of clouds---but the forecast had been changed to "mostly cloudy"! Bummer! Luckily, I checked out the satellite loop and could see that the cloud deck was rapidly disintegrating, and when I went out after 11p the sky was perfectly clear.

    The sky doesn't get fully dark until after 11:30p around here, so my first target was Saturn, about 30 degrees above the southern horizon in Scorpius. At 63X the planet was bright and crisp, but at 105X the image was softer and I could only get brief glimpses of Cassini's Division. As expected, my nice 9mm eyepiece, which produces 222X, did nothing to improve the view. I'm not sure at what altitude above the horizon that planetary views begin to suffer. Then again, a SCT is not like a fine refractor...

    I swung the telescope up to M13, which was only faintly visible to the naked eye--an indicator at my site that the transparency was only average. At 105X the view was fantastic. The cluster was resolved into countless specks of light, and the outer extensions appeared a bit like short flower petals. One would think that a globular should be perfectly symmetrical, but the "petals" were mostly absent from the east side. Through the smaller scopes I have owned in the past (60mm refractor, 114mm reflector) I have not noticed these extensions.

    Nearby, I found the 11.6 mag galaxy NGC 6207 to be a small, faint smear of light, shaped like a narrow football. This was a new one for me, easy to find, but I've never attempted it with a smaller scope.

    Next, I slewed the scope over to Coma Berenices, an area I have avoided in the past due to difficulty of navigation and the small size of my telescopes. I wanted to quickly snap up a galaxy there, so nabbed NGC 4559 glowing at mag 10 a couple of degrees east of the north end of the cluster (Mel 111). The galaxy was "bright" and elongated, and seems to be another one of those faint fuzzies that didn't make it onto Messier's list. It's about as bright as M95 or M96.

    My biggest challenge of the evening was to find NGC 6502 in Draco, brought to my attention by Bladekeeper's post. Luckily, I have a good finderscope and could find the field in a part of the sky that I have previously neglected. Does anyone else find it difficult to view the part of the sky lying between the zenith and the North Celestial Pole with a fork-mounted telescope? Unbelievably awkward. I did find the galaxy, glowing at mag 10.2 next to an 8th mag star. Pretty easy to see--even with direct vision. I wanted to scoop up the nearby planetary nebula NGC 6543, but the discomfort of viewing from an odd position--plus the persistent mosquitoes--made me look for a couple of easier targets before wrapping it up for the night.

    I wanted to check out a couple of M101's satellite galaxies, NGC 5474 and 5473 glowing at mag 10.8 and 11.4, respectively. After easily finding M101, which mostly filled the field of view at 63X, I found the much smaller other galaxies, but they were very faint and only visible with averted vision. NGC 5474, which I had seen on another occasion, was more difficult to see than before, and stars were beginning to look frosty, so I looked at corrector plate and found a thin fog of dew beginning to form. Time for bed after a fun evening under the stars.
    Gordon
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  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Arctic For This Useful Post:

    10538 (06-17-2015),bladekeeper (06-17-2015),Lowjiber (06-17-2015),mandomom (06-17-2015)

  3. #2
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    Default Re: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

    Fine report Gordon, I enjoyed reading it very much. I'm glad that you had a great night out under the stars!
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    Default Re: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

    Nice session Gordon, and thanks for the great report. I'm glad you got a chance for 6502. Very cool. I'm looking forward to trying this one. 6543 is one of my favorite planetaries too.

    AND, 5474 is one of my confoundments for the time being. Good job on scoring that one, again.

    Well done sir!
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    Default Re: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

    Sounds like you had a fine evening Gordon, and nice job on the M101 companions. Your experiences with the fork mount are one of the many reasons I have dob mounts. Aside from straight overhead, they are pretty easy to use at any elevation in any direction.

    I will sometimes use NGC 6207 as a check of my transparency since it is easy to find next to M13.

    Messier missed a lot of stuff, but then again, he wasn't hunting DSOs anyway.

    I just wanted to clarify one thing though. I realize it was simply a typo, but just wanted to clear it up so somone casually reading this doesn't get confused. You observed NGC 6503 in Draco and not NGC 6502. The latter one is in Pavo, and of course none of us up here can see that constellation.
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    Default Re: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

    Great report, Gordon. I'm on the hunt for Messier's mostly when I'm out viewing, but I do enjoy several detours along the way. This along with many of Bryan's and Alan's reports give me fodder for my searches for what's out there to see. Thanks for sharing. Clear skies.
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    Default Re: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

    Excellent report, sounds like you had a great time. You must have a darker site than mine. Saying you can normally see M13 with the naked eye blew me away. I have to have a really clear night to see it will in the telescope. With the naked eye, i am lucky to see a dozen stars from my location. Thanks for sharing the great report
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    Default Re: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

    Fine report, Gordon. Congratulations on the nice session, and thanks for sharing it.

    Clear, Dark Skies
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    Default Re: Late night observations with mosquitoes: a late spring sampler.

    Quote Originally Posted by KT4HX View Post
    I just wanted to clarify one thing though. I realize it was simply a typo, but just wanted to clear it up so somone casually reading this doesn't get confused. You observed NGC 6503 in Draco and not NGC 6502. The latter one is in Pavo, and of course none of us up here can see that constellation.
    Yeah, thanks for the correction. Like I tell my kids--numbers and accuracy do matter!
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