With prominent stars already showing in the South east Paul and I quickly set up shop at Pilgrim Heights. 4 scopes tables and chairs. Mars is prominent in the sky and Paul draws a bead on our neighbor resolving snow cap and what he is calling ďcanalsĒ in his Edmund Scientific 6Ē refractor. Dave Martin would join us within the hour. Wow what a location dark evening skies proved very nice for 5W laser pointers to work wellÖ. We had some fun pointing out obvious primary stars and constellations.
Visualizing M79 in Sirius started an obvious challenge between my Dob and Paulís equatorial 6Ē, a tie.
Paul and Tom both have an eyepiece Paul calls an Erfle eyepiece, named after Dr. Erfle. Great low power eyepiece, a predecessor to a Nagler. Dave Martin spots Saturn just over the edge o the eastern horizon. We confirm in short matter of time.
Visualizing M41 open cluster near Sirius (Ĺ degree below the brightest star in the sky), it was a tie finding the cluster between the DOB and the German Equatorial mount.
Synopsis, back on the road after FYPO with Paul Cezanne, Dave Martin and Tom Leach in Truro , Massachusetts with 4 telescopes at a Magnitude 8 spot. Evening deteriorated after 10PM. We see 4 shooting stars and one outstandingly hot meteorite heading south to north in western sky at 30 degrees. We find the Owl nebula, Leo triplet,M36, M37, M38, M42, M31, M79 in Lupus.
2:56am Ė The moon has just set and Iím out here with my Canon binoculars looking to get 3 of my last 4 M objects. It is hard to tell if the sky is hazy or not. I do see the Milky at zenith but at the horizon it is all lost in moon glow still. Actually, the moon hasnít set yet. It has set behind the trees but not below the horizon. Jupiter is shining very brightly and Iíll be trying to see if I can find Capricorn again. I think I see it but I really donít know.
Continue reading Hoping to Finish All But One of the Messierís Tonight
0030 Aligned Sirius viewed awesome M42 and M32 on a super clear night , awaiting the first Leonids. Tried for NGC 273 which was in the Astronomy Magazine recently about how closely it resembles M32. Too low in the sky at to really get a view through a locust tree.
0140 First meteor sighting of the night. Part of the Leonids. This one was a real barn burner in the West below Perseus moving down from approximately 40į to 28į. I put this table together of sighting during the session.
1104 Aligned Vega and Deneb. Very clear night. Dark moon has set.
1126 Dumbell Nebula M27 very clear in 13mm Nagler. Set up laser pointer to view position near head of Cygnus. Distance 1250 LY.
1143 M71 Globular Cluster in Sagitta RA 19h 53m 53s Dec +18d 47m 15s Mag 8.2 Size 6.1'. Neat suprisingly pronounced glob in the starry edge bank of the Milky Way dust field River.
1151 M15 Globular Cluster near the hoof of horse Pegasus RA 21h 30m 06s Dec +12d 10m 49s, Mag 6.2 Size 12.3'. Awesome little cluster in 10" scope but sharp in 3" scope with 25mm eyepiece. Distance given at 4000 LY.
1157 M2 Globular Cluster near head of Aquarius RA 21 h 33m 35s Dec -00d 48m 40 s , Mag 6.5 Size 11.7', distance 50,000 LY
1211 Tuesday morning. M72 faint globular Mag 9.2. Could not see C55 Saturn nebula nearby. M73 faint 3 star so called open cluster. Distance given as 1,000 LY.
1224 Neptune barely visible on the corner in capricornus.
1237 M30 barely visible may be now more humidity in the upper atmosphere. Globular Cluster in Capricornus RA 21h 40m 31s Dec -23d 10m 07s, Mag 7.2 Size 8.9'.
1245 M74 Faint spiral Galaxy in Pisces RA 01h 36m 51s Dec +15d 47m 52s. Mag 9.8 Size 10'x9.4'.
1244 M31 Andromeda Galaxy beautiful RA 00h 42m 54s Dec +41d 17m 05s Mag 4.3 Size 189'x62'. M110 in same field of view Nagler 13 mm ep. Awesome.
0100 Double Cluster! Parked Scope.
0130 Clear early morning. aligned using Deneb and Vega. M57 sharp.
0134 Visited M33 Pinwheel Galaxy Mag 6.2 in Triangulum.
0137 M74 another spiral Galaxy overhead very faint at mag 9.2.
0153 Found Neptune in Pisces. Slewing to small globular cluster M2 in Aquarius. Very nice target listed ast 6.2 magnitude.
0204 M15 is a putty looking glob in tthe 13 Nagler at mag 13 and magnification 80 power.
0216 M39 very open cluster in Milky Way.
0234 Viewed Andromeda Galaxy M31 beautiful. Several Caldwells using handbox.
0240 Parked scope.
I thought I saw a hint of a tail but that was most likely just wishful thinking, it did seem asymmetrical at least, which it didnít before. I tried to see if it was naked eye visible, and although there was a glow in the right spot, that was most likely theta Virgo, at 4.45 magnitude that is certainly naked eye visible at my house. Iíve actually gone down to 5 and 5.5 before. There did seem to be somewhat of a haze in the sky, not much, just a hint.
I compared it to M3, it is much larger than M3, easily 3 times larger or more. I actually had a hard time finding M3 since it was so high in the sky and I didnít have my chair out so I was standing. That was uncomfortable
Paul Cezanne, Truro (2/18/09)
I've had the Burgess 1278 for well over a month now. The first month was spent waiting, waiting for clear skies at a time I would be home to enjoy them. I watched the ClearSkyClock almost obsessively, and illogically believed the 10 day forecasts at weather.com. So a little more than a week ago, I was quite pleased to see that the skies would be clear and I would be home, but barely. I was working in Cambridge that day and would not be home until about 9:30 or 10pm that night. Given how long I waited, I didnít care. I was especially interested in seeing Jupiter. I had viewed it with the 8Ē SCT a few weeks before and it was impressive, my best Jupiter ever. I wanted to see how the Burgess compared. I had looked at the Great Red Spot calculator from SkyAndTelescope.com and was pleased to see that it was at the meridian at 10:53pm.
Once I got home, I quickly hauled all the equipment from basement. I didnít bother with the light pollution screens since I was only planning on viewing Jupiter. The neighbors were interested, as usual, and once I was fully setup, around 11pm, I quickly centered Jupiter and then let the kids look.
Then I pulled up my chair and sat down and looked myself. There it was, the Great Red Spot! As others have noted, it is more of a Great Tan Spot these days but still, I was happy. Iíve been interested in astronomy since I was a kid and the GRS had always been on my life list. I guess I wish I had seen it when it was red, not tan, but still, impressive none-the-less. It was so easy to see that I wondered if I was seeing what I wanted to see. Averted Imagination. I sat and observed for perhaps 20 minutes, waiting for a crystal clear moment. That moment really never came. The skies were just good all along. There were the 4 Galileans visible, no shadows. I stared at the GRS, stared at the bands, it was real, no doubt. I was actually seeing it! I tried to see an detail in the bands, or the Little Red Spot and that third one whose name I canít remember, no luck, but I was still happy.
I also immediately realized that my carefully planned eyepiece collection was a bit limited. A 2000mm f10 scope does not use the same same set of eyepieces that a scope with a focal length of 1000mm uses somewhat different eyepieces than a 2000mm focal length scope! My normal ďmax powerĒ eyepiece, a 9mm University Optics HD Abbe Orthoscopic was only giving 111x in this scope, my 7mm only gives 143x. I used the 7mm, which was pretty much the first time I had ever used it, that was the ďmiracle skiesĒ eyepiece for the SCT. I found the eye relief bare acceptable. (I wear glasses.) I tried barlowing the 9mm with a 2x University barlow and the results were unacceptable, which is to be expected since that exceeds the Dawesí limit rule of 40x per inch of aperture.
Pumped by my success, I decided to do some other viewing. Iíve been using Sue Frenchís book, Celestial Sampler, to plan my viewing sessions and I had not planned anything for tonight so I just went along ad hoc. First up was my long time favorite, the M81 and M82 pair. They were beautifully framed by the 34mm Siebert Observatory eyepiece. I was starting to see why some astronomers love wide field eyepieces. Unlike with my SCT, there was plenty of room around the two galaxies. It was quite pleasant to see.
I then went to M51, but alas, I still wasnít able to see any detail in the arms. Iíve always wanted to see that, havenít yet. I could, of course, see the second galaxy, but I expected to see that!
I canít recall many of the other objects I saw. I was did try M57 at stupid power, which was, of course, stupid. It was much better with the 7mm. And I was able to split both of the double doubles. I had never been able to do that before, but then again, I hadnít tried all that much before either! By now it was getting close to 1AM so I went back to Jupiter. Yup, the GRS was gone, as expected, this only confirmed that I had seen it, not imagined it. M31 had now risen above the house so I went over there. Oh, very nice! I could easily see 32 and 110 in their proper spots. I had seen them in the SCT but the field of view was much narrower so once couldnít grasp the whole picture. I waited another half hour or so. I wanted to see the Double Cluster and it had not yet risen from behind the house. While doing so, I just looked at random star fields in the Milky Way. I was a bit dismayed to see that the 34mm Siebert was giving me unacceptable star blurring along the outer quarter or so of the field of view. I was quite upset, this has been my favorite eyepiece! (Note to those whoíve found this by googling, read on to the second light report, the 34mm Siebert is fine...)
I did a GOTO the Double Cluster and pretty much watched the edge of the roof disappear. That was actually a bit of fun, you could get a sense of slow motion of the skies. Once they both cleared I had a tremendous view. Again, like with M81/82 one could fully frame the objects against the background stars, things werenít as crammed together.
I sadly packed up, happy with the new telescope.
I purchased a Chesire on astromart and set up the scope in the kitchen. It was very easy to collimate it. It didnít seem to be out of collimation at all so I uncollimated it and then re-collimated it. At least I half collimated it! You, once I put the diagonal in, it was out of collimation again. So I tried another diagonal, it was also out of collimation by the same amount. I may need to shim the focuser (or something, pretty much whatever Steve Forbes of Trapezium Telescopes suggests) to get that centered. I donít think the diagonal is out of collimation since I saw the same error with 2 different diagonals.
8 days later I was able to try the skies again. There was a first quarter moon so I decided to do lunar and Jupiter observing. From my last session I knew that the cars were annoying even though I was looking at bright objects, so I put up the screens. (Side note, I still have tons more design work to do on the screens, they are effective, but not as easy to install as possible and the tolerances are too tight, the tarps are stretching and Iíve pulled out some grommets already.)
Once everything was setup I still had some time to kill, so I pointed at the moon. This was the signal for the clouds to roll in. You could see the moon, but just as a bright blob. I tried again as the evening wore on. Eventually the skies were clearing with a sharp line coming from the north west. I could see the glow of Arturus so I use that as an alignment star. (Polaris wasnít visible but I have true north marked on my lawn with 3 sections of PVC embedded in the ground.) I was slewing towards Mizar when it disappeared, so I just ďacceptedĒ its coordinates. Then I grabbed Vega for a calibration star. The moon was completely socked in so I went back to Mizar, which was now visible, grabbed it and then to M51. It was an exceptionally dim spot. The moon was really messing with the viewing. I tried for a few more dim things in that area but gave up and just waited out the moon.
I used the Siebert 22.5mm Ultra, both barlowed and not at 44x and 89x, and the 9mm straight @ 111x. I tried the 9mm barlowed (222x) but the skies didnít permit it. I looked at it for about 45 minutes I think. I particularly like see the long shadow from the central peak in the Alphonsus crater. (I used Astronomist on my Palm PDA for the crater map.) I tried so hard to see the shadow move, never did. There was as a pair of mountain peaks over by where Plato is, perhaps they were from the rim of Plato. They were stick up into the sunlight. The skies were boiling. I sat and and watched and sat and watch and the atmospheric motion never stopped. Like the shadow in Alphonsus, I really wanted to see the sun move down the slopes of these mountains.
The clouds had cleaned up by now so I headed over to Jupiter. A quick look showed that the skies were still active. I only saw 3 moons. I whipped out Astromist and sure enough, Ganymede was occulted and then eclipsed. I never did look up to see if the GRS was visible, the skies didnít permit it anyhow. I could recall how nice Jupiter looked the previous time, this wasnít even close.
I next headed up to M27, it was easy to find but I could not make out the lobed appearance. I had seen that before with the SCT using a UHC filter. I tried that and it didnít help. Iím guessing the moon brightness was still messing with what I could see. I had a nice star field here so I started playing the the two Siebert eyepieces and the University Optics 55mm Plossl. I was trying to learn three things: 1) how bad was the blurring in the 34mm Observatory, 2) did the 22.5mm Ultra have the blurring, and 3) would I use the 55mm Plossl ever?
The first question was easy to answer. Iím not sure what I was seeing before but the 34mm did not sure any of the blurring I saw before. I was quite pleased by this. The same was true of the 22.5mm Siebert, the views were great.
When I put the 55mm in it seemed that the views were sharper than with the 2 Sieberts, but the magnification was so low that Iím not sure I found the view better. I wasnít able to evaluate the eyepiece for contrast. I also didnít like the huge eye relief nor do I like the blackouts. Iím still thinking of selling this eyepiece but Iím not sure. I sometimes wonder if Iím not experienced enough to use it.
I looked at some DSO in Sagitarius, trying to work my way over to M8 and M20, but they both required a meridian flip so I put off those slews. There wasnít anything to write home about so I did do the flip.
I visited the moon again, it was just about to set into the trees, so I wanted to check out that shadow and the 2 mountains again. They had not changed at all. So I guess this means that over an hour or two one cannot see changes on the Moon. Well, Iíll keep on trying. I know Iíve seen changes on a crater rim with binoculars, but I donít know how much time had passed between sightings.
I next go to M8, the Lagoon Nebula. It wasnít impressive until I put the UHC in. Wow! Not as nice as M42, of course, but this was delightful. I do think it was dimmer, but only by a bit, than the view in the SCT.
M20 was a disappointment, it was dim and featureless. I canít recall what it has looked like in the SCT so Iíll have to wait for another time to make that comparison.
I next went down to M7, one of my favorite clusters, and just enjoyed it for a bit. I did try the 3 eyepieces but basically just looked and enjoyed.
Before shutting down for the night, I de-clutched everything and went back to Jupiter. (I didnít want another meridian flip, it just takes too long.) Hey Ganymede was back! That was nice to see. Like Rags, I also saw a fifth ďmoonĒ now but Iím pretty sure that that was a star. I did a bit of reading after seeing the fifth one and seeing Ragsí report. I donít see any evidence that we should have been able to see a moon. (But it would have been cool if we did!)
Overall Iím quite pleased with the Burgess, to the point Iím thinking of selling the SCT. The only thing it gives me over the Burges is aperture and some will argue that with the central obstruction of the SCT subtracting, the Burgess doesnít lose all that much. I must say I was disappointed by M20. Iím looking forward to see it with an 8Ē SCT at the same time as I see it with the Burgess. Selling the SCT has some big financial advantages, not only would the OTA but sold but the Crayford, the 2Ē diagonal, and the dew controller and strips. Shoot, I could even sell the Telrad since I donít need two of them.
And of course, that could fund a bigger refractor.... :- )
I went home after Harwich Town Meeting May 5th to a barely acceptable evening that provided some seeing and a chance to test out a 13MM Nagler from Steve Shuart I've been excited about trying, but delays caused by the Meade operating program, and getting back up to speed at the eyepiece were cut short by high thin atmosphere before midnight, but not before finding M82, the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and of course planetary Saturn.
The following night the humidity cleared out enough by 1130 for viewing so I aligned the 10" Schmidt-Newtonian on Regulus and Dubne and decided to take the opportunity to poke around Ursa Major picking up where I left off.There is a nice story in Sue French's column (June S&T) "Flying off the Handle", referring to the Big Dipper. Again using the Nagler 13mm with the f/4 scope offered a nice wide simultaneous view of M81, a 36,000 LY wide spiral Galaxy, and cigar M82 an easy mark and great place to start off the bucket end of Big Dipper. Burnham reports these were both discovered by J.E.Bode in 1774 from Berlin. M81 is called Bodes Galaxy. Scary to think I was looking at light from both that left there 7 million years ago.
The LDX mount was working well and I slewed the scope over to the Whirlpool M51 close by Alkaid. This Galaxy is twice the distance of the Bode pair and very interesting eyepiece target that appears to be two galaxies in tidal lock stripping hydrdrogrn and stars from one another. Next I easily found close by M63 Sunflower spiral (there are conflicting reports on distance but Celestial Handbook says it is 35 million LY distant. Then on to a close by puff ball M94 in Cor Caroli. After a few minutes of adjusting it was off to M109 a faint spiral which my eyes easily picked up with the big Nagler. Another spiral the Pinwheel Galaxy M101 off the pan handle at Mizar but I failed to notice the interaction of this galaxy with another deep sky target NGC 5464 reported by French. Finally onto glob M92.
I parked the scope at 2AM and called it a good night thankful I had time to seek out some of treasures within Ursa Major between clouds. I missed the Ferraro 6 and NGC 5474 but they are still there and I will find them next time and soon!
It was so cold that we had all pretty much decided to close up and go home. Someone said, ďIt is so clearÖ anyone interested in dragging the Obsession 18Ē Dob outside just to see what we can see for a few minutes?Ē So we did.
Off to the southeast, about 35ļ up, Orion was blazing. It was low enough in the sky so one could sit quietly and comfortably in a chair at the eyepiece of the big Dob. And because with almost zero humidity and no wind and cold temperatures, ďseeingĒ was extraordinarily good, even only 35ļ above the horizon. The idea was one of us would center M42, the Orion nebula, in the eyepiece and then each of us would take a look. I donít remember who the first person was, but when I sat down and looked at the glorious sight in that Ďscope, I decided right there that I would NOT ever get out of that chair!
We all agreed that as many times as all of us over the years had looked at M42, this was one of the best views any of us had ever had. A strong commentary on how important good ďseeingĒ and a comfortable seat is when looking at Deep Sky objects through a quality telescope.
The literature and the web are flooded with photos of M42. Prior to this experience, most of us had not seen, eye at the eyepiece, a view like the long-exposure multi-filtered composite photos you see from Hubble and other big scopes in magazines and on the web.
Tuesday, evening looked like a bust over Harwich, but by 11PM the skies had cleared enough. I remember being drawn between skywatching and a close Red Sox game which ended with the crowd roaring on its feet when Mike Lowell and Coco Crisp gave Boston the walk-off victory over TB. Anyhow, there I was again on the back porch and observed three or four OK "shooting stars"before it misted over. At 2AM, I awoke to an absolutely clear sky and stepped outside. The "show" was on. Counted a dozen strikes from various positions of the sky, mostly north and northeast. I'd read that the early morning would be the best show, however, my 4 AM visit had only two small strikes. All in all, quite remarkable, definitely not disappointing and worth the time.
Tom Leach, Harwich
A Great Night in Sandwich
Great night of observing in July. I thought about what Mike had to say about the observing at the observatory after a storm blew though, and sure enough, great skies until the moon rose at about midnight. Got out my scope, a 6" dob, and set about after those Messiers that aren't obscured, from the driveway.
I've pretty much picked all the low hanging fruit that can be found in the summer skies, ie. everything that's brighter than magnitude 9. So I thought that I'd concentrate on the things that were hanging in the gaps between trees in the Southern sky. 1st up, M26, a 15' open cluster (?) in scutum, just below the tailfeathers of the eagle, aquila.
Sandwich's skies aren't too dark, so it's gratifying to pick out those mag 9.5's. I'm far enough into the list, that things don't pop into the finder scope anymore, so when I can look at something, and you don't have to pretend, using averted vision, you get that nice warm feeling, like you just found $10 in a pair of pants.
I thought that the big dipper was trying to hide behind a tree, so I thought that I'd shoot it next. Above the handle was m102, the spindle galaxy. Normally, I'm not crazy about galaxies, because they're hard to get excited about in a 6" scope, especially in not-so-hot skies, and when they're 10.5 magnitude. Happily, the moon was just climbing over the opposite side of the sky. This was the dimmest thing that I had seen yet in my scope, and I could look right at it. I was likely looking at it with 48x, in a 24mm plossl, and it made you think that it had rabies or something, because normally m10.5's run and hide when they see me and my 6" dob.
I didn't waste much time on the mag 12 owl nebula, in the basin of the dipper, so I swung the scope over to m76, planetary neb., because it wasn't hiding behind the house. Mag 12! New record for me there. Showed up better while tapping the scope. The moon was getting higher on the horizon, and considering some of the trouble that I've had before with mag 9.5's, I was feeling pretty good about myself, for looking at something that I could never pick out of a line-up, if the police asked me to. A "faint fuzzy," for sure.
While I was in the neighborhood, I thought that I'd check out my old friend, m31, the Andromeda Galaxy, at mag 4.5. I haven't been back there since one of my first nights in astronomy, maybe 5 years ago. I thought it would be fun to revisit an object that was one of my first targets, back when I didn't know the sky very well, or my scope very well, without the benefit of a computer, or charts, or motors. M31 was there, waiting like an old friend, with the lights on for me. Back in the day, I couldn't spot the companion galaxies, M32 or M110, which were still on my to-do lists. M32, mag10, 8x6', jumped out at me. Try as I might, however, M110, eluded me. Being 17x10 minutes in area, several times larger than M32, with the same magnitude, I'm guessing that it has a much more diffuse, lower apparent magnitude, but equivalent absolute magnitude (?).
Having fun with old friends, I thought that I'd swing up to Cygnus, and have a gander at Albireo, the beautiful, multi-colored double star. I'm partially color-blind, but can still see that wonderful blue, and could also tell that my scope seems to be massively out of collimation, as the stars turned into streaks as they approached the outsides of the field of view of my eye-piece.
The moon getting higher in the sky, 26 degrees alitude in the SE, I thought I'd bag a couple more messier's, then hit the sack. Sagitarius wasn't fooling anyone, and I caught it between a couple of pines. M69 (mag 9, glob cluster) and M70 (the same) fell in quick succession. Normally, globular clusters are my favorite targets, because they seem to show up so nicely in my small scope. Hopefully, someday, I'll take a closer look at these fellows, because I gave them the short shrift. But, I saw them as well as anyone that took the time to see them. And I wrote it down, in my log, too. M54, a mag9.1 glob., was the final casualty of my headlong rush to bed. It didn't take magnification very well, and was happiest at 48x, again.
Knocked off a few more messiers. 67 down (of 110), 43 to go, including the entire Virgo cluster, of which I've always had an unreasoning fear. Pretty good night, which turned even better when I got back inside, and discovered that what I thought was a persistent floater in my eye turned out to be something like a potato chip crumb on the eye piece
Russ Dusseault, Sandwich