Wednesday, April 2, 2014

When I arrived at one of our dark sites called Ds-2 around 8:00 PM and got out of the van, that nasty wind was gone with only a gentle breeze. A CAS member (Lou) was already well into setting up, but I had to say “we should have gone to our darker site (called the Edge)”. Oh, well better safe then sorry I guess. Even so the sky conditions were quite good (seeing also).
I had the 8” f/9 refractor and the 4” f/10 refractor (needed some GL notes).
My initial CGE two star mount alignment proved to be off a bit. So I redid it with terrific results and the mount work perfectly through the night.
Lou’s 17.5 inch dob is a marvelous set-up, and provided terrific views. He should be very proud of that scope, but hey it’s a Telekit with a Zambuto mirror! He also has the complete line-up from 14mm to 3.5mm Delos, which match his scope perfectly.
Lou’s views of a number of objects like M-82 (and dimming SN), M-51, Ngc 2371/2372, and the Eskimo nebula to name a few were outstanding.
As for my night the 8” refractor was hitting on all cylinders, with a first view of M-82 and the SN. Using a 9mm X-Cel LX (200x) gave a very fine view of the galaxy and SN. This is when I borrowed the 8mm Delos (225x) from Lou. The view just blew me away and showed just how good this Beast of a refractor could optically perform. The match of this eyepiece to this high-end refractor was nothing short of perfection. The galaxy showed vivid detail, and the SN standing out very well. The clarity and contrast (black background sky) was off the charts. And I’m thinking this is just Ds-2, and the Edge (we should have gone) is darker of course.
I returned Lou his eyepiece, and went onto other galaxies in the area like Ngc 3675 which gave a very nice view. Also Ngc 2841 (a favorite), which looks like a distant M-31 in the eyepiece. The interacting galaxy Ngc 3690 (GL 04.2013) in my 7mm Pentax (257x) and Meade 5.5mm UWA (327x) showed some nice detail, including a bright stellar nucleus.
Some other galaxies in the area were Ngc 3998 and next to it Ngc 3990. Ngc 3998 showed a round disc and an intensely bright stellar core. The small 3990 was slightly elongated with also a nice though less bright stellar nucleus.
Did some Galaxy Logging with both the 8” and the almost forgotten 4” refractor. Hey, the Celestron Omni 4” f/10 refractor is really a good scope and highly recommended, but when you have a 17.5” dob and 8” refractor to view through, it kind of remains as a secondary observing scope. I will say it certainly did its job for Galaxy Log, and a 4” refractor can indeed show fine views of many galaxies.
Showed Lou a medium power view of M-5 (a favorite), and a must see when in that area of the sky.
Back to galaxies and a nice pair in Canes Venatici Ngc 5311 and Ngc 5313. I think these are going to be future GL video “stars’. In Bootes Ngc 5611 was a nice find, and that also could be a future GL object.
Did some deep viewing with a trio of galaxies in Bootes as in Ngc 5598, Ngc 5601, and Ngc 5603. With a AT 8mm WF the two brighter 13th mag galaxies were easily visible, but I used the Meade 5.5mm UWA and a ES 4.7mm UWA (393x) to glance at the almost 15th mag Ngc 5601, which looked like a dim fuzzy star.

As the night was getting closer to the end, plus some high clouds were coming in. With the 4.7mm still in the scope, I gave a quick look at M-57 as Lyra was rising in the east. I then swung the scope back over to the west to view M-63 and M-106, both providing views to end a great night.

Friday, January 31, 2014

It was a bit nippy (actually damn cold) at one of our dark sites (EL 1350 ft.), but the warm feeling of getting out and enjoying the night kept me and another CAS going later then both of us intended.

The thrill of a new scope no matter of size was also a driving force, and the Vixen 5" f/5 reflector is a fine scope with really excellent optics.

First catching M-42 (naturally) brought out a very nice small scope view of this great object. A quick view of M-35 with Ngc 2158 in the background was also very nice, but I had to go for M-82 and the SN (supernova 2014J).

The view using a 10mm UWF (65x) was better than I thought it was going to be. The SN stood out well within the heavily mottled galaxy.

I moved on to the February and March small scope Galaxy Log video, which the 5" gave a very nice view using powers up to 138x. More details to come in the videos.

At this time I needed to get the 6" f/6.5 refractor going which it didn't mount-wise with GoTo. The extreme cold was just too much, so manual was it for this scope.

Did some galaxy logging for the mid-sized scopes with the 6" refractor.

So as we were nearing the end of our night is when things got a bit more serious with the supernovas (M-82 and M-99).

I put both the 5" reflector and 6" refractor on M-82 and used various magnifications, including nearly identical powers. The 5" reflector did very well, but the difference of the larger refractor was quite evident.

Josh (the other CAS member) was at this time observing M-82 and the SN with his 25" f4 dob. I will say the view was as good or better than most images. The color (pale reddish-orange) of the SN was quite striking when compared to the nearby whitish field star. The detail in the galaxy and the SN being so bright gave it a surreal view. One of the grandest views in a scope I've seen.

The view of M-99 was very impressive…arms and faint SN (2014L)!

Went back to the smaller scopes, and the 6" using a 5.5mm UWF eyepiece (180x). The color in the SN (a pastel orange) was evident. Here the galaxy's mottling and dark lane with the bright SN (though not the view of the 25" of course) was awesome.

I even said to Josh if I was going to have a refractor up here tonight, and though the 6" refractor is a fine scope, I wish this view was through the 8" f/9 refractor (The Beast). I'm quite sure this would have been (along with the view of M-42 from West Virginia) the best of the Beast.

This is a terrific supernova is a great galaxy to observe in almost any scope.

Side note:

Missed the SN (2014G) in Ngc 3448. Plain forgot about it. I'm blaming the cold. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 2014 Galaxy Log video is posted.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A terrific night at my local (less than 2 hour drive) darkest site with my 4” and 8” refractors.

As I pulled in the site, and got out of the van I looked NW towards the low riding Big Dipper, and a nice bright meteor went through the handle. I thought to myself that could be a sign of an excellent night.

As I gazed up at the rest of the sky as darkness was settling in, it was apparent that the transparency was quite good. The Milky Way was very vivid, with the major star clouds looking like mottled cumulus clouds. Even some dark nebula in the Sagittarius region was seen.

Out of the van came the 8” (Beast) first to be set up. So after the mount was calibrated to the sky, I just hit M-92 in the hand controller as first object to make sure all is fine, but to take in a great view of a terrific glob.

So as the scope was tracking M-92, I got the 4” f/10 refractor set up and also put on some heavier clothes on this cool September night on the mountain.

Now I must admit I bought some new glass, so with M-92 in the center of a 42mm wide-field eyepiece (43x), I changed it out for a new E.S. 4.7mm UWF (383x). The view was great as the glob fill the eyepiece with myriads of tiny stars, with the core of the glob intensely bright of resolved stars. This is a very fine eyepiece that is very Nagler-like, but better eye relief. I found this eyepiece having similar quality and eye relief of my newer Meade 5.5mm UWF, with stars pinpoint right to the edge of the field..

I next went into Draco as a good test for this eyepiece and the interacting faint pair Ngc 6621/6622. The large refractor showed this duo pretty well as a double lobed object, with Ngc 6621 showing the larger of the two and a faint stellar nucleus. Ngc 6622 was a faint round glow.

Most of my work this night was across the meridian to the east and the Fall constellations.

I put the 42mm eyepiece back in and swung the scope to M-31. The view was poster-like, with the galaxy showing a extremely bright core and dark lanes (spiral arms), with Ngc 206 (star cloud) showing in the SW region of the galaxy. M-32 and M-110 enhanced the overall view.

Next I did some views for upcoming Galaxy Log, even though these particular galaxies are set for the large scope (12.5” plus). The view for Galaxy Log will be described through the 22” dob, but the 8” refractor showed this faint pair. The thing that caught my eye here using the 4.7mm eyepiece was three very faint stars to the NE with magnitudes of 14.7, 15.4, and 15.6, which showed me that this eyepiece does quite well in light transmission, again Nagler-like.

While in the area I caught a real nice view of M-76 (Little Dumbbell) using 12mm to 7mm eyepieces (150x – 257x).

It was around this time I heard a crashing to the wooded area on the western side of the lot, and a distinctive grunt or groan. Yep, a black bear, so I grabbed my large metal baseball bat and yelled loudly and pounded the bat on the ground. I added a nice size rock to throw into the woods, and I could hear him run like hell out of the area. Interesting.

Now back to the rest of the universe, and some more galaxies.

Hit a neat galaxy in Cetus for next month’s Galaxy Log video, which became one of the views of the night. Some interesting detail seen.

Ngc 877 area was next with this galaxy showing in a 12mm eyepiece as an oval glow, with a slightly brighter center, and a 13 to 14 mag star off its SE edge. Ngc 871 directly west was a fairly bright elongated glow. Using a 5.5mm eyepiece (327x) showed Ngc 876 as a very faint ghostly glow to the SW of Ngc 877.

Around this time I put the 4” refractor to work with just pointing it at M-31. Not the view the 8” had a bit earlier of course, but still quite good.

So from there I swung the 4” refractor to M-33 with a 12mm SWF eyepiece (83x). Quite a spectacular view, with two spiral arms seen, as well as a couple HII regions, in particular Ngc 604 to the NE of the center region.

Now back to the main scope and Ngc 750/751 area with a 14mm SWF (129x). Here it shows this interacting pair quite well, with 750 the brighter of the two. The faint Ngc 761 to the north shows as elongated glow with a brighter center. Inserting a 7mm UWF made each galaxy stand out a bit more. Slewing a bit SW to center Ngc 736, which showed as a fairly bright round disc and bright core. Ngc 740 is a very faint edge-on, which was hard to see here with a 10th mag star just to its east. Inserting a 5.5mm UWF eyepiece helped a bit.

Back into Aries and a faint trio led by Ngc 1024. Best view here was with a 7mm UWF (257x). Ngc 1024 showed as having a bright oval central area surrounded with a very faint elongated haze. Ngc 1029 to its SE was a small streak, and just to the north a small glow looking like a faint out of focused star is Ngc 1028. Inserting the 4.7mm UWF eyepiece showed 1028 and 1029 a bit more prominent.

With the 4” refractor I hit the Double Cluster (WOW!!!), and also a couple galaxies for future Galaxy Log’s, with all very nice views. A good 4” refractor can make a nice DSO scope for sure, and proof is in the eyepiece.

I finished this terrific night with the 8” refractor with galaxies like Ngc 1023 (another beauty), Ngc 1465, M-74 and the bright supernova. Swinging the big refractor back over to the western sky for Ngc 7331 (with Ngc 7335, 7337, 7340), and one final look at the supernova in Ngc 7250, which is fading away. Still a great view though.

Nice way to end a sensational night with two fine scopes and the beauty of very clear dark starry skies, that continues to reveal the wonders of deep space to me.