Sunday, March 17, 2013

Earlier in the day this past Thursday longtime CAS member Rob Cordivari and I were trying to get a hold on the forecast. Some weather sites said mostly clear to party cloudy with the wind dying down.

For both of us it’s a bit of a commitment to go to our darkest site called DS-Edge (1 hr 40 min. drive) with an iffy forecast, and we weren't even quite sure DS-2 (about an hour drive) would be worth it. So later towards dinner time we decided to just go to old faithful DS-1. A decent dark site about 30 minute drive for me, and less then 10 minutes for Rob.

Well the wind was more by far then predicted, but the transparency was quite good, with not a single cloud till we finally broke down around 4:00am.

Rob had his 16” f/4 dob, and as usual I had two scopes as in my trusty 12.5” f/4.8 dob, and my all-time favorite grab-an-go scope the 4” f/10 refractor.

First views as usual this time of year was with Ngc 2903 in both scopes. The 4” refractor with a 24.5mm SWA eyepiece gave a nice wide-field view of the galaxy. With a 12mm WF eyepiece the galaxy showed some detail with a bright elongated center (the bar) within a very oval mottled disc.

The 12.5” dob’s view with a 10mm UWA eyepiece was terrific for DS-1, that certainly brought back some memories. I’m thinking this was the first time in nearly 10 years I had this big scope here. Anyway, much of the detail I was seeing was similar to the views I had at the darker DS-2 about a week earlier.

Next for the 12.5” was a nice view of Ngc 3226/3227 with Ngc 3222 in the FOV using a 12mm WF eyepiece. Staying in the area with Hickson 44 (Ngc 3190 grp) brought out a great view with even the faint Ngc 3187 seen.

With the 4” refractor I swung over to M-81 and M-82 with Ngc 3077 in a 20mm SWA eyepiece in the focuser. Really a terrific view.

Other highlights in the 12.5” dob was Ngc 4485/4490, Ngc 4449, Ngc 4460 (and double star), M-51, and some terrific sights in the Virgo cluster.

In the 4” refractor I pretty much followed the same objects as in the 12.5”, and here again with some surprising results. In fact taking a Virgo tour using this scope and a 12mm WF eyepiece was lot of fun with numerous galaxies bright and faint being seen.

Rob and his 16” shared some terrific views of numerous objects like M-104, M-51, Ngc 4754 & Ngc 4762, and of course Ngc 4565 as for some examples.

Ended the night with the 4” refractor’s views of M-13 and M-57, with both objects showing why they appeal to us lovers of the night sky.

With the 12.5” dob I ended things with Ngc 2841 and M-51 using a 8mm SWA eyepiece. The Whirlpool was quite beautiful showing why it’s given nickname, with those wonderful spiral arms. Though my view of Ngc 2841 for old-time sake was heartwarming. You see it was about 20 years ago from this old friend called DS-1 observing site, that the view of this nice galaxy later influenced “first light” with my current largest scope the 22” f/4.5. That view is still stuck in my mind’s eye, and I think it will be for a long time to come.

So a great night with two old friends as in DS-1 and of course longtime observing partner, CAS member and friend Mr. Rob Cordivari. A terrific way to start a birthday weekend.

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