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.

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