2-5-05 8-11pm Saturday Night
With-Lou, Mark, Bruce, Paul, Matt and myself.
***feel free to tell me if this is too long.... as I'll be sure shorten these in the future***
It's been awhile since we observed at Mark's so I took it upon myself to invite us all over. Thanks Mark!
A perfect night for observing as it was crystal clear and skies were steady-as Saturn would prove later on.
My goal tonight was to find a few Messiers and put some more notches under my belt. Boy did I ever! I ended up finding the following Open Clusters.
After a bit of trial and error, I found this Open Cluster. At 40x with my 25mm UO Super Erfle this cluster looks great. A large and somewhat dense cluster of stars. This one reminded me of NGC7789 located in Cassiopia. Mark pointed out the Planetary Nebula(NGC2438) that resides within this cluster. At low power it appeared as a fuzzy blue "star"-larger than it's companion star that stood close by. I neglected to look at this planetary more closely at higher power. Argh. I'll have to stop by here again.
A close companion of M46-I probably could have gotten it in the same field of view but didn't think to try. I really liked this cluster. A large, fairly spread out cluster with bright blue stars arranged in a manner that reminded me of the Pleiades. These blue stars stood in nice contrast to the dark sky surrounding them. Great view in the UO Super Erfle at 40x. There's also a very nice double star sitting right in the middle also. Great cluster.
A decent looking cluster that doesn't really rival the last two. Easier to find and for that I was thankful. For that reason alone, we'll give it bonus points. Residing very close to Sirius, some of the stars in this one form a nice curve shape.
M50 and M48:
Two rather indistinct open clusters. Not a whole lot going on with these guys-but hey, two more notches under my belt right? I'll check these two out again when I have more aperture-maybe it'll make a difference?
Never get tired of it. A hint of nebulosity in the Super Erfle.
Oh yea baby! Both Lou and Bruce blew us all away with the views of this planet in their scopes. Seeing conditions were great and Saturn delivered.
All these features were easily distinguised in both scopes:
1. A and B rings clearly visible with more shading(grayish) in the outer ring(A?)
2. Cassini division was tack sharp and could be seen all around.
3. The Crepe ring was obvious as well as the disc casting it's shadow on the rings.
4. The Southern equatorial band was evident as well as South Polar shading.
Unbelievable views and the best i've seen of this Planet.
Finally, I was ready to close up shop when Matt decided he'd show me two more Messiers. M65 and M66
These two looked great! Very reminiscent of M81 and 82 as they both reside in the same FOV. The difference is these two sit perpendicular to one another. Very cool sight! Lowest power for these two as they're quite dim at Mag 10.5 and were sitting low to the horizon.
Matt moved the scope and had me find them again-which I did..but I can't say I honestly found them on my own, so i'll be headed back there again.
1.Telrads are indespensable!
Most all of these clusters are located in and around Hydra/Puppis/Monocerus and Canis Major , with the galaxies residing in Leo(very low in the sky at this point). If not for my Telrad, I'd have been lost with just my finderscope. I highly recommend a reflex site such as this one for anyone that wants to star hop.
2. Patience pays off!
3. GOTO is a GOOD THING.
Marks Meade goto was invaluable in helping me confirm that I had, in fact, found the objects I was looking for.
I'm going to seriously consider this technology at some point. I can see where having this tech. can be great when one wants to be able to free up time to look through other scopes, chat among friends etc.
Although I get GREAT satisfaction finding these objects on my own the old fashioned way....there are nights when I just don't have the time to take 30 minutes finding one object. Worse, I tend to be pretty quiet and in my own world when my head is buried in charts and finderscopes -right guys?
Marks LXD75 setup seems to do the job with accurate GoTo without any problems. I'm sure he'll have more to say about this mount now that he's given it a workout or two.
Thanks guys for a great night and especially Mark for doing some extra clearing of the driveway-which was above and beyond....