I had another long observing session on Sunday night and wanted to share some of it with my fellow observers. I took my 5-inch Meade ED out to a friend's house in Rochester and began the setup at 8:15PM. There was moisture in the air and I figured I could count on getting some dew during the course of my session. I wasn't disappointed. Even before I was observing the top of my portable table began to collect the stuff. Not to worry, I remembered my hair dryer and battery pack.
After leveling and aligning the mount I was at the eyepiece by 8:50PM. My first target was M31. I can't see it naked eye at this time. Same for the double cluster in Perseus. I've seen both of these Messier objects naked eye before from this location. So, what's up tonight? Well. it's just not as good a night as I'd hoped. I intend to stick it out just in case the conditions improve. This will serve as a training session too as I'll be taking this telescope to Barnet, Vermont on Wednesday. I'm hoping to get in two nights of observing before coming home on Friday.
The GOTO is working well and I pop in my 23mm eyepiece (EP.) That's 50x in my 5-inch so I wouldn't call it a low power EP by any means. When I GOTO M27 (Dumbbell Nebular) and then M57 (Ring Nebular) both objects are in the FOV. They aren't perfectly centered but I can see them. I'm a happy camper.
It's 9PM and I'm observing the Ring at 50x when a satellite comes into the FOV. It's pretty bright and moving fast, my first satellite of the evening.
It's 9:10PM and I've switched to my W70 Antares 14mm EP for views at 81x. This is a sharp EP with a wide FOV. Using the GOTO I start picking off objects on my observing list. In rapid succession I visit with M27, M57 and the two globular clusters in Hercules, M13 and M92. All present nice views but not great views. I've seen them all under better sky conditions. It's still early so I'll hang out a little longer. When I go through the bother of setting up the 5-inch I like to get in at least two hours of viewing. I'll get that and more tonight!
While on M13 I switch to my Antares 10mm Elite Plossl. Another nice EP. I'm at 114x with this EP and I'm beginning to resolve some stars outside of the core. I'm gonna remember this EP and M13 for the Vermont trip. With a real dark sky I'm thinking this will be a spectacular view.
Time to test the optics so I swing over to the double/double in Lyra. I've split this double pair with my 80mm Stellarvue from my backyard here in New Bedford. I can do it with my 6mm Vixen at 80x. I still have the 10mm Antares (114x) in place so I'm thinking it should be an easy split. It was.
It's 9:30PM and I'm just looking up, trying to gauge the sky conditions when a bright, fast meteor passes through Pegasus. It's the first of two I'll see tonight.
I check my optics at 9:45PM and they are clear, no dew. Can't say the same for my table and observing chair. I'm gonna need my hair dryer for sure before the evening is over.
It's 9:47PM and I'm treated to the howls from a group of coyotes. They are loud. It lasts just a few minutes and stops suddenly, just the way it started. Lucky for me they stay out in the woods and don't pay me a visit.
The 10mm EP is still in place and I GOTO the beautiful double star, Albireo in Cygnus. Even at 114x the stars are in the FOV. The GOTO is smokin' tonight.
It's been a while since I've viewed the globular cluster M15 in Pegasus. With the 10mm in place I hit the GOTO button and take a peek. No ball of stars. I pop in the 23mm EP with 50x and I see M15. It's 10:25PM and I need a snack and my finder scope has dew on the main objective. Time to break out the hair dryer.
I'm back at the telescope at 10:50PM. The seat of my observing chair is wet and so is the main tube of the 5-inch. The lens is still clear as I parked the telescope in a horizontal position while I took a break. I only want it pointing towards the sky when I'm at the eyepiece.
By midnight the sky conditions seem to have dropped off a bit and I'm thinking about packing it in. I decide to give it another hour just in case it clears up a little. It does and the extra hour turns into several more hours. I'm jumping all over the sky looking at objects from a list I prepared earlier. When you're using GOTO you need to have a list of things to see. I had over twenty objects on my list and nailed 16 of them.
By hanging in there I'm rewarded with views of the Crab Nebular, The Pleiades, the three open clusters in Auriga (M36, M37 and M38) the Orion Nebular (M42) and the open cluster M35 in Gemini. I spent some time with M42 and got great views using a Meade broadband filter and the Antares W70 14mm EP. The four stars of the trapezium were pinpoints! Using the 10mm Antares I can see a fifth star but not the sixth. I forget the letter designations but I have them written down somewhere. I will be looking for the 5th and 6th stars when I'm in Vermont. That 6th star has eluded me far too long. It's supposed to be around 11th magnitude like the 5th star so it's within the reach of my 5-inch. I just need a good night.
I was surprised at how hard it was to see the galaxy M33 in Triangulum. Forget about putting any serious power on this object. The observing books are right, use low power. I used my 2-inch 32mm EP (35x) and could see it fairly easily. I'll be looking at this object again in Vermont.
While observing M35 in Gemini with a 2-inch 32mm EP a satellite passed through the FOV. It's 3:20AM.
A second meteor made its appearance at 3:36AM, streaking between Taurus and Orion. It's another fast, bright one.
I lost the sky at 4AM. That's not a typo, I observed until 4AM. I had to pack up when clouds shut me down along with some ground fog. It was an enjoyable night. I'd rate the overall sky conditions a seven out of ten.
I hope some of you got to enjoy the sky as well.