LVAS August 2017 Challenge, M24

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Apollo XX
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LVAS August 2017 Challenge, M24

Unread post by Apollo XX » Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:21 pm

Howdy Folks,

Here's my report for the LVAS August 2017 Observing Challenge: M24, Star Cloud in Sagittarius -

Let me start the report by saying this; August was a terrible month in my area for deep sky observing. I don’t think we had even one night of decent transparency. I observed M24 for the challenge on what I believe were the two best nights of the month. The first I’d call poor, and the second was just terrible. Hopefully September is better.

Having seen M24 a few times from dark locations, I think it’s fair to say that I was disappointed with the view I experienced while observing it from my driveway for this month’s challenge. Gone was the “sugar-grain” backdrop of the thousands of unresolved stars that lay beyond the brighter foreground stars. Instead, what I got was the all-too-common dull grey background that the sky around my area often offers up. M24 can be a fantastic object, but under these conditions it was just “o/k”.

Yes, there were a lot of stars. This cluster can’t help but show a lot of stars, even under bad conditions. When the object you’re observing lays just a few degrees north of the galactic center and is smack-dab in the heart of the Milky Way, there are going to be lots of stars. But when the atmosphere you’re looking through is rife with moisture and scattered light, it can really take the punch out of even an amazing object like M24.

I probably spent the better part of an hour jotting down the stars I could see, and I although I could make out NGC6603, the much dimmer star cloud embedded in M24, I don’t think my observations went much deeper than magnitude 10.5-ish on all the other stars in the field of view. That right there speaks volumes about the sky conditions when you consider that I was using an 8” reflector to conduct my observations. We weren’t getting anywhere near the limiting magnitude of an 8” scope on the nights I was observing M24.

But it is M24, and given the chance under a dark sky I will be back, because once you’ve experienced a backdrop of a thousand stars in your field of view while observing an object you never forget it. Those stars are out there just waiting for me to see them, and see them I will some time down the road.

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Mike M.
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