Report by ASSNE Member Mike McCabe
The LVAS Observer’s Challenge object for October, 2018 was NGC 7129, a cluster associated with nebulosity in the constellation Cepheus. I got my first look at this object on the evening of October 9th, which also happened to be the night of the new moon. I was also in a unique location for this observation, having rented a cottage for the week in a place called The Gurnet, which is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The sky quality at the Gurnet, at least up where Cepheus is located at this time of year, is about a magnitude better than what I typically have at home on a good night. So while I had a pretty good sky to work with during that first observation, the aperture of my observing instrument was limited by the amount of room I had available when packing the vehicle for the trip, which was not an astronomy-specific venture.
So while the instrument itself was of good quality, the size of it (4.5” F8) left something to be desired when chasing dim nebulosity. The cluster itself was readily obvious, with four relatively bright stars populating the area of the cluster. The nebulosity however could only be described as a ‘suspicion’ with averted vision, but it was definitely a strong suspicion. I think had I known the exact layout of the nebulous patch, then I could’ve made a more definitive observation on that night, even with the small optics.
My second look at this object came on the 14th of October from my home location, with the seeing and transparency both decent at 3/5. This time I was using my 10” F5 Newtonian reflector, and the nebulosity was readily visible with averted vision. I can’t say that I was able to see the patch with direct vision, but it was definitely there every time I applied averted vision, and was never an intermittent apparition. I’m confident that from a dark sky site the nebulosity would be definitively visible with direct vision in the same telescope, and probably a positive averted vision object in the smaller scope.
Cepheus is a wonderful constellation for these types of objects, and now that I know about NGC 7129 I’ll be sure to return in the future for more sightings of this object.