View Single Post
Old 13-04-2008, 05:51 PM
ngcles's Avatar
The Observologist

ngcles is offline
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Billimari, NSW Central West
Posts: 1,585
30 hrs in Heaven -- Observing report Mudgee Star Party NGCLes (Pt 1)

Hi All,

Welcome to yet another instalment of the continuing adventures of Gerald – this time reporting from the 2008 Mudgee Star Party. The MSP this year ran simultaneously with the SPSP over the first weekend in April.

I apologise for the many spelling errors and typos in advance – I simply couldn’t be bothered in carefully editing this mammoth report. It may well be the longest post in the observations reports ever (If that ain’t a challenge, I don’t know what is!!).

Well I have to say that, at least observing wise this has to have been the best Mudgee Star Party I can remember for quite some time. Fortunately I got to stay four nights. Thursday night was dusk to dawn clear, Friday was interrupted by about one hours light fog a little after midnight, Saturday was dusk to dawn and Sunday was partly to mostly clear between 8.30pm till 1.30am. Realistically, you could hardly ask for better.

I left home at 11am on the Thursday under clear skies after there had been a vigorous southerly change the night before that had caused significant storm damage in Victoria. Viewing the weather forecast and the charts in the lead-up days I wasn’t entirely optimistic but it all turned out well.

First stop was Lithgow for a spot of lunch at the Shell café and then on to Mudgee arriving a bit after 3pm. The countryside around Lithgow is quite green and has evidently had quite a lot of rain lately – the dams all looked pretty full. As you drive further northward it browns-off a bit but Mudgee still looks a whole lot better than a couple of years ago. Both of John’s dams are more than ˝ full. Not staying in the shack this year (John’s neighbours are living there while they build their house) I pitched the tent in “Hornby’s Hovel” and then set up the ‘scope in the bus-parking area. This might seem a strange choice but I’ve been itching to give it a go for a year or so because while it has slightly inferior horizons in all directions (particularly east and west) it is very flat, has a pretty good northern horizon, not crowded and well sheltered from any wind.

The *exact* position for this spot is at 149 deg 29’ 34.24” E and 32 deg 37’ 57.63” S and it proved to be quite a good one. The main observing field a little southwest of this spot is a good one but a bit uneven underfoot and this year also quite crowded. Being down in the bus-park also allowed us to play some music without disturbing those who do not appreciate quality progressive rock The bus-park was also only a stones-throw from the camp site too (all down hill). Maybe the bus-park should be re-named the “Dale of the Dobs”?

I won’t try to list all who were there while I was up at Mudgee, and if I forgot to list you here, don’t take it hard. John & Patti Vetter, Chris Toohey, Peter Ward, Ken McEwen (whose C8 blew over in the wind on Thursday night), Mel Hulbert, Arthur Hall, Matt Smith, Col Shepherd, Roger Giller, Tony Austin, Craig McIntyre, Ian Walsh, Damien Clarke … and there were at least two times that number I just can’t recall at the moment.

I was set up collimated and almost everything was pretty-much ready by 4.30pm when Gary and Taylor arrived and pitched Taylor’s tent and set up the stove and table etc.

Sunset was just after 6.30pm daylight-savings time and I was itching to get going under very good skies. As it turned out the Thursday night had pretty average seeing (after that southerly – quite predictable) but the transparency was very good. I would have rated the sky as a 9/10 but this year I came armed with a new toy – a Unihedron SQM – L (Sky Quality Meter) and that provided objective evidence of the quality of the surface brightness of the sky. This is the new model with an IR blocking filter and a lens that restricts it to a reading 10 degrees wide. They are objective measurement of the sky quality.

The sound track for the Thursday night included: Guitars: Mike Oldfield, Help!: The Beatles, Paint the Sky with Stars: Enya, Animals: Pink Floyd, 12th Man Again: Twelfth Man, The Persian Hours: Tamara Cislowska, and Dark Side of the Moon: Pink Floyd.

At the start of observing the SQM read 21.70 = ZLM of +6.48 and started with some galaxies in Sextans:

x185 27' TF

NGC 2980 Galaxy *
RA: 09h 43m 12.0s Dec: -09° 36' 46"
Mag: 13.6 (B) S.B.: --- B-V: +0.61
Size: 1.6'x0.8' Class: SAB(s)c? P.A.: 155
Inclination: --- R.V.: +5720

NGC 2978 Galaxy *
RA: 09h 43m 16.8s Dec: -09° 44' 45"
Mag: 13.5 S.B.: --- B-V: ---
Size: 1.0'x0.8' Class: (R')SAB(rs)bc? P.A.: 102
Inclination: --- R.V.: +1802 Source: RC3 *

MCG -2-25-13 Galaxy *
RA: 09h 43m 18.1s Dec: -09° 56' 49"
Mag: 13.4 S.B.: --- B-V: ---
Size: 3.3'x1.3' Class: SAB(s)d
P.A.: 150 Inclination: --- R.V.: +2697
Source: RC3 *

These three egs appear in a line N-S from -80 to -79 to -2-25-23 overall length 20'. -80 to -78 sep is about 10', -80 has lower SB but is more elong while -78 has the better S.B. Fairly well populated field for Sextans. -78 is in PA 0 probably 1.75' x 40" fairly consistent SB and appears to have a fairly large. somewhat brighter core-zone which is 1' x 20" in the same PA, but no real nucleus.

-78 is found near a bunch of faint stars and is round, probably 1' or just over in diameter brightening broadly and slightly to the centre without noticeable core, zones or nucleus. Seems to have pretty diffuse edges.

MCG -2-25-13 is about 8' further south and is a somewhat lower S.B eg of consistent, low SB growing slightly and broadly to the axis nr centre but having no defined core zone or nucleus. Seems about 1.5' x 20".

x185 27' TF

NGC 2979 Galaxy *
RA: 09h 43m 08.7s Dec: -10° 23' 00"
Mag: 13.6 S.B.: --- B-V: ---
Size: 1.5'x0.9' Class: (R')SA(r)a? P.A.: 30
Inclination: --- R.V.: --- Source: RC3 *

This eg appears pretty much in PA 30, seems surprisingly bright for mag 13.6. Seems elong in PA 30 about 1.25 x 30" with a good SB halo with very faint edges and with a large oval-shaped core which is slightly brighter. On the S end of the halo on axis 1.2 to 2/3rds of the way out is a very faint mag 15.5 *Doesn’t have tips -- rounded ends . Nice for mag 13.6

x185 27' TF

NGC 2966 Galaxy *
RA: 09h 42m 11.3s Dec: +04° 40' 22"
Mag: 13.6 (P) S.B.: --- B-V: ---
Size: 2.2'x0.8' Class: SB?
P.A.: 72 Inclination: 6 R.V.: +1897 Source: RC3

This is a really attractive eg in about PA 75 with a superimposed *. Seems about 1.75 x 20" lengthened oval haze with good S.B. The super * is 1/2 way out along the halo at the W end (shown on the DSS) just above the axis, but strangely the E end of the halo seems to have a different appearance to the W end, seeming to have a diffuse VLB blob hanging off the end and that is slightly elong in PA 0 and not mirrored in the W end of the halo. Maybe due to *??. The core is not well-defined but contains a very faint *ar nucleus at threshold No other *s associated.

Pt 2 to follow ....

Last edited by ngcles; 13-04-2008 at 06:15 PM.
Reply With Quote