Old 01-01-2011, 08:44 AM
jamespierce (James)
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Pomonal - 31/12/2010 - New Year's Eve

Pomonal - 31/12/2010 - Seeing - 1.5/5 - Transparency 4/5

skyoyster and I shared our SDM 16" for most of last night when we were not chasing a few Messier objects through our Tak setup which was again just beside. We used the 21mm Ethos and Paracorr 60% of the time, switching to the 10mm to take a closer look at a most objects though with terrible seeing I'm really not sure it was much of an improvement.

We headed out just on the end of Astronomical twilight having setup earlier in the day. A few hours earlier it was still in the low 30s and we had 50km/hr winds, now things had calmed and cooled down a bit but looking up all the bright stars were twinkling like Christmas lights. A quick look at a few bright clusters confirmed stars like blobs, snapping into focus every 5 to 10 seconds for a split second then reverting to their melted appearance.

With a timely New Years Eve reminder yesterday from Rodstar that astronomy like dining is best enjoyed with a focus on quality and not quantity I had only planned a short list for tonight, we've finished at 2:30am the last two nights and it's taken a bit of a toll. I planned to work through about 15 targets, mostly galaxies in Columba and Fornax as they were both near the Zenith around 11pm, it turned out to be a good choice given the seeing - here are the notes I made last night simply transcribed.

NGC1851 - GC - Barely resolved @ 21mm (97x) - mush with any more magnification.
NGC1808 - Gal - Bright core and some discernible elongated shape, 10mm (206x) shows more discernible shape.
NGC2090 - Gal - Found, but even with at 206x and averted vision it doesn't look like much more than a slightly elongated smudge.
NGC2188 - Gal - Ditto NGC2090
NGC1792 - Gal - Highlight of Columba, larger and more round that the other galaxies it almost gives up some detail at 206x - one to return to on a better night. No spiral visible, but some faint stars and brighter knots are visible.

NGC1398 - Gal - A bright core with a large diffuse round shape.
NGC1360 - PN - Not much good tonight after excellent views last night, the OIII made it worse not better tonight.
NGC1425 - Gal - Faint galaxy with a bright core.
NGC1406 - Gal - Very thin cigar like shape.
NGC1380 - Gal - Slightly elongated, brighter core. 7 galaxies visible in the 1 degree FOV with the 21mm (97x)
NGC1350 - Gal - Bright core, visible extension in both directions about 3 times the length of it's width.
NGC1365 - Gal - Zorro - Bright core, bar and arms visible extending past the width of the core - despite the seeing the high transparency makes for a good view. (sketched)
NGC1316 - Gal - Very bright core fading out, looks great with it's friend NGC1317
NGC1097 - Gal - Spiral bar, like a mini zorro, it's very faint companion NGC1097A is just visible to one end.

At that point it was midnight, we had a New Years Eve smooch and then wizzed through 47Tuk, the Tarantula and M42 on the way back round the sky to park the scope and call it an early night. Planning out about 15 objects in a few constellations worked out really well, along with taking a look at a few favourites it makes for about a 2 to 2.5 hour session which with poor seeing was more than enough, I think I'll take the same approach for the next few nights we are here.
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:49 AM
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skyoyster (Alexandra)
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I am not a big fan of huge parties, so spending New Year's Eve in the middle of nowhere observing was pretty good! A slightly shorter write up over here, but - again - highlights:
* NOT Jupiter, because the seeing was mush.
* NGC1808, a long faint but obvious galaxy, with a bright centre.
* a group of five - maybe six - galaxies all visible within the same field of view (1 degree) in Fornax.
* identifying Procyon, Castor and Pollux, and confirming that Aldebaran is indeed that star in Taurus, thanks to the Argo (which later died a very sad battery death, just as James' had the night before).
* M67 (another open cluster that I do like; it looks like someone took a bite out of the side).
* 47Tuc, which looked INCREDIBLE and as fake as ever.
* the Tarantula Nebula, which I choose to think of as resembling a flower. * and, of course, M42, whose nebulosity just looked brilliant through the Dob. I had to get a bigger eyepiece to get a better view of it!
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Old 01-01-2011, 12:10 PM
jamespierce (James)
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NCG1365 Sketch
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