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Old 25-09-2011, 07:25 PM
jamespierce (James)
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Observing at the ASV Galactic Center Star Party

This wont be a detailed observing report, we simply viewed too many objects over the two nights to do that justice. We headed up on the Friday night ahead of the main Galactic Centre Star Party on the Saturday.

Location: Leon Mow ASV Dark Site, near Heathcote.

Friday Night 23/9/2011 - Seeing 3/5 - SQM @ 9:00pm 21.4

It's been a while since our last serious observing run due to weather, work and life so it took a while to get things setup up just right. After an alignment and 15min TPAS run I had SDM #38 pointing with ~ 0.1 degree accuracy across the whole sky.

I viewed every Messier object in Scorpius and Sagittarius to start things off. After that with clouds threatening I hopped around the sky looking at some usual favourites as well as Nepture which is a clear pale blue disc in the 16".

The clouds arrived about 9:30pm and teased us until we gave up around 11:00pm. It didn't really matter, we have a full week of observing nights ahead of us if the weather plays ball and could do with the sleep.

Saturday Night 24/9/2011 - (The Start Party) - Seeing 2/5 - SQM @ 9:00pm 21.4 - SQM @1:00am 21.74 ... The darkest reading I've ever taken. It was also a fairly chilly 5 degrees and very windy with strong gusts.

We started out the evening with Phil Hart entertaining some of his friends and their 4 kids. They REEEALY wanted to see Jupiter but seemed quite impressed with some good early evening targets like 47 Tuk, Omega Centauri, the Jewel Box, the Lagoon Nebula and Neptune. One of them asked to see an asteroid, to which Phil with a quick wit pointed out the Zodiacal Light which was very clearly visible - Nice answer ! They were great kids, really well behaved and very interested.

After Phil's friends left with four happy little men off to bed we moved onto some more serious observing. These days I tend to choose a few constellations that are going to be up and build a list of interesting things to work through. It saves jumping around the sky, and there is something satisfying about some what systematically observing the sky each year. In retrospect each constellation kind of ended up with a theme, but that wasn't deliberate.

Aquila: Planetary and Dark Nebula.

Planetary Nebula - NGC 6790, NGC 6751, NGC 6781 and NGC 6778. With the faintest at mag 12.3 an OIII filter was a huge improvement.
Dark Nebula - B127/B130/B129, B133 and B143. B143 was a real highlight in Aquila.

Ophiushus: Globulars

Globlular Clusters - NGC 6171, NGC 6218, NGC 6254, NGC 6266 and NGC 6274
Planetary Nebula - NGC 6369 - A particularly nice Planetary sometimes called the little ghost.


NGC7099/M30 - A beautiful bright glob.

Pegasus: Galactic Cluster

NGC7479 - Galaxy
NGC7917+7626 / Pegasus Galactic Cluster - This is a target to go back and spend some time on for sure.

We took a break from our scheduled viewing at this point to show a few people around some crowd pleasing objects. M31 (M32 and M110) in Andromeda, the Dumbell Neb M27, the Helix Neb NGC7293, the Saturn Neb NGC 7009, The Veil Nebula and the Tarantual in the LMC

Grus/Cetus and Fornax: Galaxies

As the night wore on the main field emptied out and I moved onto some Galaxies. I must have viewed about 30 or 40 between Grus, Cetus and Fornax. The highlights were the Grus Quartet and the Galaxy Cluster in Fornax. The seeing was poor, but the transparency was very good with an SQM reading of 21.74 at 1am.

With tired eyes I took a quick tour around all the visible planets for the night, Nepturne (small and pale blue), Uranus (slightly larger and pale turquoise) and Jupiter which was big and boiling in poor seeing as it was still only low in the sky.

Notes: Filters, don't leave home without em. Arvo Navis TPAS makes your pointing really really good. 2" Thick Mirrors chase the ambient temperature for hours when the temperature drops quickly, even with fans and lots of wind.

Last edited by jamespierce; 26-09-2011 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 26-09-2011, 09:01 AM
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Great report James.
Enjoyed reading about your targets and all the other things going on around you too.
I always have filters with me, but FORGET to use them, and I love nebula.
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Old 26-09-2011, 10:32 AM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Sounds like a most enjoyable session, rich in targets. Thanks for the report!
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Old 26-09-2011, 10:56 AM
jamespierce (James)
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The clear conditions held up all night too but 6 hours at the EP is about my limit for enjoyment and fatigue. Hopefully this current clear blue sky holds out too - were off to stay near Dunkeld for 3 nights today.
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