Old 06-08-2016, 12:32 AM
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Location: Long Island, New York, USA
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Cool Club Observation Night - Aug 3, 2016

Club Observation Night - Aug 3, 2016 Long Island, NY, USA

My wife is not interested in astronomy but likes to accompany me to the observation sessions. So we have dinner someplace on the way to the site. Last night my daughter and her husband joined us at the Whale's Tale in Centerport, NY . A great way to start an evening of observation. After dinner they headed home and we headed for the site. Upon arrival my wife sets up her Kindle in the car and I set-up my scope.

Vanderbilt Museum grounds 9 pm to 11 pm -
Dark red zone on http://darksitefinde...maps/world.html
Approx. 8 scopes, a lot of people had gone to Stellafane
Around 73 degrees, light breeze, Transparency 5/5 Seeing 4/5

Orion XT8i with Intelliscope enabled and aligned
2" 38 & 25 mm 70 degree, 2" 2X barlow, 1.25" 8-24 zoom, 6.7 mm 82 degree, DGM Nebula filter

NGC 457 - First target of the night the Dragonfly/Owl Cluster in Cassiopeia - Easily found and looked great. I spent most of my time with the 25 mm/48X eyepiece. I like this one. It will be a regular touch point while it is in the sky and I can Cassiopeia most of the year.

I tried for M2 but there was a tree in the way.

Next stop NGC 7000, the North America Nebula - No Joy. I worked this one for a while with various eyepieces. Then I put my DGM nebula filter on the zoom and worked the area. Could not identify anything that suggested I was on this nebula. Perhaps this site is still not dark enough or maybe the sky was not yet fully dark.

M13 - The Hercules Globular Cluster - Almost directly overhead - This was spectacular! For some reason I have not been able to find this one from home but I nailed it tonight. Centered it in the 38 mm then walked up the magnification. Best view was in the 6.7 mm 82 degree at 180X. The cluster was clearly observed and I could resolved individual stars throughout the cluster. The effect was kind of like a whitish puff ball with twinkle lights arrayed along the edges and crossing it. I stayed on this one a while.

M92 - Another globular cluster in Hercules - This one was even more spectacular. Similar to M13 but I got a sort of a rose petal impression as the individual stars that I could resolve seemed to create waving streaks across the cluster at 180X. Imagine a white rose, fully opened. Now imagine spots of dew lining the edges of the petals, lit from behind so they seem to glow. That is what it looked like to me. They say the mind seeks patterns and sometimes we see patterns that really aren't there but this rose petal appearance really impressed me. I actually dreamed about this one last night. I must go back to this one again but I don't think it will look like this from home. I was on this one a while too.

M12 - This is a globular cluster in Cassiopeia - It was fainter than the two above and would not stand up to more than 50X. Perhaps this was because it was lower in the sky where M12 and M92 were almost directly overhead.

I looked South and there was Saturn, calling to me. At 180X Saturn and several of its moons looked great! The sky was so clear I decided to crank it up. I dropped the 6.7 mm into the 2X 2" barlow. Saturn was large in the eyepiece. No additional detail but the seeing was good enough that focus held most of the time. I think this is the highest I have ever had Saturn with any kind of a quality image. That was fun!

Around 10:30 pm

I had held off M31 till it had a chance to rise.

M31 - The Andromeda Galaxy - About 30 degrees above the horizon. - Easily found as a gray-white oval in the sky. Larger and more distinct than what I see at home. Looked best at around 50X. No details but a much better view than what I get at home.

I had been up since 6 am and I was starting to drift off at the eyepiece. And I had to work in the morning so I packed it up and was home by around 11:30. Overall a good session

Binoculars at Home

Having seen Andromeda at the dark site and feeling I had an exceptionally clear sky I wanted to observe from home with binoculars. I have often said that I could not or could just barely detect the Andromeda galaxy with my 10X50s from home. Andromeda was about 35 degrees above the horizon so I decided to take a look.

Naked eye there was nothing but remember my site is very light polluted and there is a lot of ground light around me so the eyes never fully dilate.

First I pulled out the 15X70s and easily found the puff in the sky but it was larger and more distinct than usual.

Next went to the 10X50s and found it, easily. Clearly faint compared to the 15X70s but clearly there. They say the more you observe the more you can see and maybe I am just getting better at spotting Andromeda. Or maybe I had not tried the 10X50s since I switched form the Gordon 10X50s (BAK7) to the Garrett 10X50s (BAK4).

Pulled out the 7X28s. I don't normally use these for astronomy but I have them handy, mostly in case I have a child as part of a star gazing at my house. Well, I could just barely detect Andromeda as a slightly whitish area in the sky. If I didn't know what I was looking for and didn't know exactly where to look I would not have noticed it.

The sky must have been exceptionally clear last night because everything looked better than it normally does, even at home. A definitely good evening of observing.

Clear Skies my friends!
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Old 06-08-2016, 11:07 AM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
I can see clearly now ...

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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Kingston TAS
Posts: 1,040
Any enjoyable read Ed. Thanks for posting.
I too enjoy chasing down Andromeda from my southern latitudes each year. Best time here is November, but maximum elevation is less than 3 degrees. So I am in this for the challenge rather than what detail I can see. I was successful last November with low power in a 140mm refractor. All I could see was a definite large hazy patch with definite brightening towards the centre.


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