Old 09-03-2008, 07:12 PM
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The Observologist

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Location: Billimari, NSW Central West
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Observing Report 08 March 2008 - NGCLes

Hi All,

This time a fairly brief report for just a change!

Yesterday was a generally warm & sunny day in Sydney with some broken cumulus and a sky in the background that was a slightly hazy blue. Not perfect but given Sydney's weather recently, you've really got to take what's on offer, for who knows what tomorrow will bring?

By the time I headed off for our southern highlands site at 6.10pm, it was almost completely clear and the cloud that was around looked very non-threatening. After arriving at 7.20pm and setting up, all was in readiness at 8pm and there were about a dozen of us from Sutherland Astronomical Society there and a couple of Illawarra folk. It was very nearly completely clear, the seeing was mediocre to okay without being spectacular (mirror still cooling) and the transparency was fair, almost middling -- a little hazy.

While waiting for complete darkness and for the mirror to cool I took a look at a few bright favourites like M42 & M43, M46, Eta Carinae (NGC 3372) the Tarantula (NGC 2070) and then quite a few of us took in the view of the Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) (several for the first time) both with and without the H-Beta filter.

I then swung over to NGC 3766, a lovely open cluster in Centaurus to check it against some recent reports here. I can't remember having seen it before (in the 18") but at x111 with the 20mm TII it is a very impressive splash of stars about 20 arc-mins across with a broad slight compression to centre and stars from mag 7 down to 12th. The surrouding field is very rich. I wasn't able to see the "W" asterism Doug mentioned but instead I saw a massive "8" made up of mag 8-11 *s that stretched from almost one side of the cluster to the other (but a little offset toward the north). The "8" is approx in PA 120. Two of the three red stars are easily visible (the one on the east side and one of the two on the W side). Both these are a bright pale orange while the third red star (also on the W side) is much more pale and seems yellowish. The rest of the stars are white. A lovely sight.

By 9.15pm the mirror was well and truly settled and it was time for some serious observing. I went to the vehicle and retrieved my voice recorder and list of things to do and set that all up, Noted the first object on my list (NGC 3313 -- Galaxy Hydra) , entered it into the Argo, did the slew and looked up to discover the sky had, in just a couple of minutes, become 60% clouded with very low thin slow-moving cumulus that was forming in situ right above us and virtually stationary. Took a look in the eyepiece at my first intended target, watched it disappear in cloud and ...

That was it for the night. We hung around seeing the odd bright star through tiny gaps in the cloud-deck for the next 3 hrs, listened to some music, chatted, and took in the occasional glimpse of Saturn through the cloud but finally packed it in very despondent at about 12.30am. We headed for home but pulled into the big Mobil at Pheasant's Nest for a quick snack only 10 Ks away and got out of the car to find stars almost everywhere in the sky. After a snack, I drove home under a good sky and it was perfectly clear at home at 2.30am. Hmmm ...

Bummer, but that's the way it goes sometimes (most times recently in Sydney it seems).

Looking forward to next month when I'll be heading off up Mudgee way for almost a week of (given the weather recently) glumly sitting under a grey sky and disposing of a few cans of Tooheys Old.


Les D
Contributing Editor
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Old 09-03-2008, 09:57 PM
Its only a column of dust

žAB is offline
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Damn Don't you just HATE IT when that happens? Once, I was faced with the most potentially excellent seeing ever, and yes full overcast by 10pm. But look on the bright side, you gave many people their first ever views of the horsehead

I might do some galaxy hunting tonight but saw some cloud to the north or south. Should I or shouldn't I?
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Old 10-03-2008, 07:56 PM
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goober (Doug)
No obs, raising Harrison

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Yikes, I settled down with a cuppa to enjoy Les' report, and it was over ...!
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Old 13-03-2008, 10:16 AM
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Location: Bright, Vic, Australia
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Originally Posted by goober View Post
Yikes, I settled down with a cuppa to enjoy Les' report, and it was over ...!
LOL, a bit like that with me too - had my pencil & paper at the ready....

Pity Les, but them's the breaks (or no breaks as the case may be!).

Cheers -
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