Well, Brad and I made it up to HGO by around 7:30 PM to find about 8 to 10 telescopes being set up already. The forecast was calling for completely clear skies, 8 MPH wind and a nighttime temperature of about 60 degrees. All in all, not a bad forecast. The wind had fallen off to almost zero and was really looking pretty good. Unfortunately, as the night grew on, the wind increased to about 12 to 14 MPH and it became evident that we would have problems with upper level turbulence and moisture.
Thanks is given to Jim Ster for providing a complete list of attendee's for tonight's observation.
Andy Mauck, Jane Smith, Brad Freeman, Art Freeman , Gene Kahn, Francis Lau, Alvin Huey, Al Petterson, Randy Muller, Allan Keller, Joe Riddle, Kyle Riddle, Tom Noel & Sue (his guest), Mike Conley, Margaret Temple and the all time favorite, Jim Ster. I had to say that or Margaret would hit me! ;-)
HGO Pic, about 8:00 PM, May 19th, courtesy of: Gene Kahn
Although I am a little poor at estimating seeing levels, I would estimate the seeing at about 7/10 for most of the sky. The Southern sky held a lot of upper level moisture and I would place seeing for the Southern region at about 4/10. This was very evident when viewing Mars as all you could see was an amber, rippling ball with no detail or contrast levels.
So, here is what I did see and enjoyed every minute of a Messier night. Due to the level of seeing, I stayed to my 35mm Panoptic for viewing most objects.
Unknown Galaxy or Nebula while looking for M83
Again, due to the poor Southern seeing, all I could make out looked like a central star with fairly large nebulosity around it and about 13 degrees below and to the right at a 45 degree angle from where M-83, the Southern Pinwheel would be located. According to my Starry Night Pro, this was in the immediate area of IC-4219 and IC-4214. I used the TelRad overlay to measure the distance between M83 and IC-4219. If anyone can tell me what I was observing, I would be most grateful.
M104 - Sombrero Galaxy
Although the Sombrero Galaxy is in the Southern sky, it was high enough to avoid the heavy moisture level. Could clearly make out the dust lane in this side on galaxy with a nice core glow to either side, but weaker on the lower half. Very Nice!
M13 - Globular Cluster
One of the more famous clusters, I was a little disappointed in its view as the nice white cluster took on a rather din, gray look due to the somewhat poor conditions.
M61 - Face-On Galaxy
This was a fairly dim, face on galaxy, but I could still make out one of its arms.
M65, M66 and NGC-3628 - The Leo Trio
M65 and M66 very nice oval, diffused galaxies. Where NGC-3628 was a edge-on diffused galaxy. I was able to get all three galaxies in one FOV in my 35mm Panoptic so I could study all three at the same time.
After viewing the Leo Trio, I moved up and to the left where there is a rich field of galaxies on the Virgo / Coma Berenices Constellation border. As there were so many galaxies, found about a dozen or more in one small area. I am not that familiar with all of them, I studied six, possibly seven galaxies which I could get into the same FOV with my 35mm Panoptic. Really a nice view. After studying my Starry Night Pro software, I believe I was viewing M84, M86, NCG-4388, NCG-4425, NCG-4438, NCG-4461 and possibly NCG-4402, all in one field of view.
On to M81 - Bode's Galaxy and M82 - Cigar Galaxy
Bode's galaxy was a semi, face on galaxy where the Cigar galaxy is a side on galaxy. Could not make out any arm structure in Bode, but was able to see the dark separation at almost dead center of the Cigar galaxy. Both were very nice to view and also fit in the same FOV of the 35mm Panoptic.
M97 - Owl Nebula
Very dim tonight as I could not make out the eye's of the nebula.
M108 - Edge-On Irregular Galaxy
This galaxy seemed quite clear and defined in my lens and was facing parallel to the Owl nebula.
Mars was now just about as high in the Southern sky as it was going to get tonight, so I switched to it. The seeing was so bad, Mars looked like an amber, rippling ball with no detail or contrast levels. Very dissapointing indeed.
M16 - Eagle Nebula
Very dim and deep gray. Will try to get back to this one on a better night.
M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy
I have viewed this galaxy several times and would be willing to say it was about 30 to 50% dimmer then normal. Although it was so dim, I could still make out all of the arm sreuctures and the tail, NGC-5195.
M106 - Face-On Galaxy
Although this is a face-on galaxy, again, seeing was so obscure near zenith that this galaxy looked like a edge-on galaxy. LOL
On to the last object for the night.
M27 - Dumbbell Nebula
Once again, I had to enlist the aid of Jim's LX-200 to help me locate the Dumbbell Nebula. This time was not due to my chart, but the fact that I just could not locate it in all the massive clutter of the Milky Way. Once located, the Dumbbell was very nice and very much like the many photo's available on the Internet.
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