Friday September 21 and other September Observations
Last Friday night at B.C., as you already heard, was one of the best this year for me. Jim and I were the only ones there which was a pity. I arrived at around 7:00 P.M. with my son Stefan for which I packed my home-built 8" dob. Jim arrived just before dark and we could already tell how good the seeing was going to be. With moon set at 10:06, I had plenty of time to set up, collimate, allow the optics to stabilize and work out an astigmatism problem caused by my mirror cell. We took a few glances at mars and the crescent moon, (I used the 8" on the moon to avoid permanent eye damage!) Plenty of DSOs were also viewable, despite the moon's light and the clarity was somewhere between 9 and 10 out of 10. Jim explained the constellation Scorpius at Stefan's request, pointing out the various stars and filling him in on the mythology of Antares.
The star of the evening was Jim's 31 Nagler, which for the first time was focusable with my 25". (I had moved my mirror as high off the mirror cell as possible to keep the mirror from hitting the new az encoder) With Jim's piggy-backed 85mm and my 8" f/6, we were able to get incredible wide field views of quite a few objects. I saw the entire Veil Nebula at the same time and the North America Nebula for the first time through Jim's 85mm. Then we moved the 31 over to the 8" to get another wide-field view of the Veil. We could only see about 1/3 as much, but it was still fabulous. We also had an excellent view of the double cluster in my 8" with the 31 nagler, probably the best I've seen, super-flat field right to the edge. We calculated the field: nearly 2 degrees.
One of the most incredible views I got was the Orion Nebula at 140X. I have never seen the two dimmest stars in the Trapezium so steady and bright. And for the first time, I could clearly see color in them. The dimmer star that's roughly half way between two bright stars was distinctly orange and the other, quite close to one of the brightest 4, was blue. It required averted vision. The rest of the Nebula seemed to stretch out forever, beautiful with the 31 nagler.
By then Saturn, was high in the sky and the sharpest I'd ever seen. 4 moons were visible in 25" with no problem. I didn't look for any others (not sure I would have seen any more) The rings were crisp and 3d, like the rest of planet which showed it's pale yellowish bands clearly. We kept raising the power without much sacrifice in detail. For a moment I panicked, fearing the worst: soon we would be out of barlows! What a disaster! Luckily Jim shifted my scope in overdrive with his 4X power-mate into which we fed his 9mm nagler. The 1270X view was outrageous! It looked like you could reach up and grab it, the rings had more lanes than an L.A. freeway and was so steady, it barely changed as you watched it.
Jupiter was almost as stunning, although I've had better views of the great red spot. The contrast was outstanding, especially in my 8", which turned out to be an awesome planetary scope.
I had some great views of planetaries, finding new detail in some of the brighter ones like the Eskimo's inner shell and the Cats eye which had a very distinct black circle between the central star and the nebula. NGC 6894 showed what I believe is a background star on the northwest edge of it's green-gray ring and the delicate red filaments of IC 418 in Lepus were beautiful.
Next we went after some faint fuzzies beginning in Pegasus with NGC7331 and companions. The brightest companion was NGC 7430 at mag 14.68, easy to spot and located directly in a line with two stars. NGC 7335 and 7337 were easy to spot with direct vision, both appearing similarly roundish in size and shape. Only the mag 16.85 NGC 7336 required averted vision to see, and not that much of it. Even with it's tiny size, I could almost see it without averted vision. Off by itself, on the other side of NGC 7331 was MCG6-49-44 an nondescript dot of light.
Then we went on to Stefan's quintet, all galaxies easy with direct vision. We found NGC7320, a mag 16.57 galaxy. I'm quite certain that I could have gone to mag 17 that night, but we were spending so much time each object, the night was flying by fast. Before we knew it, the first light of the sun was coming up. Unforgettable views and near perfect conditions. That's is how I will remember that night.
Here are some other observations made earlier in the month during the first quarter. (September 9) The viewing were conditions were meager (5 out of 10)
NGC 7008: Very interesting and irregular planetary with two unequally bright lobes running north-south, one side appearing circular. Two stars inside the nebula cross at a diagonal between the two nodules. Double stars abound in the area, two are visible in my relatively small field at 240X to the south of the nebula: the closest yellow and blue and an orange and blue further south and slightly off from parallel with other pair. More doubles are nearby, outside the field.
NGC 6857: A roughly round and diffuse faint emission nebula which lies on the mid point and South East edge of a perfect equilateral triangle of stars, two sides of which have dimmer stars exactly half way between.
NGC 7026: small round planetary, a mag 4 yellowish orange star lies approximately 20' to the south. The planetary along with 3 stars forms a rectangle.
NGC 7027: a bright oblong nebula, almost rectangular in shape with a bright star on what is more or less it's corner.
Back To Menu