After knocking over a deer on the way there (could not help it, the deer just jumped into the road right in front of my car) and seeing a clouded-over sky on arrival, I did not think there was much hope for viewing that night. But as Art graciously decided to leave, with his fried Bob, the skies relented and a few patches began to open at dusk. Nevertheless, there was a great deal of moisture above (and my charts got quite damp bythe time I left).
Equipment: 18" dob on platform, Teleview Visual Paracorr, 30mm Widescan II, 13mm Nagler, 7mm UO Orthoscopic, S-W 5-8mm zoom, Teleview Bog Barlow.
Sky conditions - extremely variable, from clouds to a very few extremely clear patches. Best to the northeast most of the time, seeing up to 7 out of 10, transparency at best 8 out of 10, fleetingly.
Observing time approximately 7:30-10 p.m.
I quickly found M57 during twilight, but it looked a bit washed out in my 30mm Widescan/paracorr. I did not even increase magnification. Looked at M51, saw just the cores. Moved to M81/82, looked reasonably clear but a bit washed out. Looking for clear areas in the sky, Cygnus looked reasonable, focused on M27. Looked good, so I swapped a 13mm Nag into the paracorr; still looked very good, so I inserted an OIII filter and 7mm Orthoscopic. It more than filled the field, so I replaced the ortho with thw S-W zoom. Had a clear view of detail in the dumbbell, a hint of laciness. Looked at M92, excellent view with 7mm Orthoscopic as it filled the field. Apparent nebulosity in the cluster, filaments of stars coming off the center. A very pretty view! Followed with M15, also an excellent view at high power (294x with 7mm), with apparent nebulosity in the cluster.
I looked for some fainter galaxies, but could find nothing, which I attribute to the conditions of the sky. Did look at Andromeda, dust lane very clearly visible. Took the opportunity to compare Jane's Widescan and mine; they appeared to perform identically. Mine is one of the first 5 manufactured, Jane has had hers (an Apogee) for just 5 months.
Replaced the Widescan and looked for the Helix, found it, and had an outstanding view. The interior was slightly darker than the outside of this huge planetary, which is slightly flattened. Shared this view with Jane and Bruce, as it looked quite good, with good contrast (using an OIII, of course). Found M76, it looked very good, so I inserted the 7mm ortho for an excellent view, the "dumbbell" shape clearly visible, and quite a bit of detail in the planetary.
Looked at M13 briefly, then hit M57 again. It looked so good, I used the 7mm Ortho with the Big Barlow, and had a detailed view of the Ring at 588x. The central star was not visible, but there was considerable structure revealed in the ring itself, as well as the inner nebulosity. I closed with a view of the Veil at 182x with my 13mm Nagler/paracorr. The detail as I panned the Veil was breathtaking. But by this time, the clouds to the East were reflecting the moonlight, and it was time to start packing up.
On the way home, right in the middle of Fiddletown, there was a deer, looking like it was coming out of someone's front yard. It stood on the other side of the road, apparently blinded by my headlights, until I passed (very slowly).
Definitely a worthwhile night considering conditions this year, and much better than the last time I was at Fiddletown, 2 weeks ago.
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