Sunday, August 03, 2008

helped then viewed (Blue Mountains)

Another busy day at the CAO. I repaired many things, including the barbeque, intercom, and outdoor thermometer. I tested the ethernet ports in the GBO.

After sunset, I had a nap. It was good! Gave me the boost to stay up longer.

I helped a member, Randy, get going with his (relatively new) Celestron 6" catadioptric telescope on a GOTO mount. In the end, it had the wrong date and time in the controller keypad (the date and time when he last used it in November 2007!). In the meantime, Dietmar helped Margaret with her small Meade Maksutov GOTO. We looked at a bunch of Messiers and some double stars. Oh, and Jupiter. It is fascinating to me that to calibrate the 'scope, you need to know your stars, by name. This challenged even the "old timers." How are rank beginners supposed to figure this out?!
Intrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: star hopping
I spent lots of time in the THO with my Celestron 8" SCT. Caught the 11:30 PM Great Red Spot crossing. During good seeing, the view was pretty amazing. Phil said my view looked better than the 14". Wow! Tracked down some more Messiers, between breaks in the clouds. Caught the second ISS flyover. And bonked my head pretty hard.

As I crawled into the tent, the Pleiades and Hyades were rising.


12:07 AM, outside 87% humidity, 13.8°C temperature. I viewed Messier 107 (aka NGC 6171). I found M107 very, very faint! Some of the surrounding field stars are very faint. Stellarium says they are magnitude 11.90.

12:30 AM. I wanted to check objects near Capricornus. I spotted Messier 72 (NGC 6981) and M73 (NGC 6994) in Pocket Sky Atlas nearby (although they are officially in Aquarius). M72 is a very small and very faint globular cluster. It has a bright centre. There are faint field stars nearby.

There were scattered clouds this evening. Outside it was 93% and 13.3°.

1:45 AM. I took another look at M72, since the clouds had moved out. Pretty.

Off to Messier 73. The different symbols on the Sky & Telescope Messier Card and in the Pocket Sky Atlas kept throwing me. [ed: PSA uses a circle with a plus filled with the colour yellow for globulars while the S&TMC is similar with a circle-plus. PSA shows an X for M73; S&TMC shows a plus.] Ah. This is the famous star cluster that is not really a star cluster. It is a V-shaped pattern of faint, magnitude 11 stars.

2:20 AM, 99%, 12.4°. Hey, there's another deep sky object nearby... I viewed the NGC 7009, the Saturn Nebula, also known as Caldwell 55. It was very small but a rich cyan colour, oblong in shape. There are no nearby stars...

2:35 AM. Messier 2 (aka NGC 7089) is a lovely globular cluster. Bright but small. A very round shape, with an intense centre. There's a bright star near M2. There are little stars nearby.

3:22 AM. I decided to finish up with some double stars. I viewed 99 Aquarius. The main star is yellow while the companion is blue green. Then I went to 101 Aquarius. The main star is blue white; the companion is very pale grey.

[ed: Did I really see 101? While I didn't have it at the time, SkyTools reports the separation as 0.8 seconds of arc. That seems too tight.]

I took in the constellation Cetus. I tried to view λ (lambda) Cetus. But clouds interfered.

None of these stars were referred to in Sissy Haas's book... Weird.

3:40. I shutdown.

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