Monday, February 20, 2012

DSOs in Pup (Blue Mountains)

All right! Another clear night. We were excited. The cooks even tried to time dinner a little early for us. Thank you!
Instruments: Celestron 14-inch SCT, Tele Vue 101 refractor
Mount: Paramount ME
Method: Go To
Tonight I configured the netbook with SkyTools 3 (via ASCOM and TheSky6) to drive the Paramount ME. Slewed to M1. Took a look through the Celestron 14 inch but the supernova remnant was not good. But then I was definitely not dark adapted.

Phil and Millie came out. Millie's not missing a beat tonight.

8:54 PM, 19 February 2012. Slewed to Trapezium. I wanted to see how much magnification we could put on it. But it was not great seeing. A little soft at 145x with the Panoptic 27mm. Tried higher power, 217x, with the Radian 18mm.

9:01 PM. Tony came out. I had dropped to 71x with the Plössl 55mm but went back at 27mm. I could see the E star. Told Millie. She wasn't sure if she was seeing it. I drew a quick sketch for her... Later Tony and I spotted the F star. Enough with the seeing so poor.

9:29. Viewed the Sigma Cluster in Orion... Lovely. At least I thought so. Others didn't seem too thrilled.

Lora and Phil made a special request. Some friends had "bought" them a star, TYC 00065-0779 1. So we went on the hunt for the Callebaut star. It was lovely. A pale orange mag 11 star at the end of a little string of faint stars. Woof!

I showed Tony my ST3 setup on the netbook. We also reviewed the Kendrick remote control software.

9:57. Lora headed inside. Chilly.

Millie wanted to see Messier 79 (M79) in Lepus. Ooh. It was low. We had to drop the walls... I almost did them in the wrong sequence. I remembered at the last second to drop the left (east) panel first. They made an awful sound when going down! I thought the view of the globular cluster unsatisfying. I checked the Year Bar in ST3. This was pretty much the best time to view it... Meh.

10:10. Got the Monkey's Head in TV101! The thing is huge. Very cool. And with the Lumicon Oxygen filter in TV 101: it was very easy.

10:20. Very nice in TV. Funny little arrange of 3 or 4 equidistant stars.

10:29. We viewed the Rosette. O3 filter. TV101. 27mm. Fantastic. Large. Could see folds and filaments. [ed: NGC 2237 and Caldwell 49.]

I needed to take a break.

10:40. I returned to the observatory with water, lip balm, and my red glasses. I thanked chas for letting me use the C14.

Checked the local conditions from the Davis weather station:

wind 1.6 from NW
humidity 91%
pressure 1022.5 hPa; just starting to fall
temp -8.9°C
dew point -10.1

The Kendrick reported:

humidity 86%
temp -9°C
dew point -12
optic sensor (1) was -7°C

11:16. Dietmar wanted to look at Hyades through 'scope. OK. TV 101 with 55mm.

chas was trying his new range-finder camera. A little distracting.

11:21. Millie and Dietmar wanted to look at Messier 45 (M45). Tony thought we should be able to see nebulosity. Millie wondered about using the O-III filter. Phil said no way.

chas put the big binos on M45.

That reminded me to make a note to fix the tripod of big binos. Something was wrong with the azimuth lock...

We chatted about using these binoculars for the Venus transit in June. I made a note to follow up with chas. He said he might have some baader film...

Viewed Mars. Everyone thought the view was soft.

Dietmar found the C14 corrector was iced up! Crikey. How did that happen?! I put the hair dryer to it and then Tony and I added the shield. Oops. I hadn't installed the shield early. Forgot. Doh! Friday had been too windy. I altered the programming of the Kendrick via the Dell laptop. That was easy.

The seeing was very poor on Mars. Unfortunately.

11:49. Viewed NGC 1662 in Orion. C14. 27mm. Lovely cluster at high power.

Everyone had gone in except Millie and me.

12:02 AM, 20 February 2012. Millie requested Messier 47 (M47). We viewed the open cluster in Puppis. We used the 55mm in C14 and the 27mm in TV101. It was comprised of white and yellow-white stars, many bright stars, in a general Y-shape.

12:18 AM. We could fit M47, Messier 46 (M46), HR 2959—a very orange K star, 4 Pup, and 2 Pup, off to the side, opposite 46 from 47, in the low power field of the Tele Vue 'scope. Neat!

We zoomed in, with the C14, to M46. And easily spotted NGC 2438, a very round, very large planetary nebula. The PN is actually much closer to us than the OC.

I noticed that 2 Pup was a double. I thought the stars nearly equal colour and brightness in the C14. My first double star sighting in Puppis. ST3 said they were 16.6" apart.

12:47. We took in Mars again. Saw the ice cap. The seeing was only slightly better, despite the improved elevation.

12:50. Oh boy. We turned to Saturn. Wow! Fantastic! Rhea and Tethys were on left; Dione, Titan, and Iapetus were on right. Millie really enjoyed that. Me too. Welcome back!

Clouds were coming in...

Millie headed off to bed.

I wanted to push on but suddenly the wind was out of my sails. I was tired.

1:15. Closed the roof.

1:17. Parked the 'scope via TheSky6 on the netbook.

A few minutes later I exited the GBO. Huh. It was clear again. To the west. And at zenith. Oh well. I was done. The vicious headache was not abating.

1:26. Was in bed.


Regularly, through the evening, from the observatory floor, I looked to the north. Hoping to spot aurora. None, sadly.


That was an awesome session. Over 20 objects viewed, a wide variety, in 5 hours. I was very happy to see the Monkey Head. And, with Millie's help, tick off a couple more Messiers.

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