Saturday, May 19, 2012

observed with the N11 (Blue Mountains)

While Ian imaged inside the GBO, I spent the windy evening (learning and) working with Nexstar 11 GPS (alt-az Go To, SCT) on the Observing Pad, near Millie. Viewed some Messiers and planets. Overall a fairly good evening. No one injured. No telescopes damaged...


9:49 PM, 18 May 2012. There was no dew. We could see some high cirrus clouds. Viewed Mars in various telescopes.

I spotted Phil trying Sky Safari for iOS. It was not smoothed, constellations jumping all over the place. That would be infuriating.

I made a quick profile in SkyTools 3 Professional for the N11. I tossed a random Celestron eyepiece into the profile, a 42mm ocular, to things up and running quickly.

Grabbed a couple of eyepieces from the GBO. The Tele Vue Radian 18 and 10 millimetres.

9:53 PM. I set about trying the alignment process on the 11-inch. Did not get great results.

Reviewed the Instruction Manual documentation, again. Ah. It may be because I was started the mount in a random position. I learned that the OTA must be pointed down as the hand controller is powered on. Ah.

10:50. It was windy. Very windy. Refined my alignment process. Made some notes for a future quick reference guide, for members. I found some interesting notes suggesting that during each alignment slew step, it was good to finish with up and right arrow buttons. This was a pre-loading trick. To reduce backlash effects of the mount.

11:00. Finished my best alignment yet! When I slewed, I found the telescope was very close to the target. This at 155x, with the 18mm! Yeh.

11:14. Viewed Saturn. Then Mars. The alignment was definitely better. Both planets were just outside the field of the 18mm. You'd spot them if viewing through the eyepiece at the end of the slew.

I noticed ghosting or streaking of image at times. The crap on the mirror diagonal, no doubt.

When I was inside the GBO I heard a thud out on the Pad. Some talking...

11:53. Viewed Mars and Saturn in the C14 in the GBO. I thought I try to see the moons of Mars... No luck.

12:02 AM, 19 May 2012. Viewed Messier 96, a faint galaxy. It was large. Oval shape. Initially, I did not see M96 however.

I had been aiming for it but landed on M95. I mistook this object for my target. It was partly that I was in uncharted territory. And it was partly that the 'scope was off a bit. (And they are similarly sized. And they're angled the same way.)

I spotted a faint fuzzy on the left (west) edge of the field after the slew. I dropped the magnification power from the 18mm to the 40mm. After a time, comparing in SkyTools, by reviewing the star patterns, I verified I was looking at M95. I panned to the right and found M96. 96 has a bright centre. 95 is more homogeneous.

Then I found M105 by panning up.

Above M105 is NGC 3384 - equally bright.

To the right of 105 and 3384, I saw a much fainter and smaller object. That's NGC 3389. Millie couldn't see it.

The mount was being a little finicky. It didn't want to pan one way... And seems to be losing the tracking from time to time... A clutch problem? Is this what Eric had warned me about?

12:39 AM. Millie noted Corvus. Ah yes. She said M104 should be visible, the Sombrero Galaxy. So off I went with the NexStar. It was very nice in 18mm.

My eyes were watering like crazy. Running nose. Stupid allergic reaction. The high wind from the south was exacerbating the watering.

12:56. Made some hot chocolate. To wake up and warm up.

12:59. I had looked at the weather station while in the kitchen. The X was showing, flashing. That was good. The temperature showed as 16°C. It said the wind chill, with the 8 km wind, was 16, but it seemed colder to me. Tomorrow we were hearing it was supposed to go to 27°. And on Sunday, 28! All right! Humidity had been low tonight.

Scorpius was up high! Nice.

I turned around at the picnic table. Facing north so to put my back to the wind.

1:22. I found Messier 68, a very faint globular cluster. ST3 said it was around 40 kilo-light-years. I ended up finding it by scanning the area as the HC took me somewhere a bit different. It was pretty unsatisfying... But then, I'm not a big fan.

I remember to check HC version numbers. I noted them for future interpretation and reference.

1:37. Saw M98. An edge-on spiral. It was large in 18mm! But faint.

2:00. I packed up. The weather looked OK for tomorrow so I covered the whole 'scope in a blanket and removed the power. Done. Quick.


That was kinda cool. My main goal for the evening was to work and get comfortable with this "new" telescope. But seeing another four Messiers, and two NGC galaxies, not on my life list, and a few other celestial objects... icing.


I learned, earlier in the evening, that Ian's imaging rig takes about 1.5 hours to set up. Wow. Guess I shouldn't complain about my 30 minutes with my C8.

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