Saturday, July 21, 2012

stunning transparency (Blue Mountains)

11:00 PM, July 20, 2012. While I was sitting in the Geoff Brown Observatory talking to Ian, I kept looking at the dark sky overhead. And, frankly, kept getting distracted by light blobs around the Milky Way galaxy, above Scorpius and Libra. They are surprisingly bright. I asked what they were. Was feeling a little lost with a chart... Some of the bright Messiers, including M7.
naked eye;
Celestron 15x70 binoculars on tripod
11:30 PM. Out on the Observing Pad, I shared my impressions. Tom, working on his NGC targets, clarified what we were seeing. Messier 7 (M7), the Lagoon or Messier 8 (M8), and Messier 23, above teapot. All naked eye. I was very impressed. I did not remember seeing these so clearly, so easily before. Usually the sky, in that direction, was murky. Cool! The Clear Sky Chart alert I had received at 6:20 AM this morning was proving correct.

Tom pointed straight up. Messier 13 (M13) was unmistakable. Other times, I've had to convince myself it was there...

Noticed Jason's "light shield." A plastic bin, on its side, covered with a towel. Laptop tucked inside.

12:09 AM, July 21, 2012. I retrieved the new Celestron large binoculars. I found the custom metal adapter made by Tony. I mounted the binos to a tripod. The new adapter was very sturdy. Light years better than the crappy plastic OEM unit.

Viewed Messier 7 (M7). It was very nice, big in the binocular field.

Viewed the Lagoon. Spotted the Trifid (Messier 20 or M20) nearby in the same field.

It was surprisingly cool. I was getting chilled. Everyone was. I loaned Sharmin a sweater and baseball cap.

12:54 AM. Viewed NGC 6894, a planetary nebula in Cygnus, through Tom's 8" Dob. It was at 120x. He was using a Series 4000 Meade narrow band filter. Nice. Thanks!

1:47. I helped Sharmin with finding M23 in the Celestron binos.

Spotted a meteor in Pegasus. It was eastbound into the Great Square. Strange direction. I pointed out that the Capricornids and Aquarids were active, and the Perseids would be starting up. Must have been a sporadic.

2:05. Sharmin spotted something she couldn't identify. It was a globular. With SkyTools 3, after a bit of playing, I identified it: Messier 22 (M22) near 24 Sgr.

Helped Sharmin with Cepheus, finding constellation. I tried to do so without a laser pointer, given all the imagers working at the time.

Wow. I saw the Garnet Star naked eye! That was a first.

What an incredible sky.

Great camaraderie tonight. Jason imaging on the Pad, Thomas shooting with his DSLR, Katrina and Sharmin. Tom plugging away at an NGC list. Phil and Dietmar doing work in their SkyShed PODs. Ralph was trying some photography in the GBO. Of course, Ian W was collecting data. Bailey and Niels were milling about.

2:45. Done for the night, I was in my tent, winding down.

I really wanted to stay up. But I was tired; and we had a big day ahead. It was unbelievable transparency. The best I've ever seen it at the CAO. I had a lot of fun, even though I had not brought a 'scope. I haven't done a lot of naked eye deep observing. Really deep. So, aided by the very clear conditions, that was extremely satisfying. And I don't observe with binoculars much. Again, very rewarding this evening. Wow.

I had opened the opposite flap on the tent's fly. Could see Vega straight up. Fell asleep with the stars overhead...


I also viewed the nova (noted in ST3 as 2012 No. 4) in Sagittarius. Helped Katrina in identifying Draco galaxies NGC 5981 (needle like), 5982, and 5985 using ST3.

No comments: