Friday, June 03, 2016

revisited targets (Blue Mountains)

In the afternoon, I set up most of my gear in the Geoff Brown Observatory proper. Mostly as I was planning to use the NexStar 11 Friday and Saturday nights. Partly to keep the Warm Room tidy from Friday on.


10:30-ish PM, Thu 2 Jun 2016. Reviewed my SkyTools 3 Professional observing list... Around 25 items... Many targets to view again, for various reasons. I really wanted to tag ultra-faint IC 982 and 983 but when Ian relayed that he had not brought the 20", I scratched them.

Started up a Notepad.


Chatted with Risa. She offered to make some coffee.


While high up, slewed to the double star 78 Ursae Majoris. Bad seeing. Could not split. No go. Reviewed notes.

Checked the conditions. Or tried. The Davis weather page had not updated for days. Again! Gah. It has to be fixed yet again. Grabbed my portable unit sitting on the work bench. 72% humidity. According to the Oregon Scientific. June bugs! The Bonaire said 49%, in the Warm Room.


11:56 PM. Had another look at NGC 4026. Looked like an edge-on spiral. SkyTools says it is a lenticular. Noted the faint gaggle of stars to my 4 o'clock or south-east including GSC 03454-0576. And the bright star HD 233887 to the top or north-east. A RASC Finest NGC, in Ursa Major.

Ian popped in. He was having trouble Backyard Nikon. Thinks he might have to reinstall. I reminded him to check for a new version. In the meantime, he was using Maxim to get his data.


I suddenly realised I had not checked for comets in SkyTools. And it promptly crashed! Sheesh.

12:28 AM, Fri 3 Jun 2016. 78% humidity.

Good coffee!

12:49 AM. I slewed to NGC 4449. aka Caldwell 21. In Canes Venatici. Big. Quite large in the 27mm. Impressive. Irregular. Not a smooth oval shape. Kinda wiggly. SkyTools said it was an irregular, type 1B. Quite bright too. Why did I want to view it again? Checked my notes. Past notes were rather unclear. I saw a bright star, PPM 53014, around the 2 o'clock. The north-east. Noted a little L-shape of stars to the east. Neat object. Great. One of the RASC Finest NGC.

12:55. I slewed to my next. Grabbed a different eyepiece, 18mm. IC 3568. Wondered if I was seeing a ring structure. [ed: Some call it the Lemon Slice Planetary.]


Read the SkyTools notes on the planetary nebula, also known as IC 3568. Looked at some photos offered up by Google. There was a ring... Appears to be a star beside it.

I flipped the mount. Saturn was in the hot zone. Could not slew to it, yet; I forced it with the joystick. Dropped the power. Thar she blows. Wow. It was nice. I had not looked at Saturn for a while. Very nice. Seeing looked good. Ian agreed. Greatly tilted.


1:39. Visually looked at Scorpius skirting the horizon.


2:30. Checked the temperature: 9.8°C. Humidity: 78%. Pressure was steady. Sunny tomorrow...

3:19. Ha. The big 'scope was still on Mars. We had a look. Some detail, even though very low. Soupy.

3:26. Asked Bill to help me get some SQM readings with our hand held Unihedron meter. Initial: 21.13. Temp: 13°. Readings: 21.15; 21.19; 21.14; and 21.17.

3:31. Slewed to the Turtle. The planetary looked like a fuzzy blob. A bit rectangular.


Felt a little... out of sorts. Don't think I had a good plan in place. It got surprisingly busy (for a Thursday night) and there were lots of distractions. Just never seemed to catch my breath. Still, I had some good views of a few fuzzies. Better than a poke in the eye.

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