Skies and Stars
Orion Nebula - filtered (12/6/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 06 December 2015 01:45

ll evening it's been broken clouds. I finished writing the third section to my book (all done - landmark) then went outside at 12:45am and saw that everything was clear, that Orion was up, and that I had that new light filter I wanted to try.

The good news was that Orion was visible right off the back porch, so that's where I set the scope up at, right on the porch. Nice to work on boards for a change. However, I managed to dislodge (i.e. drop) the spotter scope twice. So now I was cursing a blue streak. Everything was bunged up. After remounting the spotter, I aimed at the biggest thing out there - Sirius. Bullseyed it and then managed to get the scope (on lowest mag) to agree. Then I went after Orion and that flashy nebula.

Someone told me that overhead sighting sucks. I can agree with that - the scope is directly up and I'm having to sit on my knees (on a deck) trying to get a good look. Anyway, after a lot of effort, I managed to get the nebula in range on the x25 scope. Played with filter, on and off, and like it. Not much difference - I'm not suddenly out in the middle of space - but it helps. Stepped up with my stronger lens combo and managed to locate and focus on the nebula at 120x. And while it's neat to see it that close (I could distinctly view that box of four stars in its center, backing down to 60x or even 25x gives a better viewing. Still, I swapped out the lenses and burned and hour marveling at the cloud.

And here's where setting up on a tight deck isn't such a hot idea - the Pleiades were up but sinking into a pine tree. Since my wife was out with me and she'd never seen it, I tried to drop the power to 25x (best viewing) and get lined up but by then they were gone. So, lesson learned, set up with the widest sky overhead since you might want to look at other things.

Andromeda is my next target. Saw it through the noks the other night and want to line the scope on it. The pursuit continues...


Last Updated on Sunday, 06 December 2015 02:01
NGC 869/884 (11/23/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 23 November 2015 22:41

ver at the train club rather late with friends, putting the finishing touches on a falling-down barn I've been building for the sectional layout, a rustic structure that required the placement of individual shingles on the roof (and took six weeks to complete). When we got home, the wife pointed out that the moon was full and the sky clear. Dammit - great. It's going on 10 and I've got a bike ride tomorrow morning. Gotta get up early.

Still, the binoculars will give me a good look.

Stayed out longer than I thought. Moved to one part of the grounds and looked at the Pleiades, my old friends. Took a bit to find them, what with the full moon and my unadjusted eyes, but finally there they were. Moved to another section of ground and there was Cassiopeia, the big W (give it your best Jimmy Durante). Had my star wheel out and found something named the double cluster, just above and a touch to the right. Locked on the tail of Cassie and rolled up and there it was - two seemingly (through 'noks, at least) clusters of stars against the milky way. Like all my other sightings, I got the feel for them quickly and could find them reliably - located them three more times while poking about for M52 (which eluded me). Anyway, looked them up on my larger planosphere and found them officially named NGC 869 and 884, so howdy boys!

Since tomorrow is my birthday, I decided to dip around a bit. Back to the Pleiades, then since Orion was still low and I had the nok-brace on, I locked onto M42, that hazy nebula, my first love. Looked at it for long minutes. Then ended the night (burning out my night vision) looking up at the full moon. How nice of her to come out for my birthday and give me a full show, with all my favorite craters and seas, all visible.

So a great night with a set of noks and a brace in the backyard while two different parties were going on to either side (noisy buggers). I'm pretty excited - I just ordered a light pollution filter for my ST 120. I can't wait to see what that does for some of my casual off-the-deck viewing.


Last Updated on Monday, 23 November 2015 22:59
Pleiades (11/16/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 16 November 2015 22:24

ith a braced telescope, I finally got a good look at the Pleiades (or M45), the closest cluster to us (at a mere 445 light years out). It was amazing - a set of hot binaries burning blue, and a number of other stars in a more orange range. I didn't see the nebula that is supposed to be around them but I'll probably be able to see it with the scope in a few evenings.

Also lowered the brace and picked up Orion coming over the horizon, making out its nebula (one of my favorite sights).

Its amazing - this is my second Messier object, and I found it without trying too hard with the binocs. But I gotta say that the brace really helps - just sat in my chair with the nocks braced against the inside of my knee and it worked just fine.


Last Updated on Monday, 16 November 2015 22:29
Summer Triangle (11/6/2015) PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 07 November 2015 11:02

as over at Leu Gardens (our local botanical garden) Friday night. It was outdoor movie night and we were there to see Double Indemnity, a great flick that will keep you from ever watching My Three Sons the same way again. Oh, and it's got Southern Pacific trains in it.

Regardless, tonight (Saturday) is supposed to be the star gazing night of the weekend (over at a gun range with the astronomy club) but I got a little in before the movie. See, we were sitting in a row, two couples, with the wives snittering in the middle. That left me on the end, leaned back. looking up. And there it was - the Summer Triangle.

I'd looked and looked for that earlier this year and finally picked it out. And that's the funny thing about naked eye, unguided astronomy. Once you finally spot a constellation and make it yours by memory, you can always find it. And the Summer Triangle, with Deneb (my favorite), Altair and Vega, is easy to spot.

Later, as Fred MacMurray embraced Barbara Stanwyck close (so he could put two into her), I looked up and saw Cassiopeia. Nice to see some old friends up in the downtown glare.

Bang bang! Sorry, Barbara.


Last Updated on Saturday, 07 November 2015 11:14

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