Wish I could write a report like this one every week. For those of you who don't know Coyle Field, this is an Army airport that allows us to use one of the side runways at night. There are no lights, almost no trees and you can see the the sky touch the ground on the horizon in places. The only sky glow is from Alantic city and Barneget. Very nice sight for N.J. The sky gets very dark there from time to time and Saturday was one of those times. I was there from 8:45 to 2:15. We had a good group of people there. The equipment on hand was a 16" home made Dob, 12" LX200, Celestron CM1100, a brand new 10" LX200 seeing first light, an ETX125 and a spotting scope with camera taking astro photos. We were swaping eyepieces and filters back and forth all night. If you wanted to check out a few different pieces of equipment, this was a good place to be. OK lets get to the good stuff. As always we started with many Messiers. At times I was spinning in circules not knowing what to look at next. For every item I saw there were about 5 I forgot to look at. M13 was amazing directly overhead. This was one of the first items in the new 10" LX200. The owner, who was there with the whole family, commented that the view of M13 alone was worth the price of that Telescope. I know exactly how he feels. M13 just sparkled in 12". Uncountable stars. M92 just as dense as could be. Stars looked like they were just flying off of it. I love that one. NGC6229 a small gloular in the same area looks like someone dropped a spot of baby powder. M75 globular in Sag was perfect. Symetric, round, even ditribution of disappating stars, like a dart board. I looked at the Ring Nebula with the 8MM Radian eyepiece at 381X and it held up very nicly. Dark streaks running through in places, just wonderful. M8, the Lagoon Nebula, unbelievable! Big bright smokey area with dark lines that looked like dim black lightning bolts eminating from the center. I thought you could only see that in pictures. Big dark area seperating the bottom portion from the main body. With the Ultra Block filer, it just brought all the more details to the surface. I could have stayed with this half the night. But we don't get a lot of nights like this so I went on. I pointed the LX200 at M24 which is a star cloud, a small piece of one of the arms of the Milky Way that has broken off. I was astounded to see the open cluster that lives in there clear as bell. If it was the first time I looked there, I might have thought that was M24. But I've seen M24 before and this was inside it. The guy with the CM1100 pointed into the Sag Star Cloud and as he put it, "You couldn't fit a dime between the stars". There was no place in the field without a star. Amazing! Comet Linear C/2001 A2 was a naked eye item. Very easy target in the binos. No tail was visible. I can see this from my backyard so I didn't spend much time with it. I couldn't wait to get to Sag. and Scutum which I can't see from my yard and time was ticking away. The moon would be up at about 2:00. I planned to leave then, I didn't want anything to ruin the sky, I wanted to remember it just the way it was. There were tons of other items that were outstanding, the Vail Nebula, NGC5353/5354 the Leopards eyes (two more gagaxies were visible in this filed) M82 bigger and brighter than ever. I could go on and on, but let get to some of the new stuff. I concentrated mostly on Planetary Nebulas in Sag. and Scutum.
NGC6302 PN Sag, mag 13.0, dia 42" The Bug Nebula. Amazing! Looked a little like a galaxy. Bright round center with 2 lobes going left and right. Quite symetric. The lobes both ended in a "U" shape with points at the tips. One of my new favorite items.
NGC6369 PN Sag., mag 13.0, dia 1.1', this looked like a smaller dimmer version of the Ring Nebula. It looked exactly what the ring looks like in my 80MM refractor.
NGC6445 PN Sag., mag 13.0, dia 36", oddly enough, I looked at this next and it reminded me of the Dumbell Nebula which I often look at after the Ring. It looked pinched in the middle, round on the edges. I was using the Panoptic 22MM at 138x without the filter and switching to the 14MM ultra wide with the filter at 214X for a closer look.
NGC6629 PN Sag., mag 12.0, Dia 18", Though small, this guy just jumped up at me. Pretty bright item for 12th mag but the small dia. accounts for that. There were some interesting details on the edges, must see this again.
NGC6563 PN Sag., mag 14.0, dia 48", Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, 14 mag. visible, no problem, direct vision, great night, that's all I can say about this little cloud!
NGC6818 PN Sag., mag. 10.0, dia 18", "Big" bright blue spot, excellent!
NGC6645 OC Sag., mag. 9.0, dia 10.0', very dense yet loose cluster. Many many stars but hardly any space between them, I think this was mosty backgound stars making a loose cluster look dense. Again, real good night.
NGC6356 GC Sag., mag 8.4, dia 7.2', Had to grab one of those globulars while I was there, they were all over the place. Very bright center, lots of haze around it, some powdery disappation, very nice.
NGC6751 & 6778 were both mag. 13, dia 18", both looked like small round dots. Had to check them again make sure I didn't look at the same item twice.
NGC6804 PN Scu., mag 12.0, dia 1.1. This was a bright spot with a fan shape comming off to one side. beautiful.
NGC6309 PN Sag., mag. 11, dia 1.1, very odd looking. quite bright, there was a bright spot like a star, might have been a star. I couldn't tell if it was a star or part of the nebula. To the right, touching it, was a bright line, hard to discribe, like bumps or beads in a line, what the hech was that? Can't wait to see that again. That was basically the last PN I looked at.
But the best PN of the night was:
NGC6781 PN Scu., mag 12.0, dia 1.8', very big, much brighter than the 12the mag would suggest. Unbelievably round. Looked like a pie with a piece missing, but part of the missing piece fell back on the plate. I couldn't believe the details I was seeing. The next day, I noticed one of the pictures in Aug. Astronomy was of NGC6781. Check it out, you'll see what I mean. I was using the list of items they supplied in Scu to find many of the item mentioned here, but I didn't look at the pictures while observing.
There were a few more new items, but hey, my fingures are getting tired and I have to get to the item of the night. This was something everyone there commented on. Every one looked at it over and over again. It was distracting me from my observations. I couldn't help it. I've never seen The Milky Way just light up the sky like that. It gets item on the night in my book without any doubt! It wasn't just a bright streak across the sky. No, no, no, no! It had shape, definition, hugh pieces hanging all over from horison the horizon. Great balls of star clouds. The Sag Star Cloud was so bright, you could mistake it for a real cloud. And Cygnes! Outstanding! Irregular edges around a big oval shape. That big dust lane you see in pictures clearly visible, what a sight. Get this, North American Nebula, naked eye item, how many times you gonna see that. The Northern Cross very difficult to pick out among the stars. If Vega wasn't so bright, you couln't fine Lyre. Those are the only parts I know by heart to tell you about except for maybe the double cluster which was visible as 2 seperate items. I will be looking closer at the pictures and the text to increase my knowledge for the next time the Milky Way just dominats the sky like that. What a wonderfull show, thank the Good Lord that made me! Clear Skies.