Observation Report from Backyard 09/06,07/02
We had 2 clear nights in a row here in NJ. First time I've been out in weeks, bordering on months. The weather has been awful all summer. No rain just clouds and haze. Anyway, I had a few friends over Friday & Saturday night. It was my first observing session since the city took down all the trees along my fence and I took down a few real ugly ones against the house. Way more sky available from my yard now. Saturday, as we're observing, all of a sudden there's this huge beam going up into the sky. It was right in the new area over the house where I took the trees down. I get real annoyed, who turned on what? My friends though it was because someone turned on the kitchen light in my house. I've never seen that before with the kitchen light on. I went in anyway and shut it off. I also went around the other side, didn't see anything that could cause that. I went back to the observing area, it was still there, maybe a little dimmer. I didn't think anything of it, we forgot about it. Maybe an hour later it was gone. Next Monday morning I start reading some online observation reports from some friends in the local clubs. Every one reported a massive Aurora visible for close to an hour from our area. Huge pillars, red and green clouds, the whole curtain look swirling around. I can't believe it. I'm absolutely sure we saw it and didn't know it. I can't believe how bright it was. Some say it drowned out the Big Dipper. I didn't know what it was, just that it was ruining the sky. Every else said in their reports that's all they looked at for about 45 minutes. I turned away from and looked the other way. I could kick myself!
I had a few people both nights. We didn’t do a lot of new item hunting. I got a couple, I’ll get to them in a bit. We looked at several Planetary Nebulas in the Scutum/Sagittarius region. NGC6751, 6778, & 6790 all look pretty much the same. All around 13th magnitude and 6”. We switched off from the 22MM Panoptic to the 14MM Meade UWA eyepieces with and without the Orion Ultra Block filer. Mostly with. NGC6781 is around 12th mag. and 1.2’. It looks like a pie with a piece missing. NGC6905 a PN in Del is in a real nice star filed. With the filter and 14MM eyepiece it’s a different picture. Most of the stars are gone and the Planetary looks like it has a dark arch inside. The Ring Nebula M57 was outstanding no matter how you looked at it. I guess the best view was with the 22MM and the filter. Dark streaks running through the ring, looks like several rings on top of each other. The Dumbbell M27 appeared brighter on one side. Don’t remember seeing that before and I’ve seen it quite often. Did anyone else notice that? M15 was my favorite Globular of the weekend. It looks like someone dropped baby powder on dark velvet. With averted vision it was amazing, the sheer number of stars resolving into powder. Full dense center. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with M13, M92, or any of the others we looked at. M15 wins first prize with me that night. NGC 6818 in Sag, is a very nice round blue PN glowing at 10th mag 18”. NGC6826 the Blinking Planetary in Cyg is always a favorite. It doesn’t blink with the filter. The filter really brings out the contrast between the bright center and the outer shell. Nice grainy details in the shell. NGC7662 the Blue Snowball is always a crowd pleaser. 9th mag. 2.2’ great DSO. NGC 7217 a Galaxy in Peg has a very bright center, which fades to nothing. NGC7331 is always one of my favorites. Bright bulge of a center, thick streaks on either side gradually thinning into the field. I love this one at low magnification. With the MEADE 40MM SWA at 76X it looks like one of the background galaxies you see in a Hubbell picture. Very impressive. NGC7332 is very similar only not as bright. I have to check the Uranometra, I think I saw a thin streak in the same field with 7332 not plotted on the Sky Atlas. I’ll try to remember to check that. We caught a huge Fire Ball that streaked across at least 100 degrees of sky Friday night. It left a huge spark trail that lasted for about 30 seconds. I saw it first and yelled, look quick. My friend Roley looked up and caught about half what I saw. Extremely bright. No sound after. Very exciting event. Another favorite Galaxy of mine is NGC7177 in Peg. I call it “The Whales Tail”. There are 4 fairly bright stars in the field that form the shape of a whales back sticking out of the water. The Galaxy is right where the tail should be. Real cool stuff. Here’s the new stuff I saw;
NGC6886 PN Sagetta, mag. 12.8, dia 6”, Not real easy to pick out. With the 14MM and filter you cloud tell it was fatter than the stars.
NGC6548 Gal Her, mag 11.7, dia 3.0’, Brighter in the center, very dim area spread way out. Dim area was flat on top and oval shape at the bottom.
NGC6574 Gal Her, mag 12.0, dia 1.4’, just a very dim round smudge.
NGC 6535, CG Serp Cau, mag 10.6, dia 3.6, very disappointing. At 10.6 mag I though it would be great. I could just make it out with Averted Vision. Very low surface brightness.
That was about it for the new items I saw. We looked at tons of objects I didn’t write down, especially Messiers. M8, M20, M17, the double cluster, M31, M32, M110, M29, M39, M52, M51, M103 which by the way has a wonderful red star in it. Many more NGC’s as well. I just listed some of the more outstanding ones. We spend quite a bit time Saturday with a 2” Meade OIII filter and comparing the 1.25” OIII to the 1.25’ Orion Ultra Block. Now I’ve always said I prefer the Ultra Block. But I was very impressed with the Meade OIII. The Lumicon OIII was the one I though was a little too strong. I’d like to compare the MEADE and Lumicon sometime. This brings me to the item of the weekend. With the 2” OIII filter on the Meade 40MM SWA the Vail Nebula was outstanding. Even from my backyard, sitting between 2 streetlights where I’ve barley had a glimpse of it before, it was right there. No averted visions needed. Long streak NGC6960 running right next to 52 Cygnes extending out of the field. Then over to the other curved piece NGC6992 with the huge knotty clump NGC6995 at the end. There were people seeing it for the first time. Got to get one of those 2” filters. I didn’t look for it in the 22MM with the Ultra Block. We did remove the OIII from the 40MM, not a trace of the Vail in sight without it. That’s a wonderful piece of equipment. No eyepiece bag should be without one. It’s worth the price, even if that’s the only item you see with it, and believe me, it’s not!