Observation report from Coyle 07/19/03
Hi All, Here's what I posted on my astronomy clubs (ASTRA) boards for this weekend.
Hope I remember how to write one of these, it’s been ages. Real clear still night at Coyle. We arrived about 8:45, set up and were ready for observing as soon as it was dark enough. The attendees were Ro, Paul, Anthony and myself. Paul and Anthony had the 6” Newtonian, Ro had the vintage Celestron 8” SCT and I had the old reliable 12” LX200. We all had our own binoculars, none mounted. For anyone who was hoping to get to Coyle, this was the night, you missed it. Keep watching the message boards for next time, if it’s anything like this weekend, you won’t be disappointed.
We started with many of our old favorite Messiers. M13 was sparkling. Stars visible all the way the core in the 12”. M57 the Ring Nebula, outstanding. The best view was with the Meade 14MM UWA and the Ultra Block filter. The background became jet black with the bright ring just floating there in the middle. A few stars visible with the filter, just enough to make a gorgeous picture. You could see many layers of lights and darks in the ring itself. I should have taken off the filter to try to see the central star. Then there was M27 the Dumbbell Nebula. With the Meade 40MM SWA and the OIII filter, I’ve never seen it so bright. It looked more like a ball. You could see the hourglass shape but the sides were pretty much filled in with bright nebulosity. What a sight with the 14MM and ultra block. Again jet black background. It looked just like the pictures only no color. The hourglass shape was right there. The nebulosity in the darker portions was more visible than I’ve ever seen it. The edges were sharp and well defined curves. It looked more overexposed than some of the black and white pictures I’ve seen. Amazing! Could have spent hours looking at it. But we didn’t have a lot of time, the Moon was to come up around midnight. The Milky Way was prominent and a distraction. I often found myself just staring at it, not in the scope. The Scutum and Sag. clouds could easily been mistaken for water clouds. Unfortunately, I waited too long to point the scope at Virgo. It was too low so we passed on that area of the sky. M51 was very bright, the spiral arms were visible but I have on a few occasions seen this item look better, but not often. M22 also sparkled. Huge globular. So many stars around it, it was hard to tell where it ended and the background stars began. M8 was phenomenal with the OIII and 40MM. Dark separation between the sections. Lots of details in the clouds, not just haze. Just as good as M42. The stars in the star forming region were eliminated by the OIII filter but the nebula was there and ablaze. I’ve never seen that before. Breath taking sight. I’d have loved to spend more time on this guy but you know, with this being the only good nigh in so long I had so much I wanted to see, I had to move on.
By the way, at 10:05 thanks to Paul and Anthony we were treated to an excellent view of the space station. No, they were not flying it, they pointed it out to us. Very bright, I’d say at least –3 magnitude, large spot moving across the sky. I must get the scope into position for this next time. It looked like you could get it in focus as it passed into the distance. We also saw about 6 or 7 satellites and many shooting stars. Very active sky, seemed like something was always going by.
We saw many other Messiers, M17, M10, M12, M71, M29, M4, the always-popular M11 and others I can’t remember. The Vail Nebula was outstanding. Very bright string with a big knot at the end. It wasn’t until I got home and looked in my notebook that I realized we only looked at the dimmer portion NGC6992 & NGC6995. I never pointed at the brighter NGC6960 portion. I can’t believe it! That must been wonderful. The Sagittarius region is fantastic I pointed mostly in this area. NGC6528 and 6522, two globulars visible in the SFOV (same filed of view). Paul promised us a picture of NGC6445 and 6440 a planetary and globular in the SFOV. Also maybe a picture of NGC6369 a smaller dimmer version of the Ring Nebula. Then there was NGC6302 the Bug Nubile looking very nice with the 14MM and ultra block.
We looked at much more. I didn’t take any notes and we didn’t go new item hunting. It was a night to reacquaint ourselves with some old friends in the sky. Of course the Moon arrived right on time and half the stars in the sky vanished. It brought some streaky clouds with it. We didn’t want the night ruined so by 12:30 we were packing up and by 12:50 we were history. Oh yeah, almost forgot Mars. What a treat. Huge in comparison to other years. The white cap looked like you could pop it open and look inside. Beautiful sight in all three scopes, even when simmering in the atmosphere just 15 to 20 degrees above the horizon. The item of the night for me anyway (I didn’t take a vote) was the Dumbbell Nebula. Never seen it so bright. I’m planning to go again next week if skies permit. Come on people, get out there. This is what we talk about at the meetings only live and in person.