The sky was clear at about 7:00 when I started observing. Had one friend over, Ro. When she arrived, unfortunately, she brought a big cloudbank with her. We observed for about ½ hr, then it was too cloudy. We went inside for a few New Years drinks for about 45 minutes. The sky cleared and out we went. After another hour, cloudy again. We waited it out. In ½ hr. it cleared somewhat, we got in another hour or so then a huge cloud cover came in and we called it a night around 11:00 or so. Even though the sky was not so good, we had a good time and saw many wonderful deep sky objects as well as Jupiter and Saturn.
Jupiter put on a very nice show. We watched through the clouds as one moon vanished behind the globe. Later, we saw it reappear along with another moon. Very nice picture with both moons extremely close to the globe. You could actually see a difference in the size of the moons. Outstanding! Saturn was very nice early before the clouds rolled in. the Cassini division was clear all the way around. Pretty steady for 1 hr. before clouds rolled in. After that, it was really not focusing well at all. M76, the little dumbbell was excellent. With the ultra block filter and the 14MM ultra wide eyepiece at 218x it looked more like a peanut than a dumbbell. Pinched in the center, brighter on one side, very clear around the edges. It didn’t really fade off. Very nice object. NGC1275, just a dim smudge. This has a 15th magnitude galaxy nearby that I’ve seen, but not tonight. NGC1023 in Per, one of my favorite galaxies. Bright center with nice extensions. I’ve seen this one in my 80MM refractor, so you can try it with almost any size scope. It looks kind of like a small version of M31 the Andromeda galaxy. NGC2683 the UFO galaxy, always impressive. Very fat center extending far into the field of view. Just love that one also. NGC3079, I named this the Little Miky Way. Why? Well there are 4 stars in the field that resemble the top of the Northern Cross in Cygnes. If you’ve seen the Milky Way in this region, NGC3079 sit right where the Milk Way would be if those 4 stars were the top of the Cross. Check it out, you can’t miss it. The Galaxy itself is an outstanding streak, very long, thin and quite obvious. NGC2022 a small Planetary nebula in Orion. Very nice little ring or horseshoe shape. A little mottled. We looked at quite a few nebulas with the Ultra Block Filter. The Orion Nebula M42 was fantastic as usual. Big bat wing shape all gassy looking. Dark areas all over. It completely covers the field with the 22MM Teleview eyepiece at 138x. I’d go with the 40MM but I don’t have a 2” filter. I scan around with the 22MM. M43 close by is also outstanding. That’s another overlooked item. If it wasn’t so close the M42 it would be very popular. It’s quite bright. But who looks at that with the overpowering Orion Nebula in the same field. There were many more items we’ve seen before that we looked at. We did some new item hunting. I didn’t list the ones we couldn’t see. Seeing was not so good so I figured I’d give them another chance before declaring I can’t see it. Here’s what we did see:
NGC1624 – Nebula, Perseus, mag. 10.4, dia 5.0’ Excellent item. We used the filter for all nebulas. This looked kind of like an open cluster in a small telescope. Very grainy. There was a bright spot, I couldn’t tell if it was a star or part of the nebula. Very hazy patch like stars not resolving in the back round. This will make my favorites list and be revisited often.
NGC1491 – Nebula, Perseus, the LX200 control didn’t list mag or dia, coordinates only. Very impressive! Big long area. Not really a streak but thin at the edges and fat in the center. Quite bright. No graininess. Smooth. Another one to visit often.
NGC1931 – Nebula, Auriga mag. 11.3, dia. 3.0’ This looked like a galaxy. Bright center, which I believe, was the central Star. Haze to the sides dissipating just like a galaxy. Flying saucer type. Real nice!
NGC2158 – Open Cluster, Gemini, mag. 8.6, dia 5.0’ Now I’ve seen this before but never logged it. This is the small open cluster just below M35. It’s visible in binoculars. Many faint stars just on the edge of resolving giving it a sandy appearance. Check it out next time your looking at M35, which by the way, is one of the best open clusters in the sky.
NGC2331 – Open Cluster, Gemini, mag 5.4, dia 15.0’ Nice big open cluster. About 15 to 20 very bright stars very close together, kind of like M44 in a smaller scope. Not much happening in the back round.
Well, it was a fun night. You don’t need pristine skies to have a good time, although it does help. The item of the night was a tossup between M76 and NGC1624. I guess I’d go with NGC1624, I love looking at new stuff.
Have a Happy New Year and many clear skies.