Observation Report from Backyard 02/02/02
The sky was exceptionally clear all day. I set up the scope early to take advantage in case it should get cloudy later. Good thing too because that’s exactly what happened. From 6:30 to about 9:30 it was great. Around 9:30 a haze started to roll in that just got worse and worse till I packed it in about 11:00. Had one of my new observing partners with me Sue and her kids who are friends with my kids. She left about 9:00 and Ro showed till we packed it in.
Let me start with the item on the night. Now I don’t usually spend any time on this item because it’s just too big for even the 40MM SWA eyepiece. I was telling Sue about it so I pointed the scope at M45 the Pleiades really to look at it in the finder scope. You can only see 2 or 3 of the Seven Sisters at a time in the 12” LX200. I’ve seen some of the nebula around the stars in this scope before, but not like tonight! It was outstanding! The haze around the first bright star I was pointing at covered over half the field at 138X with the 22MM Panoptic eyepiece. I couldn’t believe it. The sky was very clear. This was about 7:15, way before any signs of the haze started. Jupiter and Saturn were wonderful, but this amazing. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t fogging up or anything. I look at the front corrector plate on the SCT scope, clear and clean. Then I put in the Ultra Block Filter. This would certainly leave no doubt as to how much nebula I was seeing. There it was, half the stars gone, the rest dulled and turning blue from filter, but the nebula was right there. I move the scope to some of the other Pleiades stars. It was all over. Even some of the stars other than the main seven were displaying some nebulosity. I’ve never seen it like this before. The sky was real nice, for about two hrs. Jupiter and Saturn were great to. Saturn’s Rings looked like a record album at times. The globe was a rich brown on the lower end with a real sharp line dividing the bright side from brown side. We had a good look at the Great Red Spot on Jupiter as well. The Red Spot is not very red right now but it’s well defined by the dark outline around it. Many details were visible. The was a real dark spot in the upper belt and several more that were not a prominent.
While we had the filter on we went to many of our favorites. The Eskimo Nebula, Hubbell Variable Nebula, M1 the Crab Nebula, NGC2022 Planetary in Orion and of course M42. All looked terrific. M76 the Little Dumbbell was just about the best of the smaller ones. Looks more like a peanut. One side much brighter that the other. M78 is a tough one to see with or without the filter. There’s just a slight haze around 2 stars. The Pleiades nebula was way way brighter than this. How did Messier see that? After removing the filter we went for some of the usual Messiers, open clusters M35, 36, 37, 38 all looked just packed with stars. M81/M82 always a pleasure. M82 was almost split with that dark area in the middle. Real nice! Then I broke out the new Uranometria to see what I could see. I started with Maps 96 and 97. I was looking for Galaxies in the 12 to 13.5 magnitude range. Couldn’t see anything! It was then we noticed the haze in the sky. About 25% of the stars had vanished and it only got worse. For the next hour or so we looked for some of the open clusters plotted in the Uranometria. Not many were very exciting so I’ll go through them quickly. Most were either larger with just a few bright to medium stars or small and hard to verify. The Uranometria Field Guide is very helpful in that respect. It give a pretty good description of all the objects so we able to tell what we were supposed to be looking at.
NGC2304 – OC, Gem, mag 10., dia 5.0’ – just a few dim stars
NGC2218 – OC, Gem, no mag, dia 1.2’ – the Field Guide said 20 triangle shape about 20 stars. Without that , I couldn’t positive ID this, not much in the field. Not many of these will make my favorites log book.
NGC2266 – OC, Gem, mag 10.0, dia 7.0’ – actually this was nice, it kind of looked like M37 in my 80MM.
NGC1802 – OC, Gem, same as the first 2.
NGC2251 – OC, Mon, mag 10.0 dia 7.0’ – this was long and thin with a fat group of stars at the end. Looked like a squid.
NGC2254 – OC, Mon, mag 9.7 dia 4.0 – this was about the best one, very tight, a few star very close resolving with a glow in the background. I like this one. I was using the 40MM, must see again with the 14MM.
NGC2202 – OC, Mon, five stars in sort of a house shape, kind of like Auriga, with a few more dime stars.
NGC2264 – OC, Mon, mag 3.9, dia 60’ – actually I’ve seen this before, it’s called the Christmas Tree.
NGC2234 – OC, big hazy area, almost no resolution, but the sky was getting really bad, this is where we stopped.
Had a good time. Had a better time when the sky was clear but what can you do. You go out and try again next week. Till then,