Astro Log: August 17th, 2012

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55m, 12mm Tele Vue eyepieces. Also looked at M13 & the Veil Nebula through someone else’s telescope.

New objects observed: NGC 7335, Stephan’s Quintet (NGC 7317, NGC 7318 (a & b), NGC 7319, NGC 7320), Mayall II, Maffei 1

Previously viewed objects: NGC 7331, Messier 31, Messier 32, Messier 110, NGC 3077, Messier 81, Messier 82, Messier 13, NGC 6960, Messier 45, Messier 33

Location: Sunrise Point, Mt. Rainier

After so much time spent waiting, I finally got a chance to take the big Dob up to Sunrise. Strictly weather-wise it seemed to be gorgeous according to the Clear Sky Chart, but there was some smoke in the air from the various wildfires raging around the state. I took the chance and went up though anyway, because I didn’t want to miss out on getting up there with the telescope in case I never got another chance to make it up their this year.

Now that I’m most of the way through the Messier catalog, I’ve started looking for more NGC objects. I did some observing of better known objects this time as well, but I mainly concentrated on harder, more obscure objects I’d have a hard time seeing at home. Per a suggestion made to me earlier today, I think after this I’m going to start tackling the Herschel 400 list.

NGC 7335 wasn’t all that difficult, although I don’t think I would have gotten it at home. Getting Stephan’s Quintet, Mayall II, and Maffei 1 were the night’s real accomplishment. I spent a fair amount of time looking at Stephan’s Quintet before I was satisfied I saw all five of them (there is a sixth member, but that was too dim for me), but Mayall II was a lot of work. I think I spent at least half an hour looking at that before I was confident I had seen it, but it was just barely. Maffei 1 wasn’t too hard at all, but Maffei 2 was a no-go.

Among the things I had seen before, the most notable thing was finally seeing some dust lane action in Messier 31. Messier 33 was pretty impressive too, but not as impressive looking as the first time I looked at it with my 6” telescope the first time I went to Sunrise. That was in October though, and I think the skies are even better at that time of year up there. Assuming the weather permits, I’d like to slide in there right before they close it for the year and see how the sky looks with the 16” in October. I will have to dress more warmly that time though.

There was a guy up their with his family showing them stuff at the same time as me, and I also looked at the Hercules Cluster and part of the Veil Nebula through his telescope. He showed me M13 through his binoviewer, which was certainly an interesting looking device. I also got a look at how his 18” Dob was put together, which gave me some ideas for redoing mine in the future. I was especially interested in how his had it so you lowered the top into the mirror box and stored it that way.

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