Astro Log: March 8th, 2013

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55mm, 32mm, 12mm TeleVue Nagler

New objects observed: Messier 78, Messier 48, Messier 93

Previously viewed objects observed: Messier 81, Messier 82

This last winter ended up being remarkably brutal. There ended up not being a single night I was able to go out. There were a few nights were it looked like it might be clear, but it ended up that it wasn’t really because while there weren’t any clouds, it was very hazy. Simply awful.

This night was the first night I was able to go out with the telescope since October. It wasn’t the best night imaginable, but I really wanted to try and see those last seven Messier objects that I haven’t viewed yet. I noticed that three of them were going to be in the sky in the early evening around 8pm-9pm, while the rest were going to be best around 1am. I lugged the telescope out after dinner and waited for it to get dark enough.

It wasn’t all that great that early in the night, since a lot of folks in the neighborhood had their lights on (although I was able to get the neighbors to at least turn off their outside lights). Still, for those three objects that were going to be visible around then this was probably my only chance of the year, so I was determined to take it.

Messier 78 was the hard one of the evening, but I managed to get it pretty quickly. It didn’t look like much in my light polluted skies, but it was distinctly visible. Messier 48 and 93 were easier to actually see, but both of them are so low in the sky I had to wait for them to get into the gap due south between the neighbor’s house and the alley. Still, while they were very low once they were past the obstructions they weren’t that difficult. The only reason I hadn’t observed them before was because I hadn’t bothered. Messier 78 was an object I had tried for before, but sadly it’s beyond my 6”’s abilities when I’m observing at my house.

The other things I was looking for weren’t going to be in their best positions until around 1am, so I tried real quick to get a Herschel 400 object near Messier 81 and 82. That was a no-go, however, so I went back inside for a while.

Around 1am I went back out to try for the remaining Messier objects, but in the meantime it had gotten colder and more humid. I was having to use the hair dryer on the eyepieces to be able to see much of anything, but unfortunately it was not to be that night; the remaining Messier objects that I haven’t observed seem to be too dim to get at home. Fortunately I should have at least a couple more months to try and observe them this year, so I should be able to take a trip to a darker site and see them. Even a quick jaunt somewhere not as excellent as Sunrise or Mt. St. Helens with the 6” should suffice, I think. These four remaining Messier objects are all relatively dim galaxies (well, one might not be as dim as the others, but it’s also pretty low on the horizon).

Current status on my Messier objects:

Observed last night:

  • Messier 48
  • Messier 78
  • Messier 93

Still unobserved, all galaxies (only four!):

  • Messier 61
  • Messier 83
  • Messier 98
  • Messier 100

Almost done. Of course, after this I’ll concentrate on the Herschel 400 again, but there’s a lot of those objects that aren’t going to be visible from my house because of the ambient light pollution, so I’ll be looking for other objects too.

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