Astro Log: May 3rd, 2013

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55mm, 12mm TeleVue eypieces.

New objects observed: Messier 61, NGC 4261, NGC 4260, NGC 4270, NGC 4273, NGC 4281, NGC 4268, NGC 4324, Messier 98, Messier 100, NGC 4312, Messier 83 (Update: Geez, how did I manage to forget to actually list these when I first wrote this? I plead distraction by kids.)

Previously viewed objects observed: Messier 44, Saturn

Location: Near Mt. St. Helens

I had been on the verge of having observed all of the Messier objects for a while, but conditions here haven’t been good for observing for months. Finally a clearish night presented itself, and I decided to make a last minute trip down to the Mt. St. Helens area to try and observe those last Messier objects.

It ended up being good that I did, since as I was leaving Tacoma I saw thin high clouds in the west. I didn’t stay down there super long, since I was feeling kind of tired even on the drive down and wanted to get home at a halfway reasonable hour, but I did pretty well on this trip.

Saturn was an accidental observation; I looked at it while I was getting oriented, and I thought I was aiming at Spica. Oops. Messier 61, 98, and 100 were all pretty straightforward in the nice dark skies down there. The other objects just fell into place, because they happened to be there and I didn’t have to do a whole lot of looking. Sometime I want to do some heavy Virgo Cluster observing at a dark site when I can be more relaxed about leaving.

Messier 83 was the most difficult object of the night. It wasn’t particularly hard to see, but it was about 13ยบ above the horizon, so it was at a bad angle and kind of hard to find.

I saw Messier 44 with the naked eye, and ended up aiming the telescope at it before I decided to leave.

Without trying, I also added a few objects my Herschel 400 list: NGC 4281, NGC 4261, NGC 4273, and M61.

Now that I’ve observed all the Messier objects, I’ll mostly focus on what parts of the Herschel 400 I can see from my house. Many of the objects there, however, aren’t visible from light polluted skies like mine, so I’ll only be able to get the easy ones there. I’ve been thinking about building a list of objects observable from an urban environment with a variety of telescopes, which I could do when there aren’t any city-visible Herschel 400 objects available. I also have that refractor that I’ve been working on that I need to finish, which would be nice for planetary and double star observations.

All in all, this is a pretty big milestone for me.

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