Astro Log: July 12th and 13th, 2013

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55mm, 6mm, 12mm TeleVue, Paracorr, plus looking through some other people’s telescopes

New objects observed: NGC 5907, NGC 4631, NGC 4656, NGC 4627, NGC 5273, NGC 5557, NGC 5529, NGC 7000, NGC 7217, T Lyrae

Previously viewed objects: Messier 57, Messier 81, Messier 82, NGC 3077, NGC 7331, Messier 51, NGC 5195, Messier 7, Neptune, Messier 8, NGC 5866, NGC 7318, NGC 7320, NGC 6940, NGC 6910

New location: An entirely different spot near Goldendale, WA.

This past weekend I once again in Goldendale for the Tacoma Astronomical Society star party. I only went to two nights, but still got quite a bit of observing time in. I ended up looking at some objects through other people’s telescopes, periodically made the rounds to talk to other people observing, observed things myself, got to show off the telescope, and generally had a great time. I was pretty tired and grody by the end of it, though.

While I spent a lot of my time looking for the more difficult Herschel 400 objects, I did some observing of the good ol’ standbys as well. Messier 51 was particularly impressive, with visible arms and dust lanes. I also observed some objects, like Ptolemy’s Cluster, with the naked eye rather than a telescope. That one, in particular, is pretty huge, and you can just see it.

Annoyingly, a couple of times I observed some galaxy, but was never able to figure out what galaxy I was looking at exactly. Happens sometimes, but it’s always frustrating when it does. I may have seen Seyfert’s Sextet, but it’s hard to say. I was looking for Stephan’s Quintet, but accidentally ended up looking for an entirely different object. I certainly saw something, but I’m not sure if it was Seyfert’s Sextet (which is pretty tiny looking), or some UGC object that was nearby.

I did get some tough little galaxies, at least, and knocked out some open clusters that happened to be there. Generally, open clusters are my least favorite sort of object, but I’ll certainly hunt around for them if there’s a reason. Sometimes, I find, it’s hard to tell if I’m actually looking at an open cluster, or just a bunch of stars.

The skies were dark and pretty clear, at least, although there was lightning on the southern horizon far far away on Saturday night. It never got any closer, at least.

All in all, a fine time. On the way there and back I also got to dork out with highway stuff by taking a variety of Interstate, US, and State highways. On the way home I came over SR 410, which is a stunningly beautiful drive. It is also, however, a pretty scary drive, because there’s some chunks of it where you’re driving along on a narrow road on the side of a very steep mountain, with just a tiny stone wall (and sometimes not even that) between you and a very long drop indeed. Driving east to west isn’t as bad as the other way, but there are still parts when you’re driving along the edge there. I don’t make a habit of driving off the road in any circumstances, but I can’t help but get very nervous when driving on mountain roads like that. I’m sure it enrages whoever ends up behind me on the very trying and scary portions, but there’s only so much I can do about it; not only do I get terrified of going off the edge, but whenever I tense up (like, say, when your kids are walking along some dangerous high ledge) my arms and legs start feeling very strange and hard to use (I think it’s part of whatever ails me). Fortunately, I was able to make it through, and otherwise the drive was uneventful. The terror part of the drive might ease with driving it more often, though; I’ve noticed that driving up to Sunrise is no longer as scary to me after having done it several times. I’ve never actually been up there in the daytime, though; it could possibly be worse then.

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