Astro Log: September 11th, 2013

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 55mm, 12mm TeleVue eyepieces, OIII filter, Paracorr.

New objects observed: NGC 7008, NGC 7129, NGC 7160, NGC 7788, NGC 7790, Frolov 1

Previously viewed objects: NGC 6826 (Blinking Planetary Nebula), NGC 6939

There were two reasonably clear nights in a row. That doesn’t happen real often.

I spent some time looking for Herschel 400 galaxies, but sadly right now there don’t seem to be a whole lot of them out. I tried for a few, but none of them were visible on this night. It has to be a very nice night indeed, however, to be able to see most 10th and 11th magnitude galaxies from my house (although I’ve pulled it off on occasion), and this wasn’t quite good enough. Galaxies can be tricky like that anyway.

This was another night of open clusters and planetary nebulae. NGC 6826 (the Blinking Planetary Nebula) was easy, but NGC 7008 was much harder. I was able to see it as a faint smudge, larger than I expected, with the OIII filter. Once again the OIII filter shows its worth looking for a very specific kind of object. I’ve never had much luck with any other kind of filter, but the OIII has performed well for me.

The open clusters were, as usual, nothing to get too excited over. I happened to notice that there was some non-Herschel 400 open cluster near NGC 7788 & 7790, so I looked at that one too. It’s apparently “Frolov 1”, which is some relatively unassuming open cluster. Not very special, but I was a little surprised to see that it does not seem to be on the NGC list.

Confession time: I know they’re important, and some of them are strikingly impressive, but on the whole I think open clusters are my least favorite astronomical object. I’ll observe them if they’re there, I’m trying to complete a catalog, or there’s something particularly neat about them, but most of the time they’re kind of boring. Often I’m not even sure how you tell that they’re a thing. This is not always the case, of course; sometimes they’re beautiful, and sometimes they’re very obviously a discrete group of stars, but a lot of the time I think they look like some stars that just happen to be near each other.

Perhaps I’m a philistine, but I prefer galaxies and globular clusters, at least when I can see them. Open clusters might look more impressive in proper dark sky conditions, but when I’m out in the woods I don’t want to spend time hunting down my least favorite objects.

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