Astro Log: July 17th-18th 2015

Equipment: 16” Dobsonian, 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, 55mm, 32mm, 25mm, 12mm TeleVue, 9mm & 6mm Edge-On Planetary eyepieces, Paracorr, 12mm illuminated reticle eyepiece.

New objects observed: NGC 6426, NGC 6118, NGC 7142, NGC 5976A, NGC 5981, NGC 2403, NGC 2655, NGC 2715, NGC 6356, NGC 6342, NGC 6217,

Previously viewed objects: Venus, IC 4665, Messier 7, Saturn, Titan, NGC 5557, NGC 5866/“Messier 102”, NGC 5907, Messier 31, Messier 32, Messier 110, NGC 404, Messier 33, NGC 6633, Messier 51, NGC 5195, NGC 7000, NGC 7009, Messier 13, NGC 6207

Once again, I went to the Tacoma Astronomical Society’s Goldendale star party, and a fine time was had. This year I took my daughter with me, and while she only spent a little time observing and kept going to bed early, I think she had a decent enough time.

This year I brought two telescopes: both the trusty 16” Dobsonian, and the 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain I picked up back in December that I haven’t been able to use much. I wanted to take some time trying out the Mak-Cas at a dark site, and while I didn’t spend as much time with it as I did with the Dob, I got some very nice views of Saturn with that telescope. I also tried out the illuminated reticle I got for Christmas and did a very good polar alignment with the Mak-Cas. It ended up being accurate enough that actually turning the RA knob knocked it more out of alignment than anything else, so I think that was a success. I’m not sure if it was quite an astrophotography quality alignment, because the mount itself wasn’t as stable as it should have been, but it’s worth experimenting some more.

I also got a lot of use out of the adjustable chair I also got for Christmas. I swear, this is one of the best things I’ve ever bought for myself. No longer do I need to make myself an absolute wreck by contorting myself for hours to look through the telescope. I also learned a neat trick to rub Pledge on the moving surfaces of the Dob (on the Teflon pads and the Formica) to help it move smoothly and not stick. I haven’t fully reassembled it yet, but already it seems to be moving like a dream. I had noticed that it was harder to use lately, but thought that it was just me.

As far as observing went, I had a pretty good go of it on these nights, as you can see above. I observed quite a few more new objects, and M51 was particularly noteworthy in its appearance. I could see well defined spiral arms in that galaxy. I should have looked at M81 to see how it looked in those skies, but failed to get around to it.

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