Thursday, February 19, 2009

2/19/09 Observing Log

No moon visible, so the sky only washed out from normal Austin light pollution.

The book I have been using to determine which Messier objects to try to locate is Ken Graun's The Next Step: Finding and Viewing the Messier Objects. It is a great book with a lot of history about Charles Messier, as well as information and photos of the 110 Messier objects. I also like the fact that all the photos in the book are taken with the same field of view, so you can get an standardized idea of how large each object is compared to others.

Observed these objects tonight:

  • M78 - First sighting. Extremely faint due to light pollution - I could really only see it with averted vision. UltraBlock filter did not help much.

  • M41 - Interesting to compare with actual picture in Graun book. Light pollution seemed a bit worse this evening.

  • M35 - Easy find this time.

  • M36 - First sighting. Star-hopped from Beta Tauri to Chi Aurigae to M36. Small open cluster in Auriga.

  • M38 - First sighting. Easy to star-hop from M36. Another sparse open cluster in Auriga.

  • M37 - First sighting. Star-hopped again from M36. Open cluster in Auriga.

  • Saturn - Quick look. Could see 3 moons along the ring plane tonight.

  • M40 - First sighting. Decided to attempt to find this since the Big Dipper had risen high enough over the trees in my back yard. Star-hopped from Megrez in Ursa Major (the star where the handle connects to the pot of the Big Dipper). This unusual Messier object is simply two faint stars next to each other.
I also attempted to see M1 (Crab Nebula), but there is too much light pollution from my location to this faint object. I'm sure I was looking right at it in my main scope. I'll have to try again at some site that has darker skies.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

2/5/09 Observing Log

Moon is 5/6 full, so there was a lot of wash-out due to moonlight.

Observed these objects tonight:

  • M93 - First sighting. Star-hopped from Aludra to Epsilon Puppi to M93. Not visible in finder. Nice little open cluster.

  • M47 - Noticed nice Trapezium-like star arrangement in center.

  • M46 - Very washed out from moon light. Definitely found it though. More faint than M47, but many more stars. More interesting than M47.

  • M48 - First sighting. Star hopped from Alpha Monocerotis to Zeta Monocerotis to M48. Fairly wide open cluster.

  • M34 - First sighting. Star hopped from Algol. Sparse cluster under moonlit sky.
I also attempted to find the Leo Triplet (M65, M66, NGC 3628) but the sky was too washed out from light pollution and the moon to detect anything. I'll give it another shot in two weeks when the moon is new.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2/4/09 Observing Log

One final new eyepiece arrived today, a 35mm Orion Ultrascopic (gives 34x with my scope).

Observed these objects tonight:

  • M42, M43 (Orion Nebula) - First light through 35mm Orion Ultrascopic. The eyepiece has a huge exit pupil that takes some getting used-to. Very sharp view though.

  • Moon - Looked a bit at the half-moon (last quarter) using 35mm, first unfiltered and then through variable moon filter.

  • M41 - Nice views through new 35mm. Also tried out 19mm Orion Edge-On and 16mm Orion Edge-On.

  • NGC 2360 - First sighting. Could see this by star-hopping from Sirius to Gamma and Iota Canis majoris. Nice view.

  • M47 - First sighting. Used 16mm Orion Edge-On and 13mm Orion Stratus.

  • M46 - First sighting. Same eyepieces as above.

  • NGC 2374 - First sighting. Same eyepieces as above.

  • M50 - First sighting. Same eyepieces as above. Nice open cluster.

  • M45 - Observed using new 35mm eyepiece. Very sharp views, but washed out a bit from moonlight.

  • Saturn - Faint moon to left of rings, much brighter moon farther left.