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.

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