Tuesday, November 17, 2009

11/17/09 Observing Log

Near a new moon tonight (2% waxing according to my iPhone Moon Atlas app), and the sky was clear, so I took out the scope tonight.

One other thing to mention is that the iPhone Starmap app is awesome on the iPhone 3GS since it uses the compass to detect which way you are facing and thus gives you a representation of your sky view in the exact direction you are facing. Sweet!

I was hoping to take a look at Jupiter again, but by the time I took out the scope and let it acclimate to the outside temp, Jupiter was below the tree line, so I decided to look for some more Messier objects instead.

As I have written about before, I primarily use Ken Graun's The Next Step: Finding and Viewing the Messier Objects and the Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas.

Observed these objects tonight:
  • M15 - First sighting. Small globular cluster near Pegasus. Easy to stop hop to: Markab to Homam to Biham to Enif to M15. Smaller than M13, but still nice to see. Best view was through my 16mm Orion Edge-On eyepiece.

  • M31 - Andromeda Galaxy. I'm always disppointed with the Andromeda Galaxy at my suburban location because the light pollution here washes out all the fine detail that I should be able to see if I was looking at it under truly dark skies.

  • M33 - FAILED to see M33 even though I'm sure I was looking right at it. Gives you an idea of the light pollution here. Graun's book says "Can be difficult because it is very faint, including the core. It needs dark skies, and easily gets washed out in light polluted skies". Yup.

  • M34 - Small open cluster in Perseus. Star hopped from Almach in Andromeda across towards Algol, which was slightly challenging because there are no bright stars between Almach and Algol, at my location at least. Can see the cluster in my finderscope as well as in the telescope.

  • M103 - First sighting. An open cluster in Cassiopeia, very close to Ruchbah. The view through my main telescope is not as impressive as the picture of M103 in the Graun book, though the difference between the amount of background Milky Way stars visible in the Graun book photograph for M103 and the amount of background stars I can here gives you a very clear idea of the amount of light pollution here.

  • M45 - Pleiades. Quick look at them in finderscope and main telescope.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed in the seeing tonight. It seemed that a faint haze covered the sky and prevented me from excellent seeing conditions.

I'll try for Jupiter tomorrow if the sky stays clear.

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