Observing Form

Well, my plans for going out tonight are hampered again my clouds, fog and inversion. Clear Sky Chart says tomorrow should work, let's hope. So tonight I made a new observing form and thought I would share it. It is based on the one by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada with my modifications on it. Please feel free to use it, copy it, modify it for your own uses. If you go to the RASC site and look at their form, they have a second page that fits with this one with an explanation. I'll cover parts here from my form. The PDF version and a Word Version are below. They are in Google Documents and you can view them and then decide if you want to download them.

Page: You may want to keep your logs by type of object and put a page number on them, or some put logs in order by date of observation. Many keep them in a three ring binder which I suggest.

Date: Date the observation takes place using this format as recommended by the RASC: January 1st, 2010.

Time: Time of the observation in Universal Coordinated Time. Where I live in Utah we are 6 hours behind UCT in standard time and 7 hours behind in daylight savings. So I add those hours to my current time to get the UCT. This allows others to know what time your observations occurred in relation to their own time zone. It is something that moving forward I have to do a much better job as I have fluctuated between local and UCT time.

Location: Where your observing session took place i.e. Stansbury Park, UT.

Seeing: Using the RASC form I used their transparency model of 1 hazy or murky to 5 perfect.
I used a 10 point scale on seeing goign from 1 (rampant scintillation to 10 very steady; no twinkling even at your highest power). This is a subjective rating.

Limiting Visual Magnitude: Using the RASC handbook and the Little Dipper as the guide, this reflects the faintest naked eye star visible. For questions please see their handbook or if you haven't purchased one, great investment of $25 (and I have no arrangement with the RASC for monetary kickback).

Object: Please list the catalog number like M1 for Messier 1, or NGC 3047 etc.
Type: OC (open cluster); GC (globular cluster); SNR (Supernova Remnant; EN
(Emission Nebula); RN (Reflection Nebula); PN (Planetary Nebula); DS (Double Star).
For Galaxies I list them as: SG (Spiral Galaxy); BSG (Barred Spiral Galaxy); EG
(Elliptical Galaxy); IrrG (Irregular Galaxy).

Mag: Listed Magnitude of this object.
Size: ngular size of this object.
Const: What constellation this object is found in.
Instrument: What instrument did you use to view this object
Eyepiece: Size of eyepiece(s) used to observe (or the one you used the most).
Filter: Type of Filter used (if you used one).
RA/Dec: Right Ascension (in Hr, Min., Sec.,) and Declination (Deg. Min., Sec.,) of the object.
Notes: Notes from your observation
Sketch: Area to sketch the object as seen through the eyepiece you have used the most on this object.

I have also picked up on one item the RASC has on their form that I need to include. It is a place to record a chart reference to where on a star chart an object is located. For example, Sky Atlas 2000 Chart 8 20h etc. This will allow the user of the form to find the object again, and others who may have the same atlas to know where to look to find the object.

Edit: I made the change below

If you have comments on the form please leave them and I will try to adjust. The form was made in Microsoft Word for a Mac (you'll need the Mac version or the Office 2007 version of word). I also made it into a PDF so if it doesn't work, please let me know. Here is the link to GoogleDocs where you can download it from:

Edit: Use the PDF version as this one seems to be the one that is working correctly.

PDF Form:
Astronomical Observing Form

Microsoft Word (on Mac):
Mac Word or 2007 Word Version

Also, in case anyone wants to see what I hope to be going after in January (since December has been a dismal failure for Herschel Objects) here is my list. Again this is in Excel format for a Mac or for Excel 2007. If someone leaves a comment and wants it in a different format I will try my hardest to accommodate.

Herschel Focus Items January 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to each of you today! I haven't been out in over a month due to being ill and just yucky winter weather. I was hoping to get out tonight but the clouds have moved in where I live. Oh well, I guess its just not to happen.

I do want to make you aware of a wonderful service that Gary Honis is doing (and I got the link from Cloudy Nights). It allows you to print out in whatever size you want, and even in a business size the moon phases for each month in 2010. Could help in making plans to observe in the new year! Thanks Gary for doing this and I'll sticky it in my one my links on the right hand side. Here is the link: Moon Phase Calendar 2010

Merry Christmas and I sure hope I can get out sometime soon!


NGC 2467 and NGC 2261 Hubble Variable Nebula

Well, I am feeling much better today and ready to observe having recovered from a bad respiratory virus and having been glutened at worked last week twice. Sometimes I hate have Celiac disease but that is for another blog. I still have a little bit of recovering there before the system has reset completely but that is happening soon. So I should be ready to go but where I live in Utah is horrible for pollution right now. Good news a storm is coming in to mix up the air which is good. Bad news, I won't have clear skies until Christmas night but I should be able to get out as my in-laws are coming and my wife will welcome the opportunity for me to go observing, besides being very understandable of it.

So I thought I would post a couple more observations from last February 2009. I am not going to post my

NGC 2467 Emission Nebula
February 20, 2009; 3:10 UT
Herriman UT
XT 8
92x using 13mm Stratus
Seeing 8/10
Trans: 4/5

I found this while looking for NGC 2452, a planetary nebula in Puppis. The notes are vague stating I started at Asmidiskie and went down to Omicron Puppis and then diagonally down to the left from there. I had my Orion NB Ultrablock filter in trying to ID the planetary when off in the eyepiece I noticed this nebula. I would not have detected this without the filter being in. There is a central white star that seems to be lighting up this object. I have to keep my eye patch on while writing and sketching or I lose some of the brilliance of this object. The object is gray with some white or brighter regions to the southeast. It spreads out more to the southeast and is larger there.
There is an asterism of a triangle made by 3 bright stars that point at NGC 2467. The star that makes up the point seems to have some nebulosity around it also (I did not include that in the digital sketch). Averted vision brings out more of a white color and much more of the size of this emission nebula. I found this to be a very interesting object and look forward to learning more about it. The nebula is diffused and has an irregular shape in the eyepiece.

Below you can see the digital sketch, the sketch I made at the eyepiece. I did not include the rough sketch from my notes, but probably should.

NGC 2461 Hubble Variable Nebula
Febuary 1st, 2009
3:47 UT
Constellation: Moncereos
13mm Stratus @ 92x
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter
Seeing 7/10
Trans: 4/5

A nice jump for a nice looking object. Went to 15 Mon (the bright star in teh Christmas Tree cluster) and go past HIP 31955 on the left in a reflector. Now pass the two stars that are together, one being HIP 31955. Jumpt pass TYC750-1749-1 to HIP 31996. With dark adapted eyes find two sets of two stars that form a box next along three stars spread out to three stars that are tightly together. From the bottom of that asterism go across to a bright star and then go diagonally and before the next star you are there. It is critical to have dark adapted eyes on this object. Wonderful object to view. The fan is slight at first, but then with averted vision the shape of the fan expands, making it look comet like at 92x. Nebula is triangular shaped with the part by the top star brighter than the bottom of the fan.


Old Observations

We had an excellent night on Monday, December 14, 2009 and more on that on another date. The weather here in Utah has been horrible. Storms, snow and clouds. I don't mind observing in the cold, I just need some CLEAR SKIES during this new moon phase. Doesn't look like I am going to get it . . .

So to put some images from some observations from almost a year ago in February 2009, I selected two fun Planetary Nebula's to post. Both are not hard to find, and offer some fun looking at them. Both observations were made using a XT8 Classic, a 13mm Stratus, 2x barlow and a 6mm Plossl.

NGC 2022 a Planetary Nebula in the constellation of Orion. XT8 with a 13mm Stratus and a 9mm Expanse. Seeing 7/10; Trans: 3/5

This is a very faint PN that requires dark adapted eyes and knowing what a PN looks like to find. In the 13mm Stratus it took averted vision without the filter to located this object, but once I did and focused on it, the PN actually became pretty large, showing off more of its size. At 133x the shape came out even more, ensuring that this is the PN. 266x was too much tonight based on conditions. Not hard to find if you have a good star chart (top of Orion) and in my view it looked like a football or a Rugby ball.

IC 418
Planetary Nebula in Lupis
XT8; 21 & 13mm Stratus;
2x Barlow
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter
Seeing 7/10
Trans: 3/5

Fun PN to go to starting from Rigel. With my scope tonight at 92x with the filter in I could see the central star with averted vision. Direct vision would take away the central star while bringing out more of the nebula. Reverse was true without the filter. The nebula has a ring shape at 194x and is around the central star. Edge is diffused with some hints of blue around the edge, but mainly gray.

My sketch over emphasizes the size of the PN to show its characteristics, and I put too much blue into it. This is one of my first digital recreations from the sketch I did at the eyepiece.

NGC 2438 Planetary Nebula in Puppis
XT8; 13mm Stratus; 2x barlow
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter
Seeing 7/10
Trans: 3/5

At 92x this is a grayish blob in the EP and with averted vision I can see a bright core or star (not sure which) the shape of which is roundish. The nebula stands out in the filter quite well and is diffused across the diamter unless I use averted vision. At 194x the PN is larger and even more diffused and irregular in shape. I do not believe I can see or detect the central star here.


Dr. Richard Pogge New Podcast

If you've been around awhile in amateur astronomy you should be aware of two podcasts done by Dr. Richard Pogge from Ohio State University. You can find his home page here. He has two wonderful podcasts, Astronomy 161 An Introduction to Solar System Astronomy that has his lectures as a podcast located here. Dr. Pogge also did Astronomy 162 Introdcution to Stars, Galaxies and the Universe found here.

Now he has Astronomy 141 Life in the Universe; an introduction to Astrobiology. You can find that class, it's notes and the podcast links here.

Another easy way to sign up for these is to subscribe to them via the iTunes Store. They are free to subscribe and they just take the time to download. So if you have ever wanted to audit (take a university class for no credit) here are three classes that you can do that with and learn a ton. I enjoy Dr. Pogge's delivery style and feel he makes his classes appropriate for non-astronomy majors for whom he targets them to. They make great listening to in a commute via your plug to your CD/Radio player in the car, or on a commuter rail, bus or anywhere. Let's learn from an expert!
I am downloanding them right now and will listen to them while driving to and from work. Perhaps once a week I'll post a review of his lecture and one or two items I learned from them, and perhaps you can comment on them.

Sorry about no observations, the weather outside is truly frightful, around 15 degrees with snow falling. I may get a session in later this week but this weekend isn't looking good either. Seems the weather pattern is in a rut of being bad during the wanning moon and new moon stages, and then being nice and clear for the waxing gibbous, full moon and waning gibbous stages. Sigh, so many objects to view, and lately I have time in the evening but no cooperation from the skies. Here's hoping you have clear skies where you are.


365 Days of Astronomy

The year is getting old now and with this being the International Year of Astronomy the IYA group put together 365 days of Astronomy Podcasts. They can be found here. Simply go to the site and look over the podcasts and then click on the title. You'll go to the main area where you can learn about the podcast, the author and a transcript. If you look on the home page to the left you can subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes (that's how I do it) or via RSS. There are some very excellent podcasts in this collection that are good for beginners, intermediate and advance amateurs.

If you go to the calendar you can see the podcasts that are upcoming. There are a couple I think some may enjoy listening to. They are:

Monday, Dec. 7th Don't Lick the Telescope and Other Tips for Cold Weather Observing by Mike Simonsen of Slacker Astronomy and his tips on observing in cold weather (he lives in Michigan and has observed over 56,000 observations of variable stars, many I'm sure in cold and frigid Michagan weather!).

Tuesday Dec. 8th What is the Kuiper Belt? Talks about Pluto and those other Kuiper Belt Objects

Pause, this is an important item. Some of these podcasts are great for teachers to share in support of curriculum they teach, depending on age and development stage of the child. They do incorporate modern technology, a pod cast that can be listened to in iTunes or other such outlets or on a MP3 player or iPod player.
Another item, if you have some speakers with an iPod or a basic CD player (download and burn them on the CD, the ones you want to play) and then use them in outreach to supplement what your doing.

Thursday, Dec 10th, Blue Star Blues (talks about why a blue star could be blue and the important role these giants play in the universe)

Monday, Dec. 14th Tycho Brahe: All about this wonderful astronomer and a good one I hope to let students know about another early astronomer besides Copernicus and Galileo.

Friday Dec. 25th Star of Wonder.
Star of Wonder examines the theories behind the celestial event that prompted the Magi (Three Kings) to travel to Bethlehem. Was this light an exploding star, a brilliant comet, or an unusual grouping of planets? Presented by The Adler Planetarium in Chicago and I'm sure this will fit with the Astronomy Magazine article in their December issue.

Sat. Dec 26th Confessions of a Christmas Trash Scope by Richard S. Wright. Synopsis from the site:
could someone REALLY get a decent start to a lifelong and rewarding hobby with such an abomination? Indeed, it might just kick start a career to boot. Hear how one man’s childhood dream to own a powerful telescope taught him to turn lemons into lemonade… and opened up the wonders of the night sky, despite all advice to the contrary

One of the things I love about this site is that you or me, or anyone could have signed up for a date and then create a podcast and have it presented here . . . well, see their site as they are now fill. Wonderful and fun resource and one I hope you find interesting. I would love to create a site where someone posts a pod cast and then in a thread we discuss that podcast, much like a forum site (CloudyNights comes to mind) but with video. I fear though that space would take up too much but perhaps if it was limited to just one podcast a week . . .; something I'll have to research and think about.

Weather last night was really cold but I had a commitment with the wife so no observing. Today it is starting to snow and will until next Thursday. Go figure, during the waxing gibbous, full moon and waning gibbous moon the skies were clear. Now as we approach last quarter, waning crescent and new moon the weather turns. That's how the last 3 months have been! Clear skies to you.


Advance Astronomy Learners 1st Night

Tonight at my school, I was able to hold despite the full moon, my first star party of the year for my students in what we call our Advance Astronomy Learners. First task was to teach them how to mount and align a finder scope on a XT6 and then how to swap it with a EZ Deluxe Finder. The students as would be expected preferred using the EZ Deluxe Finder with its red dot. We began by them examining the moon and looking at Tycho right at sun down before the moon got too bright. Next, they were able to bag Jupiter and Alberio on their own using the EX Deluxe Finder. Not bad for my 12 year olds. Examining Jupiter they saw the four Galile0 moons and some of the bands on Jupiter. Students were using a 25mm, 17mm and 10mm Orion Stratus Plossl. Views were good despite the moon light. They enjoyed looking at the varied colors of Alberio.

While the younger students were doing this, my middle school students were busy as well. Using their XT6 scopes they found NGC 457 the ET Cluster and M31 and 32. It was like a hive of bees tonight and it was just a matter of showing how to use the tools, and letting them go. I had warned them to dress warm and suggested what to wear, but being young and thinking they would be all right, they didn't come prepared. Luckily I had some gloves and that helped as I shared them and mothers, four who came, had brought jackets. None had hats though and I again admonished them to wear some type of hat.

So tonight in about 1 hour my new students learned and ran a XT6 and bagged Jupiter and Alberio. My middle school students bagged NGC 457 and M31 and 32. I was quite proud of them and very happy to see them make the progress they did tonight. Every time I hold one of these (once a month) it convinces me of one error that most clubs make regarding kids. We tend to show off for kids, and often at a public star party that has to be the way it is. However, I feel we need to do better. We need to not just show, but instruct and let the public, especially youth, use equipment. Clubs can set up the loaner scopes they have at a star party and have an online list where the public can sign up to learn how to use a scope at the party on a first come first serve basis. Perhaps club membership might grow, etc.
So, for me it comes down to trusting a kid, show them what to do and then observe them doing what they've been taught and be available to support them. The end result is that the youth of today learn how to star gaze and more importantly, we may just bag one or two in the future when they become adults to take up the hobby or gain an interest in science and pursue a career in that field. That is something we all need. Please take the time to show the wonders of this marvelous hobby to the youth of today. I can honestly say that though I am tired tonight, what has been a very difficult two weeks for personal reasons took a backseat to watching these kids shine, follow procedures and gain confidence using equipment just warms one soul in the midst of thirty degree weather dipping into the high twenties. Clear skies to you and to the young astronomers out there.


SuperNova Found in Eridanus

Just in case your not aware, a new supernova has been found in the constellation Eridanus. Here is a copy of an AstroAlert posted on a local message board about this:

This is an AstroAlert from Sky & Telescope.
NOVEMBER 29, 2009
by Roger W. Sinnott
An 8th-magnitude nova was discovered on November 25, 2009, by Koichi Itagaki of Yamagata, Japan. The new star lies in northeastern Eridanus, 6.9° west-southwest of Rigel. In an e-mail sent late on the evening of November 28th, Sky & Telescope Senior Editor Alan MacRobert writes, "Just spotted the nova in my 10x50 binocs on their wooden shoulder frame. Barely visible through the bright moonlight at about mag 8.4."
The find was announced on CBET 2050, issued November 25th by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Itagaki was using an 0.21-meter (8.3-inch) patrol camera, but within 15 minutes he secured a confirming image with an 0.60-meter reflector. The nova lies at right ascension 4h 47.9m, declination –10° 11' (equinox 2000.0).

From the AAVSO site on update to Nova Eri. Also, you can gather more information from CloudyNights at this thread.

At magnitude 8.4 this should be rather easy for most to see and if your into astrophotography it should provide a good object to photo if you have take an image in the area previously or take one now and then several more as it decreases in brightness. Clear Skies.

Edit: Over at AAVSO I made two charts, a large and a smaller. I used the RA and Dec above to plot it. Good hunting.

Update: Here are the actual coordinates: Looks like the progenitor star is listed in the Hubble Guide Star catalog as 5325:1837. Position (2000): RA 04 47 54 Dec -10 10 43


November 18 2009 Observing Session

Edit: I was working on two posts at once and the way blogger works I am not able to load the 25 and 26 session before the 18th. Last night's session is below this one so you know.

Well, I was able to get out yet again and do some galaxy hunting but on this session I forgot my digital recorder so no digital recording on this one. I'll get the rest of those up this weekend for the other posts.

NGC 613 is a Galaxy in the constellation Schulptor.
RA 01 h 34.3 Dec. 29 25 m.
Listed Magnitude 10.0 Listed Size 5.3' x 2.6'
13mm & 21mm Stratus
Seeing 6-7/10 Transparency 3/5

This was a difficult object because the galaxy sits so low and the observer at my latitude is looking through a lot of atmosphere to view it. At 57x the core is somewhat detectable with averted vision, but it comes and goes, and it is surrounded with a whisper of a halo around it. At 92x the core takes on what I call an elliptical shape with the core being brighter in the S.W. and the N.E. Edge is diffused and no modding or other details are evident.

I tried to capture the faintness of the galaxy but also to show how it looked in the 13mm Stratus. I could define the shape basically and the core I saw here and there, but not enough to include in the sketch.

NGC 246 Planetary Nebula called The Skull
Constellation: Cetus
R.A. 00 h 47 m Dec. -11 d 52 m
Listed Magnitude: 10.9
Listed Size 4.6' x 4.1'
XT10 21mm&13mm Stratus, 5mm Hyperion
Orion Ultrablock Narrowband Filter

O'Meara's directions are spot on but with the conditions I was in this was a very hard object to locate at first. Very faint and then it came out as I used averted vision even with the filter. 92x shows the two crescents that I have tried to capture in the digital sketch. 240x showed the western portion of the nebula is much brighter than the rest. A challenging but fun object.

This is a case where I like the sketch did at the eyepiece so much more than my digital recreation based on that sketch. Someday I'll be able to afford a scanner that will allow me to really do a good deal with scanning and posting a good realistic version of my sketches. This sketch captures the two crescents without their slight break at the top. The 12th magnitude star is visible in this PN.

NGC 157 Mixed Spiral Galaxy
Constellation: Cetus
R.A. 00 h 34.8 m Dec. -08 d 24 m
Listed Magnitude 10.4 Listed Size 4.0' x 2.4'
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 3/5
13mm & 21mm Stratus

This spiral galaxy is in the middle of two ninth magnitude stars. It requires averted vision to see but is still a very faint object doing that. 92x showed the better view with more of a halo evident with diffused edges and with some spiral stucture evident. No other details are evident to me. Would be a fun one to come back from a true black site and observe.

I tried to show a slightly brighter core than the halo for I observed that and the hint of arms. These arms stick out too much for me but they kinda of give the impression I'm looking for so I left them. Looks like a swimmer to me.

NGC 596 Mixed Spiral Galaxy
Constellation Cetus
R.A. 01 h 32.9 Dec -07 d 02 m
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 3/5
13mm & 21mm Stratus

Theta Ceti is the starting point for this object and then follow O'Meara's directions and his small finder map. At 92x the core is bright and round and brighter than the diffused halo around it. Slightly tilted NE to SW averted vision is a must to view this object.

The sketch is done to show what averted vision can show you. Without it this object is a very faint and very easy to pass over if your not looking correctly or in the right spot.

NGC 584 Lenticular Galaxy
NGC 596 Galaxy
Constellation: Cetus
RA 01 h 31.3 m Dec -06 d 52 m
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 3/5
13mm & 21mm Stratus

NGC 584 is avery small and faint galaxy, that requires yet again averted vision to see. I actually passed over it before bagging it. At 92x the core became visible and is of the same brightness of the halo on outer edge.

My sketch reflects seeing NGC 584 which is the more rounded galaxy on top with NGC 586 which is more edge on and the bottom galaxy. Both really do take averted vision to see and some patience. Keep your viewing eye dark adapted and be at a dark site.

NGC 615 Edge On Barred Spiral Galaxy
Constellation: Cetus
R.A. 01 h 35.1 m Dec. -07 d 20 m
Listed Magnitude: 11.6
Listed Size 2.5'x 1.3'
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 3/5
13mm & 21mm Stratus

This is a very small galaxy with a star like core at 57x. At 92x the core shape of the galaxy elongates. Diffused halo around the core is longer then the core as viewed with averted vision. Not a spectacular sight, faint, but viewable because of its small and condense.

Sketch tries to reflect the diffculty of seeing this object. I know if I tilt my monitor back and forth the object gains in brightness and fades and that's a good way to view this object.

That's all from this session. These are some very fun but challenging objects.

November 25th and 26th 2009 Observations

Well, last night I was able to get out. Conditions were good with the moon just past first quarter and was able to get in some carbon stars and some open clusters from my Herschel List. The moon was behind the mountains to the west of where I live by 12:45a.m. or so and I then went after some galaxies. I only targeted four items from my Herschel List and only did four items because I spent about an forty minutes on each sketching after observing them for about twenty minutes each.

I've really debated whether I want to "rush" through and nail the Herschels in a year, or take my time, sketch them and record those sketches. Well for now I will continue to do both. I know O'Meara and others say get through them quickly, but I don't want to do that. The key will be if I have enough observing time to follow O'Meara's plan. O'Meara only focuses on three or four objects in a night, but that is having six or seven nights to observe under good conditions. Unfortunately here in northern Utah, we have not had that many good nights for observing. So, if I can follow O'Meara's plan and combine a couple of nights into one night I think I can sketch by hand and still get through the list. If I can't and this project takes two years, that's fine with me. I have other items to supplement the Herschel 400 with.

All observations were made with my XT10 using either a 21mm Stratus or a 13mm Stratus at 57x or 92x. I go have digital recordings and will add these sometime in the next week.

NGC 720 Elliptical Galaxy
Constellation: Cetus
R.A. 01 h 53 m Dec. -13 d 44 m
Listed Magnitude: 10.2
Listed Size: 4.3' x 2.0'
Seeing: 7
Transparency: 4
13mm & 21mm Stratus

Easy to find. I used the Sky Pocket Atlas to get to Baten Kaitos in Cetus and then down to a four square asterism you can see in the atlas. From the bottom right star I followed the right part of a V to the btoom star on that side and then diagonally down to NGC 720. At 57xthe cores is somewhat bright with a faint halo around it. Looks like a roundish to elliptical planetary. That changes at 92x the cores shows slightly stronger with a cigar shape halo. Either way it requires averted vision to see this object. Very faint object.

My sketch tries to capture the faintness of this object, the brightness of the core over the surrounding halo.

NGC 779 Edge On Spiral Galaxy
Constellation: Cetus
R.A. 01 h 59.7 m Dec. -05 d 58 m
Listed Magnitude: 11.2
Listed Size: 3.4' x 1.2'
Seeing 7/10
Transparency: 4/5
13mm Stratus

Easy star hop. Go to Baten Kaitos and then up to a slanted triangle asterism. Go to the top left (or right in a dob EP) corner star. There are two stars going straight up and down and follow them up to two stars going east to west. The galaxy is between those two stars and slightly up. To verify location go to the west and you should see three stars in a crooked line with the upper two closer together than to the bottom.

Very faint galaxy that runs N. to NW to S to SE. Brighter core at 92x with a diffused halo. I only found this by using a breathing technique, using averted vision and moving the scope by tapping it. Then it came into focus and I could focus on it. So patience helps on this object as well.

NGC 7686 Open Cluster
Constellation: Andromeda
R.A. 23 h 30.1 m Dec. +49 d 08 m
Listed Magnitude: 5.6
Size 15.0'
Seeing 7
Transparency 4/5
21mm & 13mm Stratus

This was the first object of the evening or night since the moon was still up somewhat. This is a large and rich open cluster with a variance in magnitudes easily visible. There is a large orange star in the center of the cluster and it forms a right triangle with two other stars. One corner star is a bluish white and is a double with a pretty orange star next to it that is fainter. No dark lanes are visible. There is a hint of stars wanting to peep out and if you increase the size of the image you'll see that. I was please with that affect (look at the yellow/orange star that dominates).

Wonderful cluster and I encourage others to view it!

NGC 7662 Planetary Nebula The Blue Snow Ball
Constellation: Andromeda
R.A. 23 h 25.9 m Dec. +42 d 32m
Listed Magnitude: 8.3 Central Star is variable from 11.5 to 13, average at 12 to 12.5
Seeing 7/10
Transparency: 3/5
21mm & 13mm Stratus & 5mm Hyperion
Orion Ultrablock Narrowband Filter

Love this fun fall object! 92x shows the snowball with some off blue color, almost a greenish color. At 240x the views are the best. A sharp core is evident as are two outer shells with a dense inner ring around the core. As I mention above the central star is variable from 11.5 to 13 magnitude, with the average between 12 and 12.5. I have seen it once but not tonight, I need just a darker site because of conditions tonight. Fun object, if you haven't been here, get here before its gone.

NGC 772 Spiral Galaxy
Cosntellation: Aries
RA 01 h 59.3 m Dec. +19 d 00 m
Listed Magnitude 9.9
Listed Size 7.1' x 4.7'
Seeing 7/10
Transparency: 4/5
21mm & 13mm Stratus

This is a face on spiral with an elliptical shaped core. The western arm is very faint with a hint of modeling. Averted vision is a must on this one and the only way I captured it. No stars are evident, and no dark lanes. This is one to return to from a dark site! I will come back to this one.

This session took longer as I mentioned because I took my time to really sketch these at the eyepiece. I will continue to translate them in a digital format since that reflects better online than my sketches that I do at the eyepiece until I learn how to get these sketches scanned better. I hope you have enjoyed this one, I enjoyed viewing. Clear skies to you, and Happy Holidays or whatever you choose to celebrate. Happy Thanksgiving also!


November 16th and 17th Observations

A bit of a story on these three objects. I observed these objects two nights in a row because on November 16th, 2009, these objects I observed, but not as well as I wanted. So the next night I was at a darker location and observed them prior to observing locations failing due to high humidity.

The first object is NGC 253 a mixed spiral galaxy in Sculptor. It has a listed magnitude of 7.1 and I used my XT10 with my 21mm and 13mm Stratus. This galaxy was very faint at first, then with averted vision and direct vision, a little more of it appeared. With patience and practicing I was able to see more. The galaxy runs northeast to southwest between two ninth or tenth magnitude stars. The core is somewhat bright, elliptical in shape and starlike. The edge is diffused and at 92x I could detect some faint hints of structure. This is one I will hopefully see again. I did not show a bright core here because in my sketch at the scope it kept coming and going.

NGC 288 is a globular cluster in Sculptor though O'Meara's guide says it is in Cassiopeia (I'll have to check that, you know me, sometimes I am tired and make mistakes). This is a nice globular and shows good details at 57x in which it is a nice ball, 92x and 240x show irregular core which is brighter than the halo. Several chains of stars give the globular an irregular shape on the edges. Fun to come back at high power and examine the core on this.

The last object is another galaxy in NGC 247 a galaxy in Cetus. It has a magnitude of 8.9 and I used my XT10 with my 21mm and 13mm Stratus. Seeing is a 6/10 and transparency is a 2/5. This is a nice looking spiral galaxy that given the right aperature and right conditions would be a great item to look at. This galaxy is very dim in the sky and is low in the sky making it harder to get good details. I can only see this galaxy with averted vision and in keeping one eye dark adapted. The galaxy has a small core bright, star like. Averted vision shows a halo around the core that is extremely faint. 92x showed more of the shape of the galaxy averted vision. No other structure is visible.

November 15th 2009 Observations

I won't have time until the weekend to upload the digital recording of this session, but I will. Here is what I did on the 15th of November, 2009. XT10, 13mm and 21mm Stratus; Seeing was around 6/10 and transparency 2-3/5.

I set up that evening and by 7:30p.m. I was observing my Herschel List. My first object was an old friend, NGC 457 the ET Cluster. NGC 457 is easy to find from Rhubach, just telrad there and head east. I know many call it the ET but for me this is the Owl Nebula. Richa cluster of stars with various magnitudes sticking out. A chain runs east to west and another chair north to south. The east to west chains make the arms and the north to south make the legs. This is one I always enjoy and use it in the fall for star parties.

My next object was NGC 456 another Open Cluster (get use to them) in Cassiopeia. NGC 456 is a small tight cluster at 57x, and appears as a faint fuzzy or as a halo in the eyepiece. Averted vision shows some stars peeping out. At 92x the brighter stars of the cluster come out at about 10th magnitude or so, with a hint of other stars. A poor cluster in terms of stars in the eyepiece. The SW has what appears to be a double star with the main star being around 5th or 6th magnitude.

My next object was yet another Open Cluster, NGC 637 in Cassiopeia. This is a 8.2 magnitude open cluster and it is easy to find. Go Segin, the last star in Cassiopeia adn then over to HIP 8362, a pretty double (the main is yellow, the companion is red or reddish); there is also a carbon star nearby that is fun. From HIP 8362 the double star, there are three bright stars of four total stars that are there. The third star is faint and from that one go down to two diagonal stars. The cluster is near there. At 92x it resembles a Y asterism. At 57x the cluster shows a halo with avered vision. This is a poor cluster looking at it in the eyepiece though it is medium rich in reality.

NGC 559 was the next open cluster on O'Meara's Herschel list. The cluster is in Cassiopeia. I used the 2000 Sky Atlas for this object as I could not follow O'Meara's large finder chart yet again. Please if you ever read this Stephen O'Meara, please revise your large finder charts in what is otherwise a wonderful book. From Segin I went to HIP 7625 then down to HIP 7400 and then to HIP 7088 a 7th magnitude star that is part of a triangle asterism where the top star looks like a double. NGC 559 is just to the northeast of HIP 7088. This is a small cluster with a halo at 57x. There is a chain of faint stars running NW to SW with a faint double visible at the SW end. This is a cluster that I will probably not visit again in some time.

The next object was yet another Open Cluster, NGC 659 which is in Cassiopeia. Listed at 8.2 magnitude I found that on this object I did not like O'Meara's directions. I used the Telrad to Ruchbach, then past M103 to a V formation of three stars. I then went down from the point, or the middle star to 41 Cassiopeia which is a double, and then worked my way up. This is a tiny cluster that is medium rich with fifty to one hundred stars at both 57x and 92x. Averted vision shows a ring of faint stars while direct vision reveals a halo of fainter magnitude stars wanting to come out. Because this cluster reveals more with blinking and averted vision, much like the blinking planetary nebula, for me, I've renamed this the Blinking Open Cluster for now. I have a sketch but blogger is not letting me post images into the blog so I'll have to come back and do that.

NGC 663 an Open Cluster in Cassiopeia is a most beautiful open cluster. I personally think Messier messed up and should have included this object in his catalog. Look at this and compare it to M103. This is a rich cluster of well over one hundred stars. There is a dark lane dividing the eastern part from the western part of this cluster. There is a chain of stars running west to east, arching slightly. There are some wonderful faint doubles located here and they do stick out. One fades from orange to white with conditions. Well worthy of a timed sketch but I have a couple of more items so I did not time sketch, just a rough sketch in pen on the observing paper. Definitely deserves to be looked at!!!!!!

NGC 654 was the final open cluster this night and it also is in Cassiopeia. It hasa magnitude of 6.4 and skies had improved to around a 7/10 in seeing and a 3/5 in seeing. This is a very dim and poor cluster that is next to a seventh magnitude sun. At 92x it makes an inverted V shape. There are two chain of stars with some variance in magnitude. It is important on this cluster to keep one eye dark adapted and to use averted vision to make out the details.


Favorite Sites

I've been grading today and cleaning up my bookmarks and decided to post some links to some of my favorite sites in hopes that others may find them useful.

is a wonderful site to find logs on the Messier, Herschel 400, ARP Peculiar Galaxies, Caldwell Catalog, Double Stars, Globular Cluster, Comet and a Lunar Log Book. You can download these and all materials from this site for free. The site has some wonderful finder charts for these objects as well. I really like this site. is a fun place to go and see what is being found in terms of supernova. Sometimes you'll find one that is in a good location for observing and in the limiting magnitude of your scope. Then you can have the fun of chasing one down, but don't wait unless you have a large scope. is a wonderful way to sign up for free and register, and then try to link up with others in your area. Started by a member of he's done a really good job of setting this up. Hope others use it to link up.

Astronomic Viewing is a good site with some good explanations about what seeing, transparency are and factors that help in those things. Discusses night vision etc.

Seeing and Transparency a review from CloudyNights is an excellent source and provides good explanations of seeing and transparency.

Seasonal Best Planetaries Do you like finding and observing planetary nebula? This is the site for you listing many of the best planetaries that are available for viewing by season of the year and by hemisphere.

Sean's Astronomy Shop Every been asked or seen a post on the difference between a 6 inch, 8 inch and 10 inch reflector? Here's a decent example. Every need to create a list of what your going to observe based on what's up there? This site helps you to do so and to plan your session. Wonderful tool.

John Bortle's Light Pollution Scale. Posted on NOVAC's site, this helps you to understand what people mean by a red zone, a black zone, a green zone etc.

Dark Sky Finder Using the Bortle scale you can find where around you has good dark locations. The problem though is the information used to make the maps (as I understand it) are rather old and outdated. So the maps may not reflect what is in your area due to population growth (new home development, commercial development etc). This link takes you to where you can estimate the limiting magnitude by looking at what stars you can see in a constellation. The problem with this is your eyes may be better than my eyes, but my eyes may be better than my friends eyes so though we are all at the same location, we may see things differently.

Tom T's Small Wonders Tom is a admin over at CloudyNights and has a series of articles of items to hunt for by constellation. There are difficult ones as well. If you grow tired of chasing a list, take a break and spend an evening or two doing one these guides, their fun!

American Association of Variable Star Observers Wonderful site on variable stars observing and projects that you can join depending on what telescope you use to observe.

Carbon Stars brought by the North Central Kansas Astronomical Society. Carbon stars are wonderfully color stars that are burning carbon and thus have a color from a oragne-red to a deep blood red. Wonderful objects to hunt down and I spend time during the waxing and wanning gibbous looking these up.

Jet Stream Analysis Not an astronomy site but it shows you what is happening to the jet stream and that usually tells you about weather and seeing conditions.

Citizen Sky Help solve the mystery of epsilon Aurigae and other items. Read the dialogue box. Think your advance observer? Here's one from Citizen Sky: Brian is leading a mini-campaign on zeta Aurigae. It is undergoing a short eclipse (compared to epsilon Aurigae) with a dip of only 0.1 mag sometime this month. Thus it will be quite a feat for even advanced observers. Up to the challenge? This is geared more for those using photo equipment and not visual but go to the link and check it out if you want.

Messier Items. TUMOL will help you to create charts and log your Messier challenge. Messier 45 is a wonderful site with a chart and the STSci image of the object your going after. Also has it for the Herschel 400. A very good site.

U.S. Navy Observatory Sun Rise/Set, Moon Rise/Set, Astronomical Twilight. You can create a chart based on where you live (use a nearby major US city) to get the sun rise/set and moon rise/set table. Helpful in planning.

Observing the Night Sky
: Wonderful site that has sketches that are realistic and a monthly paper on what objects to see that night.

SAC's 110 Best of the NGC download chart. Make sure to make your contribution to them if you download! Wonderful catalog to do after you finish the Messier and one I would like to sketch through and do a blog on. Many items are in the Herschel 400.

The NGC/IC Project One of the best sites for DSO observers on the web. Want to see the object? Go there. Want a description of what it looks like? Go there. Want a chart to get there? Go there. Use this site when planning your observations.

Astronomical Sketching Resources Online from Jeremy Perez's terrific Belt of Venus site. A few links may not work, but if you want to learn to sketch, spend time here and look into the book he help write on Astronomical Sketching which is in the upper right. Wonderful site from a truly courteous and gracious man. I like that Jeremy has left his first sketches up and it provides hope to people like me that perhaps if I continue to work at it, I just may improve. Then again, who am I kidding!

Deep Sky Archive is a first rate site with first rate sketches, mainly from participants in Finland who I believe started the site. Want to see some great sketches that are accurate? This is the site for you.

Vevrhova Messier Sketches One of the best set of images of the Messier sketches I've seen.

Globular Cluster Sketching Tutorial by Eric at Cloudy Nights who is one of the moderators of the Sketching forum there. Wonderful tutorial on sketching these objects.

The American Association of Amateur Astronomers or AAAA Some things are free on this site, some you have to purchase. I use the observing forms from this site though as I have enjoyed them, they are free for download.

Just one more today as I need to head out to my dark site for a cold, but I hope a productive night of observing.

Saguaro Astronomy Club downloads
. Lots of things here that can help you out.

Sometime I'll post more of what I have found over the last several years. Enjoy, hope someone finds something useful and clear skies to you.


O'Meara's Herschel 400 Observing Guide

I was putting together December's list from O'Meara's guide to the H-400 when it dawned on me. Why not share the lists! I have not put these in order yet for the night you are to view them, and Starry Night Pro which I used to create the list put them in Alpha order by the NGC I believe. These are basically the lists I use but prior to going out I put them in the order by night that O'Meara has in his book. If you want that you'll need to probably purchase his book or figure out your own plan of attack to bag these.

Anyway, I will give you a link to the documents which I have put into Google Docs so I can link them on the blog. If you want the actually .xls file, please email me and I'll send them to you. The lists are only for October, November and December but I also have August and September that I will post sometime or if you email me I can send them.

We had snow today, about 5 to 6 inches where I live. Skies are to be clear the next 3 nights though cold so I cleared off the observing pad, and the paths to it and am ready to go tomorrow night. Kinda of exciting to observe again in twenty to thirty degree weather . . .

October's Herschel 400 Objects by O'Meara's Guide

November's Herschel 400 Objects by O'Meara's Guide

December's Herschel 400 Objects by O'Meara's Guide.

You can get the constellation, the NGC number, what type of object it is, listed magnitude, RA and Dec numbers etc. It is based off my longitude and latitude which I believe I have listed. If not it is Salt Lake City's.

If you would like to have the Messier list like these, the Hidden Treasures list, the Urban Club, the Double Star Club or the Best of the NGC let me know by leaving a comment and I'll post them up.


Binocular Observations November 13, 2009

Well, I had every intention tonight of going to a nice dark site with the 10 inch and doing some Herschel galaxy hunting. Then reality hit today. I suffer from a disease called celiac disease. It is an autoimmune disease where when I ingest gluten from a product containing wheat, rye or barley I get terribly sick. My body's immune system attacks the villa of the digestive track causing a variety of symptoms. My symptoms are severe diarrhea, severe fatigue, stomach upset, muscle cramps and joint ache, and lactose intolerance (the lactose issue is improving over time). Along with this comes what I cause a fuzziness of the mind; I don't think clearly.

So what does this have to do with astronomy and observing? For you, nothing. For me, a lot. I got glutened at work because working at a school exposes me to people's gluten which is all around. Yesterday I got glutened and it happened again today. Major symptoms and it wasn't until around 8:00p.m. that I felt I could go outside. The weather here in northern Utah is cold tonight, in the thirties going down to the twenties tonight. I put on a coat, and pulled out my lawn chair that reclines and took out the binoculars because I just didn't have the energy to haul the scope to a dark site, or to set up everything in the back yard.

I began my session by wrapping up in a nice warm wool comforter, and looked around. Where I live there is a walking trail behind the house so we have about 50 yards from our backyard to our neighbors backyard. When their back lights are off, which is often, it can get pretty dark for a suburban area. If I put up my light shields, I can get my eyes decently dark adapted.

Looking away now from the ground, I turned my eyes skyward. I felt that longing for the stars. It's a very similar longing that I feel for the ocean, which has a significant calling to me having lived by the ocean for so many years. I often wonder if a sailor and an amateur astronomer have similar longings? I marveled that the stars were not sparkling yet up high as we had a storm yesterday and another one tomorrow. What to go for? Here I broke cardinal rule number one for me, always plan your session. Sometimes, it's just fun to go out and see what you want to see when you look up. Don't take me wrong, I plan most of my sessions, but I do sometimes, just go off and observing a page from a star atlas, or constellation, or jump around looking at old friends. I'm sure many of you do the same or something different.

Looking up, M45 was hanging there with her glow all around her. I looked at M45 visually and decided that for me, M45 is the herald of the holidays for me. As it begins to dominate the early to mid evening sky, we are moving into November and December, the holiday months. That reminds me of family, both my family I grew up with, and the family I now have with my wife and two tweens as I call them. These are good memories, strong memories, and they arise strong emotions in me. Before I tear up I bring up the binoculars and am awe struck as I always am by the site of this beauty. To paraphrase John Dobson, "The exterior decorator does an outstanding job." I enjoy the view of M45 for about ten minutes and then move on.

Next, I see the W shape out of the upper left portion of my eye and head toward the Queen. In Cassiopeia I take a look to see what I can see. I went to Ruchbah and decided to head downwards. I've looked this fall at the Double Cluster in a 32mm 2 inch EP and enjoyed the view very much. However, this time it just sparked and it reminded me of the wonder and awe I had the very first time I saw this. I'm a sentimental middle age, guy and this constellation reminds me of two things that are so vital to me.

One is that it symbols to me my marriage of twenty-one years plus to my sweetheart. The other is of my two children and the miracles they are in my life. My daughter, my oldest, is adopted but is so much like me (poor child) that there is no doubt she was met for our family. She looks like my wife which is a good thing and acts like me, which is not good for her. The story of her adoption is very, very moving and I"ll just say that the day when her birth mother put our daughter into the arms of my wife I learned in a way I had never thought of, what love, true unconditional love or what may be called charity is. See, as great as science and astronomy are, as great as the objects in the universe are, in a weird way, they remind me of one thing. That we live and exist in a human condition, and thus those things I love, remind me on a continual basis of what is truly important.

The other cluster reminds me of my son. He too is a miracle to us. We tried for over five years through infertility to have a child. That is why when we could do a private adoption we did. Then four months after our daughter was born and came to our home, my wife got pregnant. Looking at the Double Cluster tonight the thought came to me that I should never take the view for granted, and thus I should never take my two tweens for granted. They are great kids, I think, but I admit bias. They are not perfect, no doubt, they are like me like that. But they are becoming wonderful human beings and in my mind, that is all I could hope for, the rest will come with time.

After the Double Cluster, I went over to Cygnus and tried to see if the N. America Nebula was viewable. I didn't expect it and of course, I didn't see it. But I had fun looking through Cygnus.

I next decided to try to see Alberio and I nailed the main star, but thought I could detect the companion but am convinced that it is just my mind because I know it is there.

Next I went to Lyra and went for the Ring Nebula. I was able to detect it in the binoculars and stayed with that for about ten minutes. A ring, symbol of no beginning and no end, of eternity. More importantly it signifies to me that I will live in by the involvement and teaching that I've had in the lives mostly of my children, and perhaps in a student or two here or there. My father died in 1982 when I was 17, but he continues to live on through me and how I interact with my family. I miss him still, after all this time, and though I am not obsessed by it, I do wish I could call him up every now and then and just wish I could hear his voice. He would have been 73 this week on the 10th had he lived.

Thus the Ring Nebula reminds me that all things have a life cycle, including stars, and like a star, whether we burn up quickly like my father did (he was only 45 when he died) or we burn evenly and long like our sun, no matter what, we will die. The question then we have to ask is what beauty will we leave behind? Just like a planetary nebula leaves a beautiful nebula for a short time, what will we leave when we are gone? Hopefully it is the impact in a positive way that we've had first with our family and loved ones, next with other human beings. Hopefully our legacy is like the planetary's, we live a halo of light around those we have loved that inspires, and helps them through their life's course.

Edit: I added a sketch to reflect what I saw, which I guess should show Sulafat and Sheliak with the M57 where it belong but here I added detail from what I could recall. I may have the alignment all messed up. Again, at magnitude 9 + I am not sure on this, but I really do think I may have seen it.

Lastly, M31 was almost vertically above me so I decided to look straight up. Sure enough I found her and she was glorious. The halo of the galaxy showed as did a tight but bright core. Here was light, photons, that had taken 2.4 million years to reach me. That humbles me and I often wonder who might have been looking at me from that galaxy 2.4 million years ago and where are their species now? Is there life out there? I firmly believe so in a variety of forms. Intelligent life, I have to hope so, and that is what M31 means to me this night, an emblem of hope, and not just of other, hopefully wiser and more intelligent life out in the universe. M31 reminds me that I need to have hope that regardless of what I may observe each day, that if enough of us would live our lives to better each other, that both we as individuals and we as a species will not only survive, but thrive by reaching out to space and to each other. Sounds nice, and I need that hope, because I find as I get older, I am becoming more of a skeptic. I think we all need hope that humankind will improve as we move out.

So, this hasn't been my usual post I know. It was a wonderful night that lasted just over an hour. Sometimes just cuddling into a blanket, dressed for cold weather and observing objects with binoculars and coming inside to some nice hot chocolate is just what this batter body and spirit needed tonight. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are suppose to be clear and cold, so I am heading out to take a look those nights.

Be grateful, be awed, don't take views or others for granted, and remember to have hope, not only this night, not only in the coming holiday season, but lets have hope and live with hope by our actions and interactions with each other each day to the best of our ability that day. Clear skies to you.

P.S. No sketches, no images, and I'll keep the two sketches I did to me. My daughter is on her first date tonight (a couples date) . . . . and I'll be waiting for her to come home.


November 7th 2009 Observing Session

November 7th, 2009

Scope: XT10, 21mm, 13mm Stratus and 5mm Hyperion

NGC 7727 is a Galaxy in Aquarius and was the first object I observed tonight. It has a listed magnitude of 10.6 and a size of 5.6' x 4'. O'Meara's directions in the guide were spot on and his small finderchart rocks. Use them on this object. NGC 7727 is a bright, small galaxy. It appears almost edge on to me. Slight structure is visible to the NE and the SE sections with diffusion from the core to the edge. The core is very bright, brighter then the rest of the galaxy.

NGC 136 is an Open Cluster in Cassiopeia. It has a limited magnitude around 9 and its size is 1.5'. This is a very small and very poor open cluster. I passed by it twice before recognizing it. 92x shows a halo with very faint stars around 13th magnitude. No chains are evident, and this is a very small and tight open cluster. Once was enough on this one.

The next object this night in my Herschel hunt is NGC 129, another open cluster in Cassiopeia. This cluster has a listed magnitude of 6.5 and its size is listed as 12'. It has an asymmetrical shape at 57x, almost an eclipse in shape. At 92x the cluster is very loose and looks to be dispersing. There are a variety of magnitudes but a rather rich open cluster. I estimate it to be at 150 to 200 stars, with more popping out. Nice open cluster.

NGC 7789 was the next open cluster and is located in Cassiopeia also. It's listed magnitude is 8.5 and its size is 5.0'. This is a large and beautiful open cluster that will be a fun challenge to sketch. I did not sketch it this night as I knew it would deserve some really dedicated time. I will come back and sketch this one. It is a very rich open cluster well over 400 to 500 stars, and is poorly detached, with a wide range of magnitudes evident. Core is circular in shape with a lot of stars just hinting at popping out. Truly beautiful and yes, Messier should have included this one!

NGC 7790 is another open cluster in Cassiopeia. It's listed magnitude is 8.5 and its size is 5.0'. This is a small open cluster that shows about a half dozen stars with a halo at 57x. At 92x the cluster's main stars take on a pentagon shape to me, with many stars fainter then 10th magnitude wanting to pop out. The cluster is very tight and some variance in magnitude is evident in the stars of this cluster. Upon further observation I discern a triangular shape at the core using averted vision.

NGC 225 is another open cluster in Cassiopeia. It has a listed magnitude of 7.0 and its size is listed as 15'. This is a very loose open cluster and at 92x this cluster also looks to be dispersing. It looks like a broken butterfly or a broken heart. There is some minor variance in stars are evident and there is a dark lane separating the two parts. This is a medium rich open cluster, with 50 to 100 stars. This was a fun and easy sketch.

NGC 381 was the last open cluster in Cassiopeia for this night. It has a listed magnitude of 9.3 and a size of 7.0'. This is a medium rich open cluster with many more hinting at wanting to come out. There is a variance in magnitudes in the stars and there seems to be a loose chain running north to south, with a bulb or circle of stars at the end. There is a glow of unresolved stars with averted vision and using a breathing technique.

November 6th Observing Session

This is my session from November 6th and from about 3 weeks ago. All observations were made with my XT10 using a 21mm, 13mm Stratus or 5mm Hyperion @ 57x, 92x or 240x.

First object was NGC 185, an elliptical galaxy in Cassiopeia. The listed magnitude is 9.2 with a size of 17' x 14.3'. At a dark site this galaxy showed far more detail then at home in my light polluted skies. No matter though, it takes averted vision to see this one and at home it took averted vision to verify it. Having seen it at a dark site helped in locating this one. It is roundish to elliptical in shape, and appears to be facing us. Very diffused edge and in the backyard no structure is evident. This one at a dark site takes averted vision and patience to get details. In the sketch I tried to make it very faint down to the bottom left.

NGC 278 isa Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Cassiopeia. O'Meara seems to imply that NGC 185 is a brighter galaxy than NGC 278, I disagree. I think NGC 185 is fairly large and thus its light is spread out where as NGC 278 is smaller and more bright. I am able to view this galaxy straight on with direct vision, though averted vision brings out more details. The galaxy is face on with no structure visible to me in a LP skies. A truly dark sky brought out a little more detail on this with a hint(?) of arms. The edge is diffused and at 92x the core is very bright and compact. Fun galaxy to get to and rather easy to find and locate.

A cavet on the next two items. I observed the next two items at a dark site (black) about 3 weeks or so ago and sketched them there. I did not record the observation so I went back to them this night to compare and contrast the two views. The sketches are rather larger then the should be but they do reflect detail that I was able to nudge out of these two objects.

NGC 7606 is a Barred Spiral Galaxy in the water carrier Aquarius. Listed magnitude is 10.8 with listed size at 4.4' x 2.0'. In the dark sky this galaxy was fairly bright, diffused and kinda of large for a Herschel galaxy. Averted vision helped with this one. In a light polluted zone where I live (border orange to yellow) it took averted vision for me to see it. In the LP it was still diffused but no core was visible. Easy to find, use a good atlas or O'Meara's directions are spot on. Looking at the sketch it is still too bright for me and if I redo it it will be a shade darker, not much, but a little darker. If I sketched it at home, it would be very faint.

NGC 7723 is a barred spiral galaxy in Aquarius. It has a listed magnitude of 11.2 and a size of 2.8' x 1.9'. At a dark site this is a rather bright, not the brightest but certainly not one of the faintest. It is elongated and has a tense, small bright core. Diffused halo with some structure visible with averted vision. In my LP at home as I state in the audio this is a very faint elongated or oval disk that requires averted vision and breathing in order to see it. NGC 7723 is one of those objects where the more I viewed it at either site, using averted vision the more I saw and discerned. At home the galaxy was basically diffused.

October 22 and 23 2009 Observing Session

Well, I'll attach the audio video part of the blog here. The pictures in the video are not in the right order but I'll post the sketches. To clarify in the video I state that I did not sketch a few items, what I did do was to place stars and take notes on the galaxies and/or cluster and then created digital sketches. My November 6th and 7th observations will be posted soon I hope (6th is done, I just need to finish doing the 7th).

All objects seen in this session in a XT10 with either a 21mm, 13mm Stratus @ 57x or 92x, or a 5mm Hyperion at 240x.

My first object this night was NGC 7380, an open cluster in Cepheus. Listed magnitude is 6.1 and size is 5.0'. Medium rich cluster witha definite triangle in shape. Kinda of reminds me of the Christmas Tree Cluster in Monoceros but not as large nor as pretty/stunning. I also see a vampire spreading its clock but perhaps that is because of the time of the year. Chains of stars help to form the triangular shape and there is some hint of nebulosity in this cluster.

Next was NGC 7510 another Open Cluster in Cepheus. Listed magnitude is 11.1 and its size is 7.0'. This is a wonderful and beautiful open cluster! Easily seen at 57x but best viewed at 92x though 200x is resolving more stars but won't fit the cluster in its FOV. This is one to sie and just observe in order to marvel at the details and beauty. It has a wonderful glow with a hint of so many stars wanting to blink out and be seen and to me it rather looks like a mouse starring at me. Rich Open Cluster based on the stars I can see wanting to poke out or that are just slightly showing and variance of magnitude of stars are evident. You can see a main chain of stars with two other chains intersecting this. SEE THIS ONE! I need to return to this and sketch it.

NGC 40 is my next object adn at 57x it was quite evident that that this was a planetary nebula. The central star is clearly visible with fuzziness around it. At 92x the object shoed more but it really gave details at 240x with the Orion Ultrablock Filter on it. This view showed the central star and a bow tie shape going NW to SE that is irregular in shape. The edge is high diffused and I could make out no color in this object.

NGC 7448 is a galaxy in Pegasus with a listed magnitude of 11.7 and a size of 2.5' x 1.0'. Very faint galaxy, I can just make it out by alternating with direct and averted vision. Core is the most visible and is bright and I can make out a hint of structure. Appears more face on to me with a diffused edge. Was much better at a dark sky location about 3 weeks ago.

NGC 7814 an Edge On Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus was the next object. Listed magnitude is 10.6 and size is 5.5' x 2.3'

NGC 7814 is an edge on spiral and the core here is the brightest and very evident in the eyepiece. Averted vision brings out more structure including a slight bit of mottling. Was a challenge to find and more of a challenge to observe. Fun.

NGC 7217 a Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus was the next object. Not hard to find using a good star map and O'Meara's finderchart is helpful on this one. Very faint spiral in my LP skies. Core is easy to resolve even at 57x. Core is sharp with a halo surrounding it that is diffused on the edge. This is a face on spiral and averted vision hints of structure, especially by looking at the star to the E - NE. If one is patient here, and uses averted vision there is evidence of structure that you can resolve and discern. After viewing it for some time I realized how large this galaxy really was. Don't rush on this one.

My last object this night was NGC 7331 a Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus. Listed Magnitude is 9.5 and size is 3.4' x 2.5'. Follow O'Meara's directions in his guide, they are spot on but use a different map as always til you get to his findermap. At 57x this lays north to south and the core is very bright as are the outer arms. 92x showed the core very stellar and hints of structure with some possible dark lanes. As I finished my sketch the clouds came in and though I wanted to stick with this, I couldn't. I felt rushed and feel I need to go back at some time. Nice fall galaxy.

Well that's it for this one. Took me longer than I thought to get it up. The 6th of November is ready if it copies over ok and the 7th I should be able to later this week. Clear Skis to each of you!


Audio Observation October 16, 2009 Pit n Pole

Well, the seeing that night started out wonderful, and as dew came in around 12:00a.m. or so it got worse. Overall a wonderful night, with some wonderful images and a fantastic view of the Milky Way. I did some sketching and will add those here as I scan and copy them over. BTW, I will add another observing audio session this weekend and then I realized something terrible happen! I keep a scan copy on my computer back up hard drive of my sketches and on my photobucket account but I lost my original packet! I cannot find it at all. Oh well, at least I had them scanned I guess.

Here are the three sketches from that night. One did not come out right so I may rescan. Have to get use to how this scanner works at work!

NGC 40: The planetary nebula in Cepheus. A nice looking planetary where you can see the central star. Observed the nebula and the central star without a filter, my Ultrablock filter just brought out the nebula a little more.

The galaxy NGC 7814 in Pegasus. A nice looking galaxy that the more time you give it, the more details you'll see. Dark lane is evident and the shape was evident also. Fun object and I encourage you to take a try!

NGC 7510 Open Cluster in Cepheus. Appears wedge shape and about 20 stars are evident if I remember right (need to listen to the observation!). It appears to be surrounded by a nebulous haze, but with averted vision I could resolve more stars. I tried to capture that here but the scan came out rather small.