July 21s, 22nd, 26th and 27th Observations

My observations this night were focused on a couple of Messier objects (I need to sketch 16 more to complete my goal of sketching them all and then I'll probably want to redo some . . . does it ever end?), some of the best of the NGC and Jupiter. I also need to state and thank Jeremy Perez who gave me the idea for using the STSci Digitized Sky Survey images (located here) at his site, The Belt of Venus (an awesome site and resource IMHO), as a way for those who want to examine my sketches and see/compare them to the images from the survey. You may need to realign either my sketches or the images as N, S, E,W are different between the two. I will state that in all cases I do not look online at images or at the STSci Digitized Sky Survey at objects until after I have observed them on my own first.

I have the audio files ready to go but need a quiet place to upload, edit and insert a few things so I will add them on sometime soon. I'll be interested in what you think and your comments on the audio file.

July 21st, 2009
Messier 23 Open Cluster
Orion XT10 w/ a 21mm Orion Stratus @57x magnification
Seeing 7/10 Pickering Scale

M23 is relatively easy to find. Start from Kaus Borealis and go over M8 and up to M20. From M20 go up and over to HIP 88125. Diagonally from HIP 88125 is TYC 6258-944-1. This is part of a sideways isosceles triangle. The two stars in the base point up and if you move up and to the right you'll find M23.

This is a medium rich cluster of fifty or more stars. There are many chain of stars in evidence, many running from the NW and curving to the SE and S. There is a very bright star to the NW. Further information can be found at this link.

This is a digital sketch based on my actual sketch done at the telescope. I would like input from anyone if you would like to see the original sketch with the digital sketch. I can honestly say that they are really close as I scan the sketch and then use GIMP to enhance it.

Here is the M23 image from STSci Digitized Sky Survey

July 22nd, 2009
Seeing 7/10 Pickering
July 23rd, 2:59a.m.
Seeing 6/10 Pickering
XT10 5mm Hyperion at 200x

On the 22nd I observed Jupiter for forty-five minutes. Ganyemeade's shadow was very evident during this time and I observed it transitioning across the equatorial portion of the planet. All four Galilean moons were evident this night. There is a funny story about this observation and in time I'll probably share it. Lets just say I learned I need to spend more time on the planets to get to know and understand them better.

On the 23rd I was able to located and observe and sketch the impact area from the 19th of July. It is is in the SPR region and is a brownish mark on the surface of the planet. Seeing tonight was not good as a low pressure had moved over the state today and high level winds were present. Seeing did clear up from time to time to allow me to see the impact scar, but then would go out of focus. I tried a 2x barlow but with conditions it just didn't work well though I did manage one partial view at this magnification.

July 22nd 2009 Messier 25 Open Cluster in Sagittarius
XT10; 21mm Stratus at 57x
Seeing 6/10 Pickering
Distance: 2.0 kly
Visual Brightness: 4.6 mag.

Audio File will be included on this observation.

M25 is a very rich open cluster with over 100 stars. The cluster is well detached and is rather large in terms of space, with a diameter or distance of 19 ly. There is a good range of different magnitudes in this cluster, and I can see two distinct lanes that run Ne to SW with an area in between with no stars. There are also lots of stars that are just peeping through and some that are hinting they want to peep through. A wonderful open cluster to view in the summer and I think one that is often overlooked. There is a good article on it at this link.

M25 from the STScI Digital Sky Survey

July 23rd, 2009
NGC 6992 and 6960
Veil Nebula and Witches Broom Nebula
Seeing 7/10 Pickering Scale
XT10, 21mm Stratus @57x; Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

I saw both of these nebula tonight and thought it was rather a cool experience. I enjoyed the Veil Nebula though I don't like the ends of this nebula as I played with it to much in GIMP. The Veil Nebula was clearly evident but the Witches was harder to observe, even with the UltraBlock NB filter. Considering I was viewing the remains of a 10,000 year old supernova, it is rather cool. I have to say that in some ways the Witches Broom reminded me more of a giant squid in how it looked. My sketch here is of the eastern nebula. I'll post the original here for comparison on Friday a.m.

July 23, 2009
NGC 7000 The North American Nebula
Seeing 7/10 Pickering
XT10; 21mm Stratus @57x and Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

Easy to locate from Deneb, just go west. A rather large nebula that I chose not to sketch as my Q70 is out on loan to a friend/fellow observer (just realized I need to try that out on my XT10j). That was my mistake as I didn't have my 32mm plossl with me and to be honest, the 21mm Stratus just doesn't cut it on something this large. I was able to view the Gulf of Mexico region really well and other parts here and there but I need a wider field of view on this one. I'll be at a dark site two weeks from tonight and again the following Friday so I may try then with my Nikon 10x50 binoculars and with the Q70 that I'll have back by then. I then followed up with Jupiter after this.

July 27, 2009
NGC 6369 Little Ghost Nebula in Ophiuchus
Listed Magnitude 12.9 Central Star 15.9 (not sure on the listed magnitude as I saw it with no filter rather easily).
Seeing 5-6/10 Pickering
Transparency was not good (2/5)
XT10; 13mm Stratus at 92x; Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

Had to start at Sabik because of conditions tonight and then star hop down to Xi Ophiuchi and then to 44 Ophiuchi. Then I jumped to Ty6825-465-1 and then to USNO J1726472-233924. Then I went up from USNO to a chair of 5 stars in a row that go up and down (N. to S. in my EP). From the last one I went down to a solitary star and then to the PN which is just down diagonally from that solitary star to the SE. At 92x it was light bluish in color with a diffused edge and I could gather a hint of irregularity around the halo and a hint of inner structure using the filter. I have to assume that the hint of irregularity around the halo would end up being the "Tie Fighter" wings if conditions had allowed for better seeing. I tried using my 5mm Hyperion tonight but to no use, conditions just wouldn't allow 200x tonight on this object so I will return to try and glean some more details when I visit a dark site on the 14th and 21st of August. In my sketch I did try to include the hint of irregularity I saw around it. No way I could see the central star in the conditions nor from the location I was at. I would like to try in my 10 inch as a REAL challenge but I know that my 15 inch should be able to bring that in from a dark site. I'll know in a couple of weeks when I try. Daunting and challenging? Yes. Fun to try? Yes. If I don't see it, that's alright, its the challenge that is fun.

Here is the image for the StScI Digital Sky Survey

July 27, 2009
NGC 6572 The Emerald Nebula (Planetary)
Seeing 6/10
Trans: 2/5
XT10; 13mm Stratus @ 92x and 5mm Hyperion @ 200x.
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

Went to Rasalhague and then using the naked eye and the Telrad I went to 72 Ophiuchi which is a top star and right below it is 71 Ophiuchi (72 is a true double star and 71 looks like it, but it isn't). From 71 Ophiuchi I went across to HIP 89195; HIP 89195 is part of an almost right triangle asterism and from it I hopped over to the tip of that triangle or HIP 89303. Right below HIP 89303 are two stars close to each other running northwest to southeast. Below this pair are two more stars close together running northeast to southwest. The bottom star is TYC 443-968-1 and the PN is down and to the left on a star map or refractor or down and to the right in the EP of a reflector. You can also go from 71 Ophiuchi and follow a set of 5 stars that trial diagonally down northwest to southeast ending at TYC 443-968-1 and then to the PN also.

Without the filter I am able to observe this 8 mag. PN and the edges show a greenish tint but the majority of the PN appears as a faint fuzzy whitish/green to me. The high surface brightness of this PN will not allow the central star to be seen (at my magnifications and conditions). The PN holds magnification really well and even in bad seeing at 200x with the filter I can see the outer halo and an inner structure, with nodes or appengages on the sides. Also, without the filter at 200x I see more of the emerald green color with direct vision.

I tried to find a good color balance to show the greenish/emerald color I saw with the whitish/gray mixed in with a stronger greenish core. The scale is not highly accurate in this version of the original sketch as it should be a little smaller.

Here is the image from the STScI Digital Sky Survey:

July 27th, 2009
Messier 7 Open Cluster
Seeing 5/10
XT10; 21mm Stratus and 10x50 Nikon Binoculars

As most will know this is an enormous cluster, very very rich well over 100 stars. The stars vary in magnitude and many bluish white stars are visible as are some orange stars. The 21mm Stratus will not fit the entire structure of this open cluster into the FOV and without my Q-70, I just can't do that. The binoculars offer the best view on this object though it is fun to examine the center part of the cluster through the scope. I came here tonight on a specific task to sketch this object (I passed on that last summer). I completed my sketch but have not scanned it in yet so I can't post it here.

July 28, 2009
NGC 6445 The Box Nebula (Planetary Nebula) or Little Gem
Seeing 6/10
XT10; 21mm Stratus @57x and 13mm Stratus at 92x
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

Well, if you can't tell, I am working on the Best of the NGC though I need to get back to the Herschel 400. Sigh, conditions this spring and summer just haven't been good for the Herschel 400 but I'll continue on that. You will see more double star and carbon star postings starting from tonight through next week thanks to the gibbious moons (waxing and waning) and the full moon.

I went to M23 (see earlier post in this entry on directions if you need them) and to the west of M23 I looked for four bright stars hooking left to right, ending with TYC 6257-208-1. From here I looked west for 2 stars going NE to SW with the ending star being HIP 87246. The PN is next to HIP 87246 or east on a star map or west (left in my dob). Faint without a filter but viewable if one has been looking at PN's for awhile one will see it as it sits right next to HIP 87246. The filter brings it right out. At 200x it brings out a bi-polar shape to the PN with the NW portion being smaller than the SE part. Good seeing is coming and going tonight at 200x (more going than coming into clear view) so I jumped back to 92x to finish the observation. 92x does provide some hints of structure to me. One source mentions the magnitude of this object at 13.2 as does Starry Night Pro. Not sure on that one either as it was pretty clear to me and with good seeing I know I could get more details out of it. I do like the image at that site because it shows a similar shape (the image on the site has far more details than I saw) to what I saw in the EP at higher power. No color showed itself to me on this object. To clarify also, the image here is really close to what I saw when things cleared while viewing at 200x.

Here is the image from the STScI Digital Sky Survey

July 29, 2009
NGC 6888 The Crescent Nebula
Seeing 7/10
X10; 21mm Stratus @57x
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

This was a hard object for me to locate as I think fatigue was starting to set in. I took a break and drank some water and ate a snack and then came back to it. I started at Sabrik and then like on my charts. below Sabrik I saw a box or better yet, a trapezium asterism of four brighter stars (lots of stars here). The bottom left star HIP 99649 allowed me to move directly down (kinda of) until I found NGC 6888. In the filter at 57x it really showed up nicely, but when I moved up to 92x I began to lose some of it even with the filter. A NB filter on this was a must for me in order to identify it. I just noticed to on the chart from Starry Night Pro I printed off for this object that it says "use filter." I cannot recommend that more to someone trying to find this. Also, its not as big as I thought (since I used 57x), but much bigger than a regular Planetary Nebula. Not sure if this is a PN or considered a Wolf-Reyat Nebula. Would love to hear or read more about that debate.

One take away from these sessions is I need to work on sketching my nebula more.

Here is the image from the STScI Digital Sky Survey

July 29, 2009
Messier 29 or M29
Seeing 7/10
XT 10; 13mm Stratus at 92x

Well, I was in the area and though observed, I have never sketched it. To identify it was easy. Start at Sabrik and look SE in a finder for a faint fuzzy and that's it, M29. This is a very small open cluster that is poor in terms of stars. It is made up of four stars that seem to form a slanted box with other stars visible in the field. it is an easy sketch and observation and probably should be one of the first a newbie does on their Messier list during the summer time. Then after writing that I wonder . . . perhaps they need more experience and need to do M6 and M7 first.

Here is the image from STScI Sky Digital Survey

Long entry eh? Hope you've enjoyed it as I'm almost done.

July 29, 2009
Seeing 7/10
NGC 7027 Planetary Nebula
XT10; 13mm Stratus @92x and 5mm Hyperion @ 200x
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

Start at Xi Cygni and then right below that is the star TYC 3180-2255-1. That is the first of 5 stars in a straight line (basically) that end with TYC 3176-359-1. Below TYC 3176-359-1 are three stars in a reverse L asterism (more like 2 stars straight in a line and the third off to the right on a chart) and you want to go to TYC 3176-345-1, the last star here. Right below this star (a little bit off) is a line of 3 stars in a straight horizontal line and you want to hop to the last star here, TYC 3176-1709-1. In my 68 degree FOV I could make out the planetary without a filter but in case you don't have a wide field of view you can make one more jump, straight down to TYC 3176-1725-1 and then keep going down just a little and you'll hit it.

At 92x this planetary nebula is emerald green, a deep green, and is small in size. Averted vision at 92x brought out more of its shape. I haven't listed it here but earlier tonight I visited the Blinking Planetary Nebula in Cygnus, NGC 6826 which is just barely visible at 92x and using averted vision there really helps one to see that nebula. However, put in the filter and the nebula shines bright (white) but it the blinking stopped for me. NGC 7027 (as most planetary nebula do) also blinks with averted vision and shows more details, but when I put the filter on and observed, NGC 7027 unlike the Blinking Nebula continued to blink and show more detail! At times the halo is very evident and at times if fades leaving a bright inner halo. At 200x I can basically still just see the same details. A pretty nebula to observe, one of my favorites and fun to hop to. If you haven't seen this one, hunt it down, it's worth it.

In the sketch the planetary is slightly larger than what I saw (I tend to do this on purpose to highlight where the PN actually is). Again, a fun object.

And again from STScI Digitized Sky Survey

July 29, 2009
Seeing 7/10
XT10 5mm Hyperion @200x

Before retiring from the session, I usually end with Jupiter or Saturn or a planet if one is up. Since Jupiter will ruin my dark adaptation I wait until the end of the session to view. Tonight the King was wonderful and showed lots of details. One of these days I'll get really gutsy and post a sketch of Jupiter. It just might happen next week during the full moon since the moon won't impact Jupiter's views.

After viewing Jupiter I had it on my list to observe or try to observe Neptune. Using a finder map from Starry Night Pro that I had printed for around 3:00a.m. that morning I did a quick and easy hop over to where I could view at 92x a blue object, slightly larger than the stars around it. I brought 200x to bear and sure enough, a faint ball showed up and I had it, Neptune! Nothing much to see except for its bluish color though I was able to see and confirm Tycho as well. So in terms of planets I've seen Mercury (once), Venus (many times), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. All that is left is Uranus and then of course, perhaps, Pluto. I've also seen Ceres. I probably do need to spend some more time on planets, especially since my students like to view them when I teach in the after school program we do.

Well, its now late and I need to retire. It rained tonight so no viewing was possible. I thank you for reading this and hope you enjoyed it. Clear skies to you!


July 23, 2009 Changes coming to this blog

A thought has come to me. Of late I have begun using a digital voice recorder (since late April) to record my observations and then write them up afterwords (as I want a written record). However I back up my digital recordings in iTunes because I also like the notion of a verbal record. I have observations from July 21st-22nd, and from July 22nd - 23rd and I have recorded my observations from those sessions. So, besides a quick and much more abbreviated written section I am going to post my digital recordings in case some one wants to listen and not just read. These recordings will contain how I got to the object, my observation of the object and the items I am going to highlight during my sketch and hopefully will link to my sketch and a few astronomical facts that are usually included in an observations and perhaps one or two tidbits of other information.


June 18th and 19th, July 15th and 16th, 2009 Observations and Sketches

Thought I would post up a few items. I came across a post about my blog and got some great constructive input. I've noticed in the sketching pad I use that because I keep the pages in the pad that they imprint on the page behind them and I am getting smear off from the sketch after closing the sketch pad. To avoid this moving forward I am going to tear out the sketch paper, place a scratch piece underneath on the clipboard. Then I'll use some Artist Fisative Spray to help ensure that the graphite doesn't spray.

June 18-19, 2009

On June 18th, 2009 I was able to grab a session in my backyard. I wasn't feeling very well that evening, as I was still recovering from being glutened (I'm a celiac so no products with gluten in). I began tonight by just cooling down and setting up and then went through the following objects:

Seeing 8/10 Air is calm and upper winds are not an issue
Transparency 4/5

I started in Ophiuchus at 11:00p.m. on June 17th, 2008. The next three objects were observed in an XT10 using a 13mm Stratus eye piece at 92x.

M12 Globular Cluster
11:00p.m. The globular is large and mottled. Appears to have a triangluar shape though the central core is not heavily seen; it is hinted at with averted vision. At 92x in the 13mm Stratus the entire cluster is easily visible and gives great detail. I can resolve the entire cluster and individual stars are easily visible. The core is about 20% of the halo and slightly brighter at times when transparency improves. There are four chain of stars evident to me. This is a wonderful globular to spend time with enjoying the details found within it.

M12 Globular Inverted EP View

M10 Globular Cluster
11:30p.m. This globular is round in shape, and the core is diffused and loose and makes up about 20% of the entire globular. Mottling was evident in the globular. Beautiful globular that is typical of globulars with a tight inner core and a nice bright halo. Core is equal in brightness in this case to the core. Easy tonight to distinguish some individual stars in the globular. Arms seem to be evident though I am unsure but included them. Another good globular to look at.

M6 Open Cluster in Sagitarrius (Butterfly Cluster) June 18th, 2009
12:04 a.m.

To locate this cluster telrad to Alnast and then go diagonally down to the right and you can't miss it. M7 is right below it. The Butterfly shape is easy to see for me when looking at this cluster. There are several smaller but bright bluish stars near the top of the butterfly and a bright orange/yellowish star in the tail of the butterfly. The bright orange/yellow star is larger than the blue stars that are so clearly visible. This cluster is medium rich in stars and averted vision really helps to bring more of the stars out. Here is an inverted version of my sketch:

M22 Globular Cluster in Sagitarrius
XT10 using 21mm and 13mm Stratus and 5mm Hyperion

To find M22 I used the telrad to get to Kaus Barealis and then go up diagonally to the left and you'll run right into it. In my 21mm Stratus that I use as a finder eyepiece I can see an inverted and upside down L made up by 25 and 24 Sagittarrii which are the vertical parts of the L. A small and tight globular this is a great example where the core is much brighter than the halo of the globular. I estimate it at around 40% of the cluster. The globular is huge and is resolved across all of the globular. Averted vision for me brought out a band of darkness running SW to NE. Good object to view in both the 21mm Stratus, the 13mm Stratus and the 5mm Hyperion. Clear crisp image in all EP's.

I'm not happy with the sketch and will be revisiting this before the middle of August to resketch. I took over an hour and a half to sketch but could tell I was still not feeling good.

June 18, 2009 next evening
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 2-3/5

M9 Globular Cluster 11:52p.m.
XT10 with 13mm Stratus
I used the telrad to go to Sabik and then over to 3 stars running north-south in a equalateral triangle that is facing east-west. No go down to a double and M9 is down a little bit to the left as I see it in my 13mm Stratus. The core is very bright as is the globular itself with the core being much more brighter than the halo around the globular. As I continue to look I want to resolve a chain of stars that appear to be in the S. to SE and there is some granularity is present, but I had to use averted vision to see it.

M9 Globular Inverted EP View

XT10; 13mm Stratus

My next object was M107, a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. This globular is one of the weakest globular that I've seen. I can view a small inner core around 10% or so of the halo. Some stars are resolved in the halo individually. Direct vision shows the core and averted vision ab out 1 moon length of the core and hints at individual stars. My 5mm Hyperion is too much power on this object tonight as transparency is continuing to degrade.

M107 Globular Inverted EP View

July 15th and 16th, 2009

M20 Trifed Nebula
XT10 and 13mm Stratus and Orion Ultrablock NB Filter
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 3-4/5

dddThis is an easy item to find and I have viewed it several times in the past. Simply go to the Lagoon Nebula and then look for 4 stars in a trapizoid above it and to the right/west. The bottom star in the finder or binoculars is M20. My observation chart shows how I found it and if I remember I'll include it later. The center star in the southern hub of the Trifed is a double and without a filter a hint of nebulosity shows. Putting in the narrowband filter the nebula jumps out. This is a great example where averted vision allows one to see more though. I can make out the three dark lanes separating the nebula into sections. Dark adapation and averted vision with a narrowband filter is key to this wonderful object.
M20 Trifed Nebula White Sketch
M20 The Trifed Eyepiece View

M17 The Swan Nebula or Omega Nebula
13mm Stratus
Orion Ultrablock NB Filter

If you start again at the Lagoon Nebula M8, and then up to M21 the Trifed then continue to work your way up. M17 is just above the open cluster M18. M18 is above 3 stars in a horizontal line. These three stars are just above M24, The Star Cloud which is just absolutely gorgeous! I could spend hours sketching in there but I need to improve my sketch a lot more before I tackle that object (as you'll see in my Swan Nebula sketch; I need to redo this one, it looks like a terradactyl). I have to say that outside of M42 right now, the Swan Nebula is perhaps my favorite emission nebula (so far). Without the filter I can make out parts of the nebula but yet again, the narrowband filter really brings this object into clarity, and WOW!!!! It definitely looks like a swan on the surface of the water; or in my opinion perhaps a lune. The breast area of the swan is really bright and condense with the head visible but lightly as is the rear of the swan/lune. The edges are diffused in most places, but look sharp in the NW edge. Some stars are visible on the neck region, but none in the center. I could see no dark lanes tonight but will go back to the Swan in my next session to observe more details.
A narrowband filter on this one is a must!

I have this sketch and am going to a dark site to do this justice. I'll repost it.

M18 Open Cluster
M18 is easy as I just dropped down from M17. This is a tight open cluster that is in a triangle shape. It is a young star cluster at around 30 million years old based on the type of hottest stars in the cluster,
spectral type B.
M18 Open Cluster White Sketch

NGC 6210 Planetary Nebula "The Turtle"
13mm Stratus; 5mm Hperion; Orion Ultrablock Narrowband Filter

I now turned my attention to a couple of my favorite DSO's, Planetary Nebula. I'm not sure why I enoy them so much since they signify the death of a star, but in some ways they also signify the birth of new stars by the elements they put out into interstellar medium.

To get to NGC 6210 I used the telrad to jump to Komehporos in Hercules and then to a group of tars that are up and to the left (east in a finderscope, opposite in an EP). On the right hand side of this group of stars is an asterism of a triangle with a double star on top (pointing east in a finderscope, righ in a finder EP in a dob). From the top at the double star, jump across to another double star right across, adn then go to the left in the eyepiece. The Orion Ultrablock Narrowband filter really didn't show much at this time except to confirm it is a planetary nebula by its ball shape versus the pinpoints of the stars in the area. I did most of my observing without the NB filter and moving back and forth between the 5mm Hyperion and the 13mm Stratus. At 92x in the 13mm Stratus the color of the PN was a greenish-blue and was a ball shape. I could detect an inner core (hints with averted vision) and an outer halo. At 200x in the 5mm Hyperion the color remained the same. Of course no central star was apparant due to poor seeing conditions in the atmosphere I could not see the 12th magnitude star (I've seen it listed at 12.7 at one source, and
David Knisely has seen it in his 2000 online observation. No luck for me tonight. Perhaps if the sky settles I'll give the central star another try. At 200x the edge is diffused forming a pale halo/circle around an inner core/halo. At 200x I could also make out what I first thought was a similar image to the Saturn PN Nebula, but the inner core was irregular in shape. Upon observing for around twelve to fifteen minutes I was able to make out three irregularities from the inner core. This truly does give it an image of a "turtle."

As a bright planetary nebula it is a fun object to go after and take a look at. Just some fun info on this obect: "At a distance of 4700 light years the apparent size of this nebula translates to an actual diameter of about 0.4 lights years or 25,000 AU. That's about 300 times larger than our solar system if you take its diameter as the mean orbital distance of Pluto." If you understand distances even just in the solar system, the nebula is large in human terms. Very cool.

NGC 6210 The Turtle PN Inverte EP view

NGC 6818 Planetary Nebula "Little Gem"
13mm Stratus and 5mm Hyperion; Orion Ultrablock Narrowband Filter
Seeing 6/10
Transparency 2-3/5

Telrad over to Rho 1 Sagittarri and then jumped to 43 Sagittarii. Then I jumped up to Upsilon Sagittarri, a bright star up and to the left in a finder. I now jump to HIP95755 then over to HIP96536. From HIP 96536 I went to the south and east and there I found NGC6818. Best view at this time was in the 13mm Stratus as conditions were started to worsen. It stuck out easily as a planetary nebula with no filter in the eyepiece. NGC 6818 is green/emerald in color, rounded or circle in shape, with diffusion at the edges and no irregularities at 92x. The NB filter brings out the brightness of the planetary but no further details as it turned it white. 200x did not bring out any further details. This sketch is done at 200x.

NGC 6818 Little Gem Inverted EP ViewNGC 6818 White Sketch

Well, that's all. Here's hoping I can get out this week but the monsoons from Mexico have snuck in around a high pressure that is moving east. I wonder if the clear skies of summer will last for more than a week this year?


Jupiter Losing its Galliean Moons; Jupiter and Neptuen 2nd Conjunction Monday July 13th and Jupiter and Uranus Triple Conjunction 2010

I did not mention on my observation on the 9th and 10th of July I finished my night watching Io come out from behind of Jupiter on the side. Wonderful watching this though I wish the transparency had been better.

This made me do some research on Jupiter. On the night of September 2nd and 3rd, of this year the Galilean moons will not be visible for around 2 hours. This last occurred on May 21st,
2008. According to this article from MSNBC:

In case your wondering, Kelly Beaty in Sky and Telescope discussed the same event that happen in 2008 for Europe, Africa and very briefly for the eastern coast of North America. As Jean Meeus points out this event occurs about 25 or so times a century but the key is how many times it happens where we live so we can see it. I figure I have this event in September and then maybe one or two more times in my life for t his to be seen where I live. Here's some further info:

According to Jean Meeus
Centry occurances
1600-1699 39
1700-1799 25
1800-1899 19
1900-1999 19
2000-2099 25
2100-2199 21
2200-2299 30

Kelly Beaty's article from last year:

Sky&Telescope has a nice Jupiter Almanac as a PDF called Phenomena of Jupiter’s Moons that shows the event in their September 2009. Add six hours to the times listed as they are
universal times. That link is found here:

Another site I found interesting is this one at mjpowell astro site.
It has some interesting information regarding Jupiter and objects to view with it.

One is the position of Neptune with Jupiter this year located here

I'm sure most of you know that Jupiter and Neptune are undergoing a triple
conjunction this year, first time since 1971.

"The first of the 2009 conjunctions took place on May 25th 2009, when
Jupiter (at magnitude -2.4) was moving direct (or prograde, i.e. West
to East) against the star background and Neptune (at magnitude +7.9)
was approaching its Eastern stationary point. The two planets were
separated vertically by 25' (25 arcminutes, or just under half a
degree) at this point, and were visible in the morning sky before
sunrise. The second conjunction takes place on July 13th 2009, when
both Jupiter (mag. -2.7) and Neptune (mag. +7.8) are retrograding
(moving East to West) against the star background; the planets are
separated by 36' (0°.6) at this point, and are visible from the late
evening onwards. Jupiter then reaches opposition to the Sun on August
14th (having brightened to mag. -2.8), followed only three days later
by Neptune (at mag. +7.8). Finally, the planets are again in
conjunction on December 20th 2009, when both Jupiter (-2.2) and
Neptune (+7.9) have resumed direct motion, the pair then being
separated by 33' (0°.55); this conjunction is visible in the evening
sky, shortly after sunset."

So Monday is a time when you may want to take a look at Jupiter and
Neptune with the second of three conjunctions and then again on
December 20th, 2009 per the site.

If you follow this link from the same site from the same website you can learn that from 2010 to 2011 Jupiter and Uranus will have a triple conjunction and this will not happen again until 2037 to 2038 (I'll be in my early 70's if I live that long I hope) and this hasn't happen since 1983. So for me I am putting this down in my calendar since I don't want to miss them. If you don't want to go and scroll halfway down to see the info I'll quote part of it here:

"The first of the 2010-11 conjunctions takes place on June 6th, 2010, when both Jupiter (at magnitude -2.3) and Uranus (at magnitude +5.9) are moving direct (or prograde, i.e. West to East) against the star background. The two planets are separated vertically by 29' (29 arcminutes, or just under half a degree) at this point, and are visible in the early morning sky. The second conjunction takes place on September 22nd, 2010, when both Jupiter (mag. -2.9) and Uranus (mag. -+5.7) are retrograding (moving East to West) against the star background; the planets are separated by 53' (0.88 degrees) at this point, and are visible throughout the night. This is also the day on which both planets reach opposition to the Sun, there being just 5 hours separating the two planet's opposition times (this is known as paired opposition). Finally, the planets are again in conjunction on January 2nd, 2011, when both Jupiter (-2.3) and Uranus (+5.9) have resumed direct motion, the pair then being separated by 34" (0.56 degree); this conjunction is visible in the evening sky shortly after sunset."

So remember to go out on Monday the 13th of July (tomorrow) and see the 2nd conjunction of Neptune and Jupiter for this year. Also, the links above on Jupiter and Neptune have a finder chart for finding Neptune from Jupiter from now until December so if you haven't seen Neptune, now is a good time to do so. Finally, I hope you look forward to viewing the four Galilean moons disappear from around Jupiter. Clear skies to each of you.

July 9th &10th Observations; Light Shields and Carbon Stars

Well the last month or so has been very interesting. I have only had a couple of nights of observing as the weather in Utah this year is not what it usually is. Winter is by far my favorite season for observing as when there isn't a storm the quality of the air is such that I think I get my best observing in. However, with summer I usually count on getting at least one session a week in but not this year.

I do have an observation from June 27th and June 28th to post but that information in on my MacBook Pro that had its display replaced under warranty. I'll get that information and my sketches and post that up tomorrow when I get the laptop back.

I did get an observation in on July9th and July 10th. The moon was in the first day of its waning gibbous stage so any major plan to see deep sky objects was not feasible. I got out and using the XT10 tonight ( just so everyone knows, I use either an XT8, XT10 or a 15 inch Obsession once I get the final parts in that it needs; I bought it used and got a good deal but part of that is I needed to order a few replacement parts. The price I paid with the replacement parts is still far less than a new one and the mirror itself is in excellent condition). I will state which scope I used for each session from now on. Also right now I use either the Orion Stratus EP's or the B. Hyperion's in my observations though I also own other eyepieces that I won't mention for now.

I set up tonight using all 8 light shields in place and later after the moon had come up, I wondered why I had done that? In June around 2:30a.m. to 3:30a.m. using the shields to keep my dark adaptation I could discern the Milky Way along with hints of dark details from my backyard. Nothing like from what I've seen from a dark site, and very milky and faint, but I have been able to discern it as a fellow observer has verified as well.. So having a pair of light shields helps in terms of keeping one's eyes dark adapted allowing one to see more of what is in the skies around you. This is a link where you can go to and see the instructions for what I used to design my light shields. They are basically the same in construction. Here are some images of mine:

Light Shield Frames

Light Shield Completed with 14 Mil Plastic Attached

Now back to the observation for this night. While setting up I saw Vega glowing in brightness as the twilight deepened. Before the moon came up I decided to quickly take a look at M57 which I did. I found it quickly in Lyra and noticed that at 92x the ring shape was evident as was the milky interior of the ring. I noticed at 200x with the 5mm hyperion that the transparency was going to be not so good this night as the image came and went in terms of the details I could discern.

After M57 I prepared to do my double star observing for this night which is the type of observing that I really like doing around a full moon. One thing also that I am going to add is to begin looking at Carbon Stars also. These are stars that are either late red giant stars or sometimes a red dwarf who atmosphere's contain more carbon than oxygen. These two elements combine in the upper atmosphere of the star to make carbon monoxide allowing the remaining carbon atoms to form other carbon compounds and giving the star a really "red" look if you catch it at the right time. A local member of our astronomy board gave me a list that I'll share if you contact me and want to take a look at a few. Or you can go to this link which is from the North Kansas Astronomical Society. T Lyra is the one I'm going after this week. Nice red contrast I've been told. In the S&T Sky Pocket Atlas you can identify a carbon star by the a (c) next to an open ring for the star location.

I haven't scanned my actual sketches from my double stars so I used them to create a digital sketch in GIMP. I'll post them as an edit tomorrow or Tuesday. So my first double that night, July 9, 2009 at 10:59p.m. was Graffius or Beta Scorpii, or also known as Acrab, Akrab or Elacrab. The primary is a large white star in the 5mm Hyperion I used that night on all of the doubles. The secondary was smaller and a very faint blue in color. The separation is 14 arc seconds. I split this double easily at 57x, 92x and 200x.
Here is the sketch:

My next observation was of Al Niyat Sigma. I used the XT10 with the 5mm Hyperion at 200x to make this observation. The primary is a very bright, to the point where if one is rushing they could fail to observe the companion which is west-southwest of the primary. The primary in the EP was white while the companion was a faint white with a bluish tint. You can find details about this star at this link by Jim Kaler at Stars. Here is the sketch.

My next double/multiple star system that I observed was Delta Serpentis or Qin/Chin by its other two names. There are four stars, or two binaries in this system that are roughly 210 light years (ly) from Earth, while the pair of binaries are 66 arc seconds apart.

The two visible that I drew are F stars that are yellow white subgiants, but I saw them as white for the primary and white with a bluish hue on the companion. They are 4 arc seconds apart and orbit each other every 3200 years. My observing notes state that these are a very, very close double that I barely split at 200x, and had to bring out my 2x barlow to get a better view of the split at 400x. Transparency though didn't allow for a lot of clears views of this double at 400x.

My next observation was of Delta Herculis or Sarin, located just south of the keystone of Hercules. This multiple star system/"double" was the most interesting to me because of what it is. The primary here seems to be a large white class A (A3) star but it isn't. It is actually made of two vibrant, fairly youthful, hydrogen-fusing dwarf stars. The two are called Delta Her Aa and Ab are not visible in amateur scopes since you need a "sophisticated interferometer to split them."
From this site we learn the following:

"Delta Her Aa, the brighter, at near-fourth magnitude (3.49), radiates the light of 18.5 Suns from its 8500 Kelvin surface, which gives a radius of 2.0 times that of the Sun. With a projected equatorial rotation velocity of 270 kilometers per second, the star really whizzes around, its rotation period under nine hours. Luminosity and temperature -- plus theory -- give a mass of 2.0 Suns and an age of 370 million years, only about a third of its hydrogen-fusing lifetime. We have to do some guessing about the companion, Delta Her Ab. From its absolute visual brightness, it is probably a class F (F0) dwarf with a temperature of 7500 Kelvin, a luminosity of 6.8 Suns, a radius of 1.5 solar, and a lower mass of 1.6 solar. A physical separation between Aa and Ab of at least 1.45 Astronomical Units, together with the sum of masses, yields a period of at least 335 days."

Here is my sketch. Interesting looking at it and thinking what the large white primary really represents. Please go to the link for information on the other 3 stars in this system.

Well, my next one will be Xi Scorpii and few more doubles/multiples and then returned to DSO's. I will post my June 28th observations tomorrow.