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
R.A. 01 h 53 m Dec. -13 d 44 m
Listed Magnitude: 10.2
Listed Size: 4.3' x 2.0'
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
R.A. 01 h 59.7 m Dec. -05 d 58 m
Listed Magnitude: 11.2
Listed Size: 3.4' x 1.2'
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
R.A. 23 h 30.1 m Dec. +49 d 08 m
Listed Magnitude: 5.6
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
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
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
RA 01 h 59.3 m Dec. +19 d 00 m
Listed Magnitude 9.9
Listed Size 7.1' x 4.7'
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!