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!