Night of August 21st through the a.m. of August 22nd, 2009

I decided to get out tonight and do some observing at a dark site so I loaded up and went. I was glad I did. Skies tonight averaged about a 7 to 8 out of 10 and I found seeing wonderful. Then again, I am still trying to come to terms with that. At least the stars were steady this night. I'll be glad when September and October come as they usually bring calm skies, cooler evenings and tremendous seeing. Watch, now I've cursed myself and the weather for all who observe in northern Utah.

I set up and then pulled out my charts, my sketching materials and my EP case and took out my EP's to start the night. After setting up I just sat back in my observing chair and enjoyed the views. My favorite quote explains why I like this hobby. I sit back and look up and time stops for me. I know its an illusion but I seem to float right up into the stars and for a moment, touch something that is eternal in human terms because of the raw elements out in space.

Finally, I am hoping to have the sound up this week so don't laugh at my big, deep, booming voice. Also, as soon as I can scan the actual sketches in I will be posting them next to their digital companions.

NGC 6629 Planetary Nebula in Sagittarius
8/21/2009; 3:00 UT
Seeing 8/10
13mm Stratus @ 92x
Orion Ultrablock Filter

I wanted to start with this planetary since I missed it and Sagittarius is running into the west so quickly now. I used most of O'Meara's directions here, but modified them at the end. I used the Telrad to Kaus Borelias and then over to M22 in my finderscope. Next I went to a corner star that connects and goes north to NGC 6442. From NGC 6442 are two stars that are above it and I followed those two stars up to 23 Sagittarii. From 23 Sagittarii I went NW to the two stars that run north to south and then down as O'Meara says in his book to "star b." From "star b" I went SW and I ran right into the planetary.

The planetary is small and tight, yet bright enough to tell it is a planetary without a filter if your use to looking at them from the Messier and the Urban and Best of NGC. It is slightly less in brightness than the 11th magnitude star neighboring it, is round in its appearance, almost star like, and the edges are sharp at low magnification in my 21mm Stratus. At 92x in my 13mm Stratus it seems to be more diffused on the edge. No color is visible outside of the gray fuzz and the Ultrablock Narrowband Filter does help to bring this object out. I did not see a central star nor did I expect to see one. It would be easy to miss this if your not use to looking at planetary nebula. I sketched it, but really not much there.

From Digitized Sky Survey:

NGC 6568 Open Cluster in Sagittarius
04:00 UT
Seeing: 8/10; LM 8.6
XT10; 13mm Stratus @ 92x to sketch; 21mm Stratus as a finder @ 57x

I followed O'Meara's guide to the a T on this one. I realized that I have to be careful how much I reveal in star hopping as I could be violating copyright, but in another sense, I really hope I promote the book so that others will purchase it as a guide to the Herschel 400. He has done such a wonderful job with the book and for the most part, I find it very useful.

Anyway, I went to Mu Sagittarius and then to 14 Sagittarii. From 14 I then noticed a star to the SW and another to the NE that are relatively bright. Next to that star to the NE is the cluster. Listed as an 8th magnitude, I believe I saw stars much fainter than that here. It has a definite bowl shape or crown shape of stars and is a small not so rich cluster. I did not sketch it so I will just post the digitized sky survey image. You can see the crown or bowl in the top left portion of the image, just off center.

NGC 6645 Open Cluster
8/21/2009 04:42 UT
LM 8.5
Seeing 8/10
XT10; 21mm Stratus @ 57x and 13mm Stratus @ 92x

I followed O'Meara's instructions again except for one deviation. I went to Mu Sagittarii and then to what he calls Star B. I veered from him by skipping his Star C and star hopping directly to his Star D for this object. From D I sent over to the left using the finder scope pass two sets of 2 stars that are close to each other. At the last star of the second set I went SE barely and the open cluster is there and visible. Don't expect M25 which you'll pass and look at on the way here, because this OC is not even in that class. This is a small open cluster that after observing and sketching it, I found O'Meara saying it had over 50 stars. I only counted around 40 or slightly less so it is not a rich cluster in my book. There are pretty chains of stars in the cluster, one chain running from the corner NW star to the SE and the other is a curving chain going SW to NE. Not bad, for a Herschel.

Digitized Sky Survey of NGC 6645:

NGC 6664 Open Cluster in Scutum
8/22/2009; 06:00 UT
LM 7.8
Seeing 8/10
XT10; 13mm Stratus @ 92x

I used my Telrad to go to 12 Aguilae. I then went to M11 and visited that old friend and realized that I need to visit that Open Cluster soon and re-sketch it as my original was one of my first sketches and I am VERY unhappy with it. From M11 I followed four stars to Alpha Scuti. NGC 6664 is next to Alpha Scuti. O'Meara's directions were spot on yet again. I just made a couple of modifications for me that worked. The cluster is small and has a loose background of stars. There is some brighter stars here and the cluster I would rate as poor. No glow of unresolved stars were seen by this observer. This is an object I would recommend to do in late July after the full moon and wanning stages in early July and before the waxing occurs near the first of the month. I have a sketch but forgot to upload it. I will do so tomorrow as its late. Disregard that statement after I post the sketch.

Digitized Sky Survey Image:

NGC 6905 Blue Flash Planetary Nebula in Dolphinus
8/22/2009 @ 08:05 UT
Seeing 8/10
LM 11.1 (seems brighter)
XT10; 13mm Stratus @ 92x and 5mm Hyperion @ 200x
Orion Ultrablock Narrowband Filter

This was fun and a great way to end this session of Herschels. I have had a comment at Cloudy Nights to the fact that I seem to be able to find 7 to 8 a session. Tonight I only got to 5 and partof that is sketching. I know O'Meara says mark the chart in the book on which items to come back and though I may not be able to sketch all of them (not practical either) I am going to sketch the ones that interest me. I'm in no rush to finish this since for me it is the experience that matters.

The PN as stated was fun to get to and fun to observe and is one of my favorite PN's now. I followed O'Meara's directions going from 52 Cygni and hopped to 32, 31, 30, 28 and 29 Vulercula. From 28 V. I followed three stars down at an angle and that seem to curved. From the bottom star I differed from O'Meara and jumped to a third star straight across and that formed the bottom of the left part of an isosceles triangle (this jump is where I differed). In the finder that bottom left star was faint and I used the 21mm Stratus to do it. The PN is next to that bottom left star and stands out easily with no filter. I observed that at 92x and at 200x that the planetary was irregular in shape; a ball on the left and irregularities on the SE and southern portion of the PN. I can confirm that I saw the central star (friend who has done the Herschels already twice). The central star is not visible in the filter and comes and goes in and out of the picture when observing the PN. It was mainly gray in color thought I did have hints of a grayish blue and have included that in the sketch. Rather large in size. I sketched it at 92x and at 200x and have included the 200x here.

Digitized Sky Survey of Object:

If you haven't seen this PN I highly recommend it and if you have and its been awhile, why not go back and look at an old friend. It's worth it I think.

Well, that's all for now and outside of the audio and the actual sketches, I am caught up here (so by the end of the week I'll be caught up). Weather is looking good for Friday and Saturday so I should get in sessions after midnight. Then I fear I'll be back to double stars which I truly enjoy and that will have to keep you entertained until the waning crescent moon (maybe last quarter) returns and I can go deep again. Until then clear skies to you and harmony between you and your loved ones.