Observing June 15, 2010

Well last night I had the honor to take Steve Coe out to the Stansbury Park Observator Complex or SPOC. Our club president was there along with some wonderful members. We opened up all three bays, the 8 inch refractor, the 16 inch Ealing Reflector and the 32 inch Reflector. I was using the refractor tonight and we began by looking at different objects. I brought Venus up and its gibbous state was obivous but no details on the clouds could be observed. Next, I went after Saturn and we noticed that at 9:00 to 9:30p.m. that conditions were not good for viewing Saturn at high power. One of the problems with the observatories are that they absorb the heat of the sun during the day, so when they are opened up, that same heat radiates out causing thermals. At 10:00p.m. Saturn looked stunning, with a band visible, five moons and the rings being what they are right now. Still, a very lovely sight with excellent contrast.

Next came some doubles. I went to Arcturus to hop over to M3 but our club president took the scope and went to Izar. What a lovely view in the 8 inch refractor! The main star was a yellowish/orange color with the companion showing off turquoise or a greenish/bluish hue. Very easy to split using the 17mm Stratus. I now went to Delta Bootis and enjoyed the view of this double also. I did meander over to M3 and as always, this obscure globular wasn't too hard to find. From here we went to Porrima in Virgo and the main star here was a whitish/yellowish also, with its companion also looking whitish with a tint(?) of blue. This is a very hard star to split in smaller scopes since the binary have come closer to each other.

I then split Theta Virginis which was also a nice split to do. From here I left Virgo and went to Scorpius which was just over the roof of the observatory in viewing range. I went to Graffius and split Graffius which was colorful and fun. From here I went down to M4 and viewed M4. The dark lane was very evident along with the wonderful curving of the stars on the outer portion of the globular. Next I went back to Graffius and then down to M80 which just shown wonderfully in the 17mm EP in the 8 inch refractor. Next I star hopped, and realize there is no telrad etc on the refractor, it is sight tube and finderscope to get to the object, and went to M107. Steve Coe helped me on the ending of this as I was just too tired. Wonderful light globular. After this I shut down the refractor and closed up the observatory with the assistance of our youngest club member.

Over on the 32 inch as mentioned, we spent time with some planetary nebula and galaxies. Thought I didn't sketch, and though I didn't get any Herschel items done, it was an enjoyable night of observing. I'm tired tonight and will be napping tomorrow. By the way, I ordered a new scope today . . . .


  1. Marcus6/17/2010

    Steve Coe is a great guy. He is in my astro club here in Phoenix and I had the pleasure of chatting with him one night at a star party at one of our dark sites.

    Two questions for you Jay.

    What scope did you order?

    When you go out to your dark sky site, do you go by yourself?

  2. Marcus,

    Thank you for your comment. I just ordered the first of two scopes. The one I just ordered is an Orion XX14i and then come fall I will be ordering a Teetor I hope or a 18 or 20 inch Starmaster. We'll see how money is at that time. I am excited about the Orion XX14i though as I have had a chance to check one out and liked what I saw and used.

    I usually do go out to a dark site by myself. I have a couple of good friends that I like to observe with whenever I can; fellow SLAS members, Craig and Joe, Shahid and his brothers, and once in a while someone else will come along. When the weather is good I will observe three times a week and I haven't met anyone who keeps up that pace. Thus I end up alone a lot but that is okay. My take on observing is its great if your with others so you can share and confirm views and enjoy the company. Good to in case something happens with a car, oneself, or if the most dangerous animal of all, a drunken human shows up.

    However, there is something magical, almost mystical about observing in a dark zone by oneself. I find it heightens my hearing and overall senses. Just like with anything I've adjusted to times when the hair stands up on my body to the sounds of the night. One idea I have for a blog entry is about the different sounds one hears at night observing for each season (I have four here in Utah, some sites only have two seasons, wet and dry). I also find that I am often most productive when I am alone, sometimes. I am a weird cup of tea Marcus, and I am a very out going and social creature yet I love my alone time. So either way I'm good. I would love to find a friend who observes about the same amount I do and with whom I could go to places and while observing both do our own thing and enjoy what the other is doing. In time, in time I guess so for now, I am mainly along with some good friends that I cherish observing with me from time to time.

  3. Marcus6/17/2010

    A 18 in Teetor sounds nice!

    The reason why I ask about your observing is because I have been going alone quite a bit. Some people say its not safe, but I spent quite bit in the bush growing up and it does not bother me. I also like that same magical feeling you speak of... just sitting out there alone under the Milky Way. The only animals are cows, snakes, and coyotes...nothing really dangerous.
    Last weekend though, I met up with a couple of guys from CN...we only had two scopes between 4 people, but we had a great time just cruising the sky and talking. Did not get any sketching done though!

    Its funny that you mention what you hear...I am always hearing lots of weird stuff. Last Week I heard a lot of rustling in the bushes...the red flashlight on high power reveled some red eyes watching me! The white light revealed a small gray fox. Beautiful animal. He spent quite a bit of the night stalking me, he was very curious as to what I was doing. Wednesday morning I went out at about 12a. I heard some loud breathing from some cow a ways off. Then about 10 minutes later after setting up I heard really loud "hhhhhhasmfdsfmm"! This cow was 30 feet from me sitting down in the grass! He was there until the Sun came up.

    Its too bad we do not live close to each other, I would defiantly be into going out 2-3 nights a week.
    With so many clear nights here, it almost seems wrong not going out!