Yes, I FINALLY got a decent sky with no clouds and took advantage of it. I was able to observe several open clusters; NGC 1647, NGC 1817, 1807 and NGC 1664. NGC 1647 was a pretty open cluster with two bright stars of around ninth magnitude, with many other stars of various magnitudes below them. It was heart shape and I enjoyed it. I'll save the other descriptions for when I post the sketches and descriptions.
Here is my sketch of NGC 1647. I'm having a problem with my scanner so my actual sketch will have to wait until I have time to correct it (next weekend). This Open Cluster is easy to find. Telrad to Aldebaran and go north past 2 vertical stars to the star that is above the vertical pair. That star above the two vertical stars is a double so now go west to the third star that is lying east to west. The third star is actually two stars in the finder or eyepiece and the cluster is right next to those two stars. Major mistake I just caught, I left the cardinal points off. North is about at 190 degrees (just left of the bottom center of the circle) and west is about 280 degrees or just above the left center edge. Hope that helps. To the south are two ninth magnitude stars. Underneath, there appears to some a heart shape here but I see more of the butterfly (wishing for spring and summer as my winter has been terrible for observing?), with an apparent double at the center of the heart as you go north from the middle. A pretty little open cluster and I enjoyed viewing it.
1/10/10 3:30 UT; Member of Herschel 400; Herriman UT; Seeing: III; LM 5.8 to 6.0; XT10 w/21mm Stratus.
Below is my sketch of NGC 1817. Not much of an open cluster but I was able to view it. It has a roundish hook view to it; O'Meara describes it as a bolt of lightning but I didn't see that asterism. NGC 1807 it right next to it. Easy to find by going to the top of Orion's Shield and the two open clusters are right there. These are poor open clusters, especially NGC 1807. NGC 1817 did give a hint of stars wanting to peep out using averted vision and I tried to capture that in the sketch.
Three Herschels and one cluster next to a Herschel cluster wasn't bad. I also got a dim view of M1, the Crab Nebula and M42. I tried using my H-Beta Filter to see the Flame but conditions were too poor by the time I went for it. I did get an excellent view of Mars with good details. I have sketches that I will scan and post here over the next couple of days. I should be able to get out on either Friday or Saturday since it should be clear after a small storm comes through.
Edit: Here is my Mars Sketch in digital format. I'll post the original with the open clusters this weekend.
I did notice and I figured out why the XT10 hasn't been holding its balance no matter what I do. I improved it, but it still was an issue. In bringing it in on Sunday I noticed that my left altitude bearing is very loose and needs to be tighten. Tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll pull the primary mirror cell off and fix the altitude bearing. This has led me to think about flocking the tube which I have decided to do. So I'll have to decide on ScopeStuff or PhotoStar. Not sure what I'll do but I'll research some more. If you have an opinion on flocking or on which material to use, please leave a comment.
Finally, we have a lot of smog around here lately and I'm done going out in it. I started to get some frozen dew on the tube and on my chair and on Monday after I got home from work and had to wipe down the tube and the seat from the dirty dried water. Moving forward, I sure hope the air quality improves with some storms that have a couple of good viewing nights between them, with crisp, clean air. Clear Skies to you!