Well, the skies were clear tonight, and I have been making mods on my XT10 and XT8 so I decided to take them out and do some viewing.
After getting outside and setting up, cooling down I started at Mars. Conditions were not very good but I didn't care since it has been awhile since I had a break to get out. My son and I saw the northern polar cap and that was about it. 200x was too much tonight and the best views were at 57x and 92x and 133x.
After Mars, we went to M42 just to take a look. At 92x the Trapezium was very brilliant and shone like a diamonds mixed in waves of emerald green waves. My son loves M42 and we stayed here for a while.
Next we went down to Sirius and took a look at the Winter diamond, and it was truly beautiful tonight. Sirius was sitting low and twinkling in various colors as we looked on it and it really did seem to be a huge engagement diamond reflecting light back into the night.
After M42 we went to my favorite winter cluster, NGC 2362 in Canis Major. Tau showed very beautiful tonight and I actually sketched this object, even though the Waxing Gibbous Moon was shinning. Conditions really improved while I was sketching, enough to where Sirius who had risen higher actually stopped flickering. I'll post my sketch in the next day or two.
Next, we went up to the Winter Alberio which is an easy jump. My son hadn't seen this before and his remark is "Very cool, and the orange is deeper/richer but the blue companion here is not as blue as Alberio." I would agree with his assessment.
We went up from her to M41 and spent some time here looking at the Little Beehive. Since we live in Utah, also known as the Beehive State my son asked if this or M44 was the official Open Cluster of our state? Actually, in 1996 the legislature made M44 the official state astronomical object of the state and it appears on the state flag. Just wondering if any other state that others live in have a state astronomical symbol?
Next, we went to the Eskimo PN in Gemini. The Eskimo is an easy find and in this case my son and I raced and I hate to admit that a 15, almost 16 year old beat me, but not by much. The Eskimo showed wonderfully at both 92x and at 133x, with the central star visible.
At this point, we had tested everything on both scopes and brought them in. We spent about 2 hours outside and the best part of it, just sharing time with my son and trading off scopes. Sometimes just chasing after some of what we call the eye candy that is out there and enjoying it and each other is what makes this hobby so enjoyable. Clear skies and good seeing to each of you.
Edit: My son reminded me we went and looked at Tu Geminorum, a carbon star in Gemini and not far from M35. The moon hid some of the color I think but a pretty red orange star. There are a couple in Orion I need to hit also after full moon.
Here are my sketches of NGC 2362. The first one is from last year, the next one is from last night and one other night. The first is too loose and the second too tight. I used the 21mm, 13mm Stratus and 9mm Expanse on these.
January 29th, 2009
Enhanced NGC 2362 in GIMP. I like this one, as it shows Tau's influence on the cluster: