March 12, 2010 Pit n Pole Rush Valley

I decided to go out to the Pit n Pole site and introduce it to two friends. One is a friend from Cloudy Nights who I tend to observe with about once a month when the weather permits us to hook up. He has two brothers and I have a blast listening to them as they observe. A member of our local club also showed up, but he came later.

It was cloudy that Friday evening when we headed out, but I've learned that sometimes one has to chance heading out when there are clouds. Sometimes the clouds win and you have to pack it in and retire, yet sometimes we as amateur astronomers win and the clouds give way. This night, the clouds gave way after we had set up and took some pictures.  I'll include a few shots of the location here:

Here is the XT10 cooling. That table had to act as my observing chair as I forgot to bring my observing chair and boy, did it remind me how important it is to have an observing chair.

Another view of the setup sans my observing chair . . .

The wide open sky at this dark location in the western Utah Desert gives great views except to the northeast when the Provo-Orem and Salt Lake County light domes are evident. The views to the east, south-east, south, south-west, west, are fantastic and to the north-west and north are pretty good also. One can see both the Zodiac Light fading into the west after sunset and the winter Milky Way. The summer Milky Way is tremendous from here. The bad part of the site? In the fall and spring in Utah frosty dew can be an issue and in the desert floor, humidity rises fast since they are really ancient lake beds. I have also included in my update to this post the DSS images which are to compare the sketch. Overall I am happy with the results. I couldn't figure out how to get B33 from the DSS so I found a different shot that I liked and feel my sketch reflects not only what I saw, but that my friend and I saw the Horsehead that night.

I did not jump into the Herschel 400 tonight first off. My first object was NGC 2359, Thor's Helmet (see the sketch at the bottom; I'm not happy with it but it is the best I can do until I get a much improved scanner). I had tried this from home a couple of years ago but found that I was too inexperience and probably had the wrong conditions to nail this. It took me a several minutes to find it using my star charts. After finding it, NGC 2359 stood out visually without a filter and was very evident. My OIII filter brought out even more detail. I have studied Scandinavia a lot and wanted to pursue an advance degree but reality burned that one up. So I have trouble with horned Viking helmets since they did not have them. This looks more like an duck with hockey sticks to me. Wonderful view. I have sketched it but am refining that in the digital process and when I am done I will add it to the observation here.

My next object was something I have tried for at home but the sky conditions just won't allow for it, B33, The Horsehead Nebula. Tonight I put in the HB filter and the 13mm Stratus and went to work. I missed it several times and then had my friend look and his much younger eyes saw it right off. He described it and I went back in, and sure enough, there it was! It looks like a C to us but the shape was very evident. Here is the sketch of that object. The cloud is lighter than the eyepiece but that is what I needed to attempt to show what it is we saw.

EDIT: July 14th, 2012.  Steve,  please feel free to use my image as you see fit.  I have all your comments, I'm just not publishing them since they are more like an email to me.  On this image I reviewed my notes and found that I indeed use the 13mm Stratus with the filter.  The attempt with the 5mm Hyperion was a failure, as I could not make out anything due to the contrast.  So this sketch is done using a Orion XT10 with a 13mm Stratus with the HB filter.  If you get this Steve, Please leave me a note or a comment or feel free to email me at JayLEadsATGmaildotcom.  For the AT please use the @ and for the dot please use a .  

Now I started into my Herschel 400 items.

NGC 2683 Spiral Galaxy in Lynx
Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, UT
Time: 05:49 UT
Mag: 9.7
Seeing: III
Clear, low humidity, cold;
LVM: 7.0-7.2
 Very bright edge on galaxy with a very bright core. The galaxy is thin, long and like a sliver of light.  Averted vision shows the core in the disc and some mottling is evident on the eastern edge.  Beautiful galaxy missed by Charles Messier.

NGC 2859 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Leo Minor
Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, UT
05:20 UT
Seeing III
LMV 7.0-7.2
Mag: 10.9
Size: 4.6'x4.1'
XT10, 13mm Stratus, 2x Barlow

Barred Spiral Galaxy that is face on to us.  Direct vision shows a very bright, almost star like core. Averted vision shows the halo around the core.  Next to a trapezoid shape of stars that are slightly open on the western side of the view.  No way I could see this one in my LP/orange zone at home.  There is also a hint of an arm with averted vision. In some ways looks like a PN.

After this I went off the Herschels and went Messier looking and had an enjoyable time. One more to post and I'll do that this weekend (I'm heading back out Saturday night!).

Another object I observed that night was NGC 2359, Thor's Helmet. I used the XT10 with both the 13mm Stratus and the 5mm Hyperion for 92X & 240x. I also used the OIII filter which just enhanced the shape of the item as I could see it without it just fine.  Seeing was a II at the time.  I have tried this in the LP and thought I got a hint of it last year, but wasn't sure. No doubt this time. Info is on the sketch if you want details