May 6, 2010 Quick Session; Saturn, NGC 3486, NGC 3405

Well the skies were clear though the jet stream was right above. I knew I needed to take advantage of the sky so I went out tonight. Over the last several days I have done some mods to my XT10. I added the milk jug washers to improve my azimuth motion and since then I just haven't been happy with the readjustment. So tonight I played around with it some more and think I got the scope finally where I want it. I'll take pictures when I do this to the XT8 and post them here this weekend, unless I'm observing.

After tweaking that mod, I am grateful I haven't flocked my tube yet. I have the material, just not the time to do that mod, though the weather has been more than favorable.. I will take pictures of that process and post them here. So after cooling ad playing around, I zeroed in on my first target, Saturn. I was able to barlow and go to 480x tonight and I sketched the gas giant, but won't be posting it here quite yet. My sketches look like nothing I have seen others as I haven't seen the bands on Saturn yet. Jupiter is easy for me, for Saturn, I have just seen an adjustment in color at three different locations. I'll post that sketch up tomorrow.

I spent a good hour on Saturn and really enjoyed myself there. If you can't tell, I am trying to expand beyond just a DSO observer, though DSO's have my heart.

NGC 3486 Mixed Sprial Galaxy in Leo Minor
May 6, 2010
Herriman UT
Seeing III Antoniadi Scale
RA 11h 00m 4s
Dec: +28 58
Mag: 10.5
Size: 6.6' x 4.7'
XT10 w/13mm Stratus @ 92x

I have to say that I took this one up to 240x, and at 240x I could see more of the size of the galaxy, but details fell off. So back down to 133x and the same thing. 92x showed the best view for me. The galaxy at 92x was dim at first, with a faint stellar core. Averted vision shows a halo around the corethat has some brightening to the west, perhaps a hint of an arm(?). I checked my star positions on both sketches here, and the first one for NGC 3486 is close, but not perfect. The second galaxy, NGC 3405 and surrounding stars was much closer to the mark.

NGC 3504 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Leo Minor
May 6, 2010
Seeing: III Antoniadi Scale
RA 11h 03m 2s
Dec +27 58
Mag. 10.9
Size 2.3' x 2.3'

O'Meara's reference directions are spot on. I'll get into specifics of my way later this weekend. I'm really hoping to let the blog go for a few days while I get some great observing time in. I need it to get caught up on my Herschel list. At 92x this is a dim galaxy that has a medium size core that is stellar in the middle. The galaxy is positioned NW to SE with a diffused halo around the core. No hints of structure for me in the halo. Averted vision reveals a bright inner core with a roundish and large outer halo. In March of 1998 a supernova was discovered in NGC 3504. This infra red image shows the galaxy before and when the supernova exploded. We always hear or read that this mighty explosions are as bright if not brighter than the galaxy they reside in. This image really shows this in the infra red. I thought it would be a nice tidbit to include on this object.

One of the things I hate about my 13mm Stratus is that if my coat bumps it, the rubber eye guard comes flying off. It happened tonight and I noticed the EP Lens needed to be cleaned. I keep a rubber bulb in my eyepiece case and I learned a valuable lesson tonight. It was frozen! I need to keep it inside my jacket on these long and cold spring (and winter nights). I came inside with an eye patch on and got my backup bulb and blew some dust off the inner edge of the eyepiece. Then I carefully put the guard back on. This took about 30 minutes and at that time I decided to come in after just a couple of hours and 3 objects. Not a productive night in terms of objects, but I got the base worked out, and cleaned up my eyepieces after coming in so that made me ready for the weekend!

So not a lot tonight, but I finished up that portion of Leo Minor and am heading out to finish Leo this weekend (I hope) and head into Virgo! Clear skies to you.