Refresher Training on the 200mm Clark/Brandt Refractor and Quick Observing Session

On Saturday I got out to SPOC, the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex, the home of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society for a refresher training on the 200mm/8 inch Clark/Brandt Refractor (seen above). As you may recall, I finished training on the 16 inch Ealing Reflector. The only scope there that I need to train on is the 32 inch Reflector called the Grim. That I will do next year after giving the Ealing a good go this year and the Clark/Brandt. I set up to cool down before the training and went through the refresher training in about 40 minutes. I have to say that using the 200mm/8inch, the 16 inch and the 32 inch Reflector is a wonderful addition to one's membership in SLAS.

I then finished setting up and waited for dark. Venus was the first object and in the atmosphere was dancing around. I then turned to Saturn and the viewing wasn't that good at 240x. Finally, I just laid back on the sleeping bag pad I have to kneel and lay on, and propped the head and let myself dark adapt. I focused on seeing Leo Minor as that was the object tonight, and I wanted to go as soon as possible as the forecast was for clouds to move in.

NGC 3294 Spiral Galaxy in Leo Minor
Seeing III Antoniadi Scale; Mostly Clear, Cirrus clouds building
Mag. 11.7
Size: 3.5' x 3.7'
RA 10h 26m 3s
Dec +37 20'
13mm Stratus

This is a very, very faint galaxy. It is brighter on the inner halo or portion than on the outer shell or halo. The outer edges are diffused. No core is discernible though I do get a hint of some possible dark/dust(?) lanes. The sketch tries to really make how faint this galaxy is, I hope I succeeded in that somewhat.

NGC 3395 (and NGC 3396) Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Leo Minor
SPOC, Stansbury Park, Utah
Seeing: III Antoniadi Scale; Fair, Cool, some cirrus clouds building
Mag.: 12.1
Size: 1.6' x 0.9'
RA: 10h 49m 8 s
Dec: +32 59'
13mm Stratus @ 92x

This is a very faint galaxy that is paired with NGC 3996 which is also visible. It took averted vision to see it at first, then with patience both galaxies came into view. My home is close to the conditions at SPOC and it is the outer limits of viewing for this object. The galaxies are less than 1 degree apart. Averted vision as I have mentioned are needed and using breathing really helps to make out shapes and details. The core in NGC 3995 is stellar,though no actual center is visible; the halo is much dimmer and without breathing the halo is brighter than the core region, with the core visible only through averted vision. Breathing makes the core brighter also. A fun object to hunt down, I would like to see it from one of my darker sites. No core is evident in NGC 3396. This was confirmed by a fellow club member.

NGC 3432 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Leo Minor
Location: SPOC, Stansbury Park, Utah
Seeing: III, Mostly clear cool.
RA 10h 52m 5s
Dec +36 37'
Mag: 11.2
Size: 6.9' x 1.9'
13mm Stratus @ 92x

Relatively bright galaxy after the last two. It is elongated and diffused patch of light. If your patient and use averted vision with some brightening toward the core is evident. No discernable core is viewable. Two faint field stars seem to be embedded in the diffused halo. The clouds really came in on this object and it was the last object of the night. After packing up we went to "advance training" at a local Denny's to socialize (I just had a diet coke due to my celiac disease).