Ok, I've been busy but my darn intelliscope is STILL NOT working and its get frustrating. I got a new encoder disc from Orion, rebuilt the base four times and my encoder test is still giving me F5's (down from F6 but still no good). IF anyone reads this and has experience with the intelliscope and can give me some tips to try, it would be DEEPLY appreciated. I have taped the encoder disc down with double sided scotch tape so it isn't floppy around anymore. Other than that, the scope works great!
On Saturday, July 11th, my friend Craig and I wanted out of the desert so we went into the mountains to a place SLAS goes called Wolf Creek Pass. It is a Bortle 2 site and you can see a map with some pictures here . I believe on my blog here I have my own pictures, I'm tired so I'm not doing a search for it. My favorite place in the summer but it is 1 1/2 hours away and that means camping over night which is fine with me.
I know I talk about Pit n Pole here because it is in the desert and it is only 45 minutes from my home (maybe an hour as I slow down late at night when I am tired and driving). Last night I had a mix up with Daniel, a member of SLAS and he went there and I went to a place called Lakeside that I've posted images about (and will shortly again). Daniel took a beautiful image of the Milky Way and I would like to share that with you. It will show you what it is like there when it isn't humid in the spring or fall. All credit to Daniel on this please.
That's what I do enjoy about observing in Utah when it is clear . . .
So at Wolf Creek I simply tested out the scope and by the time I went after a few Herschels it was late and Craig needed to be home so at 3:00a.m. we left. We fought clouds that night but also got in quite a few objects. I didn't sketch though I will on Thursday when I go there.
Last Sunday, I tried fixing the intelliscope yet again, and then went out in the backyard and ran it as a dob which even with the intelliscope I will do. I just want the feature to work since I paid for it and it will be a good way when I'm in the backyard to verify an object that may be on the border of seeing.
1. NGC 5866 Lenticular Galaxy in Draco. Information is on the sketch so no need to reproduce it unless I read many people want that back:
Here is my original sketch:
2. NGC 5907 Spiral Galaxy in Draco:
My original sketch which did not capture the dust lane very well. The digital is better in this case in my opinion.
3. NGC 6207 Spiral Galaxy in Hercules (Near M13:
That was all for that night.
Next, was Monday the 12th, and instead of Pit n Pole, I went out to Lakeside which is about 1 1/2 hours west of Salt Lake City. There is a small dome to the north form a military facility, but that has no impact on the viewing. The Salt Lake light dome is to the east so that is horrible to look at up to 20 to 30 degrees above the horizon; and you can see another military installation to the SW and Wendover to the west. None of these domes impact the viewing. SQM that night was about 21.6 to 21.8, no nice and dark.
I got out there and was greeted by a sight not many who don't live in the west see, Pronghorn Antelope. Here are some pictures of them:
The boss leading his herd away from me.
Just after this they bolted. Pronghorn are fast and they weren't going their fastest in this movie I took of them. I didn't try to spook them into running, it happened after I engaged the clutch on my Pathfinder and they took off when the car moved. For those who may not see one of these in real life, I thought I would add it as a way to see some wildlife out here.
I'm also going to add pictures of setting up the XX14i since I think that would be of interest to some people and then I'll add the sketches with the observations on them.
Here is the bottom tube and the base. I have to admit, I am SO glad I got the cases for these. I put a piece of wood down so the bag doesn't get dirty (yes, it is very dusty in Utah) and then I lift it over where the truss poles attach on the bottom. Since I am not using an intelliscope right now I have a board under the base to protect it. I have adjustable feet to install on the board and for keeping it level and I just may make a lazy susan base to put the dob on . . . perhaps leading to a tracking platform one of these days.
These are the tension knobs for the altitude and I keep them in a zip lock bag since one spacer likes to come off easy and I don't want to hunt down looking for them in the dirt.
The cases for the Truss Poles keep them from being scratched up and provide an easy way to transport. Just pull them in or put them in at the end of the session:
Putting on the truss poles is easy:
Truss are on, as is the top tube and it is easy and ready to go!
Putting on the shroud: I do this after removing the two large caps to protect the primary and the secondary but before putting on the Telrad and the finder scope. Put it on and carefully lift it over the finder and the knobs for connecting the truss poles to the upper tube.
Last the finder and the Telrad with that wonderful 4 inch riser go on! Scope's ready for the night sans the intelliscope. . . . arghhhhh . . . . though I don't need it. I can set the XX14i up in about 10 minutes if I rush, but I usually take 20 minutes.
Aligning everything with Venus . . .
I love this time and I won't post more than one but it is peaceful, I am alone, and only the sound of a slight breeze with some insects and birds are to be heard. It's truly a magical and wonderful time. All I do during this time is enjoy it because I learned from losing my father (who was my age, 45 when he died) that life is far too short not to enjoy moments like this.
1. First Object NGC 5634 Globular Cluster in Virgo (the ONLY globular cluster in Virgo)
2. NGC 5746 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Virgo. My favorite object of the night as the dust lane here was really evident to see, it was a WOW moment not because it was wonderful, just because it showed how much more easily it is to see detail on faint objects over the 10 I have.
3. NGC 5846 Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo (and NGC 5850 a Spiral); If your into astrophotography, here is one to nail.
4. NGC 5466 Globular Cluster in Bootes: HARD to spot at home but it was my star hopping. Nailed it and it is a VERY COOL globular. I nicknamed it The Vanishing Globular for a good reason. See my notes on it in the sketch:
5. NGC 5676 Spiral Galaxy in Bootes:
I also spent time on some double galaxies that were in the area that I wanted to observe and I did not sketch them, just enjoyed them, I'll be back next year for them. At the end I also went and saw the Helix Nebula using a 32mm 2 inch EP. Nailed it and it is huge and beautiful. I had a member of our local message board with me and he made the request to see it and I'm glad Michael did.
Well, I have tomorrow, Thursday and possibly Friday for DSO's so I'm off again. I'll post up when either the moon is too full or its too cloudy like tonight. May your skies be clear, and may our equipment work right or may you get it working right!