Well, I finally got out! It was clear, and cold, got down to -6 degrees F when my observing partner Mat and I left Rush Valley last night. It was about 10 when we got there around 5:00p.m. and the temperature kept dropping. I didn't feel it except for my left pinky which grabbed the metal of the upper tube last night with only a mitten on, and then my toes. With the toes I forgot to put a hand warmer on my toes to keep them toasty, but 10 minutes in the Pathfinder and I was good to go and never got cold again (hand warmers in the gloves). We observed from around 6:30p.m. until 11:30p.m. when the cold didn't get us, but got the equipment. Frost began to form on the secondary and neither of us have dew heaters so that combined with the fact the EP's kept frosting told us our session was over.
It was a wonderful night. The zodiacal light was out in the west in all of its brilliance. It was so bright it looked like the sky before dawn or as the full moon rises. Very evident. The winter Milky Way showed itself with its rifts and swirls. Just tremendous. Winds were about 5 to 10mph when we got there, but typical of the site in Rush Valley, they died at sunset and stayed away.
I didn't bother to hook up my intelliscope because I wanted to star hop last night and because the temp was below 20 degrees. The display just never works well in really cold weather and I know I am not the only one who has that issue after I Googled it. I started out with M42 and then looked at NGC 2271 a PN in Gemini, and J900, another Planetary Nebula in Gemini. J900 took some time for me to hunt down, but it was satisfying. Both took the Ultrablock Filter the best for observing. I did not sketching either.
I then went and tried for Simeis 147, a SN remnant in Taurus just south and east of Elnath. I tied using a OIII and the Ultrablock to no avail. Then again, this was when my feet where getting really cold, well, my toes, and I needed to get them warmed up so I decided to save that for March when I should be out at Great Basin National Park.
After failing with Simeis I took the H-Beta out and I went after B33. The Flame was visible so I took off and went down to where B33 should be. At first it did not stand out, and then slowly, it popped! When it popped it was easily seen. Mat took a look and also saw B33 quite easily. Second time I've seen it and both times at this location.
Next, I went out to Ursa Major to see SN2011B in NGC 2655. It was pretty easy to do a star hop there and the SN still showed itself quite well. Here is the sketch and my notes:
I also captured several other galaxies in Ursa Major, and one in Draco that is a H400 object I needed. Here they are:
NGC 3027 and NGC 2985 in Ursa Major. North is up I believe.
NGC 3147 in Draco.
I now went to work over in Monoceros to get in some more Herschel 400 objects, mainly Open Clusters.
After this, things were starting to wrap up so the last object I went for was the Pup by Sirius since B33 was seen, I figured, why not try. Sure enough Mat and I both saw the Pup. Here is my sketch. Can you identify the Sirius B?
After handling the truss poles last night in the cold, I was determined to minimize this. So today I went to Lowes and purchased some pipe tubing and cut it around so they would fit the poles. I used 3/4 size and Lowes only had 3 and you really need 4 six feet to get this to work. So on the last one I took the left overs and put two of the leftover pieces together to make it work on the last pole set. Here is what it looks like. Oh, they fit into the blue truss bag just fine!
Watch the length of these! I trimmed these down after I did the initial cut and placement.
This shows it going into the blue bag.
Here you can see them in the blue bag that holds the truss poles for the XX14i:
This shows that if you use the 3/4 inch what the gap is like if you choose not to seal them on the metal. I may buy a 1 inch and see if it makes a difference but when I put them together, I like the 3/4 and I think if I were to seal them, I would use the 3/4. Haven't decided to seal them yet.
Here you can see that they make a snug fit into the bag. I had to let all the extra strap out to get it to close, but it did close and wasn't that hard to get it to come together. Next is to see if they impact the scope at all in terms of weight. I'm not worried about how they will fit on the upper or lower tube and I have left plenty of room on mine to turn the nobs. Next time I assemble the XX14i I will take pictures of what this looks like assembled.