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11/19/2011

Some Harder Late Fall/Winter Objects to Hunt Down, Some just for fun

Now, back to my usual format. I am going to post here about some of the harder or less known late fall or winter objects that are up in the sky to view. There are several, I am going to post images and sketches from the net with the links so their owners have credit, so here we go.

1. We'll start in the constellation of Sculptor, a constellation that for us at 41 degrees north is about at the limit of how low I will go for an object. The object is NGC 55 as seen in this image by Joe Cauchi's photo album at this link:



















In terms of sketches there were several that I liked and will post links to them here. Faith, over at FJ Astronomy, a site I follow has a wonderful sketch located on her website here. From the Deep Sky Observer's Online Database is this sketch found here. It looks to be from a 1885 sketch from Melbourne. Steve Gottlieb has this to say on viewing NGC 55 in a 13 inch scope from the NGC/IC Database here: "Fairly bright. A very faint eastern portion is possibly detached from the bright WNW section." Finally there is a sketch and observation on Astronomy Sketch of the Day by the late Scott Mellish found here. A worthy candidate to go after right now!


2. Simeis 147 or Sharpless 2-240 is a supernova remnant located in the constellations of Auriga and Taurus (image from Astronomy Picture of the Day at this link):




















This object can be extremely challenging. I have tried for it twice, and want to say I saw a brightening but could not confirm it. Thus for me, it stays unobserved and an object I am going after this winter. I have found the following links the most helpful in preparing to observe this object. The first is Bright Regions in Simeis 147 located here. The second is linked to the first and is a sketch and observation by Rich Jakiel found here. I love both his sketch interimposed on an image so you can see what he saw in relation to the actual. My focus will be to find the field of the region identified as B and then work from there since the region B area seems to be the easiest to see and gets one in the mindset of this faint winter object which is very large. My 14 should show it locally and it is on the list for the 20" also. Here is an article on S-147 that discusses its point of origin, possibly Messier 36 and the pulsar that is the remnant of the exploding star.

3. IC 443 a Supernova Remnant in the constellation of Gemini (image from this site).



















This supernova remnant from a supernova explosion that is estimated to have occurred around 3000-30000 years ago. Deep in the nebulosity is a neutron star that is emitting x-rays, all that is left from the exploding star of 1.4 to 3 solar masses. Sites like this one contain both observations and a digital sketch and discusses that with a OIII or UHC filter even a 8 inch can spots parts of this. I'm anxious to give this one a go and to compare the views of the 14 inch vs the 20 inch and this object will take up one whole post on the blog as I want to including my finder charts, my observations and any sketch that I can do. I'm excited about this one.


4. Observing Galaxies in Messier 44.



















In the image above from E. Riveria at this link, you can see some of the fainter galaxies that are observable from within the Beehive Cluster. Jay McNeil at this link discusses observing and imaging these galaxies. I'll need to do some more research on this and then edit the post here.

Also, Messier 44 has about 12 white dwarfs in it, but I am unable to located any information on them or if any are observable (some I would assume are) so I have another quest.

I'm late getting to an ATM session so I am going to stop here for now and will add the remaining objects later today.

5. The next object isn't that hard, but it is a fun planetary nebula. NGC 1514 is a PN in the constellation of Taurus and is known as the Crystal Ball Nebula. Here is a finder chart image with Perseus above and Messier 45 to the right.















Here is a link to the NGC/IC database entry on this object. Here is an image of the PN by Don Goldman from his site located here.


















Here is a link to the APOD image. Here is a 2010 article from Bad Astronomy that shows WISE data that reveals rings around the PN. This is a rather bright object with a nice 9.5 magnitude central star and responds well to the OIII or to the UHC. I will try the OIII on this one. Here is a sketch by Jeremy Perez to take a look at.

6. IC 2149 Planetary Nebula in Auriga.





















In Tom Trusock's Small Wonders Auriga this object is found at the very bottom. Here is a sketch by Jeff Young at CloudyNights.

7. NGC 1532, Edge on Spiral Galaxy in Eridanus






















If you image, there is quite a bit of structure here in evident. Here is a link to a sketch of the item. Look for the companion NGC 1531, a dwarf galaxy that is interacting with this wonderful object. Here is a link to the NGC/IC database on this object.

8. NGC 1399 in Fornax, an elliptical galaxy. I'm including this very southern galaxy because it was here the Chandra X Ray and the Magellan Telescope in Chile found evidence for a star being consumed by an intermediate size black hole as found in this quick video put out by ChandraHarvard. From Chandra Harvard comes this wonderful image. Note the smaller interacting galaxies around NGC 1399.




















8. Here is another galaxy, NGC 1398 in Fornax and visible in the winter though low in the southern sky. Here is an image:














This spiral galaxy has a transversal central bar with a bright central core. The galaxy has distinct arms and then outside of them, some more fainter arms. Wonderful object though low in the sky from 41 degrees north. I could not find a sketch of this object.

I have more objects to add and will do so over the next several days as the schedule allows.

11/18/2011

Observing, Death, Nature and Philosophies; My Thoughts


First, let me save some of you some time. This post will have a little to do with any observing session or product. The weather is snowing tonight so as much as I had hope to get out tonight and tomorrow, it isn't going to happen. The entry is a personal reflection of how life and observing connect for me. I guess I just need to write something in the public forum because I feel the need. So feel free right now, if you haven't already, to bail out, to click out, to rip the cord so to say. If you want to know more about me, then I feel free to read on at your own risk.

I think I will try to cover a couple of things here. First will be a reflection that age and observing have brought to me about life and mortality and the challenge of seizing each day of life to grab that day's full potential. Next, I'll attempt to share the feelings that going observing brings to me, be it in the storms of summer, the freeze of fall, or the bone chilling stillness of winter. Last, the conflict between my individualism and my humanitarian philosophy that comes from life and from being in this hobby. Answers. I think I have found some answers for me, while I continue to look for more.

Life has a strange way over the last couple of years of reminding me that I am not mortal. I had the immortality complex up to about 44 and then one day, I quit breathing during a procedure and they had to rush me from a simple procedural room to a OR room to complete what I was going through. I realized that day, and was reminded for the next several weeks as I recovered and my whole torso continued to hurt that I could have passed so quickly. Of late other medical things have reminded me of my own mortality. My father passed away when I was 17 and that was one of those defining moments of life for me. Life changed drastically for me that day and I'll leave it at that, as that is a story that has had long and deep consequences for me on a very personal level. Anyway, one of my fascinations of life was similar to Abraham Lincoln who feared an early death in life because of the loss of his mother. My father was 45 and 7 months and when I passed that mark awhile back, it provided me comfort that I wasn't going to die early. However, it reminded me that despite the best laid plans, life for me or anyone I love or know can and does end abruptly more often than not. It reminds me of the importance to maximize each day I am alive.

So, why bring this up? Because when I observe my favorite sky objects, deep-sky objects or other objects, I often reflect on the amount of time it has taken the light to reach us and in that time what events have transpired in our universe, galaxy, solar system and planet. It reminds me that as important as my ego would like me to think I am, in the end, I am truly not so important. Yet I am in a way very important in that my legacy is what I leave with my loved ones, especially my children who are young adults now, and my friends. My influences, thoughts and more important, our mutual enjoyment of each other. Perhaps a student, yes, one student will remember the impact I had on them as a teacher and in a way, who I am will continue with them in some small way. So though I am reminded of my own mortality from my life, and from my observing, I can honestly say that death no longer is a scary notion for me. I don't seek it, and I don't want it to come early, as I want to live to observe for many more years and to see grandchildren, and so much more of the world. However, when it comes, it will not be feared. I guess I finally feel peace about that for the first time in my life and in a strange way, my astronomical observing truly has been one thing that has helped me to obtain that. I believe that our hobby can have profound impacts on our lives.

So this notion that death can occur whenever, has brought to me not a recklessness, but a desire to make sure that every day I am alive is the best I can make it for that day. It doesn't mean I don't have rough or bad days, I do, just like everyone. However, it does mean that I strive to find something positive, that I enjoy the day even with its challenges. Again, a parallel from observing. I remember when I was first started observing, and in reading my old logs I made so many mistakes and got frustrated after trying to do a star hop for over an hour. Then I simply realized that what I was seeing in the finder was reversed in the eyepiece! Yet that frustration and that simple learning helped me to learn to star hop, a skill I am so glad I have. I think life is like that at times. We see the direction we want to go, but then we make some simple mistakes, unknowing mistakes, and until we realize it, and correct it, we don't find what we are looking for. From this I learned that it is the experience that is to be treasured, the entire experience, not just the joy of figuring of what your doing, of being on the target, or getting that sketch or image. I don't seek an end result of happiness, but I treasure the journey, the quest and find my happiness in that. By doing that, I think I maximize my joy in life, and find the positive regardless of the day, and that makes me a better human being and person.

Some of the people in my life that I am extremely close to, don't understand my desire to go observing. Well, a large part of observing I have covered. I just love observing and in my feeble way sketch the objects of the deep-sky. Why? It centers me as a human being while also bring me a peace and serenity that getting away from the city does. It reminds me that as complicated as life is, there are wonders and beauties to be discovered. I wish, even if for a day, I could experience first hand what a professional astronomer feels doing their job as they seek the truths of our universe. What an incredible feeling to leave a legacy that others will build upon as the mysteries of the universe are revealed! Anyway, observing just makes me connected to the notion that I am discovering things for the first time for me. Then I can gain the background knowledge that goes with the quasar, galaxy, planetary nebula etc. that I am observing. I thus increase my own knowledge of the universe and that, is just downright cool to me.

There is another notion that I want to expand. The notion of leaving our busy and structured life and getting out in the dark places of our country and local areas and connecting to nature. In August, I was able to get out to the West Desert and I posted some similar pictures here, yet there was a large thunderstorm coming through the area. The wind was just blowing as I got out to the observing site, and you could smell the rain in the air. I actually parked the car and got out and just felt the rush of the wind, the rapid movement of the clouds and that must moisture smell mixed with dust of the rain. It reminded me of John Muir's A Wind Storm in the Forest where he wrote:


"Winds are advertisements of all they touch, however much or little we may be able to read them; telling their wanderings even by their scents alone. Mariners detect the flowery perfume of land-winds far at sea, and sea-winds carry the fragrance of dulse and tangle far inland, where it is quickly recognized, though mingled with the scents of a thousand land-flowers. As an illustration of this, I may tell here that I breathed sea-air on the Firth of Forth, in Scotland, while a boy; then was taken to Wisconsin, where I remained nineteen years; then, without in all this time having breathed one breath of the sea, I walked quietly, alone, from the middle of the Mississippi Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, on a botanical excursion, and while in Florida, far from the coast, my attention wholly bent on the splendid tropical vegetation about me, I suddenly recognized a sea-breeze, as it came sifting through the palmettos and blooming vine-tangles, which at once awakened and set free a thousand dormant associations, and made me a boy again in Scotland, as if all the intervening years had been annihilated."

This wind and its smell took me back to a time in California when I was a junior in high school and I was helping to bail hay or biking up the many roads that we did back then before biking became so popular (riding touring bikes, not motorcycles). So in this instance, my experience with a thunderstorm took me back to my youth and brought back memories that are still lingering with me. It also reconnected me with the writings of John Muir who I read a lot as a teenager and young adult. I reconnected with a part of me I hadn't recalled for sometime and it was magical.
Here are a couple of images of that day in the hope that I can share in image what I fear my words don't.




































Some wonder why I observe in the cold of a northern Utah winter in the depth of December, January or even February. First, the winter sky is my personal favorite with so many wonders to observe and discover. Next, nature changes yet again as it withdraws from activity to preservation. There is a stillness in winter that I have never found in the summer. There are no insects or birds chirping. Animal activity is at a minimal and when the sky is clear, often it is some of the best seeing and transparency I ever see in northern Utah. The air seems to be whispering, even if it dares to speak to us and break the silence and beauty of the sky. Winter observing connects me to my memories of first learning to snow shoe in the Sierra Nevada, or going to a cabin in sixth grade and learning to cross country ski. It brings back memories that are deep, personal and connecting. Memories that make up who I am, that I embrace and want to ensure that I record. It recalls the story of me, and for me, that is significant. One time I need to just take a chair, binoculars and a digital recorder and just record the memories that flood back. So, if you ever are observing with me and I look nostalgic (you'll really have to know me to know when I am having one of these moments) realize I am just being sentimental, and the bear is showing a side that he often hides except from those he cares and trusts, those he loves.

Now for my final thought. I was raised to be a humanitarian by my parents in the sense that if you define a humanitarian as being an ethical belief of extending kindness, benevolence and sympathy universally and impartially to all human beings. To further extend it, it is a philosophy that the has at its core an acceptance of every human being for plainly just being another human being. In another way I was raised to be an individual or individualist with the notion that I needed to be independent in my thinking and in beliefs. I wasn't to rely on others to form those, but I am to form those and thus be self-reliant. My parents were not extreme here because of a belief we have in my family that at some time, we need and rely on others to help us, to assist us and indeed, we have that humanitarian belief that we are here to lift and support each other. You can put your own definitions on these two words and that's fine, I am just trying to communicate part of my own belief system.

So how does this relate to astronomy? First, I never turn away someone from observing with me. I actively seek others to observe with me and with my group of friends. I thoroughly enjoy everyone I have ever or do currently observe with. I find their personal experience and just who they are enjoyable to be around. I find I often learn more from them than than they do from me, even though I can be quite gregarious. Second, I also love observing with a group of friends and new friends also. Yet I also like just observing with one or two friends or even at times, by myself (I believe for safety one should have a buddy along to be safe). There are times I really feel like helping others and reaching out to them and for the most part, this is how it is ninety percent of the time. However, that ten percent of the time I want to withdraw the scaffolding (the educator coming out) and let others just learn like I did. The best teacher is experience. I guess the difference is knowing when to do this.

The other issue for me is outreach vs individual observing. The humanitarian in me says participate in outreach. The individual says though that there are only so many clear days in the last two years so maximize my observing time and this is what has won out. I did one outreach event per month this year but that was it. Part of me thinks I need to do more so I am doing an outreach in my home city next time the moon goes past first quarter. I fear I will still struggle with this dilemma for sometime. If you have ideas on this last one let me know. One thing I won't do is the weekend before new moon or the weekend of new moon go to an outreach because I just think that is a waste. So I seek a better balance here but I am not sure I am ready to sacrifice personal observing time under new moon.

So that's it. A long rant and I am sure not too many have made it this far. If you did, you may know a little bit more about me for what it is worth. Perhaps you made a connection with what I am exploring and connecting with and your own observing. I am sure I am just too complicated and that not many do what I do, but simply enjoyj observing. I am so glad your out there because your needed to counter someone like me. Hopefully next Wednesday looks like I might be able to get out that night and get a session and I'll get that review up if that can happen. Next up, a book review and some winter objects to pursue.


11/17/2011

Staying Warm Coleman Sportcat Catalytic Converter
























I want to share with you today a new toy I picked up to help keep me somewhat warm on those frosty fall observing nights or in those cold winter observing nights. It is the Coleman Sportcat Catalytic Converter. I picked mine up from Walmart for $33.00. I had really considered purchasing the Coleman Blackcat Catalytic Converter (Amazom) but the cost for that was around $55.00 and cost won out on this for me. I will state that the Blackcat Converter does put out more heat and perhaps I should have gone that way. I'll let you know for sure after this winter season IF I get observing time. It's not looking good out here in Utah for new moon in November right now.

This little heater operates on a small bottle of Coleman Propane gas and it needs a match or similar device to start. To start you simply turn the switch to the on position after lighting the match, and then hold the match to the top on the side. You'll get a quick wiff and then the heater is going. You can see this in this image:


















Here the heater is going and if you put your leg or hands over it, you can feel the heat kicking out. Now in reality in the field, you don't see the heat as in this image but you can feel it. The amount of heat coming out is not like a single or double burner of the kind used in ice fishing as seen here at Cabela's. That type of heater really cranks out the heat and will keep an observing area warm though this will impact night vision. You'd need to set this up away from the telescope if you use the Cabela version that I posted a link to. If you don't want one of the Coleman versions then I would recommend this heater from Cabela.

Anyway, back to the Coleman Sportcat. My Sportcat doesn't put out any where near the heat of either Cabela's heaters, but it is enough to do several things. I have used it under my fold up table and it kept my legs really toasting. I have also used it with a field blanket where I spread out the field blanket to capture the heat coming out and that has warmed me up. It is wonderful for warming up cold hands and I have also placed it in the passenger floor of my Pathfinder and cracked the windows in the front and it has really warmed the cab without running the car. Finally, I used it one evening (to see if it worked) in the backyard by the scope and it helped at the telescope to keep me and the scope a little warmer. I may have to try it on a dewy night to see if it can help with that though I doubt it.
























The downsides. Don't expect this to put out enough heat to counter the cold of the night. It isn't designed for that. You still need the right clothes and other equipment to keep you warm. It helps, but isn't a cure all. Next, the Sportcat stands nicely, but has no way to be leaned over (though I made a solution by making a tilted stand where the handle grip fits into to keep it tilted). Next, if you use it in a tent or in a car/SUV/Pickup etc. you need to keep a couple of windows cracked by an inch or two, or you run the risk of hurting yourself (or perhaps even killing yourself). I one pound bottle of gas will run this unit for over 24 hours in my experience.

So though not a heat furnace, this little unit does quite well in the field for what it is. It warms the hands, feet, legs and can help take the edge off a cold night while observing. Robert and Barbara Thompson discuss the use of heaters such as these at this link from their book, Astronomy Hacks. This link takes you to a site to download the book I believe, but I am not sure if that is legal. Here is what they said:

"Sadly, fireplaces are rare at observing sites, but there is a next-best solution. Portable catalytic propane heaters put out enough heat to make heat packs and other personal warmers seem tame by comparison. Catalytic heaters burn fuel without an open flame, and are safe to use inside a tent, vehicle, or other closed location as long as you provide some ventilation.

Don't buy a kerosene heater or a non-catalytic propane heater. These units put out a lot of heat, as much as 25,000 BTU/hour or more, but they produce much too much light to be usable at a dark observing site. They also cannot be used in a closed location because they produce deadly car-bon monoxide gas.

Coleman (http://www.coleman.com) offers several models of catalytic propane heater that produce from 1,100 to 3,000 BTU/hour. (We recommend the 3,000 BTU/hour units for astronomy.) These heaters use disposable 16.4 ounce propane cylinders, which sell for a couple bucks at any hardware store and last from 8 to 18 hours, depending on the output of the unit. Catalytic propane heaters burn with a soft orange glow that is barely visible, even when you are fully dark adapted.

We don't want to overstate the amount of heat these units put out. You won't even notice the heat as you move around your observing site. In fact, the first time we fired ours up, we thought it hadn't started. It takes several minutes for the unit to start completely, and even once it's started, the heat is not obvious in the open air unless you are quite close to the unit. But 3,000 BTU/hour is a significant amount of heat if you concentrate and contain it. Figure 1-2 shows Robert warming himself with our catalytic propane heater. The blanket acts to trap the heat, and after a couple of minutes it becomes comfortably warm inside the impromptu tent.

If you or one of your observing buddies has a van, that provides the ideal solution. Simply place your catalytic heater in the van at the beginning of your observing session and start it running, leaving a window cracked a few inches for ventilation. Depending on how well the van is insulated, a 3,000 BTU/hour catalytic heater can raise the interior temperature by 20°F or more, providing a warm refuge for your observing group.

Don't forget that your coat and other cold-weather clothing are as good at keeping heat out as they are at keeping it in. When you're in the refuge, open or remove your coat to allow the heat to warm you."



















I think they make some very valid points here and ones that I wanted to include in the blog. So here you have it, though not perfect, the little guy helps. I may still pick up the second link from Cabela's as I think that puts out a little more heat but I'll go by this weekend (if weather permits) and take a look at it. Once again, hope this helps someone.

11/12/2011

Observing Sites Near Salt Lake City

This is a post that will probably interest local amateurs only as I am going to share some of my observing sites via Google Maps. You can explore the site located here. Now, perhaps if you don't live here the take away perhaps is to use Google Maps or something similar and make a list of observing sites for fellow amateurs to use.

1. Near Lookout Pass which is near Vernon, Utah off the Pony Express Road. I'll post a couple of images from a broad view to a narrower view. I hope this helps some local observers.





















This site is right off the Pony Express Road as you go up toward Lookout Pass. There are Juniper Trees to your back here and some that can block the few lights coming up from Vernon. Watch out for the ruts in the road as last winter some 4WD or ATV's really dug up the road. High clearance vechiles are best here but my friend Mat got his mini-van back here. It's a good site when the valley is cold and has high humidity in the fall and spring.



















The next site is up past Lookout Pass and as you begin to descend there is a dirt road heading south. Shortly after taking it is a place people during the day unload their ATV's and there is a nice setup area on the south side. Your up in elevation here, above any humidity that in the fall or winter might spring up. You may have to compete with ATV's being loaded but at night, this area is okay at night. If there are people loading up here you can drive farther south on the road to the next map.




















You can see on this map both the site right off the Pony Express Road that I described and showed in the proceeding paragraph. Here is an image that shows the site just to the south. I actually prefer this site as there is less traffic and I like that it is off the main dirt road. This link will show you what viewing conditions are like here.




















Here is a close up of the southern spot (near the bottom on the above picture). If you loo on the map there are some other alternative sites you can also try in this area.



















The next stop is the Vernon Reservoir. Just south of Vernon, this link gives directions from my house to the Vernon Reservoir. This is becoming my favorite observing site. It is farther than Pit n Pole, has low humidity (if your set up away from the reservoir) and great skies all around. There are some lights from Vernon to the north, but far less than the Chemical Weapon Depot at Pit n Pole. There are some favorable spots to the south of Vernon Reservoir in the mountains there with some decent southern sky views but I need next summer to come to check these out. In the winter you can observe from the Vernon Reservoir at some of the campsites with little interference from campers (they don't like camping in the winter). Here is a wide view and a close in view. The wide view is first and shows Vernon and then the reservoir.






















Here is the in view and you can see I setup just away from the reservoir with a slight hill that blocks any light from Vernon. If there aren't people at the reservoir its decent to set up there but in the summer had mosquito repellent.






















The next image shows Pit n Pole (on the far right). The maker in the middle or the second from the right edge is down the road from Pit n Pole and elevated about 800 feet above that site and it is down the southern dirt road that is across from the MesoNet Weather Station which is right next to the Pony Express Marker. During the day the site is used for target practice by shooters but they are gone at night, I've never had a car come by this area and we've had 5 scopes out here with room for several more.

The left most (or third marker) is a site I've been to during the day but it has been about a year. It is wider than Pit n Pole and is a higher in elevation so I don't think humidity will be an issue and has great southern skies and the other portion of the skies as Pit n Pole. I need to use this site with a couple of observing friends and see how it is to be out there until say 2:00a.m.

This is the wide view of course.

I am often asked why Pit n Pole in the fall, sometimes in the winter (freezing frost) and in the spring has dew problems. Well, if you look at this image you can see a dry lake bed next to the site and the site sits low and the dew forms from being close to this dry lake bed. Though a very good site it is why some try to find other sites though they may be farther away.





















Here is Pit n Pole:



















I call the second site from the right, the one down from the weather tower (Mesonet) and the Pony Express Marker the Pony Express Marker South. You can clearly see it and the Pit n Pole location and the distance between them. There is also a site just behind the Pony Express Marker (there is a dirt road there) that is wide and flat but it is very dusty. I didn't mark or show that site on this map as it is just to the north of the dirt road that takes you to left hand site in the image below.






















Here is the third site I am really wanting to try out.





















I have a blog entry on the next site if you search you'll find it but it is a winter observing spot called Tibble Fork Reservoir. The map shows the road is closed and it can be in bad winter conditions, but in clear conditions it is open. The do have winter activities at Tibble Fork Reservoir as this link shows. The tubing or sledding is a wonderful activity to go up and do as is the snow shoeing.

Anyway, in the evening at Tibble Fork there is a large parking lot and it is deserted more often than not and you can set up there for a wonderful and cold night of observing. There is a mountain to the south, up to 30 degrees but the views are really good there if you need a quick winter escape. Here is a map:






















The last one is the Lakeside site that many frequent. Here is the map and this site or the Knolls is also wonderful to go to. No or little humidity (usually) and great dark skies.



















Lakeside is the one on the right, the one on the upper left is a site I use if the humidity is too high to use the Lakeside site. It is up in elevation and avoids the humidity and it actually warmer.

There are other sites I could post, but I think that is enough for now. Again, I hope that this helps someone out. If your local, stay warm as it has been snowing on and off all evening and be safe if your traveling anywhere.

Jay

11/11/2011

Pease 1 or Kuestner 648 in Messier 15





















Image taken from the Hubble Space Telescope

I was going to just edit my last blog post, but I decided instead to enter this information on its own. If you go to the blog post before this one, dated November 6th, 2011, I have entered my information on finding the planetary nebula in the globular cluster Messier 15 in Pegasus. This post is to share the information on how to find it with those who may want to go after it themselves.

Here is the link to the Blackskies.org findercharts for Pease 1. These are the best you can get and though it eats some ink up, I recommend that you print them out and use them as you go after them. I did and it really did help.

In this link you will find actual observations that are written on the BlackSkies.org site from amateurs who successful chased down this object. I post these as you may find them useful, especially the photo on the bottom on the page. That last recorded observation on that website is 10/7/2004.

The wonderful Czech amateur astronomer Leos Ondra has a 12 year old article on Pease 1 located here that is still a wonderful read. Even if you have no intention of looking at this object, you should read the article as he touches on why so few planetary nebula are found in globular clusters (has something to do with these things called pulsars and the amount of them and the wind they create . . . but go read the article). For that matter you may find some of his articles on his web page interesting so this is the link to them. I look forward to reading his article on what was then a new variable in the Dumbbell Nebula; the article on Wilhelm Tempel, the discoverer of the Pleiades, and his article on Messier 5 and its variables. Be warned, his links on his webpage are no good for some of the article but I simply googled his first and last name and the name of the article and found them. Here is the one on Messier 5 and its variables. Looks like I have some nice quick and enjoyable reading for the snowy nights this weekend where I live here in Utah.

Hubble checked out M15 and Pease1 and here is a link to the images (yes, I think it looks like a tiny dumbbell or even a tie-fighter from Star Wars). From the site I share two comments. The first is that "the surface temperature of the central star of K 648 is about 70,000 degrees Fahrenheit (40,000 degrees Celsius), and analysis of the Hubble data indicates that the star's remaining mass is only 60 percent that of our Sun. The star's outer layers were ejected some 4,000 years ago (i.e., before the light we see was emitted)."

There is a mystery to how the planetary formed because "at the present time, the most massive stars remaining in M15 have about 80 percent of the mass of our Sun, a fact that makes the existence of a planetary nebula like K 648 something of a mystery. The Hubble images used to make this image were taken to test the idea that the progenitor of K 648 may have "borrowed" some mass from a nearby stellar companion. No such companion was revealed by Hubble, so the mystery remains unsolved. One possibility is that the progenitor of K 648 was two stars, which then merged together to become the single star now seen at the center of the nebula"

Finally, Steve Gottlieb at this link offers a finder chart via images to find Pease 1 and some other fun faint early winter items. I enjoy Steve's stuff a lot and encourage you to read that piece also.

There's other images available online with descriptions if you search under Pease 1. I just wanted to kinda of bring all of them together here. Hope someone finds it useful.

11/06/2011

Observing Sessions: 10/19, 10/22-23, 10/29-30/2011; Lookout Pass, Lakeside, Pit n Pole, Utah

I am home sick today, with an extremely bad cold. I hate when I miss work but I am under doctor orders to take a sick day for the next six months if I get a severe cold since I had pneumonia in September, for the second time this year. My immune system is still recovering from the last year and so I need to rest. So after this post, I am heading back to bed, hoping my medicine has kicked in by then so I can get some more rest.

Well, the end of October brought several observing opportunities for me and a few friends. Some were good outings, some were not so good. So I'll try to recap them now. On October 19th, 2011, my friend Mat and I went out and tried a location I have used in the past near Lookout Pass. Lookout Pass is up at about 5600 feet, higher than the Pit n Pole Site I and others frequently use. Here is a map to its location:















You drive past Pit n Pole to the Faust Station (past the 3 railroad tracks and down the road to the highway). You turn left as if your heading to Vernon and then wait for the marker for the Pony Express Road which is a gravel road. Turn right there and then follow the map out. When I was last at this site, there were no ruts in the road off the Pony Express Road but now someone last winter, had taken a four wheel drive and made some pretty big ruts so be careful in a car out there. My Pathfinder made it out there just fine as did Mat's minivan. You have a nice are to set up in here, with Cedar trees behind you and you can use the Cedar Trees to block any stray light from Vernon. These lights are less impact to one than the lights from the Weapon Depot, but Vernon is to the south-east to where the weapons depot is to the norht-west of Pit n Pole.

The atmosphere this night was not very good for viewing, and horrible for seeing galaxies. I failed trying to find NGC 7042 twice tonight because of the conditions. I know I was in the right area as the finder chart matched, but just couldn't make it out. Later I would learn why. I did bag the following item:

Date: 10/19/2011 Time: 09:30p.m. MDT; Location: Lookout Pass, Rush Valley; Seeing: Antoniadi IV to V; Conditions: Mild, high thin clouds and cloud mixture.
Object: NGC 7156 Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus. Mag. 10.3; RA 21h 59m 7s Dec. +3 degrees 50m 8 s. Instrument: XX14i Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW

Notes: This is a very faint, roundish galaxy, a Herschel 400 II object. The strong winds aloft make it hard to see. Basically a smudge with a 11th to 12th magnitude stars next to it. Maybe a hint of brightness near the core, some mottling evident.

I did spend some time with Messier 15 and that led to an attempt to sketch it but the clouds came in and we packed up. I also tried for several other objects and I viewed some eye candy in Cygnus but there really wasn't much to report.

My friend Jorge wanted to try on Sunday night so I gave it a shot, anxious to get some work on some lists done. This night I went to Pit n Pole, October 20th, and conditions were not that much better. I got in some eye candy in Sagitarrius and then noticed that I had a H-400 open cluster to get done that I had missed so I went after that and got it.

Date: 10/23/2011 Time: 08:35p.m. MDT / 10/24/2011 02:35 UT; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah. Seeing: Antoniadi III; Conditions: Mild, lots of vapor and cirrus clouds. Object: NGC 752 open cluster in Andromeda. Mag. 5.7; Size: 75'; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 27mm Panoptic.

Notes: Very large open cluster and it is across from 58 Andromeda. Two stars are next to it that are very close and bright in the finder. This is a very rich open cluster with well over 100 stars in evident, more wanting to peep out. Very long and loose chains on the outer portion of the cluster leading to smaller chains with less distance between the stars as you work your way in to the center of the cluster. A very nice open cluster, one I'll come back and visit.

I sketched this one so here is the sketch.
























That was about all I got that night, before packing it up and heading home. Weather had nailed me I guess for my visit south. However, then came the night of October 22, 2011. On October 22, 2011, the weather had been iffy during the day, but I spent a half an hour or so really looking over the weather charts and satellite data. I find with Clear Sky Clock if I click on an hour when I want to observe at a site and then advance for 6 hours, I can then use my back and forward buttons on my browser to get an idea of what the forecast is from them. Next, I combine that with what I see in Skippy Astronomer Forecast and those two then go with what I get from my local National Weather Service. Everything this day said go, so I went. I took a new friend this night, Josh, who is working on building his own scope so I took my XT10 to let him use it that evening. I had the 14 reflector with me and off we went. My friends George, Dave Rankin (who I called Tyler for Tyler Allred at one point), Jorge and Ian showed up to either observe or image out there. Well, Jorge images in the dark with his camera and Ian, Josh and I visually observed.

I gave Josh some tips on how to use the Pocket Sky Atlas and a Planisphere and the XT10 with the Telrad, finder scope and eyepiece to nail objects. He did quite well considering I didn't bring a laser to help him. So before I go farther I'll share some images of the site in b/w. This is where we set up, just by something we call the bern which is a raised wall. On the other side in the spring there is a drinking hole/spring for animals and cows to drink from. By late spring and summer and fall the cows stay away from here.



















Another view of the set up area.



















The XX14i and the XT10 set up, both collimated and both cooling their mirrors (that makes me think of a song by the group Boston).




















No promise that the movie will show up here or will work. I often have problems with them on this blog but I'll give it a try. Oh, yes, I was getting giddy as conditions continued to improve as twilight came up on us. I was excited to observe if you can't tell.



video




I had a very productive night this night viewing over 30 objects (that is high for me) and getting some sketch time in. So, here we go with observations and sketches, then I'll mention what else I did. It did get down to around 28 degrees F that night.

Object: NGC 7448 Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. Date: 10/22/11; Time: 08:35p.m. MDT; Location: Lakeside, UT; Antoniadi II; Conditions: Clear, Cold. RA 23 h 00m 3.7s Dec. +15 degrees 58m 5.0s; Mag. 11.5; Size: 2.7'x1.2'; Instrument: XX14i and 10mm Pentax XW.
Notes: Bright core with elongated halo around the core. The galaxy is elongated NW-SE.



















I now began working both individual galaxy and galaxy groups in Pegasus. The area and the 20" had whetted my appetite enough that I wanted to see what the 14 can do. The other reason is I want to compare some of these objects when the new mirror comes for Carl Zambuto. Anyway, I ended up on the next object which are two wonderful elliptical galaxies that are surrounded by other galaxies in the area. I need to do a wide field sketch of this region.

Object: NGC 7619 & NGC 7626 Elliptical Galaxies in Pegasus. Date: 10/22/2011; Time: 11:01p.m. MDT; Location: Lakeside, UT; Seeing Antoniadi I; Conditions: Clear and COLD; RA: 22h 20m 4.5 s; Dec. +08 degrees 12m 21 s; Mag. 11.3; Size: 2.5'x2.3'; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW;
Notes:
Bright elongated core wit ha very stellar nucleus. Halo is diffused around the core and is also elongated. Sits NE-SW and has a very typical elliptical shape to it. This is the brightest member of the Pegasus I galaxy cluster. NGC 7617 was visible but I did not include it in this sketch

NGC 7626 Elliptical Galaxy in Pegasus; Date: 10/22/11; Time: 11:16p.m. MDT; Location: Lakeside, UT; Seeing: Antoniadi I; Conditions: Clear, COLD; Mag. 11.5; Size: 2.6'x2.3; RA 23h 20m 42.6m; Dec: +08 degrees 13m 01s; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW;
Notes:
Faint stellar core and the core is evident. Core is surrounded by an elongated halo. This elliptical is a hair smaller than NGC 7626 in the eyepiece. No other structure is visible. This is the second brightest member of the Pegasus I galaxy cluster. View NGC 7631 and I need to return to sketch that one also. Basically NGC 7631 is a very tilted spiral galaxy, with a hint of brightness near the core. No nucleus is evident.


















With conditions being this good, when I got done with the Pegasus I cluster I went hunting for that little sneak that had eluded me, NGC 7042 and I nailed it.

Object: NGC 7042 Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus; Date: 10/22/2011; Time: 11:40p.m. MDT; Location: Lakeside, Utah; Seeing: Antoniadi I; Conditions: Clear and COLD; Mag. 12.2; Size: 2.0' x 1.8'; RA 21h 13m 45.9s; Dec +13 degrees 24m 28s; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW;
Notes:
I have mentioned I failed on this object on several times due to conditions and tonight I know why. This galaxy took the fantastic seeing of this night in order to bag it. It is extremely faint, roundish object with no structure evident. Well, after looking more, perhaps a hint of structure? I did find it interesting that this object is in the NGC/IC Database online but not in the Fall/Winter Night Sky Observer's Guide.





















I had the itch to go after Pease 1 tonight in M15 but I left my finder charts at home so I decided to do what I had intended out at Lookout Pass, which was to sketch Messier 15. So here it is, much larger than it appears but I took the magnification up really high on this one. Messier 13 is fabulous, but I have to admit that Messier 15 is my favorite globular.


















Object: NGC 7814 Sprial Galaxy in Pegasus; Date: 10/23/11; Time: 01:07a.m. MDT; Location: Lakeside UT; Seeing: Antoniadi I; Conditions: Clear and Cold; Mag: 10.6; Size: 6.0 x 2.5; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW;
Notes:
This is a bright, large galaxy with a bright core that is broad and well condensed. It has a stellar nucleus that is faint but yet sticks out. The core's brightness seems to extend out but I see no hint of the dust lane that exists in photographs of this object. A fun galaxy. I don't like how I ended up cluttering up this sketch.



















We actually had a lot of fun that night and I wished I had sketched Jupiter that night. I don't know what it is but Jupiter, the XX14i and Lakeside just go with fantastic seeing. The GRS was marvelous, the structures on the clouds were evident and nicely so, and the image was crisp and clear. I spent time in Auriga and showed of Messier 36, 37 and 38, also NGC 1931, and Messier 35. I hadn't viewed any of these items save NGC 1931 for two years now. NGC 2158 stood out this night so evidently with the Panoptic 27mm. It looked like this image and I wished I had sketched this one. Just put NGC 2158 in the lower left corner.














The one thing that I will remember for this session, for a very long time, is the excitement that Josh had when I showed him Messier 42, the Orion Nebula for the very first time in the XX14i. His wow, excitement and thrill was something I wished I had recorded because we only view M42 for the first time once. His excitement and thrill of seeing it made me excited. The filaments were there as threads, and the actual nebula with the trapezium looked 3D. It was an incredible view and one I should have taken the time to capture but it was late, like 4:00a.m. and I had to tear down the XX14i, the XT10 and load up. It made me think back to my first time and the first time I shared the view with my son in our backyard. I really enjoy those moments with my kids, when we look through the scope in the backyard and share that experience together. M42 will always be Nathan's Nebula to me because of that. I will always think of my son when I gaze on M42 and I think that is what Josh reminded me of. The fact that we observe, we sketch, we take images, and we learn of the science behind these items is great. Yet in the end, it is a human being who is making connections with the universe, the natural world, with themselves and hopefully with others that makes this such a magical hobby. At least for me.

So on October 29th, 2011 I got to go out one more time before the moon and the weather changed. This time a group of us went to Pit n Pole and the group included Jorge, Mat, Josh, Mark and myself. Mark is a teacher, who built his own dob and did a beautiful job with it (I posted a picture earlier this summer of it, it has the wooden truss poles). He teachers wood shop and has a virtual shop at his house. He also brought a two burner heater and it is a good thing as it got cold, down to 19 degrees F that night. I also had my new little heater and I put it under the table and it kept me nice and warm. More on that in a coming post later this week.


Object: Pease 1 in Messier 15 a globular cluster in Pegasus; October 29th, 2011; Time: 08:25p.m. -10:15p.m. MDT; Location: Pit n Pole, Tooele Co. Utah; Seeing: Antoniadi II; Conditions: Clear and cold; Mag. 15.5; RA 21h 30m 02s; Dec. +12 degrees 10m 2 seconds; Instrument: XX14i with 7mmPentax and 2x Powermate; Filter: OIII

I was really selfish to begin the night. The seeing was an Antoniadi II to I up top and I had brought my Pease I charts so I went for Messier 15 first thing. Once there I brought magnification to the glob and found the trapezium of stars as in the finder chart from Freeman's site. I then followed the star hop using the 7mm Pentax XW and a Powermate 2X. From the star hops I was able to get in the general area after several attempts and then using my OIII filter, I was able to blink the planetary to confirm I had found it. Now that sounds a lot easier than it was and it takes a lot of time and effort and redoing hops several times to get there. It was faint and it took me adjusting to what the OIII filter does to the globular to really be able to view it. The PN was at about 6 o'clock of the core, just off of it actually (depending on one held ones head at the eyepiece). Mat came over and confirmed the finding and the placement as did Jorge. Now I just need to get the one in Messier 22 next summer!

Processing a sketch. Will post it when I get the time to process it.

Object: NGC 7177 Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus; Date: 10/29/11; Time: 11:26p.m. MDT; Location: Pit n Pole, Tooele Co. Utah; Seeing: Antoniadi II; Conditions: Clear and cold; Mag. 11.4; Size: 3.1'x2.0'; RA 22h 00 m 41.2 s; Dec: +17 degrees 44 m 16 s; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW;
Notes:

A face on spiral galaxy that is small in size but very bright. Sites next to a 13th to 14th magnitude star. Bright inner stellar core that is surrounded by a bright halo with diffusion around the bright inner core. I actually have these recorded and a funny item here. There were a couple of guys in a pickup out shooting with a semi-automatic gun. They had driven by our area and had seen us and left it alone but it makes for some interesting recording! Oh, they were spot lighting and I believe hunting rabbits or other animals or just shooting things up.




















Object: IC 351 Planetary Nebula in Perseus; Date: 10/29/2011; Time: 10:55p.m. MDT; Location: Pit n Pole, Tooele Co. Utah; Seeing: Antoniadi II; Conditions: Clear and Cold: RA: 03h 47m 33.14s; Dec. +35 degrees 02m 48.5s; Apparent Magnitude: 12; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece 14mm, 10mm 7mm Pentax XW; Filter: Tried Ultrablock NB but OIII worked better.
Notes:
I had a hard time finding this PN for some reason this night. Roundish and faint.




















Object(s) NGC 7339 & NGC 7332, Spiral Galaxies in Pegasus (edge on); Date: 10/30/2011; Time: 12:15a.m. MDT; Location: Pit n Pole, Tooele Co. Utah; Seeing: Antoniadi II; Conditions: Clear and Cold; NGC 7339 mag. 12.5; Size: 3.0'x0.7'; RA 22h 37m 47.5s; Dec. +23 degrees 47m 11s; NGC 7332: Mag. 11.2; Size 4.1'x1.1'; RA 22h 37m 24.5s; Dec +23 degrees 47m 54s; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW;
Notes:
NGC 7339: Edge on galaxy that is below NGC 7332, and in a way the tip of NGC 7339 points to NGC 7332. Slight concentration of light in the middle, a hint of mottling was evident. This galaxy shows no tips like NGC 7332 and is much more diffused overall. Highly recommend you check this pair out.
NGC 7332: An outstanding edge on galaxy that has an elongated bright core with a stellar nucleus in the center. Tapered ends were evident at 165x. This is a must see fall galaxy if you haven't had the opportunity and is relatively easy to find.

I won't include here my Abell galaxies hunt, as I think I'll make a new page up for that. I want to keep this mainly for the Herschel 400 and 400 II that is probably going to grow into the the Herschel 2500. So I hope you have good weather, I'm not. It snowed here twice in the last 4 days. A couple of inches and it melts by afternoon but still. No lunar or double star viewing for me. I'm off to bed now, and hope everyone stays healthy and keeps looking upward.