Observing Report, Night of April 27th and 28th, 2011; New Sketching Method and Testing of some Apps

Well the clouds parted for me on April 27th and it was a beautiful day. I went out to my local site that is 45 minutes away . . . I got there in 40 minutes this night but luckily wasn't speed when I passed two police SUV's parked on the side of the road in a community called Eagle Mountain. I had a local friend show up, Mark and Mark had a newbie friend (both Mark and his friend are older than me). I set up the XX14i and got it collimated before dark and then just set up the rest of my stuff. In the field this night I tried out several new things, the 27mm Panoptic got its first light; I tested several Apps this night and I tried out the new sketching method based on Scott Mellish method as shared by Alex that I had in an earlier post.

First, the items I observed and the new sketches.

Here's a copy of some notes I have on the session:

It was a wonderful night out there. Mark and his friend showed up and we
looked at several galaxies over in Virgo including M87 and M84 and
Markarian's chain of galaxies. We also looked at Saturn and it was always
neat to hear someone knew just really begin to comprehend how far away these
objects are.

Mark and his friend left around 10:00p.m. and I went to work on my list for
that night. I observed and sketched the following items (using the Scott
Mellish Sketching Technique which is using white and gray pastel on black
paper, applying the pastel in layers with various paint brushes. This method
gives a much improved realistic look in my opinion). I found 165x to 235x
worked really well this night. The seeing wasn't quite good enough for 330x
except for moments of clarity. Antoniadi II this night at zenith.

1. Object:NGC 4361 Planetary Nebula in Corvus. 4/28/2011, 05:26 UT; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Antoniadi II, Clear, Cool to Cold; Size: 1.9'x1.9' Mag. 10.2; XX14i, 10mm & 14mm Pentax XW; Narrowband Filter:
Both with a narrowband filter and w/o the filter this PN was rather large, easily viable and looked almost like a galaxy in the EP. 13th mag central star was easily visible at 165x. Nice
object to view but I love PN's. Seems somewhat irregular in shape, roundish to irregular perhaps, or the edge is not defined well, yes, edge is not defined well. At first only a grayish color, then a tinge hint of green with it.

2. Object: NGC 4027 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Corvus. Date: 4/28/11; Time 06:00 UT; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Antoniadi II, clear and cold; Size: 3.8'x2.3'; Mag. 11.2; Instrument: XX14i; EP: 10mm Pentax XW, 7mm Pentax XW;

Wonderful object! Large barred spiral galaxy with a bright inner core, almost stellar; the bar is evident here. A large spiral arm is off the northern edge going to the east, very easily seen with mixture of averted and direct vision. The sketch I made really captures what I was able to see with time, apply visual basics like averted vision and breathing techniques. Just had a blast with this one.

3. Object: NGC 3729 SG in Ursa Major; Date: 04/28/11; Time: 03:48 UT; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Antoniadi II, clear and cool; Size: 3.1'x2.2'; Mag. 11.4; Instrument: XX14i, Eyepiece: 27mm Panoptic as finder; 10mm Pentax XW for details;

Faint stellar core with a brighter halo surrounding it. Elongated north to south. A 11th magnitude star is nearby as is NGC 3718.

4. Object: NGC 3619 SP in Ursa Major; Date: 4/28/11; Time: 04:29UT; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Antoniadi II, clear and cold; Size: 3.7'x2.8'; Instrument: XX14i; EP: 27mm Panoptic and 10mm Pentax XW.

Bright stellar core with a bright halo surrounding it, and the halo is diffused. Appears face on. NGC 3625 is nearby and included in the sketch.

5. Object: NGC 4038/39 BSG/Irregular Galaxies in Corvus. Date: 4/28/11; Time: 06:27 UT; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Size: 11.2'x5.9'; Mag. 10.5; Instrument: XX14i, EP: 10mm Pentax XW.

NGC 4038 is the H400 object, but the galaxies are merging here. They are Irregular Barred Spiral Galaxy for NGC 4038. Wonderful pair of interacting galaxies also known as The Antenna due to the tails they form in photographs. Very evident interacting with each other.
NGC 4039 looked like a kidney shaped galaxy, or better yet a shrimp like
shape with NGC 4038 being irregular (both are irregular). Brightening at the center, though no nucleus is discern. At the eastern end I can see where the galaxies connect with a faint hint of a tail at the eastern end, perhaps going south, though I am not positive of that. Very able to discern a lane of darkness between them where they are not joined. Wonderful pair and with NGC 4027 would be two excellent and close targets to image for someone wanting that.

6. NGC 3962 Elliptical Galaxy in Crater. I need to find my notes and sketch on this one, so I will update this posting.

7. NGC 4594 Spiral Galaxy edge on in Virgo; Date: 4/28/11; Time: 07:00 UT; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Antoniadi II, clear & cold; Size: 7.1'x4.4'; Mag. 8; Instrument: XX14i; EP: 10mm Pentax XW.

Also known as Messier 104 or the Sombrero Galaxy. As always, wonderful object and the dust lane really snapped out in the 10mm and 7mm Pentax XW. Core is brightening near the center. Wonderful view in the XX14i and the Pentax XW 7mm & 10mm. I already have this for the H400 but I wanted to end on it again and resketch it. I need to process the sketch and then I'll add the new sketch here.

8. Object: NGC 4856 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Virgo. I will add the details and sketch, its tucked away and I won't be able to get to it for a few days.

This ended my Herschel 400 hunt for the night. Here are some other areas I observed:

Saturn: Wonderful as always. I would love to see Saturn in the Refractor at
SPOC using the 10mm Pentax XW. I'll hopefully do that soon.

M13 in Hercules. Hercules was well up by the time 2:20a.m. came around so
I went and took in a tremendous look at 165x and 330x. I saw more stars and
chains of stars than I remember this night. Wonderful detail and again the
detail just snapped out. I can't wait to sketch this one using the new sketching method!

M65, M66 and NGC 3628 in Leo. I showed these to Mark and his friend and now
came back to them. I was trying out the Panoptic 27mm I had received and all
I can say is WOW! I've seen all 3 in the same FOV but the 27mm Pan. just had
them all there with a gorgeous view. Glad I went with the 27mm over the 24mm
because of the improved eye relief and slightly larger field of view (not
much). I used it as my finder all night and then just popped in the 1 1/4
adapter with the Pentax XW I was using and it worked like a charm.

Antares: Double Star in Scorpius.

Messier 4 in Scorpius; Globular Cluster Fun as always, wonderful detail and
reminds me how close we are getting to summer. Here is a sketch of M4:

Messier 80 or NGC 6093 Globular Cluster in Scorpius

Messier 107 Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus

Now it was late, and it was just starting to show some signs of frost so I
packed up and got home around 3:30a.m. Just a tremendous night and a good
one to be out. Now if I can get a few more like that before the moon gets
in the way.


Panoptic 27mm. I have and used the 24mm Panoptic from my brother-in-law but I am so glad I ordered the 27mm Panoptic. Just a nudge more in FOV though the eye relief was perfect for me with my prescription with eye glasses. Beautiful contrast, and stars were pretty good except perhaps in the last 5 percent to 10 percent on the edge. A Paracorr will clear that up and its not the eyepieces fault. This is a keeper and my finder eyepiece.

Apps I tried with Mark and his friend on the iPad. We used StarmapPro and Star Walk. Both programs in their night vision mode (which was still bright) worked well in the twilight as the darkness deepened at the observing site. Using the compass feature allowed us to know where stars were going to pop out and provided good information. Mark's friend was able to use it to view where some objects would be, including Saturn. I tried to use the App iPushTo but because I did not have the iPad linked to the wireless network, it did not work in the field. If I had the azmuith and altitude readings, I could have found objects that way. After Mark and his friend left, I enjoyed the silence of the evening and then in the early morning, feeling a little lonely, I turn on C10 Astronomy out of UC Berkeley by Alex Filippenko and his TA's from a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the company of the podcast as I continued to work into the evening. When it was time to clean up, Alex went off and Rush came on, starting with Tom Sawyer and going on to their other hits.

Well, you can judge for yourself on the new sketching method. I personally, REALLY like it. I still have some things to work on, but overall I am very pleased. I need to get a stiffer brush for detail with a sharper point and I need to figure out how to make the lightening work. My red light was almost too dim for this method but that is an easy fix. Also, I noticed that gray did not brush on very well. because it is very hard to see under a red light. I am sure these are just more experience in doing the process, but I am very happy with the result. Thus I haven't made a digital sketch of these.

Well, I have some more posts over the next day or to, one being a reviewed of the Cambridge Atlas of the Herschel Objects and then another Atlas. I'll try to get to that. I should have a couple of sessions over the next week as well. I am very excited about that IF the weather will clear, warm up and hold. Congrats to Prince William and his bride Catherine. I hope they have a happier life than his parents did. That's up to them I guess.