Observing Session July 23rd and July 24th 2011

Well on Saturday night a local club member, Jeff P. got a hold of a 10 inch Zambuto mirror and we took his XT10i and my XT10 out to Pit n Pole and did another comparison of the two mirrors. There is no doubt who won but I don't want to take Jeff's reflection/post that he'll do on Cloudy Nights. I had the XX14i out there as well and it performed quite well. I have an audio recording and I'll be posting that up on the blog in the next day or two after I add some images to the audio so I can post it.

On Sunday, July 24th, 2011 I went back out to Pit n Pole and got the XX14i totally back to working order (I had the mirrors out and the base apart), well, sort of. The intelliscope worked for a moment and then went wild with its warp. So I need to make some adjustments with that (I played with it for about 45 minutes which was a waste). I like it when it is working, I don't like it when it doesn't work as it is a waste of time because in that 45 minutes I could have star hopped to a half dozen objects or to two or three Herschels and done an observation and a sketch.

Well I was working on my collimation, my friend Jorge showed up and set up next to me. I had been tweaking some things and had to stand up to stretch my back when I noticed that about 15 yards away, we had a new visitor. Here is a couple of blurry images:

Sorry, another picture:

When I first got there, I noticed that down in Pit was some Antelope droppings, some old and some fresh ones. Yet I wasn't expecting this buck to come walking up that dirt road you see just to the left of the pole, look at us and then turn to the left. He kept on walking and eventually changed directions back toward the main road and then to the east. That night for about an hour and a half he was relatively close again and made some grunting like noises, clamped his hoofs a couple of times and just made some noise moving around. He got close a couple of times so I simply shouted out and we never had an issue with him again. I've observed where pronghorn are, and have seen them, but this adult male buck was good size and not afraid of us. It is the closest to the wild pronghorn I have ever been and I have to say, it was cool to see him that close.

So after playing with the intelliscope I gave up and went to the star atlas and my printed maps to get my July Herschels done (I have like 7 to do). I got six done and will present five here tonight. The sky this night was rather iffy, lots of twinkle in the upper atmosphere as the jet stream was shifting round a moving high pressure that brought some rain and thunderstorms in this evening. I put it initially at an Antoniadi IV and then moved it down to a III later in the evening. At zenith (up top) the sky was an Antoniadi III. Having said that, it was clear, dark, and the Milky Way just shown with its dark lanes being very visible.

1. NGC 6293 Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus; July 24th, 2011; 10:34p.m. or 04:34UT on 7/24/11; Clear conditions; Antoniadi IV; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley UT; Mag. 8.3; Size: 8.2' XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW;

Small globular with a bright core. There are stars resolved in the globular with both direct and averted vision. The core is about 1/4 the size of the halo that makes up the globular cluster and there appears to be a chain running to the northeast; this gives the globular an almost diamond shape appearance.

Object: NGC 6355 Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus; Date: July 24th, 2011; Time: 11:20p.m. MDT or 05:20UT on 7/25/11; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Antoniadi IV-III; Mag: 8.6; Size 4.2'; Instruments: XX14i & 10mm Pentax XW;

A very small and faint globular cluster, almost galaxy like in appearance. 165x shows a stellar/pinpoint core and then a somewhat brighter halo around that inner core, with a diffused halo around that brighter halo. Averted vision shows a mottled type appearance. No chains of stars evident and perhaps a few stars are viewable though I believe they are foreground stars.

Object: NGC 6316 Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus; Date: July 24th, 2011; Time: 11:45p.m. MDT or 05:45UT on 7/25/11; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; Mag. 8.1; Size: 5.4'; Antoniadi III; Instruments: XX14i w/ 10mm Pentax XW.

This globular cluster is small, yet has a somewhat bright core. The core is white and round and about 1/2 the size of the entire halo of the globular. No stars are evident or resolved and no chains of course are evident then. Again another globular that appears more like a galaxy.

Object: NGC 6304 Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus; Date: July 25th, 2011; Time: 12:18a.m. MDT or 06:18UT same date: Mag. 8.3; Size: 8.0'; Instruments: XX14i w/ 10mm Pentax XW; Antoniadi III;

Small globular cluster with no real core. No resolved stars are evident and no major detail. One item did stick out and it appeared that form the core a bright line seem to come out which I included in the sketch. The globular was somewhat irregular in shape.

Object: NGC 6451 Open Cluster in Scorpius: Date: July 25th, 2011; Time: 12:55a.m. or 06:55UT same date; Antoniadi III; Mag. 9.2; Size 8.0'; Instruments: XX14i w/ 27mm Panoptic;

In the Panoptic this appears as a small and tight cluster but it is rather medium size in terms of size and medium rich in the number of stars in view. Relatively bright and easy to discern as it sites in a equilateral triangle. Many stars in view and many more wanting to pop out. One that I'll come back to and take a look at with higher magnification.

Yes, I did this one digitally based on the sketch. You may have to click on this one to see the open cluster.

I also took time and examined Stephen's Quintet. It was better at Lakeside last September when it was in the southern sky more near zenith. All five were viewable but seeing limited them to being somewhat faint. NGC 7331 was nearby of course. Also took in the Helix Nebula and that was a wonderful site in the 27mm Panoptic. It was late and the moon was about to pop but that is one item that I am going to sketch this next weekend if the weather cooperates. Also Jorge and I looked at Jupiter as it was higher up now and saw the banding and the four moons. It was nice to see Jupiter again and brings back good memories of observing in the later portion of the summer of 2010 and the early fall of 2011. I saw some other objects, and I think I want to see the Snake Nebula this next weekend also. So much to see, not enough time! I hope the weather is great this week where you are and you get out.

Edit: My friend and observing mate Jorge took the following two pictures of our friendly visitor or Buck Antelope that wanted to Star Gaze. Please click on them for the larger version.