Observing Session September 24th, 2011 Rush Valley

As I stated in my previous post, this last weekend there was an RV parked at the Pit n Pole site where I normally observe with RV's and they stayed through the weekend. So I headed down 2 miles to the Pony Express Marker and the MesoNet Weather Rod next to the marker and turned south on a dirt road. On Saturday I think I began to turn the corner on this pneumonia as I began to feel better and am so much better today as I write this.

This road took me to the top of a ridge where I could see the Pit n Pole site and I estimated I was up about 300 to 500 feet above the Pit n Pole location. Why is that important? The Pit is a decent site for a quick four hour session come fall and winter. I saw the Horsehead Nebula there twice in the winter from its location. However, because it is next to an ancient lake, dew can really come up. This new site provides an opportunity to get above that. So I thought I would share some images of the location. The only drawback is that it is used as a target practice area and there are lots of rifle and shotgun shells around, more than what I find at the Pit. It is also much more dusty than the Pit but then again, it is a desert.

This image is taken right after I turned off the Pony Express main road and onto the dirt road. I passed a photographer and a young couple that looked like they were taking their engagement pictures. I went really slow by them as I didn't want to dust their suit and dress. She was a rather stunning young woman and he was equally as handsome. They should make a fine pair.

Next shows the increase in elevation as I approached the lip of the ridge. Yes, the road is bumpy, has groves and one has to be careful if your in a car.

Right before I go up to the top of the ridge and to the observing area.

Here you can see my shadow as I take a picture facing southeast.

Back in the short distance you can see the ridge line that I came over and this is where there is a nice wide turnout where people target shoot but where there is more than enough room to set up and observe.

This is from the edge of the ridge that I drove over and if you click on the picture and make it larger, you can see the photographer, the young woman and man that were taking pictures. You can also make out the road and the Pony Express Monument/Marker and the tower that is the Mesonet Weather Station.

The white object in the middle of this image is the RV at the Pit n Pole location, providing a reference to where that site is from this one.

Another view of Pit n Pole from the site. This time I zoomed in with the tiny digital camera.

Here you can see the pull out from the main dirt road. It forms a Y here and the left branch circles around the area and back to the main road. You can set up on the edge of the branch or in the central area which is what I did, trying to cut down on the dust.

The observing area looking west. The dried sage and brush did help to keep dust down and it was rather flat here. I got .4 and a .5 warp here on the intelliscope.

Looking south from the main road next to the observing area.

Scope set up, collimated and ready for a night of observing! Looking north.

Scope ready to go looking south to south-west.

Here comes the night!


Now to the night of observing. On this night, it was simply me and Jorge and we both went to work on the objects we were going to observe and/or photograph. I am going to list my objects and some may be out of order, so please forgive my sloppiness on this post. Two the sketches on the PN's are posted correct here but the information on their sketch is wrong. I will be updating and correcting that this weekend.

On Friday I mentioned I observed NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula and NGC 23 a Galaxy in Pegasus.

1. NGC 7635 The Bubble Nebula. Date: 9/23/11. Time: 11:15p.m. MDT or 05:15 UT on 9/24/11. Location: Pony Express Monument Hill South; Conditions: Clear, cool; Antoniadi II; Constellation: Cassiopeia; Reflection Nebula; Magnitude: 10.0; Size: 15' x 8'; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece 10mm Pentax XW; Filter: Ultrablock Narrowband.

The Bubble showed itself very well tonight and was easily seen next to its very bright star. SW to SE portion of the Bubble is brighter with the SW the brightest and fades away to the SE. NW somewhat bright and getting darker as you curve around there. Wonderful object as always.

2. Object: NGC 23; Date: 9/24/11; Time: 12:25p.m. MDT; Location: Pony Express Monument Hill South; Conditions: Clear, cool. Seeing: Antoniadi II; Constellation: Pegasus; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 14mm Pentax XW and 10mm Pentax XW;

Small galaxy with a very bright inner core surrounded by diffusion. Some mottling on the diffusion. 13th magnitude star near the core. Nothing spectacular. No sketch made.

3. Object: NGC 6445 The Box Nebula; Constellation: Sagitarrius; September 24th, 2011; Conditions: Clear, Mild; Location: Pony Express Hill South; Seeing: Antoniadi II; Planetary Nebula; Magnitude: 11.2; Size: 2.8' x 0.9; Instruments: XX14i; Eyepiece: 7mm Pentax XW; Filter: Ultrablock NB;

Rather bright, close to a double star system to the northwest. PN is next to a 12th to 13th magnitude star and two more stars above the PN. PN is bright, has two rounded dumbbells/lobes on each end, with some darkness in the middle of the PN. NW lobe is the brighter of the two lobes. Nice PN to revisit since my last visit about a year ago.

5. Object: NGC 6210 PN in Hercules; Location: Pony Express Monument South Hill; Seeing: Antoniadi II: Magnitude: 8.8; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 7mm Pentax XW; Filter Ultrablock NB;

Round shape planetary at first, then more oval. Shows a tinge of emerald/green to it. NW edge is irregular in shape making it oval in shape, not round. Central star is not seen at first, averted vision seems to pop the central star but I need a confirmation on that. Outer halo is somewhat visible. Bright star to the NW with a triangle asterism below the PN.

6. Object: NGC 6572 PN in Ophiuchus; September 24th, 2011; Location: Pony Express Marker South Hill; Conditions: Clear, mild; Antoniadi II; Magnitude: 8.1; Instrument: XX14i; 7mm Pentax XW; Filter: Ultrablock NB

Emerald color to this PN without the filter. Outer shell surrounding the bright planetary nebula. The central star is not visible due to the brightness of the inner portion of the PN. Fun object to observe.

7. Object: NGC 6778 PN in Aquila; September 24th, 2011; Time: 10:10p.m. MDT; Location: Pony Express Monument, South Hill; Conditions: Clear, cold; Seeing: Antoniadi I; Magnitude: 12.3; Instrument: XX14i; Eyepiece: 10mm Pentax XW; Filter: Ultrablock NB;

PN forms an equilateral triangle with 2 stars. The PN is bright, though small, bright central region but no central star is visible. There is a fainter halo that surrounds a brighter inner halo that is evident. I.E. it is if the PN has an outer, fainter shell and a bright inner shell.

8. Object: NGC 6778 PN in Aquila: September 24th, 2011; Location: Pony Express Marker Hill South; Time: 10:55p.m. MDT; Seeing: Antoniadi II to I; Mag. 12.3; XX14i, 10mm Pentax XW; Ultrablock NB Filter:

PN is rather small, has a faint outer shell followed by a brighter halo with the central star visible . Take higher power and good conditions to observe the central star. 330x to 660x showed the star tonight.

9. NGC 7293 Helix Nebula; PN in Aquarius; September 24th, 2011; Location: Pony Express Monument: South Hill; Conditions: Clear and Fair; Seeing: Antoniadi II; Mag. 7.3; Size: 17.57'; XX14i; 14mm Pentax XW; Ultrablock NB Filter

This object is definetly very large and the filter is necessary even at a dark site to bring out the detail on it and to pop the PN. Shows a bright outer ring with darker diffusion in the middle. Brighter portion of the ring is on the northern end. The central star is visible at 13.5 mag. along with about 6-7 other stars. I did two sketches of this object.

10. Object: NGC 7158 Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus; September 25th, 2011; Time: 12:30 a.m. MDT; Location: Pony Express Monument Hill South; Seeing: Antoniadi II, clear and cold: Mag. 12.8; XX14i; 10mm Pentax XW

Very small round galaxy. Did not show in the Panoptic 27mm because it is so small, but the 14mm popped it out. Really a faint fuzzy with no structure, no core, no mottling or other structure is evident.

11. Object: NGC 7177 Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus; Date: September 25th, 2011; Time: 12:10 a.m. MDT or 06:10 UT; Location: Pony Express Monument Hill South; Clear Cold: Seeing: Antoniadi II; Mag. 11.4; XX14i; Eyepiece: 14mm Pentax XW

Very faint and small galaxy that has a very bright core surrounded by diffusion. There is a 12th magnitude star to the NW. 2 stars above it. Not much to see, elongated WSW to ENE.