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10/21/2011

Observing Near Moab/Canyonlands Utah; Thoughts


















Imagine from the Grandview Overlook in Canyonlands National Park.


Well, I just got back after five days down in the Moab, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park with Dead Horse State Park also thrown in. In this
area and I was able to get in two nights of observing using the 20"
Obsession. The sky conditions were just wonderful, clear, crisp and the
summer Milky Way just jumped out! Spent a lot of the time in Hercules early
on going for A2151, A2197 of which galaxy NGC 6160 was the brightest, and
finally Abell 2199/or NGC 2166. This image,
http://www.saratogaskies.com/image.pl?i=29 helped somewhat and the goal with
the Abell's list was to see how many of these faint galaxies we could
observe, and observe with detail. It's a great example of visual observers
using an astrophoto to aid in detection. The second part of the night was
spent up in Pegasus with Abell 2593 of which NGC 7649 was the brightest
(small, faint, elongated west to east) and in Perseus going after galaxies
and Abell 426 centered on NGC 1275 which was oval in shape, had a small
bright inner core and sat E-W. NGC 1275 was surrounded by a many smaller
magnitude galaxies. We also spent time on some of the eye candy (brighter
objects) and all of them stuck out really nice, some as naked eye objects.
I am planning next summer to go back for a week and observe during new moon
in these skies.


















An image of Balancing Rock in Arches National Park.


















Fisher's Tower at sunset. There is a formal campground right under this and some great spots to set up down the dirt road to observe in this gray to black zone. SQM: 22.2.


















Twilight settling in near Fisher's Towers.


I also got in plenty of hiking, a favorite pastime and with daytime temperatures in the low 70's to high 60's it was extremely pleasant to be able to hike in and see a bunch of sites and take pictures of them. I won't post the images here but will add them to an online album if someone wants to see them. I'll update later with a link to those pictures.


The other highlight was hiking into Upheaval Dome, an impact crater from
less than a 170 mya. It was rather cool to think this is the ancient
(ancient for me, young in geologic terms) impact crater, representing
several lunar craters. Here is a link for information on this impact site:
http://lpod.wikispaces.com/November+29%2C+2008

A great getaway.

Last night, October 20th, I tried to get out to a new location with my friend Mat and this time the weather just didn't want to cooperate. I was going to view some more Abell's, some galaxies in Pegasus but the seeing and transparency last night just killed the galaxies. I did get a wonderful view of M15 and I decided to go back and sketch it when I realized the conditions were getting worse, but it was no longer the magical object I had observed. I love the stellar core, surrounded by a brighten halo and the amount of stars that were around it. I haven't visited M15 in several years and it was a stunner, if I can dare say, perhaps my favorite glob even over M13 in Hercules. So if you have a chance, go visit M15 again. Hopefully the weather clears and I can go tonight or at least Saturday and Sunday nights.

If your interested in heading out drop me a comment or an email at jayleads at gmail dot com (you'll need to know how to make that into a proper address as I did it so I don't get spammed). I was thinking Lakeside tonight but I think I may hit the Pit n Pole location tonight and Saturday and Lakeside on Sunday.