Observing Session, December 26th, 2011; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah, Back to Eridanus

Well, Monday came and at first it was rather cloudy so I didn't know if the outing would occur. It cleared up and my observing buddy and friend Mat called and I looked at the Clear Sky Clock and the Mesonet stations we have here in Utah that give temperature, humidity, dew point etc and updates every 15 minutes. I thought we would be going back to Lakeside but in truth, Pit n Pole for a rare event in winter offered better overall conditions so off to the Pit. For once, everything worked as predicted though the temperature supposedly fell to 1 degrees when we left. I don't think it felt like that at any time and I really never got cold. That was also probably because we each had a propane heater and could warm ourselves up when we needed a break. Well worth the $35.00 investment and the propane!

As I drove out I saw something that was beautiful, a Sun Dog! Here is an image, look for the rainbow in case you have never seen one. It is on the bottom left of center in the clouds there. It stuck around for almost 2 hours that day.

In terms of darkness, one thing I forgot to mention about Lakeside from the 23rd, is that because of the amount of snow on the ground, the reflected star light and glow from the Milky Way made the Lakeside observing site almost as bright as when the moon is up from say waxing crescent to almost first quarter. It was bright enough that it showed our shadows on the ground.

No problem at Pit n Pole as there was hardly any snow in the area and the observing area was as it usually is, dry and gravely. Setup went fine and I at first had a hard time observing and so when Mat said he was going after eye candy til Fornax and Eridanus came up, I did the same. M31, M32 and M110 were terrific while they were at Zenith. The 27mm Panoptic showed a two dark lanes, a very stellar core and a bright halo around the core. Just terrific. The Double Cluster was enjoyable as was NGC 457 and some open clusters in Cassiopeia.

Well, finally, it came time to go to work and I got into my galaxies in Eridanus and Fornax. I took my time and am pleased with my results. Just like in the last post, I am going to just post the sketches, the notes are on them so feel free to click them and then use your arrow buttons to go through them. I did revisit a couple from last Friday, though one was on purpose as I want to compare views and my sketches. They are posted in no particular order. Enjoy, I did. Hope you got out this new moon weekend somehow, somewhere, and were able to point up.

I won't bore you with all the details or with the other objects like M42 or the Flame Nebula that I went after as I have gone after them before successfully. I am hoping one day to use the Mellish method here to make a worthy sketch of M42 but I think that is some ways off. Clear skies to you and be safe over the New Year, and don't make yourself too merry! Merry New Year!

ON a side note if your interested in the Eridanus and Fornax Galaxy Groups, here is a link to a site that has some good information on it.