Observing March 27th, 2012; Contrast between Light Pollution and Dark Skies via Sketches

So last night I gambled and actually the kind elements of nature conspired with me to work on a project I have wanted to put together for some time.  This project is to use my sketches to compare and contrast objects observed at a very dark site with those observed in my backyard, which is under light pollution and the Salt Lake Valley light dome.  Some will want the Light Pollution color maps so I'll post them with this cavet. I have found that the maps are not perfect and according to my SQM readings, some sites are lighter than the map and some are actually darker. Also, time of night changes in my mind and by readings the darkness of a site.  Seeing conditions also impact the ability of what is available for seeing.  So this study isn't perfect, but it will work for what I want to demonstrate. 

I live in Herriman, Utah which using Dave L.'s light pollution maps, found at this link, and his maps put me in an orange zone, not far from a yellow zone.  I will openly admit that the light pollution in my town as gotten worse in the 7 years I have lived here because of the growth and the street light designs that are used. I expect that to continue.  Overall though, if I stay up into the wee hours of the morning, I can get decent seeing and observing in from my backyard.  My average SQM reading here is around 19.8 to 19.84.  If I use this NELM chart based on Ursa Minor found at this link, I get in the range of 5.45 which matches closely to the SQM.  That puts me in what some would call a Bortle 6 which fits the description of my home.  Let me state though that I caution people to make comparisons between the SQM and the Bortle.  My findings is some dark sites can go from green to blue in the Bortle system depending on the time the reading takes place, and conditions.  I make the correlation here for the simple reasoning that I some may relate to the SQM and some to the Bortle Scale. If your not familiar with the Bortle Scale, go to this link.  The other issue with rating a Bortle Scale on a site is my eyes are not your eyes, and your eyes are not my eyes and as I age, my eyes are not the same as they use to be. Variance occurs and so a site that may sit at a boundary between Bortle 3 and 2 may come down to the observer or sky conditions.

My dark sites are actually quite dark.  One is in a blue zone on the map, and I get a SQM reading on average of 21.88 to 22.2 depending on the night, the season and conditions.  That matches being in a blue zone on the map and in the Bortle system. It's typical to do down to around magnitude 6.6 to 6.8 at this site depending on conditions.  My other two frequent year round sites come in around SQM of 22.3 to 22.5 and 22.8 or slightly better. I would rate them both as definite Bortle 2 sites, possibly Bortle 1 sites.  So that gives some background on my observing sites, my backyard vs. my dark sites.

Now that's a lot of information to put out and read, so I'll get to the meat of the project which is two parts. The first part will be to simply share the objects I've sketched at a dark site and the objects I have sketched in my backyard.  The purpose will be to compare and contrast each object so the reader can see for themselves the difference between an object seen in light pollution, and one observed at a dark site. Please note that on some objects, it will take experience and training of the eye(s) in order to see the object and details in either zone. I remember not seeing spiral arms when I first started observing, but then with experience, and looking at several hundred galaxies, it became easier and easier to pick out the details.  The second part of this post will be to discuss observing techniques you can use to learn to pick out details while observing, and which techniques are good for both sites, and which may work better at either a dark site or a light polluted site.  Here we go.

All light polluted objects here were observed on March 27th, 2012 in my backyard in Herriman, Utah.  Conditions were Antoniadi IV at first and then improved to Antoniadi III.  Conditions were clear, mild for Utah for this time of the year, with lots of twinkly except at zenith. The jet stream is moving over us right now, typical of spring in Utah.  Instrument used was my 14" dob and my 27mm Panoptic as a finder, and then a 10mm and 7mm Pentax XW in most cases.  Again, click on the images to see them larger. 

The top sketch is one I did in February of Messier 81 at one of the dark sites.  In it you can observe I have more stars sketched in that I observed, the core is brighter and the stellar nucleus is also brighter. Perhaps the biggest thing here is I was able to observe some actual dark areas that separated the arms and provided structures to the galaxy in the observation.

Below you can see last nights sketch from my observation of Messier 81 from my light polluted backyard.  Fewer stars are observed, really only the brighter ones and the structure of the arms is lost and the core and stellar nucleus are not as defined as in the dark site sketch and observation.  Though still a fine object to observe, there is a significant difference here.

Here is Messier 82 or Bode's Galaxy in Ursa Major.  At the dark site the galaxy had a mottled appearance and fainter stars were easily to identify.  With averted vision I could see the slight breaks in the galaxy from dust.  In my backyard which is the bottom example, the breaks were hinted at and that is all.  No real faint stars were seen though they were hinted at.  There was a hint of mottling as well, and for the most part, the surface brightness seem more consistent across the galaxy.

In the sketches above of the Leo Triplet, Messier 65, 66 and NGC 3628  I think the sketches speak volumes in the differences of the views of these galaxies.  At the dark site which is the top one, again more stars are viewable, the bright cores stick out, the stellar nucleus are obvious and NGG 3628 shows its structure and its dark lanes.  In the one done on the bottom from my light polluted backyard, the two Messier galaxies are there, with a hint of brightening of the core, but no nucleus can be discern.  NGC 3628 is there, though really faint, faint that just looking at the sketch as I type this I cannot see it. Yet it is there, as it was in the scope, barely.  It is good to point out though that were I new to observing or when I was new to observing, I could not see NGC 3628.  I had to get to a dark site to see it and then when I returned to my backyard, I was able to use averted vision to see this object.  I also realize that for many of you, seeing NGC 3628 is easy from an orange zone. My eyes are not that good at home.

These sketches represent Messier 105 and NGC 3384 with a very, very faint NGC 3389 in the bottom sketch from light polluted skies.  Besides the difference in orientation, the stars are mostly lost in the light polluted skies on the bottom sketch as the bright cores are dimmer or lost.  NGC 3389 you'll have to search for, but it was there, barely as the sky conditions cleared up for a few seconds from time to time.

These are three separate sketches of the galaxy Messier 95. I've posted all of the recently.  The top one was done on February 17th I believe from a dark site.  The bar was showing that night nicely as was some structure in the arms.  Then on March 21st, I sketched it again because of SN2012aw that I wanted to capture.  Again, the bar is there as is a stellar nucleus and the arms were observable not just by me, but by my friend Jorge and Shahid who looked in the scope.  Shahid saw them the west with his early twenty something eyes.

The bottom sketch was last night in my light polluted backyard.  First thing besides the reduction in stars is the loss of any hint or sign of the arms.  There was nothing there and in truth, the galaxy looked like the fainter outward details were also lost.  The supernova is still there, though fainter, as are  the main stars.  What a contrast here I felt!

I realized looking at my directions, that once again I may have marked my cardinal directions wrong. I'll have to check that.  Anyway, here is the biggest difference I have seen.  The top one is Messier 96 from a truly dark site, a Bortle 1 site and the bottom is the same galaxy from my light polluted dark site. Now I did have some fun with the top sketch with some of the fainter stars, but overall it reflects what I saw from my dark of darkest sites.  The bottom one is just a wash in light pollution.  Not much there to view.  The core region is nice and bright in the top with a stellar core that is small.  The LP sketch shows a brightening in the core region but I could not see a stellar core.

So there we go for now.  A simple comparisons among objects that many amateurs go after from light pollution zones or in their backyards.  I have attempted to show a contrast in the level of details that one sees by going to a dark site versus being in a light polluted zone.  I encourage you to get out from your light polluted backyards and travel to a true dark zone and take it in.  Take in the set up of your equipment, making sure you have time to enjoy twilight.  Take in the time to transitions from day to night vision. Use a red light as little as possible and make sure when you do use one, to patch your observing eye and make sure your red light is dim, very dim.  I'll post some spring ones up if the weather is clear in April and I can get out.  Not sure if anyone will find this useful but I think it is a good idea and provides a good contrast.  May your heart and eyes look up to the wonders of the sky.



PS I may have to do this once Carl gets done with my mirror and I have the scope working with it to show the differences in the two mirrors. 


Jay's Carl Zambuto 14" Mirror and ATM Project

Many know that a while ago I ordered a 14" Carl Zambuto mirror to replace the 14" diameter, 2" thick mirror that is in the XX14i I have now. Well, today Carl sent me this image in email with the title of polishing. Now I am getting excited, very excited. I have seen what a Zambuto mirror does and can't wait to have it to view in the 14". This means I will be making some adjustments to the 14" because of the loss of 6 to 7 lbs in the mirror. In review solutions my friend Mat and I have several that will ensure the point of balance works and I'll be adding some counter weights to the back of the scope to balance it out. I'll be posting more on this as I get the mirror and I make the mods. That will happen rather quickly as I don't want to miss out on any spring observing. Here is the image and look for more posts on this over the next couple of months. Boy that looks a lot thinner than the 2 inches thick mirror I have now, and smoothness, I can anticipate how smooth the mirror will be.

Sketches of Recent Supernova/Compare of M95 Before vs After

I have some process and collecting of data but I did get out again, for about 4 hours on Sunday night. So once I have those items put together I'll post that. Instead I thought I would do a simple post of SN2012aw in Messier 59, in the constellation of Leo, a Type IIP Supernova that came from a Red Giant about 8 solar masses, which is on the end of the mass scale for a star to generate a supernova (though material may have been ejected before by the star lowering its mass). On February 18th, (you can go back and look) I did a sketch of Messier 95 with no supernova. Then on March 22nd, I did another with the supernova so I thought I would include those. It is rather wild in my mind that the light from that supernova took about 33 million years to get here and it was just 34 days or so before I saw it from February. Just goes to show that one never knows what the universe is going to reveal and when!

The other sketch will be the Type Ib supernova in NGC 4790 in Virgo.

Here is M95 from the night of February 18, 2012:

Then here is Messier 95 with SN2012aw from the night of March 22nd, 2012 (around 1:30 a.m. MST or 07:30 UT).

Here is NGC 4790 in Virgo with SN2012au.


Observing Session March 21st 2012 Pit n Pole

Well, I have been off work for the last week and I had been really hoping to get several observing sessions in during this new moon period. We had a storm move in last weekend and excited on Tuesday after dropping snow on Monday. By Tuesday the snow was all gone. So on Wednesday I and several of my observing friends decided to head out to the Pit. I wanted to go back to Forest Road 006 but after the mud debacle of last month, I was thinking that two days after a storm, it would be muddy, and that even the Pit would be moist. I was wrong! The Pit was totally dry, with no water in or on the upper portion of the soil. There were some very nice and large coyote tracks in the pit though from the storm on Monday. The paws were just under the size of my hand (I have small hands by the way).

When I got to the Pit, I arrived around 4:30p.m. because I wanted to get set up and then to just enjoy the peace and quiet of environment. Set up was easy and I got a very nice collimation job done on the 14 this time. However, it didn't look too inviting for observing as there were plenty of clouds in the way as this picture shows.

However, as I set up, the clouds began to thin just as SkippySky Astronomy and the National Weather Service forecast said it would.

This picture shows Mt. Timpanogas looking east from the Pit. Their is a legend on the shape of Mt. Timpanogas and from Wikipedia it states that the mountain "resembles the profile of a sleeping woman. Various legends are told of an Indian maiden who died of grief after her lover was killed, with one version the basis for a ballet, but there is no evidence that any of these are actual Native American myths. It is possible the romantic story was created in the early 1900s by Eugene Lusk "Timp" Roberts, a professor at Brigham Young University who initiated an annual hike and pageant intended to "sell Timpanogos to the world." The reality is that glaciers formed the shape of the mountains and were present until quite recent in geological terms. The legend that the Native American woman was transformed into the mountain is kinda of cool though.

There is the XX14i set up and cooling at sunset. My chair in the background reminds me that my friend and ATMer extraordinaire Mat is helping me build a new chair (made of red oak) that has the latches in the back and is similar in design to a Catsperch. Hopefully it comes out well and in April I can show you that process on an entry.

Here's the top of the OTA of the 14. That is a Paracorr I on there that I am still figuring out the best way to use. I may drop the finder as I use the 27mm Panoptic as a finder eyepiece, and perhaps a 30mm ES 82 degree that I want to order.

By sunset the clouds were really starting to disperse and by dark, a clear and steady sky above 35 degrees was present. I began this night in Orion looking at several reflection nebula and did one sketch that I'll share here of NGC 2071 and Messier 78. Again, click on a sketch to see them larger and in a row.

Because of the darkness of the site no filter was needed. Also, you will see a change in how I am presenting my sketches. I am simply putting a label of the object on the front and the key information I am now writing on the back. In a way, I can include a lot of my observing information right on the back of the sketch. Doh!! I should have thought of that a LONG time ago.

Here is the information on that object. NGC 2071 with Messier 78; March 21st 2012 9:25 MDT or March 22nd, 2012 03:25 UT; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; 14" Dob with 27mm Panoptic.
Both nebula were easily seen though by sheer size M78 stuck out first. NGC 2071 surrounds a mag. 7.5 star I believe and is also easily seen.

After this I hit NGC 2023 a reflection nebula near the Horsehead or B33. NGC 2023 was not too hard to see with a filter but without the filter it took averted vision and I am not sure I can say for sure I saw it then. I did do a sketch and may insert that here later.

It's funny sometimes how observing goes. Sometimes the adventure is in chasing down the objects on one's list, then other times other things cause "little adventures." The next adventure of the night as I was finishing up in Orion was I had forgotten my observing coat at home and Mat, who due to a family obligation was coming out late, was going to swing by my house and pick up the coat. I was expecting him around 9:00p.m. to 9:15p.m. and then my friend Shahid and Jorge who were at the site observing and imaging, noticed emergency vehicle lights up the road from us at a place called Five Mile Pass. Jorge got out his binoculars out and saw that it was police cars, ambulances and other emergency vehicles. At first we thought the sheriff was doing a speed trap and certainly Mat must have got a ticket. Once Jorge saw that it was other type of emergency vehicles, the concern changed to was there an accident? I tried to call Mat but no answer. Mat had tried to call me about what was going on. At 9:15p.m. with his parking lights on and his son Jeff present, Mat showed up. Five Mile Pass is used by ATVers and motorcycles during the day, and in this case at night. An ATVer had flipped his vehicle on to himself and was injured. Glad Mat was fine but I hope the ATVer is fine also.

Mat now set up using his red light and we all went back to work. The next object that I had moved off to prior to this excitement was Messier 95 as I wanted to observe SN2012aw. It was easily seen in the eyepiece of the 14 and here is my sketch of it. Both Jorge and I saw the hint of arms that I put into the sketch here. The SN is the middle bright star on the top arm. I also have to say that it took time to see the bar and the arm structure but in time, with averted vision and a couple of other observing skills, the detail came out of Messier 95.

Messier 95 with SN2012aw at Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah. Antoniadi II, 14" dob with 10mm & 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW. Best view for shape was with the 10mm and 7mm eyepieces. Sky conditions were so so for the 5mm, but when the seeing cleared, detail was best in the 5mm.

My next set of objects were more galaxies (it is spring!). NGC 3900 is the next object below.

NGC 3900 a galaxy in Leo. March 22nd, 2012, 12:15a.m. MDT or 06:15 UT; 14" dob 10mm Pentax X, Antoniadi II, Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah.

A small galaxy with a stellar core. No other structure is evident. Quite common for a Herschel 400 galaxy (some will surprise you!).

The next galaxy is just below NGC 3900 and is NGC 3912.

NGC 3912 Galaxy in Leo. 3/22/2012; 12:15a.m. or 6:15 UT; 14" dob with 10mm Pentax XW, Antoniadi II; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah.

This is a smaller galaxy, with no structure, no brightening near the core and no nucleus observed.

From here I went to NGC 3902 another small galaxy in the constellation of Leo.

NGC 3902; SBbc galaxy in Leo; march 22, 2012; 12:25a.m. MDT or 06:25 UT; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 10mm Pentax XW.

A middle of the road galaxy, not large in size but with a brightening near the core with a stellar nucleus.

The next set of galaxies I've actually observed and sketched but I redid the sketches tonight using the Mellish technique. I thought a comparison would be good. In the 27mm Panoptic they are all three visible in a neat row but I decided to capture two together and then to do the third one by itself. The higher magnification used allowed more details to be observed.

NGC 3686 (at the top) NGC 3684 (bottom below NGC 3686) and NGC 3691 (to the left no structure).

I actually sketched digitally and in person these four galaxies (the three above and the next sketch) on April 1st, 2011. Here are my notes from this time first though.

NGC 3686 is a SBbc galaxy in Leo. Observed on 3/22/2012 t 12:45a.m. MDT or 06:45 UT; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.
This is the brightest of the triplet or better yet the quartet of galaxies that are here. It is a little elongated, perhaps stretched is the better term. The core region is very bright. Possible structure at high magnification on the NE side with averted vision.

NGC 3684 Sbc galaxy in Leo. 3/22/2012; 12:45 am MDT or 06:45 UT; see the info on NGC 3686 for conditions and items used and location.
This is a relatively bright galaxy that lays NW to SE. It is not as bright as NGC 3686. Did see with averted vision a strong hint of structure to the SW, possible arm. Included in sketch but not as faint as I need to make it.

NGC 3691 a galaxy in Leo. See NGC 3686 for conditions, equipment and location.
This is a rather faint galaxy, somewhat elongated also. Size is moderate and it has an even surface brightness so no detail is seen.

Here is my digital sketch of these four galaxies from April 1st, 2011.

Here is the original sketch made from the 21mm Stratus which I don't own anymore. I have to admit that the Pentax eyepieces provide a much improved contrast as does the 27mm Panoptic over the 21mm Stratus.

Here is my sketch of NGC 3681.

NGC 3681 SB galaxy in Leo; 3/22/2012; 12:45a.m. MDT or 06:45 UT; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 5mm, 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

NGC 3681 is a pretty bright galaxy that is roundish in shape with a stellar nucleus and a bright inner core region. Hint of a little structure is possible (?) and hinted at in the sketch.

My next object is yet another galaxy (they all will be) and is NGC 3685 in Leo.
NGC 3655 Sc galaxy in Leo; 3/22/2012, 1:05a.m. or 07:05 UT; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14 inch dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

This is a rather bright galaxy that lays SSW to NNE. The core region is really bright and stands out with a really stellar nucleus. Fun Observation.

Next is NGC 4179. By this time I knew I was done in Leo so I took advantage of the position of Virgo and went to work there.

NGC 4179 SO galaxy in Virgo. 3/22/2012, Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II, 14" dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

This galaxy has a bright inner core, and is edge on. Rather bright overall and is a nice one to grab if your in the area.

I was feeling on a row so staying in the general area I now went to find NGC 4030.

NGC 4030 Sbc galaxy in Virgo; March 22nd, 2012; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

This is a rather large oval that sits NW to SW and is rather bright. It has a 10.5 mag star and a 2.2mag star to the SSW. These stars bracket the galaxy. Two arms are visually seen and included in the sketch below.

My next objects were two galaxies that are rather close to each other so I sketched them as I saw them in the eye piece. I have to admit that with NGC 4123 I am very happy with the sketch (only one sketch that is coming up is better in my opinion), to the point I am pleased that it captures the essence of what I saw. Time was around 1:40a.m. MDT or 07:40 UT I believe.

NGC 4123 SBb galaxy in Virgo. March 22, 2012; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; Orion XX14i dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW. This is the top galaxy in the sketch.

NGC 4123 is a pretty bright galaxy and also rather large. Sits NW to SE slightly and has a small but very bright inner core region that also has a stellar nucleus. Excellent view of this galaxy and hint of structure here as sketched.

NGC 4116 SBc galaxy in Virgo; March 22nd, 2012; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; 14" dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

This is a somewhat bright galaxy though not as bright nor as large as NGC 4123, but it is still relatively large. Lays NNW to SSE and the core appears brighter and this brightness extends down the axis of the galaxy.

Now I hopped over to NGC 4536 and NGC 4523, both galaxies in Virgo.

NGC 4536 SBbc galaxy in Virgo; March 22nd, 2012, Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

Very bright and really large galaxy. Lays NW to SE. NGC 4536 has a bright core region and a stellar nucleus that is easily seen. Spiral structure is visible with both averted and direct vision, though averted popped out the detail more at first until I adjusted to the view. Time helped also on this one. Pretty galaxy reminding me of NGC 7479 in terms of the S pattern seen here.

NGC 4533 Scd galaxy in Virgo. March 22nd 2012; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

This is a rather faint galaxy and I had to use averted vision to pick up the surface brightness and get it to fully pop out. Lays N-NW to S-SE and NGC 4533 appears as a faint streak of light with no other structure evident and there was no brightening near the core.

My last sketch for this night was NGC 4535, and to be honest, it is my favorite sketch that I have done using the Mellish method. If there was time I would send this Australia for the Scott Mellish competition that is going to occur in April. I am not sure if the version I post here will do it justice. After this Virgo was up in Dob's Hole and I was tired and didn't want to fight moving the scope around to get the objects I needed so after this observation, I stopped. The sketch took a lot out of me both visually, physically and emotionally.

NGC 4535 SBc galaxy (barred spiral) in Virgo. March 22nd, 2012; Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14 inch dob with 5mm, 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW.

This is a very large and rather bright galaxy. The core is bright and a stellar nucleus is easily seen. The spiral arms are detectable with averted vision and patience, though they are faint. Being dark adapted helps to secure them. Confirmed though by my friend Shahid. Some 13th to 14th magnitude stars were evident here. NGC 4526 is to the SSW of this wonderful galaxy that needs aperture and dark skies to really have it reveal its beauties.

Well, I started to pack up after this and realized that I wasn't that tired. I was relaxed and very at peace with myself and the world around me. It was a terrific night and one thing my friend Shahid reminded me of this night, was the importance of taking time to not look through a scope and just look and enjoy the sky when your at a dark site. It is just tremendous to think of all the billions upon billions of stars and galaxies that lay up there with all their wonderful objects. It reminds one that our life is fleeting and we need to treasure each day we have. Well, lets see, now that I have weeded, spread new mulch in the flower beds and garden, cut back the rose bushes and cleaned up the yard for spring, I think its time to call it day. It has been too bad that the skies have been cloudy since Wednesday. I really wanted a multiple day observing time. Perhaps in April. New moon is on my birthday, April 20th so I am hoping to get out for the 19th and the 20th. Clear skies to you and may the wonders of the universe capture your soul.


Two New Supernovas and Messier Marathon Charts

NGC 4790 in Virgo has a 12th mag supernova called 2012au that was discovered on the 14th. That means this sucker is going to get bright and should be easy to view. It is a Type Ib which will mean it will brighten quick, and then fade quicker than a Type II would.

Here is the info:
2012au (= PSN J12545218-1014502) (= SNhunt117), CBET 3052 discovered 2012/03/14.450 by Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey and Stan Howerton
Found in NGC 4790 at R.A. = 12h54m52s.18, Decl. = -10°14'50".2
Located 3".5 east and 2".0 north of the center of NGC 4790 (Discovery image)
Mag 12.7:3/16, Type Ib (References: CBAT TOCP, ATEL 3967, ATEL 3968, ATEL 3971)
2012au images sub-page

Just in time for a Messier Marathon, Messier 95 as a bright SN that was discovered on 17th of March in an outer arm of Messier 95. Already in the 12th mag range this one will brighten also and is really close to Mars right now. Here is a link to info on this one. This one is so new they haven't been able to identify what type it is. I'm going for both this week!

Here is the info on the SN in Messier 95:

PSN J10435372+1140177, CBAT TOCP discovered 2012/03/16.8493 by J. Skvarc; Alessandro Dimai (Italian Supernovae Search Project)
Found in M95 at R.A. = 10h43m53s.72, Decl. = +11°40'17".7 (= NGC 3351)
Located 60" west and 115" south of the center of M95 (Skvarc discovery image) (Dimai discovery image) (Nick James image) (David Strange image) (Stan Howerton image) (William Wiethoff image) (Martin Mobberley image) (Maurice Gavin image) (Stephen M. Brincat image) (Fabio Martinelli image)
Mag 13.1:3/19, Type unknown (References: ATEL 3979)
Astrobob blog, Beautiful Start blog, blog, Astronomy blog, Astronet in Swedish [translate]

Here is the link to Bright Supernova on the info for this one.

Now if your interested in some Messier Marathon Charts and links I want to provide some to you in case you find them helpful. I will openly admit I've only done one, and that was enough for me. I prefer to work my current observing projects.

Rob Hawley has a nice set of charts (dated to 2006) on doing a Messier Marathon with finder charts. Here is the link to his site.

AstroTulsa over on Yahoo Groups has a post by Tamara that has a 2012 edition of finder charts for a marathon. Here is the link for that.

Ten Minute Astronomy Blog has a nice feature on a Messier Marathon with tips, charts and logs.

From Bel Tor Observatory is a post with a link to some more finder charts. Nice charts here for the Messier.

That's not a a lot, but they are the free one's I found and that I thought were decent. If your engaging in a Messier Marathon, good luck, arrive early and set up before the sun goes down so you can get started. Plan out your night a head of time as that helps also. Good luck!



Jay's Observing Schedule for New Moon

Well the new moon cycle is coming up. Weather forecasts right now, 7 days out are not good for the 16th, 17th and possibly Sunday the 18th. From the 19th on though it looks like another fair weather pattern but we'll see that is a ways off.

So from the 16th through the 24th if the skies are clear, I'll be observing. If your interested in going watch here or over at AstronomyinUtah where I post when I am heading out in the thread called Observing in Utah. Lets hope the weather cooperates!


Solar Observing March 7th 2012 and New Solar Scope (ATM)

Alright, this post is about Solar Observing and before I get into the meat of the post, I feel that I need to state: DO NOT EVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT THE PROPER EQUIPMENT! Okay, that is out of the way and I'll repeat that at the end of the post. Below you can see my relatively new solar scope.

Well, with all the activity that is happening with the Sun of late, I decided today to take out my new ATM solar scope and have a try at using it and at looking at the sunspots and other items.

This scope cost $25.00 and was built by local ATMer Chuck Hards. Chuck published several articles with Sky & Telescope back in the late 1990's. These scopes are made of a tube, a one speed focuser and a 1 1/4 diagonal . Baader Solar Film is used on the main lens to offer protection for the eye as they look. Here are some shots of the new scope. The mount is just a simple camera tripod, but it works!

In the picture above I am using a 32mm Orion Sirius Plossl eyepiece as the finder. I find that in the scope this works the best for me. If needed I have a 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece that also works and can be a step down for me.

Here you can see the simple single speed focuser and the 32mm plossl in the diagonal . The focuser is racked about 1/2 of the way out. To find the Sun, I simply am the refractor at the Sun before I put in the eyepiece. When the sun appears in the diagonal I then put in the 32mm ploosl and the Sun is in the field of view. Works great!

After I get the Sun in the 32mm I can either put in the 25mm for a step down, but I usually put in the 17mm Orion Stratus that I still own and have. The 17mm provided some very crisp views of Active Region 1429 with Active Regions 1430 and 1429 quite visible. With the 17mm Stratus it was easy to see the two main sunspot regions in Active Region 1429 with the smaller sunspots also readily visible. The Sun moved quicker through the 17mm. In the 32mm and 25mm all three active regions were visible also, but with not as much detail.

I brought my son out and he spent time observing with me and talking. In actuality, he got quite excited about viewing the Sun and seeing the sunspots/Active Regions. His younger eye made out more detail than mine, but overall, we both enjoyed viewing our nearest star. On my note, I love spending time with my son, soon, I fear, the pace of his life will mean these times become fewer and farther in between.

Here you can see the filter that is put on to the front of the lens. I have a black sharpie in some of the pictures on top of the hot tub because there were two pin holes I need to blacken out. It worked like a charm and now there are no pin holes.

So, I've opened up a new world of observing and all for $25.00! The solar scope worked wonderfully and now I need to find some solar templates for sketching. It was fun to see the Sun active. As a reminder from the start, DO NOT EVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT THE PROPER EQUIPMENT!


The Most Astounding Fact

I picked this up at Phil Plait and thought it was SO good that I wanted to post a link here. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked 10 questions by time and one of them was on the most astounding fact and Neil Degrasse Tyson gave a tremendous answer. This has been put to a video by MaxSchlick over at YouTube and it is all very well done. Here is the link to the video on YouTube. Enjoy and I hope you listen, I mean really listen because it is truly tremendous.