A Beginning History of an Observing Site

Here is the ranch house looking from Chief GreenJacket's grave on the hill to the east I presume.  The long dirt road is the east to west road you have to turn on after driving down the long dirt road from Highway 36.  You cannot get on this property without permission and please don't bother the owners for permission.  Photo borrowed from the second link below.

I have to admit, I love history.  I really love the history of the common man or woman because I think often it is the history that is the most relevant to us today.  These are people who were born, grew up, loved, got married, raised a family (or in Utah, families) and had their high points and low points in life.  They reveal what I call or borrow, the human condition that we all face.  We often like to think we are different, unique, and in many ways we are.  Yet in our condition of life, we face many similar challenges, many griefs, many struggles, many highs, discover many wonders and hopefully find joy in our lives.

Well today, I was going to go on a trip to hopefully conduct some business, but it got put off due to the fires in central Utah and the smoke down there.  Hopefully next week Tuesday will be a better day.  Anyway, so after getting done with some things I needed to do, I decided to do some research on land and ranches down near Vernon, Utah.  I have some personal reasons for this but needless to say, it got me going.

Observing out on the National Forest Land in Vernon and from the sites I choose and prefer to use, if you look to the east, maybe slightly north-east you can see a white ranch house.  If you drive up to the Vernon Reservoir right before you turn right to head south on the road to take you to the reservoir, you'll see the gate leading to this ranch site and home.  Do NOT go there without permission as it is not Forest land and is privately owned.  This ranch I found out is called The GreenJacket Ranch and no, for you golfers, it is not named after someone from this area who won a Master's tournament (for non-golfers, the winner gets a Green Jacket at the Masters Tournament if they win).  Instead it is named for a Goshute Chief whose name was GreenJacket.  Chief GreenJacket played a vital role in helping the Bennion family who settled in this area survive both from the Utes, and from the desert.  Chief GreenJacket's influenced ensured good relations between the Goshutes of the area and the settlers in the area.  To learn more on him you can go to this link which is find a grave marker and it has a history of Chief GreenJacket (not sure how much is accurate or not) or to this link from a blog entry from a descendant (I assume from the entry) who knew about him. Note the differences in the death accounts.  I wonder which one is correct?

Now, I also found a couple of biographies or auto-biographies of people who lived in the area.  I'll state upfront, these people were LDS so if that bothers you for some reason, don't read these accounts.  However, I find the reading fascinating for their descriptions of the land, the impact it had on their family and spousal relationships and the lasting impact on their future generations.  Having spent many a day out in this region, it reinforced what a truly incredible people came out here and settled in my opinion.  It also shows what I described in the first paragraph, the triumphs, defeats, challenges, love and commitment these people had to their ideals.  I can't attach files to the blog so I am going to provide a link to them that will take you over to my Google Documents if you want to read them:

Bennion's A History

Mapping Manifest Destiny Lucile Cannon Bennion by John Benion 

By the way, if anyone knows more of the history of the area, I'd love to learn more.  Now how does this relate to Astronomy?  I think it is important and extremely interesting to know of the history of the place one observes and I think it enriches the experience.  I can truly understand why they fell in love with this land, and accepted its challenge to work it.  I can understand how the beauty of the place captivated their souls. See, for me astronomy is a science, but as an amateur it is also about the human condition. Observing does many things for me, but one of them is to remind me of my own humanity and how wonderful it is to be alive.   These stories reflect a part of the human condition and I find that intriguing, they remind me how wonderful life is.  This area is truly a beautiful and marvelous place, and I hope, it remains quiet and restful and I guess I won't blog about it anymore so not to draw attention to it.  I did want to share that this area has a rather cool history.  I have an entry coming up on the Summer Triangle and one on Thermacell.  Oh, and a promised review on the Explore Scientific 20mm 68 degree eyepiece and the 4.7 ES 82 degree eyepiece.


Observing Report June 18-19; 19-20, 20-21st, 2012 At a Dark Dark Site

Here are some pictures from the outing.  This site is more open with a few Juniper Trees to the West.  The trees don't interfere with viewing as they are no taller than the distant mountains would be  Overall, this is my favorite location in this area at around 6000 feet or slightly above. 

XX14i with Observing Chair and Allan's 4 1/2 inch Refractor

Observing site looking north-northeast

Observing Site Looking east

Observing Site Looking Southeast 

Observing Site Looking South-Southwest

2 Dobs Looking South 

Looking southwest. 

XX14i and Chair Looking South

Two person tent but I opted not to use it, stayed in the back of the Pathfinder and enjoyed the warmth! 34 degrees F that night with wind! This is looking west.

Well, I had a ton observing in the last week, but is it ever enough? Yes, it is.  I was hoping to do an outreach event with my friend Mat on Friday, but due to a family celebration I was asked not to go.  Mat was gracious and I hope he had an excellent time at his event.  I owe him twice now and if he doesn't know why,  I do.

Anyway, observing was both difficult and very rewarding at times.  I went to what according to the SQM and NELM is the darkest site around except if one really gets out in the West Desert.  I got the darkest reading I've had from an observing site on my SQM here and NELM came in from 7.3 plus as charts for Ursa Minor, Cygnus and Hercules showed.  Here Messier 6 & 7 were naked eye as were the Lagoon Nebula, Trifed, Swan and Eagle nebula (as faint fuzzies on the last two).  Messier 13 showed itself naked eye and the Milky Way left a shadow on the ground of my telescope or of my hand on the telescope (that is how I first noticed te shadow).

I met a new friend out of Stansbury Park, Allan who is a member of SLAS.  He owns a 4.5 inch refractor and an SCT I believe and is a great guy.  I enjoyed having him at the site.  Daniel, another SLAS came out for one night and he also enjoyed where we were at.  On the first night that Alan was there, Tuesday night, it was windy and got cold, into the low 30's but the wind made it feel worse than that, and Allan was at his scope, I was at the 14 and my car door slammed shut and at that same time, I heard the patter of running feet away from my car.  Of course it was the wind and some critter, but it was fun to make up some stories on that one!   That night Allan and I eventually had to give up because the wind got so fierce and we just sat in chairs, backs to my car and just enjoyed the northern summer Milky Way in all its glory, sharing binoculars to scan the sky.  It was highly enjoyable.

Daniel was a hoot when he came out on Wednesday night, the night with little or no wind and just crystal clear and steady skies.  I enjoyed his conversation as always and he shared some views form his 17.5 inch dob which were wonderful.

The only downside to all of this is I suspected on Tuesday night something was wrong with my car as the back drivers fender didn't look right under all the dust behind the gas tank.  Wednesday, Daniel pointed out it was a dent and I looked carefully, and sure enough, it is.  I took my 19 and 18 year old to get their wisdom teeth out on Monday and a large white pickup was pulled up in front of me to the stall kitty corner to me.  Well, the parking lot as very busy that day and I assume that when the truck pulled it, they nailed me and put a slight dent in the fender and scratches.  What irks me about this is there was no note left so they didn't taken responsibility.  That is a huge pet peeve of mine.  If you do something wrong, you take responsibility.

Anyway, I got a lot of sketching in on a couple of nights so I share that here.  Before I do that, on both Tuesday and Wednesday we saw the ISS pass by each night and on Tuesday I saw an Iridum Flare, which was enjoyable.  We also saw several large meteorites  that left trails behind them come in on both nights. I camped over also one night in the back of the Pathfinder using a 2 inch memory foam mattress topper (older one) and a sleeping bag foam mat on top for some extra support.  I slept good until the Sun came up.  Then, with 3 hours of sleep, I drove home and took a nap until 12:00pm when I woke up, and showered and unloaded.  Unfortunately I got no other observing time due to family obligations but it has been pretty windy of late.

So here we go with the sketches and observations.  These are not in necessarily in the order of observed.  iPhoto just uploads from the camera and I didn't sort or even name these yet.  I am very happy with some, some show I still need work . . . you can decide what you think. Oh, I played with making the diffraction spikes that my friend Alex M. does and I think I found l like it in large field sketches, but don't like it in the smaller sketches.  I probably don't like it in the small object sketches because I am still working on it and two, I started making my larger stars with a new fine point white ink pen and I am adjusting to that as you can see in some of the sketches.  Also, being out of school and not teaching, I do tend to get dates mess up so some dates may not be the right ones.  As soon as I listen to the digital recording I made of my observations again I'll correct the dates.

EDIT: Besides adding the pictures above I forgot to mention a few items I believe.  One, I split the Ring Nebula, Messier 57 in the 14.  Daniel did it in his 17.5 dob and Allan confirmed that he saw it without realizing at first that he saw it.  I will post my sketch up of that also, probably tomorrow.  I was very excited.  The only other time I had seen it was in a 32 inch reflector in a yellow zone that is probably close to orange by now with all the ambient light that hits that location.  The Pillars of Creation were also observed though I did not get to sketch them as I was tired and needed to break down to go to sleep.  Daniel also observed those as well.

1. NGC 4346 Lenticular Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  6/19/2012; 11:20pm MDT; FR 006; vMag. 11.3; Size: 3.3' x 1.3'; Antoniadi II;  XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW and Type I Paracorr.
Notes:  This galaxy in elongated, and is very bright and has a very bright inner core. The outer halo is diffused, might see a stellar nucleus here.

2. NGC 4111 Spiral Galaxy (edge on) in Canes Venatici;  6/19/2012; FR 006; vMag. 10.7; Size: 4.6' x 1.0'; Antoniadi II; XX14i, 10mm Pentax XW with Type I Paracorr;
Notes: This is an edge on galaxy W-NW to E-SE and is elongated beautiful.  Very good example of an edge on galaxy.  Very bright core  with a slight bulge of the core and a stellar nucleus is evident.  There is a double star next to the galaxy.

2a. NGC 4117 Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  For conditions see above and instruments:  vMag. 13.1; Size: 1.8' x 0.9';
Notes:  This is a rather faint and pretty small galaxy (to the upper right in the sketch) with a small hint of brightening at the core region.

3. NGC 4143 SABs Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  vMag. 11.1; Size: 2.3' x 1.4'; 6/19/2012; 11:55pm MDT; Antoniadi II;  XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW, Type I Paracorr; FR 006;
Notes:  This galaxy is somewhat elongated and has a very bright inner core and a stellar nucleus that sticks out.  It is medium size and rather bright.  You can see in this one why I don't like and need to practice putting the diffraction spikes on large stars in this type of sketch.  I need to make them fainter and not use the pen.  Lesson learned.

4. NGC 4051 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major, class SAB;  6/21/2012; 12:30am MDT; FR 006; Antoniadi II; vMag; 10.7; Size: 5.2' x 3.9'; XX14i with 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW and Type I Paracorr;
Notes:  This is a large spiral galaxy that is really bright and large.  The inner nucleus is small vut very bright, with a bright inner core region around it.  The inner core is surrounded by a fainter diffused halo.  The galaxy shows spiral structure with an arm coming from the south, to the west then bending around to the north.  There is another extension with a dark area separating it from the galaxy.  Wonderful object to observe.

5. NGC 4725 Spiral Galaxy in Coma Bernices.  6/22/2012; 12:50am MDT;  FR 006;  Antoniadi I; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW and Type I Paracorr;
Notes:  Another large spiral galaxy.  It has a diffused outer halo with a bright inner core region and a stellar nucleus.  Arm structures are somewhat evident on the outer portion (I needed to take my certain rag and lighten the pastel chalk here more) on the NNE and SSW sides.  This is another impressive galaxy to observe.  This sketch was okay for me. As I mentioned I am using a new pen for brighter stars and it started to leak here (returned it for a new one that doesn't leak).  So stars are uneven more than usual.

6. NGC 4150 Elliptical Galaxy in Coma Bernices;  6/21/2012; 1:08am MDT;  Antoniadi I; vMag. 11.6; Size: 2.3' x 1.6'; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW and Type I Paracorr.
Notes.  This is a small and bright galaxy.  The outer halo is somewhat dim, with a bright core region.  Seems to almost have a stellar like core which an elliptical shouldn't have.  It looks to me like some of the pastel chalk came off on this sketch on the bottom of the galaxy.

7. NGC 4414 Class SC Spiral Galaxy in Coma Bernices;  6/21/2012; 12:28am MDT; FR 006; Antoniadi I;  XX149 with 10mm Pentax XW and Type I Paracorr;  Size 3.8' x 2.2'; vMag. 10.1;
Notes:  Very bright outer halo and brighter inner core region.  Stellar core is evident in the nucleus as is a bulge.  Multiple arms are observed.  Arms are easier seen in the actual sketch as I made them faint and  I am not sure how well they are showing up here.

8.  NGC 4565 Edge on Spiral Galaxy in Coma Bernices;  6/20/2012;  11:55pm MDT;  FR 006; Antoniadi I; XX14i and 10mm Pentax XW with Type I Paracorr;
Notes:  My friend Daniel showed this to me in his 17.5 inch dob and it was on the list for that night, so after finishing my observation and sketch on the current object, I went back to this wonderful and brilliant edge on in my own 14 inch.  Wow!!!!  in both scopes.  This is the best example of an edge on galaxy I have seen and by far, my favorite of those objects.  This galaxy is very bright, and very elongated.  It has a semi-bright outer halo with mottling evident from a dust lane which is evident.  The inner core is bright and has a stellare core intersected by the dust lane.  Beautiful.  See this one when you can! Very happy with my sketch on this one.

9. NGC 4274 Class Sb Spiral Galaxy in Coma Bernices;  6/20/2012; 11:44pm MDT; Antoniadi II;  Size: 6.9' x 2.8'; vMag. 10.4; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW and Type I Paracorr;
Notes:  Very bright outer halo on this galaxy, with a large inner halo and a stellar nucleus.  Faint arms are detectable.  This was a fun observation for me and one that I had to work to get the detail out of it.  I like when I have to work for it. I do not think I put the faint spiral arms in the sketch though.

10. NGC 4494 Elliptical or Lenticular Galax in Coma Bernices;  6/21/2012; 11:30pm MDT;  FR 006; Antoniadi II to a I;  XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW and Type I Paracorr;
Notes:  Fainter outer halo, then a brighter core region with a substellar nucleus.  Medium size and it is a nice one time stop.

11. NGC 4245 Spiral in Coma Bernices;  6/20/2012;  11:19am MDT: FR 006; Antoniadi II;  XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW; Size: 3.2' x 2.7'; vMag. 11.4;
Notes: Bright inner core with a stellar nucleus.  Fainter outer halo that is diffused and moderate in total size.  Somewhat elongated W-E.  It is the larger galaxy in the sketch.

11a. NGC 4253 Spiral Galaxy in Coma Bernices;  See above for conditions and instruments. Size: 1.0' x 0.8'; vMag: 13.3;
Notes:  Very small and very, very faint galaxy.  Outer halo is detectable and there is a possible brightening near the core.  It is the smaller galaxy in the sketch and I should have made it fainter, much fainter in the sketch.

12.   NGC 6523 or Messier 8, The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius, an Emission Nebula;  vMag 6.0; Size: Large;  06/21/2012; 02:00a.m. MDT; Antoniadi I, clear and cool;  FR 006;  XX14i with 20mm Explore Scientific 68 degree EP with Type I Paracorr and a OIII and Ultrablock NB Filters:
Notes:  I am overall very please with this sketch.  Like any sketch, it can be refined but I like it.  I spent almost one and a half hours on it overall.  The tornado dark structure was easily visible as was the hour glass.  The open cluster of course was easily seen, though the filters dimmed it as my goal here was to capture in the sketch the nebulosity.  No color was seen and it was so beautiful on this night!  I hope I did it justice.  I also have to mention that the Eagle was very evident and I almost opted to sketch that also as the Pillars of Creation were evident (Daniel saw them also) but there was only so much time. Edit: I removed the second sketch as I did not like it as well as the first. The new second sketch is one that faded a little bit in iPhoto and brought out the highlighted areas a little more.

13.  NGC 4151 Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  6/21/2012; FR 006; Antoniadi I, clear, cool; vMag 10.2; Size: 6.3' x 4.5' ;  XX14i with 7mm Pentax XW & Type I Paracorr.
Notes:  This is a Seyfert galaxy with a very active black hole and it is the nearest Seyfert galaxy to Earth.  That means the black hole at the center of this galaxy is eating, feeding, consuming at this time.  This is a very bright galaxy, with a faint outer halo with some brightening near the edge, could be my mind playing tricks as I was getting tired at this time.  Bright inner core with a stellar nucleus is evident.

13a. NGC 4156 Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  vMag 13.5; Size: 1.4' x 1.1; see above entry for conditions and instrument.  This is another very, very faint galaxy and it is very small.  Possible elongation but I can't be sure.  Possible stellar nucleus or brightening near the core region. I included it in the sketch but once again, it is far too bright and again, I need my cloth that lifts up the dust and leaves a very faint and nice galaxy behind.

14.  NGC 4258 or Messier 106 Spiral Galaxy in Canes Vanatici; 6/20/2012; Antoniadi II; FR 006; XX14i, 7mm Pentax XW with Type I Paracorr;  vMag. 9.1; Size 18' x 7.2';
Notes:  Yep, another sketch of Messier 106.  I was unhappy with the last one I did and I am still unhappy with the arms again, especially the upper or western arm as it is too bright.  The outer halo I feel better about.  Oh well, next spring perhaps.  M106 is a bright galaxy with a dim outer halo and a bright core region.  Arms again are faint and somewhat evident.

15.  NGC 6656 or Messier 22, Globular Cluster in Sagittarius; 6/21/2012;  FR 006; Antoniadi I; XX14i with 7mm and 10mm Pentax XW;  Type I Paracorr.
Notes:  Well, I am disappointed in my first attempt at a globular using the Mellish method.  I need to keep at this object for sketching and start with some smaller ones.  I like the outer halo, the next halo and the inner core that I captured.  I even like the star field though I have to learn how to use that ink pen for the larger stars.  The diffraction spike here is a distraction for me.  Oh, well, I have to start somewhere and to be honest, it is a MUCH better sketch the the first one I tried on this object, which I posted below and was done in 2009.  Still not a reflection of what I see and until I get that I won't be happy and I guess that is a good thing. There is a PN in here I would like to take a crack at one of these nights.

2009 Sketch of Messier 22: (ouch!).

16.  One last sketch that was in the plastic folder with sheets that I store my sketches in.  It is of Messier 57, the Ring Nebula.
NGC 6720 or Messier 57  The Ring Nebula: FR 006 Site 1: 06/21/2012; about 2:30a.m. or so MDT; Antoniadi I clear and cool; XX14i with 7mm, 3.5mm Pentax XW and 4.7 Explore Scientific 82 degree EP;  Ultrablock and OIII Filter, Ultrablock was better and no filter. The filters enhanced the PN but the central star was observed with no filter.
Notes:  The ring stood out and the first thing I noticed was that the 14.7 and 14.3 mag stars were visible.  So I decided to do what Daniel and I had talked about and go for the central star.  Daniel at this time also went for the central star in his 17.5 dob at mag 15.3.  At first I had to adjust to the contrast in the middle and then I saw it, it blinked at first with averted vision and then with direct vision, it held.  It really stuck out and it was great to observe it with the 14 inch dob.  Another item I can scratch off this year.  In the sketch I tried to capture the field stars around M57 but they are much too bright.  I am happy with M57 itself though.


Observing June 15th and 16th, Pit n Pole or near

Last week was suppose to be my personal highlight of the summer. I was going to attend the Great Basin National Park Astronomical Festival.  Due to family reasons I was unable to do so.  I could have made Friday night and done Saturday, but the forecast for Friday was dismal so I decided to stay local.  From talking with a friend it seems that wasn't the case.  Oh well, I had a fun time in the West Desert anyway. 

On the evening of June 15th, I met up with my friend Jorge at the Pit and a RV was set up there.  So we scouted around and actually found a wonderful set up about farther south of the Pit.  Sorry, not giving directions to this on in the public as if I have to go to the Pit I am going here instead from now on.  It is just off a dirt road by about 100 feet so that could be a negative.   It is a grassy area that is flat and has no shells from people shooting and leaving their shells there.  That night we ended up by a gate just down from another shooting area farther west.  It was flat, only had a few shells laying around.  I hesitated taking the 14 out of the car because it was so cloudy and windy.  Eventually though I set up and go going.  Here are a couple of pictures taken from the area:

As you can see it was flat but dusty.  

 Those are the Sheeprock Mountains in the distance near the Vernon Observing Sites.

Notice the clouds, that is what we faced but they cleared off nicely by 11:00p.m. when we could begin to observe. 

I decided this night to do something different.  I needed a break from all the lists I am working on so I picked a constellation to work, and worked it.  I'll share some of the sketches I made from that night.  I have to say this was a nice break and though I got several objects on my Herschel 400 II list, I enjoyed hunting this way this night. Sometimes it is good to do something new.  Also in posting my sketches, I usually darken the background in GIMP, I am not doing this time,  and I sometimes round off a few stars.  Not this time. It is the raw sketch from the eyepiece.  One of my goals this time was to play with the level of pastel on the paper to give the galaxies a fainter appearance and to have any structure stick out.  I used a cloth to help lift off some of the dust if I felt there was too much when I was sketching and I think that helped this time.  You can decide for yourself. 

My first set of objects were another set of interacting galaxies.  I like interacting galaxies and find them interesting.  In this case this pair is really easy to find and they lay off of the star Chara in the constellation of Canes Venatici.  Known as the Cocoon Galaxy their NGC are NGC 4985 and NGC 4490.  Here is there information.  I won't duplicate instruments, sky conditions since I observed them at the same time of course.

1. NGC 4985 Irrregular Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  June 15th, 2012, 11:25pm MDT or 6/16/2012 at 05:25 UT;  Rush Valley, Utah, Hill Top 1; Antoniadi III, XX14i, wtih 20mm ES 68 as a finder, Pentax 10mm XW as sketching eyepiece and a Type I Paracorr.
Notes:  NGC 4985 is small, relatively bright, irregularly round and is interacting with NGC 4490 and has a bright stellar core as shown with averted vision this night. 

2. NGC 4490 is a Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  Same info as #1 above. 

Notes:  Very bright galaxy, elongated SW to NE.  The galaxy has an outer halo that then has another halo that forms the outline of the galaxy.  The first halo is twisted on at one like a candy wrapper.  Bright halo forms the core region with a stellar core with averted vision.  Fun and easy pair to observe together. 

The next object was another pair of galaxies that are suspected to be interacting and are an easy star hop from my previous targets.  Actually, I think everything I show here on this blog entry is something someone who has completed the Messier should do just for the fun of it.  I've seen some of these before, but that was okay as its nice to visit old friends. 

3. NGC 4618 Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  6/16/2012 at 12:20am MDT or 06:20 UT;  Gate 1, Rush Valley Utah, Hill Top 1;  Antoniaidi III; Size: 4.4'x3.6'; vMag 10.8; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW & Type 1 Paracorr;
Notes: Very bright spiral galaxy, faint outer halo with a bright core and a sub-stellar nucleus.  Possible elongated arm to the SE to the E   Hint of a bar? Elongated somewhat.

4. NGC 4625 vMag: 12.3 Size: 2.3'x2.0'; Other notes are the same as #3. 
Notes:  Roundish spiral galaxy, small in size. Very bright nucleus with a dim outer halo. 

The last object I sketched is one I haven't taken the time to look at for about 3 years, Messier 94 or NGC 4736.  

5. NGC 4736 or Messier 94, spiral galaxy in the constellation of Canes Venatici;  6/16/2012; 12:45a.m. MDT or 06:45 UT;  Rush Valley, Utah, Hill Top 1; Antoniadi III; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW;  Size 11.0'x9.1' vMag. 8.1; 
Notes:  This is a very large, roundish though irregular in some ways, spiral galaxy.  Hint of an outer ring perhaps but no other structure is visible outside of a bright and large inner core region. 

By the time I was done here with Messier 94, Canes Venatici was getting low in the sky to where I didn't like the views I was getting.  So I popped around and visited some old friends in Ursa Major.  Messier 51 was perhaps the best I had ever seen it this night.  The seeing cleared, the wind had died, and the transparency had gone through the roof.  The arms stuck out even in the new 20mm ES 68 degree eyepiece and in the Pentax, just WOW!  Not only could you clearly see the arms,  the bridge was more than visible this night making, and you could see actual variance in the structure of M51.  I should have sketched it but I didn't. 

The next night Jorge and I went out and were joined by our friend George who was going to image and work on getting his imaging equipment set up.  This was a good night though it started like the previous night with some clouds laying around to the north.  They went away at sunset.  This was a very good night for me until around 1:30a.m. when I started had jaw and a tooth that was just screaming pain.  I had a root canal done earlier in the week and the bite on the tooth was too high. This caused the periodontal ligament to become inflamed and sent the shearing pain on the tooth that had the root canal (the ligament and surrounding tissue were already inflamed from the infection around it).  The condition is called symptomatic apical periodontis or acute apical perodontitis and you can find out more about it if you want at this link.

Anyway, lets just say the pain would come and go but it was so intense it would buckle me over. Luckily the dentist adjust the bite and no problems now.  I'm taking ibuprofen to aid in the healing, that's all.  The tooth isn't cracked so that was good news.  Man, I hate teeth problems.  Ruined a good night of observing at the end.

So here is what  I got done that night. 

1. NGC 4914 Elliptical Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  6/16/2012 @ 11:24pm MDT;  Pit n Pole, Utah; Antoniadi II;  XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW; Size: 3.5'x2.0'; vMag. 11.6; 
Notes:  Large roundish outer halo, elongated somewhat.  Bright inner core region, relatively small. 

2. NGC 4868 Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  6/16/2012;  11:06pm MDT;  Antoniadi II; XX14i wtih 10mm Pentax XW;  Type 1 Paracorr; Size 1.5'x1.4'; vMag. 12.2; 
Notes:  Small galaxy with a roundish in size.  One faint fuzzy, bright inner core.

3. NGC 5005 Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici; 6/16/2012; 11:55pm MDT;  Antoniadi I; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW with Type 1 Paracorr;  Pit n Pole, Utah;  Size: 5.4'x2.7'; vMag.9.8;
Notes:  Very bright and very elongated galaxy, NW to SE.  Core region is very bright and somewhat elongated.  Stellar nucleus. 

4. NGC 5033 Spiral Sb Galaxy in Canes Venatici;  6/17/2012; 12:25am MDT; Antoniadi I; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW and Type 1 Paracorr;  Pit n Pole, UT;  Size: 10.5'x5.6'; 
Notes:  Very, very bright galaxy.  The outer halo sticks out as does the bright inner core region.  Very stellar nucleus and a hint of mottling and arm structure is evident.  Probably my favorite sketch of the night, as I enjoyed getting the detail out of this object and sketching it.  Felt I nailed this one.

Well, that was it.  I wanted to sketch either the Veil (had just a wonderful view of it), the Lagoon (best view ever of it, with various hues and shades of gray in the nebula) or the Eagle or the Swan.  That old tooth just won't let me.  I stayed home on Sunday because of Father's day and I was still really hurting.  Monday the kids had their wisdom teeth out so that ended that.  I feel good right now and will be observing both tonight and Wednesday night before I'm done for this new moon period I believe. 


Mix up Your Observing; Father's Day Tribute

Close up of the sunset from the West Desert of Utah. 

Actual view of the sunset from the West Desert of Utah. 

Well, the last two nights have been wonderful . . . well kinda of.  Last week I had a root canal done on tooth 26, my lower right lateral incisor and the pain from the tooth is gone, kinda of.  Last night though I noticed that I was biting on that tooth or even while speaking hitting that tooth with its upper companion before I hit any other; in other words my bite is off.  After two and a half hours of observing last night, I started to get intense, and I mean intense pain.  I had this happen once before and I believe when my dentist did the build up on the tooth, it wasn't adjusted so I am aggravating the ligament that holds the tooth to the jaw.  Man, it hurts and I can't wait to see my dentist on Monday morning to fix this. Besides later posting the observing details and sketches, I got a new eyepiece, the 20mm Explore Scientific 68 degree.  I used it the last two nights as my finder eyepiece and to observe with and I'll later post a review on that eyepiece later.

On to the heart of the post.  I will state that last two nights have been truly wonderful.  I have to admit that I have felt in a "funk" lately with observing.  I then realized why.  I have been chasing lists now for five plus years as a way to organize and improve myself as an observer.  For me, it has really worked and helped.  However, I have a tendency to get fixated when I do something like this, which isn't bad, but it can lead to me getting bored.  So I changed up the last two nights how I have been observing.  This has brought a refreshment of enjoyment and a flood of ideas to me.  It's nothing magical, but it worked.  I picked two constellations that I haven't been too in several years, and really began to work them.  They were Canes Venatici and Cygnus.  I have spent most of my time in Canes Venatici and working the galaxies there from 11:00pm MDT to around 2:00pm MDT.  Cygnus will come this week after I get my tooth and jaw fixed.

I won't post all the details as I have to photograph and then post my sketches and write up the observation, but I had a blast. I felt no pressure to rush through objects, I took my time observing the objects and sketching them and feel I've did some really good jobs in sketching. I realized that besides varying the amount of pastel that I use, I need to slow my sketching down.  The quality of the sketch really improves as I take my time, again something I know but needed to realize again.  I saw arms, mottling and other such objects.  The good news is that all of the objects I observed also are on either the H400 II, the 2500 or the NGC so I covered my lists without even thinking about it.  So, if your in an observing funk, then mix up what your doing since change is the only constant in life, and see if you can make it fun again for yourself!  So, this week my two adult children (Kendra and Nathan who are 19 and 18) are getting their wisdom teeth removed tomorrow, and I have to get my own tooth fixed.  So I won't be heading out on Monday.  I'm planning on Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly Thursday (if I'm not burned out) heading out to my favorite dark site, camping if my tooth will allow it, and finishing up Canes Venatici and then working in Cygnus and Hercules.  One evening I am going to chase only planetary nebula, my favorite objects and sketching them.  Man I am excited and feel like a kid at Christmas.

On another note.  Today is Father's Day and as I drove home last night, I thought of my own father.  On June 22nd, it will have been 30 years since my father passed away.  Wow, that just blows me away.  Time is so fleeting as I realized with my kids being out of high school, watching the spring constellations fade, then the summer constellations rise and then they faded as fall and a couple of winter stars appeared before morning last night.  Time really does pass by so quickly. My father's passing brought a very dark time to my life and the life of my family, times I don't honestly like to reflect on or think about, let alone discuss outside of my family.  Yet, with age comes the beginning of wisdom I guess and as I reflect on the short 17 years that my father was in my life, I marked how much of an influence he has had on me. My father, like myself and all of us, was not a perfect man. He had some things he did that just drove me nuts, and other things that were amazing to me. He gave me a love of music, exposing me to all types of genres of music, something I am very grateful for. My father instilled in me a love of learning, of history and of reading and using my imagination. My father disciplined sternly and then followed up lovingly not to change the consequences, but to know that the consequence met he loved me, and though he may not like the choice I had made, that he still loved me, something important to a boy who was sensitive. My father taught me to drive and gave me the freedom that came with driving and to work on cars.  His perfectionist approach to everything in life marked me with a similar approach, yet different in the sense that I need to push myself, to grow and to do my best.

As a father now for 19 and 18 years of two kids, I realize how hard it is to be a parent. I know that either Kendra or Nathan could share my own imperfections, my own annoying habits, my own quirkiness with you.  I also hope that above all they know that I love them, and that I have tried to do my best.  I guess my point is though and here is the astronomy tie in, father's have a life long impact on their children, more than they ever will know.  I have posted here, and still have the little zoom telescope that my father used and let me use to look at the moon and the planets. That little gesture on his part sparked a deep and lasting enjoyment in amateur astronomy.  My father sparked an interest that came out as an adult and that gives me pleasure and relaxation.  My father, though being gone for 30 years, continues to impact my life in a positive way and thus, has impacted my family, my kids and will continue to do so, as long as they or I am alive.  Yes, tell your father's you love them, think of their impact on you, and if they are not here, raise a toast to them in your heart or by a glass of your favorite drink in their memory. Thanks Dad, for everything.  If your a dad, Happy Father's Day to you.


Astronomical Sketching Forum

I did something tonight that I hope people may see value in and will find a home at.  I made a forum dedicated solely to astronomical sketching.  Up front I'll state I get no money or compensation for this in any way.  It is there simply as a place for those who sketch to go, discuss and share their sketches, and I hope the techniques they use to create them.  I know I shared in my welcome something that I learned about this week with my own sketching.  It will be invaluable to me as I continue to grow in the Mellish method.  I also am hoping to film some of my sketching in the field, or if not in the field, as I re-create a sketch at home so others can see how I do it.  I also intend to post a couple of what I call start over Jay pieces. These are sketches I got to a point and realized that something was wrong or that I needed to start over.  Please share about your observation and the techniques you use while observing visually as well.  If you don't sketch, please feel free to come over and discuss visual observing as well.

I don't mean to take traffic from any site, I just felt it would be nice if those in the amateur astronomical sketching community had an entire forum to call home.  If there is a thread you want, let me know via a PM and I'll add it.  If you have other ideas let me know also.  If you hate the "skiin" or layout, let me know and if enough hate it, I can easily change it until we find one we may not all like but can agree to use.

So here is the link.  Hope to see some sketchers over there! By the way, if you've been in the astro sketching community for awhile, are someone I probably know from reading posts online or have emailed you,  and would like to volunteer to mod or I'll be looking for another admin as well, let me know.  It's not hard as I don't anticipate this site taking off in large numbers.

Oh, if you want the actual URL and not just a link, here is that:

I have good weather ahead through next week and the sign is up saying "Gone Observing and Fishing."  See you in a week or so.



Observing Plans for June

There is a lot going on.  Great Basin National Park is having their Astronomy Festival this coming Thursday through Saturday.  If you want a great national park to go and hike around and one that has great skies at night and a cave you can tour during the day, then go to the Festival!  I have planned on attending this one all year but a family circumstance has come up that may mean I only go on Friday and Saturday or not at all.  I won't know until Wednesday.

My other plans then are rather up in the air.  If the air settles down tonight (we had a dry cool front come through yesterday and the wind is still up) I may head out to Pit n Pole tonight or the next several nights to get in a four or five hour session.  I am currently making plans on what to observe and right now I will be in Virgo and Canes Bernices  for a while as I have a few objects to chase down there, and then I am doing a combination thing.  I am going to use Sue French's Deep-Sky Wonders to explore some old friends and as a fun way to spend some time this summer comparing my own observations to hers.  I'll also post some finder charts for some of the objects in the book here as a way to help get closer to the objects. I highly recommend that if you enjoy her article you get the book.  My H400 is almost done, though I do have a few objects that I want to observe and sketch, and I want to do a wide field sketch of the summer Milky Way using either visual or binoculars.  On top of that I do have some summer Herschel 400 II items to chase down, but not too many.  This leaves me then with two projects to work on.  One is my dark site vs. home site observing list and the other is taking a constellation and working it and sketching the most interesting visual objects (to me) in that constellation and making my own list.  The goal is not to just make another list, but to make a list by month and constellation of the objects be they Messier, NGC, Herschel 2500 that are challenging to both find and observe, enjoyable to observe and find; some that could fit with the Messier (I dislike that notion, because Charles Messier saw what he saw, recorded what he recorded so I prefer to say ones that could add in with the Messer's) and some that are golden flakes hidden in the river we call the Milky Way.

So for either tonight or tomorrow I am doing the Herschel 400 II objects (after my time in Virgo and Bernices) in Hydra, Bootes and

The objects in Bootes are the Herschel 400 II objects there which are the following NGC numbers:
NGC 5481, 5490, 5520, 5523, 5529, 5533, 5548, 5582, 5590, 5600, 5602, 5660, 5687, 5899 and all are galaxies.  In Sue French's Deep Sky Companion for June on pages 133 to 135 she shares her "Buried Booty of Bootes."  Right now there is another "booty" to be had.  Comet Linear is near NGC 5481 at magnitude 12.2, well worth a peak in the scope and perhaps a sketch. Anyway, the details and observations are well worth it from Sue French's book and the items include two asterisms, Messier 3, NGC 5466 (a Herschel 400 object) both are globulars, one Herschel 400 II object in NGC 5529 and then the galaxies NGC 5557, 5676, 5689.  That should keep me going in Bootes.  Here is a finder for NGC 5557, 5529, 5533.   

Here is one of NGC 5676, 5689, 5660. You can decide which you prefer and let me know.  Let me know if you like having the finder charts or if I am just wasting my time posting them.

The next place will be in Hyrda and in Hydra I will be going after more Herschel 400 II object.  I'll be going after Herschel 400 II items and here in Sue French's book, I believe most of the objects are Herschel 400 II objects so they match up nicely.  The first will be the Draco Trio of NGC 5981, 5982, and 5985.  Next will be NGC 5987 then over to NGC 5907 the Splinter Galaxy then to NGC 5905, 5866and then up to Messier 102, the Spindle Galaxy.  Then on to NGC 6015, 6340, 4319, 4291, 4133, 4250, 4236,  4256 and 3682.  As time allows this week I want to use Sue's guide and the Herschel 400 II to go through both eastern Virgo and then Canes Venatici.  More on this later, I have to go eat, change, load and drive out to set up.  Yep, I'm heading out, even for a short 4 1/2 hour session.  Why not? I don't have work tomorrow.


Transit of Venus, Part II: Solar Chasers by Nathan Eads

Well, here is part 2 written by my son with one small edit on my part.  Other than that, this is all written by Nathan.  I think I should  turn the blog over to him! Hope you enjoy yesterday's adventure from his viewpoint. 

Considering Tuesday had been a great day, when Dad reminded me that the Transit of Venus was going on, that just increased how great the day was. That afternoon, we were set up in the back yard, and armed with our solar-scope, and eclipse shades, we were ready for whatever happened on the sun.

Unfortunately, we hit a major impasse on our mission. A well sized, dark and foreboding cloud bank moved in right above our home, concealing the oh so treasured sun from view.

So, after standing around for what seemed like ages, my dad made the decision to pack up and move. Luckily, Kendra, my sister, had just arrived home, which meant all we had to do was grab a jacket, throw everything into the Pathfinder, and head South/South-West to where the clear blue skies mocked us.

The race was on after that. We, as Dad so appropriately put it later, became Anti-Storm Chasers, leaving behind the clouds and driving to find the sun, or Sun Chasers if you wish. Stopping by an old neighborhood, we ran out of luck, and moved down the new Mountain View Corridor highway, just opened, and hit 134th, to move to Bangerter, and there to Utah County.

In that time, we ran into a few places that would have been ideal, but by the time we got into the parking lots, or found a place to pull over, the cloud-bank was on top of us. Getting extremely frustrated, we started to head out to the West Desert.

While on the way, I saw what would’ve been a ideal place, however, the Veteran’s Memorial Park,  a cemetery for veterans, and we did not want to disturb that hallowed ground, so we moved back to the freeway from there.

Finally, we found a highway system leading into Lehi, where the skies were clear, and the Sun was shining perfectly. Racing to find an opportune place, we find North Point Elementary School, and pulled into its empty parking lot.

Turns out, we had made the right choice. Excluding the wind, which was some of the strongest winds I’ve seen in my life (I’m extremely sheltered), the seeing was great. I made first contact as Dad was setting up the scope with the eclipse shades, which the wind blew out of my hands on arrival. Dad borrowed a pair, looked, and then went to get the same view, but closer using the mighty solar-scope.

Well, after a few minutes, we got it, and while looking at it, a thought came to me. Seeing that little dot on the sun puts things into perspective about how small our planet is. Now, I know that it’s not to exact scale, as Venus is closer to us than the sun is, but I will say this: it’s humbling to know that while we are small in the scale of the universe, we are an occurrence of great significance.

I digress before I turn this into a philosophical rant. So, between the both of us, Dad and I got around 45 minutes each of observing time. During this time, Matt called, and we decided to help him out by scouting out a few places for him to get clear sun.

By this point the cloud-bank was over our little piece of observing heaven, blocking the Sun again. We headed further east towards Highland, where some sunlight was still at full strength. Unfortunately, by the time we hit a spot that seemed good, the cloudbank was over the Sun.

To the south, the skies were clear and mocking. Deciding to call it a day, Dad called Matt, giving him some advice about where to go, and we, Dad and I, headed home. Hitting the highway, I brought Dad up to date with my music selection. Not surprising, he liked it, though I did avoid some of the darker stuff.

Anyways, we hit home, and thinking to be done, settled back into the nightly routine. We dined, and moved on with our lives. Dad received a phone call from one of his observing buddies, and was talking to him, when we had a break in the clouds. Looks like our good karma was kicking in.

Inviting Matt’s sons, who were driving to his location where he was getting some good seeing from what I could tell, and two of my friends, we had a mini star party at house, well, a solar party anyways (yeah, that was bad…). Seeing what we could until the Sun dropped behind a cloudbank over the mountains, we eventually called it good.

So, the overall outcome was good.  Saw a once in a lifetime event that many missed out on, or didn’t know about. Yes, I’m bragging, but I’m a newly graduated adult, I’m still in teen mode. Anyways, I had a ton of fun hanging with my old man. Time is slowly starting to increase in speed and that means I’ll get busy, so I won’t be able to hang out with him as much as I used to, and would love to. So I’ll gladly eat up any moments I can when spending time with him.

Well, have fun reading this…hope it reads fine.


Transit of Venus in Utah Part I Storm Fleers

This will be a two part entry.  The first one will be by me, and the second one I've asked my son to post a guest piece about our trip to observe the transit of Venus.

Today I had training for work so I got out of it at 2:00p.m. and headed home.  I talked on the phone to my friend Mat and I was hoping to be able to observe from home.  At home, I rested, talked with my other friend Jeff, and cleaned up a few things and then waited for my son to finish his voice lesson at his teacher's house.  After his return, I talked again with my friend Jeff and then we left to try and find the sun after trying in the backyard and realizing that it just wasn't going to happen.  We drove and I tried a park in Bluffdale I know but we were about 15 minutes to late.  So I drove down to Lehi, Utah, to  the new Mountain View Corridor that connects I-15 to Redwood Rd. and at a new elementary set up and we were able to observe for almost an hour the transit of Venus on the Sun. While here the winds really started to blow and as I talked with Mat on the phone, I said that it was like we were storm chasers and Mat had a reply and Nathan changed it to Storm Fleers.  From here we went to east to the city of Highland where in the Smith's parking lot we were able to get in about 20 minutes of a view.

We then came home and after eating dinner, I talked with Jeff again and the Sun came back out and I showed the transit to my son's two friends and to Mat's two sons.  In truth, these views were probably the best we had of the transit all day with little wind, the clouds breaking and good periods of good seeing.  However, I had a wonderful time fleeing the clouds and storm with my son, driving and his companionship and his conversation.  In the end, though many aspects of this hobby are individual, it is the human connections that we make that perhaps are the most memorable. I guess  there is no place like home!

Mat's sons and Nathan's friends stayed for a while and I enjoyed the conversation with both set of young men and it made sharing the view that much more enjoyable. It was nice to hear my son's friend talk about bringing a date to the Herriman Star Party on the 4th Friday as I think it is wonderful to see young people interested in astronomy around us. Finally the Sun sunk behind a cloud bank and that banks was thick and it was right above the mountain so that meant the end of observing the transit for us.  I took some pictures or attempted to and I'll share them here.

Here is one of the Sun in the eyepiece but I wasn't able to get it with any details of Venus on it. 

 This is one that reflects what many of us struggled with today at some point here in Utah.  The clouds.  Nevertheless I really like the image of the clouds going in front of the Sun in this picture. All images taken in the Chuck Hards Solar scope with a 20mm 68 degree Explore Scientific eyepiece.

 GOTCHA! A little bit of clouds,  and that black dot, it's Venus!

One more over exposed shot for the fun of it of the Sun.


Suggested Planetary Nebula for Summer to observe

Spring has an abundance of galaxies, and next week I'll be hunting a few last ones down early in the evening.  However, then comes summer and I have completed all of the summer Herschel 400 and will work on the Herschel 400 II.  I am also going to combine this work with some other favorite objects I like and one of my most favorite type of objects to hunt down are planetary nebula.  I am hoping to have the Zambuto mirror in the 14 by then.  Yep, I still am waiting for it.  It is at Nova Optical and Steve Dodds needed to do some maintenance on his chamber so I have a few more days to wait (which is just fine as I have been swamped with family and my son's graduation).

So I thought I would post some of the planetary nebula that I am going to either hunt or re-hunt down and a finder chart for them.  If you want to see the finders or images in a larger frame, click on them and then you can navigate them in a larger format.

1. IC 4593 in Hercules.  RA 16 11 45;  Dec: +12 04 17; Size: 15 x 11; PN Mag: 11.4; Central Star Mag. 11.2. 

Here is a finder chart:

Here is an image: 

2. NGC 6210 in Hercules.  RA 16:44:30  Dec. +23:48  Size: 20x13;  PN Mag. 9.7; Central Star Mag. 12.2. 

Here is the finder (it is the lower part of Hercules): 

Here is an image: 

Takes magnification very well, gives a blue color and two envelopes in larger scopes can be seen.  

3. NGC 6302 The Bug Nebula in Scorpius; RA: 17:13:44;  Dec. -37.06.14; Size: 83' X 24';  PN Mag. 12.9; Central Star Mag: ? 

Here is the finder chart (and the finder for the next PN, NGC 6337)

The image: 

4.  NGC 6337  in Scorpius;  RA: 17:22:15;  Dec: -38: 29: 01;  Size: 49' x 45'; PN Mag: 12.0; Central Star Mag: 12.0. Very faint, ring like outer structure with items visible in the central region including two stars.  Nice one to up the magnification on.

Finder chart: 


5. NGC 6445 The Little Box Nebula in Sagittarius:  RA: 17:49:15.1;  Dec. -20:00:34;  Size: 38' x 29';  PN Mag. 13.2; Mag Central Star: 19.1;  

Great surface brightness and at high magnification offers wonderful views and structure. 

Finder chart: 


6. NGC 6369 in Ophiuchus; RA 17:29:21; Dec. -23:45:35;  Size: 38; PN Mag: 12.9; PN Central Star: 16.0;  

Takes magnification well at around 500x will be quite annular in appearance.  

Finder chart: 


7. NGC 6629 in Sagittarius;  RA: 18:25:43;  Dec. -23 12 10;  Size: 16' x 14';  PN Mag: 11.6; PN Central Star: 13;  

Central star is easy to see in this small but bright planetary nebula.  Bright, high surface brightness with a sharp edge.  

Finder chart: 


8. NGC 6543 Cat's Eye Nebula;  RA 17:58:33;  Dec. +66:37:59;  Size: 23' x 18';  PN Mag. 8.8; Central Star 10.9; 

With a larger scope you can see the two shells that surround the central star which is also visible. Some filament structure can also be seen in larger scopes.  Great Target to take magnification up on to see the details. 

Finder chart: 


9.  NGC 6818 in Sagittarius, The Little Gem Nebula;  RA 19:43:58;  Dec. -14:09:11;  Size: 22' x 15';  PN Mag: 10.0; Central Star: 16.9; 

Very bright, very blue in color with a high surface brightness so high magnification is really useful here and allowed.  PN should be brighter on the eastern end and may appear annular ans somewhat elongated also.  As shown in the finder image Barnard's Galaxy is right below and is a good challenge in a dark sky for a visual observer to see. 

Finder chart: 


 10.  NGC 6826 The Blinking Nebula in Cygnus:  RA 19:44:48;  Dec. +50:31:30;  Size: 27' x 24'; PN mag. 9.8; Central Star: 10.6; 

If you have a smaller aperture scope you can get this object to blink for you with averted vision and with a filter.  If you use a large aperture instrument then you won't get the blinking affect but you will have a wonderful view of the structure and of the central star and of a dark region near the central star.  Fun object and I haven't been here in a couple of years. 


 11.  NGC 6891 in Delphinus;  RA: 20:15:09;  Dec. +12:42:15;  Size: 12'; PN Mag. 11.4; Central Star Mag. 11.1; 

This one is a chase to get to as it is out there by itself.  Bring on the magnification between 400x and 500x and you'll see the central star, the outer and inner halo.  Bluish in color and small.  Fun though if you play with it and study it.  



 12.  NGC 6905 The Blue Flash Nebula;  RA: 20:22:23;  Dec. +20:06:16;  Size: 44' x 37';  PN Mag. 11.9; Central Star Mag. 14.2;  

Best way to get here is from the end of Sagitta and on the way you'll pass a small PN which is NGC 6886 so you can bag that if you want. 

NGC 6905 takes some work to get to star hopping but it is worth it.  It is one of my favorite summer objects NGC 6905 is stunning.  It is small in size but just delightful.  Central Star is easily seen as in structure around the central star including a dark area.  See this one if you haven't.  

There are actually many other planetary nebula that you and I can view and they can be found at this link.  I've listed some here I've seen before and for these, its been between two and four years since I've seen them and I look forward to visiting, observing and sketching these old friends.  Now, I have colored oil pastels but I need to pick up some colored chalk pastels to add a touch of color to the ones that I can see color in.