Observing July 9th and 10th, 2013 Pit n Pole Utah; Land for Observing II; Protostar Secondary

July 9th was according to the forecast. due to be a wonderful evening with outstanding transparency and very good seeing. Every weather web link I could check, Clear Sky Clock, Skippy Sky Astronomy,, Intellicast, National Weather Service Salt Lake City, COD Meteorology and Nighttime Observatory all agreed. So my hope was this was going to be one of those nights of nights. We had decided on Pit n Pole for its closeness, 45 minutes and the ability to get back home after observing. I arrived after my friend Alan and he was in the process of setting up. On my drive out I noticed something I really didn't like. There was a strong band of lower level haze, and as I drove out to the site in the west desert, it was easy to tell that this was smoke from a fire. It was in reality, smoke that blowing northward with winds from a major forest fire in Las Vegas. Well, that was hard to predict and having only recently returned from California on a matter of family business, I wasn't as aware as I usually am about events that could impact seeing.

As I turned onto the Faust/Pony Express road I knew that the conversion to a gravel road had begun from a drive out to my property the week before. You can see the shots of the gravel road here and the new speed limit.

These are the pictures I took the week before when I was in my Altima. I didn't push it because I didn't want gravel to fly up and damage the paint. In the Pathfinder this day I took it up and was easy doing around 45 to 50 with no problems.  Enough vehicles had driven on the road that in each direction there were two sets of tracks that had worn the gravel away and allowed one to travel at a good clip. I stuck around 45 and was comfortable.  That is better than the old road where there are still pot holes and you have to basically stop to go through those areas. I would rather have a constant speed than to speed up and slow down, especially with a scope, eyepieces and other equipment that I don't want bumping all around. I thought this would be a bad move, so far I am finding it is not as bad as I thought. I reserve final judgement for when I go out for a couple days of observing at the Forest Road sites in a couple of weeks if the weather holds up.

The Faust/Pony Express Road is paved for just over a mile on the turnoff from SR 36 by Five Mile Pass and for just over a mile after the Rail Road Tracks you cross to go down into Faust.  Here is the new gravel down by Faust.

Here is the main road going into my land that I own southwest of Vernon.  It leads also to the neighbor's land and home which you may see in the distance.

This is the visual field I was going to use and have step up in a few times.  SQM here is 21.47. The Forest Road is usually around 21.88 to 21.90, except when the summer Milky Way is up and that drops it by around 15 or so points to around 21.77 (my land would drop also). So this site is equal to the Pit n Pole site in terms of darkness with no lights impacting.

This is what has got me looking to sell this property off in lots like the neighbor here has done. He has 3 lots sold, one looks to be building already and I never want to compete with this many neighbors on a remote site. So I have an agent and the listing(s) are up as I write this. I'll sell for a profit the entire plot or I'll see in individual plots which I would prefer as I make more on the individual plots.

However, all is not lost. I am looking for land in southern Utah now, as I want something down there we can retreat too or perhaps retire too, or if we retire to southern Utah, have some land I can go escape to!
On SR 36 as you go past Vernon and over the hill and past the railroad tracks there are 40 acres for sale as you can see here. Up to the ridge and over to the other side.  It's fenced and right next to BLM and Forest Land so selling of land though other things I am sure can happen.

Here is the road on that takes you up to the ridge. If I offer and it is accepted then I'd have this graded and new gravel put down like I did on the other.  

 This is the view looking east from the other side of the ride. You have the same view to the north, and the Vernon Hills and other hills block the Depot's lights so if the prison goes out that way, it should be blocked minus any sky glow it puts out.  The road you see here is a BLM road leading to a Forest site up in those mountains to the east. There is another nice observing area up there as well but you into more LP from the Provo to Spanish Fork Light Dome. I love the wide open vastness of the site and there is a point on the other side where you could set up on the land and have an open view 360 degrees like Pit n Pole, but much darker (I was out there and got a SQM of 21.88, 21.91 and 21.89.  No dry lakebed there either for humidity.

Here is the sign showing the land here for sale. I need to have my agent look into this this week.  My goal again is to eventually create a dark site where amateurs can come with their visual scopes or to a nearby spot their astro-photography and setup and enjoy an evening without being bothered.  The part of the land would be open and I'd put a combo lock on the gate like SLAS has done at SPOC and if you request the combo from me, or my good friend who will have it, and we approve, then you get the combo and can go out  as long as the rules for the site are followed (clean up all trash, use the facilities on site if you have to go, camp in the required area.  I had been thinking of putting a bunk house and stuff but I think instead I'll make sure there is a power source for those who do Astro Photography and then a camping site for those who want to stay the night and they can camp. I'll put a Yurt or something for me and my family to use when we are there, and perhaps a close friend or two in the winter.  Scaling down is the right thing that way the land is there to be used, I keep a good camping area, perhaps put in some poles and have available some tarps in a shed for those who want to put them up for shade in the summer where they camp.  Bottom line though, I've decided to keep it basic.

So, enough of that. I got out to Pit n Pole and it did NOT look good. I thought I had wasted a drive out and the effort to load. Alan was setting up but I waited as I had arrived really early like Alan.  I waited and finally, a breeze came up and slowly the smoke began to lift. As conditions were improving I decided to set up. I had to a complete re-collimation as I had installed with Mat a new Protostar Secondary.


Now I know some of have had problems with communication with Bryan. I had ordered and so had my friend Jeff and there was no communication, nothing. Well, I emailed Bryan expressing my displeasure on the lack of customer service and communication, and saying I would be happy to blog about my experience here.  Well, Bryan got back to me in a few days, he had been at a conference or out state on business for his real job. He graciously apologized and let me know what was happening. My friend Jeff got an email the next day and his order was fulfilled.  I admit, I felt bad or having to be firm, it may seem weird to those who know me, but I can be firm when needed, but I much prefer to find a win-win solution. I have to say that Bryan made this a win-win solution and I now have one of his fine secondary mirrors installed. Once the communication issue was solved, which is all I wanted, I just didn't want to be out the money as I pay the credit card off each month, but once we communicated everything went great! So I know Bryan is a small business and he does this on the side, and my only recommendation is to communicate. I think that is all any consumer wants. I have ideas on how to do that but I'll keep them to myself as its not my business and I don't see a need to do that here.  Overall though,  I would have rated my experience up to the communications a 1/10 and now I would put that as a 8/10, just because of the hiccup in communications.

Back now to observing. I got collimated and got everything set up as Mat had arrived and was doing the same thing. Mat aligned before me as I watch the skies improve and the sun set in a brilliant red from the smoke.  I then aligned and waited. As Antares came out Mat did a Star Test, which I also did and did a minor adjustment and then went to Saturn for a quick look.  After viewing Saturn, I went and pulled out my observing list, self generated charts and planned out my night.  At the beginning after Astronomical Twilight ended, I decided to look at some eye candy including M4, and some old PN's in Cygnus.  After that I put the OIII filter on the Panoptic 27mm and the ES 30mm 82 degree and checked out the Veil, both the western and eastern portions. Conditions had improved from what I would have called an Antoniadi V when I got there, to a IV and now they were at a III. Not great, but decent, good.  After looking at the Veil it was time to chase after Sharpless 2-091.  Here is a finder chart from ReinerVogel that shows where this is located: LINK.  I've made one from Starry Night Pro that your welcome to use. It is on my Google Docs at this link.  Realize my chart is roughly drawn in and shows the general area with a lot more stars.  I used this chart, Reiner's chart and a couple of images of the SNR and felt I could see with the OIII filter with the Panoptic 27mm thin filiments above HD185735 and above TCY2150-1413-1.  Mat did not see anything and seeing and transparency were not good so my goal is to retry this observation come my next new moon outing with what I hope are better skies and darker skies. Still, I should have been able to pick it up and personally, I felt I did pick up the faint threads of this SNR but I'll try again before calling it observed. I spent a good hour and half hunt down 091 and 094 before moving on.

Next I went back to the Herschel 400 II list and worked some PN's.  Here they are.

 1. NGC 6772 Planetary Nebula in Aquila.  July 10th, 2012, 1:19a..m. MDT; Antoniadi III; Pit n Pole, Utah; 14" Dob; 14mm & 10mm Pentax XW, OIII Filter; Type 1 Paracorr; Mild and hazy.

For some reason the sunlight coming through the window when I took these pictures dimmed them. So realize the actual PN's are brighter on the sketches.  This is a rather bright PN, gray in color, roundish in shape.  It is brighter on the edge and darker in the middle, but the middle is all nebulosity.  No central star is visible.

2. NGC 6804 Planetary Nebula in Aquila; July 10th, 2013; Pit n Pole, Utah; Antoniadi III; 14" Dob; 14mm & 10mm Pentax XW, OIII Filter; Paracorr Type 1; Mild and hazy.

This is a bright PN that jumps out with the OIII filter. The OIII filter is better with this object than the Orion Ultrablock.  Mag. 13.5 to 14 central star is visable with non-filter view.  Filter seems to hide the central star. Round in shape in the 14mm and the 14mm did not show the central star, only the 10mm Pentax XW did.  No color other than gray.

3. PK 36-6.1 PN in Aquila;  July 10th, 2013; 12:39a.m. MDT; Pit n Pole Utah; Antoniadi III, mild and haze clearing; 14" Dob; 20mm Pentax XW Finder; 10mm Pentax XW to observe & sketch; OIII Filter; Paracorr Type I;
Notes: Central star is easily seen at 165x. Shape is roundish to semi box like as you increase magnification.  The NW is the brightest part of the planetary nebula, and mottling is evident in the PN.  West is to the bottom left corner. 


4. NGC 6548 a Galaxy in Hercules;  July 9th, 2013, Pit n Pole, Utah; 10:45p.m. MDT; Antoniadi IV to a III, haze below 20 degrees due to fire from Las Vegas; 14" Dob, 14mm Pentax XW with Type 1 Paracorr.
Notes: Galaxy has a diffused outer shell, with bright inner core region.  Perhaps a stellar nucleus with averted vision.  Conditions at this time are not great but they are improving resulting in poor transparency making this a difficult object to observe and sketch. I will re-observe in August.

I then tried some more galaxies that evening in Hercules but I need better conditions to get the detail I want out of them.  That night wasn't a waste, no night under the stars is and I captures a few more Herschel 400 II that I just did not want to sketch. I'll add the objects to this entry this weekend after I pull out my list.  

Next is a practice sketch I did since I couldn't use my Explore Scientific AR102 during the moon phases this month due to the summer monsoon and the clouds and rains it is bringing.  So here is my practice sketch of Cedarbald 124, an emission nebula in Cepheus.  I have two different shots I took so I'll post them both.  It's lighting conditions, I need to find a better place to photograph these. I did these as I am going to use the refractor to hopefully do some wide field sketches this summer before the great summer objects fade away and I get back to teaching.  

In my next entry this weekend I will review my Explore Scientific AR102, the Twilight I mount, and a book on Supernova hunting I just finished. Here is a sneak preview of the cover of the book. It is Supernovae and How to Observe Them by Martin Mobberley.  I enjoyed it, have a couple of minor quibs but I'll cover that in my next entry.  Then after that, a couple of more books, hopefully a couple more observing sessions and reviews of some other goodies I have acquired or will be acquiring soon. Clear dark skies to you!