I was by myself as I have been for my last several trips. I am finding that I enjoy being alone when I observe. I also enjoy having a friend or two but I am just fine observing on my own. I pulled the 17.5 out of the Outback, and set up the base and the mirror box, then the trusses and the upper ring. Everything came together and using my Howie Glatter Laser Collimation tools, collimation came together right away. I ensured that I was on level ground and had my ground cover pad that the 17.5 was on. I then set up my two tables, a camping table that folds up and is aluminum and then my regular canvas fold up table. I then pulled out the charts I had printed off to use that night in Orion and Eridanus out of SkyTools 3. I love SkyTools 3 and how I can easily print off charts to use in the field. I can also take my laptop with its deep red rubylith and use it in the field if I want. I am usually content to use printed off charts. If dew could be an issue I put them in sheet protectors.
This night after getting everything set up, I let the mirror cool for about 45 minutes and simply sat on my observing chair enjoying the change from day to night. Twilight is one of my favorite times as it signifies to me, after I have set up my equipment, the transition from my day to day cycle of the pressures of life, to the sole focus on going after certain targets, observing them, reflecting on them, sketching them and the pure enjoyment that comes from that. I also enjoy see the show boat items I usually take the time to view. Coyotes howled, welcoming me to their realm for the evening, to the east of my location, with another group answering to the south of the first group. They would go off and on for the next hour or so before they faded away into the night, much like the constellations of fall, then later of winter.
The time came to observe and I started with M42. I love viewing the Orion Nebula as it reminds me of viewing it with my then 10 year old son and letting him view it for the first time. My mind has often been to my son Nathan, who has been living for the last two years in central and southern Italy. He is returning home this Tuesday and I am more anxious to see him again, then to even observe later this month in March.
M42 was gorgeous and the Trapezium was easily seen as were the stars E and F in the Trapezium. The nebula without a filter was incredible, one of the best views I have seen of it in a long time. Other wonderful views were NGC 1981 and Iota Orionis. Next are the sketches I made that night and then some quick shots of the Mars, Venus and Crescent Moon conjunction.
Notes: Large bright galaxy about 3" x 2" The outer edge seems to bleed into the background, with a brightening near the core, with a higher concentration of light there. Core is thus bright with a stellar nucleus. Some structure is hinted at in the eyepiece. This is a member of the Fornax I group.
2. NGC 1365 A spiral galaxy in Eridanus. February 18th, 2015. 07:05pm MST; Antoniadi II; SQM-L 21.82; Antoniadi II; 17.5 dob with 10mm Pentax XW, 8mm TeleVue Delos; Type II Paracorr, FR 006 My Site; Clear, cool 35 degrees F.
Notes: Large spiral galaxy, very bright core region with a bar present and observable. Attached to each bar is a long winding spiral warm that wrap around the inner core region. Wonderful view in the 17.5!
3. NGC 1385 spiral galaxy in Eridanus. February 18th 2015, FR006 My Site; 8:05pm MST; Antoniadi II; SQM-L 21.85; Clear, cool 28 degrees F. 17.5 dob, 10mm Pentax XW, 7mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr.
Notes: Rather bright and large galaxy, elongated somewhat North to South. Bright bar is visible surrounded by an irregular fainter outer region, with some spiral structure evident North to NorthEast and South to Southwest.
4. NGC 1367 Spiral Galaxy in Eridanus; February 18th, 2015; FR006 My Site; 8:35pm MST; Antoniadi II; SQM-L 21.86; Clear, Cool, 28 degrees F. 17.5" Dob. 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr;
Notes: A large bright galaxy with a very bright inner core region. Bright stellar nucleus with an outer halo that fades into the background with hints of structure.
5. NGC 1398 Spiral Galaxy in Eridanus; February 18th, 2015; FR006 My Site; 08:45pm MST; SQM-L 21.86; Antoniadi II; 17.5 Dob; 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr;
Notes: This is a large bright galaxy that's shape is between a round and an oval. Large bright inner core region with a bright stellar nucleus.
6. These are two images I took of the Mars, Venus, Crescent Moon conjunction that occurred on Friday, February 20th, 2015. Not great, since I didn't use a tripod. A tripod would have given better results.
I did observe the Pup and Sirius that night, using a mask I made for the 17.5. The curved spider I believe with the aperture made this the easiest split I have had so far. The distance between the PN and Sirius continues to widen so that is helpful also.
I also got time in in Puppis and I got Thor's Helment. I need to clean up my Sketch of Thor's Helment then I will post it. It was wonderful to be out and I ended the night around 10:15pm, broke down my equipment, loaded and got home at 11:30pm. I unloaded and was in bed by 12:30pm to get up and have a great day at work the next day. Hopefully in March I can get out at least twice.