Observing April 18th, 2015 West Desert, Utah

On Saturday, April 18th, 2015 I had the opportunity with a decent sky to get the 17.5 out in the West Desert of Utah. I broadcasted where I was going but as I set up and got collimated and then comfortable, I enjoyed as twilight came on. The scope was collimated, alligned and ready to go.  Here are a few pictures:

The 17.5 ready to go; Collimated and Aligned 

ATM Observing Chair (just want that wide bottom step for height and the two step step ladder)

17.5 up close. 

Close Up of upper assembly (need to rework the finder set up or not use it)

Sheeprock Mountains 

Late afternoon 

Magical time 

So as the sun set, I sat, organized, set up and ready for a wonderful night of observing.  I played with plenty of time to get the Stellarvue aligned with the focuser and the Telrad and it worked this time as I figured out how the system works.  I am at a point that at times I like the finderscope still, but more often then not, I just use a wide field eyepiece like the 27mm Panoptic, the 35mm Panoptic or the 24mm ES 82 degree EP as a finder.  As I find the field I go to mid-power, the 20mm Pentax XW and then work my way to the object and put in the higher power that the sky will allow me to use that night. Usually that is a 10mm Pentax XW or 10mm Delos, or sometimes when I am lucky, the 7mm XW or 6mm Delos.  

As night fell I noticed a car coming down the dirt road that led to where I was set up.  I didn't recognize the van coming and didn't know of anyone coming to meet me but figured it was someone coming to observe. Sure enough, it was a family and he was using a 6 inch dob on a equatorial platform.  As he set up I gave his wife, daughter and his mother-in-law a tour of the late winter and spring objects, including M42, M35, M36, M37, M38, M65, M66, NGC 3628, M44, M51, M101 to name a view. After this I took a potty break walking a good distance away of course, and then came back and got going on my own observing. 

I feel rusty somewhat but as I got set up and began to hunt down objects, sketch them and record my observations it was like I just had to adjust to being in the saddle again. I noticed later on my sketches that I am indeed rusty as my stars are bloated and definitely not the nice circles that I usually put in. So I only did a few sketches and observed only 4 objects that night because of the tour I gave, but that was just fine. 

NGC 4265 Spiral Galaxy in Corvus sb; April 18th, 2015; V.Mag 12.6; Size 1.2 x 0.5; Antoniadi III; West Desert, UT; 08:55pm MDT; 17.5" Dob; 10mm Pentax XW w/Paracorr Type II;

Faint and rather small, easy to pass over, surface brightness is not uniformed with some apparent mottling, nothing to write home about. 

NGC 4782 & NGC 4783 Galaxies in Corvus; April 18th, 2015; West Desert, UT; 09:45p.m. MDT; Antoniadi III; Paracorr Type II w/ Pentax XW 10mm; clear & cool, some haze/dust in air. 

Rather a bright pairing, and it seems that the galaxies are interacting by a joint haze that seems to join the two.  NGC 4782 is slightly brighter to me and they make for a fun observation. 

NGC 4038 &4039 The Ringtail Galaxies; April 18th, 2015, West Desert, UT, 10:30pm MDT; 17.5" Dob, 7mm Pentax XW w/Paracorr Type II; Antoniadi II-III.  With higher aperture the cores are bright and mottling is evident.  Arms are evident also, to specific tidal arms.  Wonderful object to observe at a higher aperture. 

NGC 4177 Spiral Galaxy in Corvus; April 18th, 2015; 11:20pm MDT: West Desert, UT; 17.5" Dob; 7mm Pentax XW w/Paracorr Type II; Antoniadi II to III; Clear, slight haze low.  

Faint galaxy with hints of arms and varying brightness levels.  Large and with averted vision shows extended and  fainter halo.  Some structure is hinted at.  Last object to sketch this night. 

From here I ended the night as the haze built up too much and the dust from traffic heading by.  May new moon is a washout as it rained all week and this weekend.  I did try in April to start a Moon Observing program again and I was successful for the first 3 nights.  After that the clouds rushed in and stayed in and have stayed around mixed with rain since then.  More on that later I hope.  Some items I have coming up; a review with images of the Explore Scientific 20mm 100 degree, the Explore Scientific 11mm 82 degree (for outreach or loan to someone using a scope); and a review on University Optics HD Abbe Orthoscoptic Eyepieces in the 4mm, 6mm and 12mm.