This winter has been dismal, horrid, unfriendly, distasteful and in my opinion downright depressing. Currently my dark site observing area is at 169% of normal snowfall and it has just made observing near impossible this winter.
That is not my house, but it is for sale about 2 streets over and this was before the last storm dumped another 14 inches of snow in the area!
Now, having said that, I will state that I said the weather has made it near impossible to observe. Keyword, is near. I did get out for two nights, the night of December 30th, 2016 and the night of January 17th to the early morning hours of January 18th, 2017. Roads were snow covered and in a couple of places muddy, but my Subaru Outback handled it just fine. The snow down in my observing area was present, but not as bad as at home. I was lucky for the most part as the snow was pretty frozen due to temperatures that were in the -4 degrees F to 10 degrees F and somehow someone had gotten to my observing area with some sort of ATVs and cleared off part of the area. Here are a couple of shots from the drive out.
The top picture shows you the road condition the best. Some mud near the cattle guards with snow covered dirt roads the rest of the way. Glad I went though and like I said, I had not problem driving out to the site, or back to the main road after I finished my observing session.
On December 30th, 2016, I went out with two goals only in mind. I wanted to capture Cassiopeia A in the 17.5" and then take a really good observation of Messier 1 the Crab Nebula. I also chased down 18 open star clusters in Monoceros, but I did not sketch those. The open clusters I captured were NGC 2215, 2225, 2232, 2236, 2244, 2251, 2252, 2254, 2259, 2260, 2262, 2269, 2270, 2286, 2301, 2302, 2306, 2309. Perhaps at some point I will include my observation of those open star clusters but not today. Enough that I observed them. Some were quite wonderful and had some fun asterisms, and a few, I wonder about (if they are open clusters and if so, they really are either small or really spreading out).
Well, after chasing open clusters for a couple of hours, at about 8:00pm MST I turned my scope to SW and high in the sky to Cassiopeia. I did my star hop (I have listed in another post on my blog HERE) to Cassiopeia A, and got in the general area. I easily detected without a filter on a faint whisper of this SNR in my 22mm T4 Nagler. I put a Thousand Oaks OIII in and structure to me became quite easily seen. I put in the 10mm Pentax XW with both a Thousand Oaks OIII and a DGM OIII to compare and the structure for this part of the SNR was easily seen. The arch stuck out this evening with the equilateral triangles easily seen. Fun to capture and I believe my sketch captures what I saw pretty well.
The top sketch shows what I saw with my 17.5" without a OIII filter. The bottom is with the OIII filter which seems to have brought out the brighter portions.
Next I moved the scope over to Taurus and easily found Messier 1 or NGC 1952 or what a lot people call the Crab Nebula. It has been a long time since I sketched Messier 1 (seems to be that way for me) and I wanted to see tonight if I could see some of filament structures. At first I did not observe using either my DGM or Thousand Oaks OIII filters and after studying the object for some time, I did not detect any filament structure. I studied the SNR with my 22mm T4 Nagler, my 10mm and 5mm Pentax XW. No filaments as I stated were seen. Now putting in the Thousand Oaks OIII filter with the 7mm and 5mm Pentax XW, I was able to tease and bring out some of the filament structure. I also detected some contrast with darker areas in Messier 1.
I had considered combining this with the observing of January 17th, 2017 but I want to do that separate. I spend most of my evening on the 17th of January observing, chasing after and sketching the remnants of Simeis 147 that I could capture, which for once I think I got more than I ever have before. So not a bad night his December 30th, 2016. In this winter beggars like me cannot be choosy.