NexStar 50 Club Observation Log

Name: Brian Morton
NexStar Telescope Model: NexStar 11 GPS
Location: Unless stated otherwise all the viewings are at my home in rural Ohio. I’m very fortunate living in the country for there is little light pollution.
Substitutions
I have chosen the following substitutions for Northern Observers:
M3, M5, M37 & M38 to replace Omega Centauri, Jewel Box, 47 Tucanae and Table Of Scorpius.
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Object: 1 - Orion Nebula… M42 / NGC1976
Date Observed: 21st January 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon and very little wind, cloud cover to the North but it did not move into the East, South or West during this observing session. It was a very cold night with temperatures dropping down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of the session, which lasted approximately 4 hours, the scope was iced up but the dew heater and strips kept the corrector and ep’s clear.
I started out looking at M42 with a 22mm eyepiece and as always it was a magnificent sight with the trapezium standing out like a beacon. Added the O-III narrowband filter and once again enjoyed what I was looking at. M42 has to be my favorite Messier object, one that I will never tire looking at. Several time during the evening I returned to look once again at this gem.

Object: 2 - Hercules Cluster… M13 / NGC6205
Date Observed: 2nd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on.
Started looking at this with a 26mm eyepiece but changed to a 15mm. The view with the first one was great but the second one was the gem of the evening. I think that if I had used anything less than a 15mm it would have spoiled my enjoyment of this great cluster.

Object: 3 – Ring Nebula… M57 / NGC6720
Date Observed: 29th September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no clouds and very little breeze but rather on the cold side.
Good view of this great object, well worth spending more time on in future observing sessions. I tended to think more donut than ring but that could be just my first impression that will change with further viewings.

Object: 4 - Saturn
Date Observed: 21st January 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon and very little wind, cloud cover to the North but it did not move into the East, South or West during this observing session. It was a very cold night with temperatures dropping down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of the session, which lasted approximately 4 hours, the scope was iced up but the dew heater and strips kept the corrector and ep’s clear.
I was still using the 22mm ep (Nagler type 4) and to wind the evening viewing down on a grand note I selected Saturn and what a view! The Cassini division stood out great and I noticed something I had not seen before, something that looked like a shadow on the planet going from one side to the other, which I believe was a shadow of the rings as it looked curved. Four of Saturn’s moons were visible, Titan standing further off from the planet and Tethys, Dione and Rhea a lot closer.

Object: 5 - Moon
Date Observed: 7th July 2006.
Comments: Generally clear but with some clouds drifting about, low 56F. wind ESE at 5 to 10mph.
Very heavy condensation started early on and was getting bad just past midnight. The moon was very bright and made viewing of other objects a problem.
I had looked at Tammy Plotner’s “What’s UP 2006” for this evening and noted that she wrote about a crater near the southern terminator so with not knowing too much about the moon decided to use this one as my entry for the list.
The craters name that I was after was Longomontanus (named after Tycho Brahe's assistant). After looking at a friends “Virtual Atlas of the Moon” (which I have now downloaded to my computer) I started by locating the crater Tycho with its flat floor and central mountain. Tycho would be the smallest of the craters that I would observe. From there I moved from what was the smallest to what would be the largest of the three craters and that was Clavius. Clavius had a flat floor with its curving group of interior craters. These five craters appeared to be on an arc starting small and finishing with a larger one. Moving on from Clavius I found the crater I wanted for the list, Longomontanus. This crater was smaller than Clavius and it too had a flattish floor that showed 4 craters impacted in to it near one of its sides.
For viewing the moon I was using a 15mm ep (187x) with the moon filter on it.

Object: 6 – Andromeda… M31 / NGC224
Date Observed: 2nd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on.
The Andromeda Galaxy in the Constellation Andromeda is very impressive and is one that gets better with each observing session, one of my favorite Messier objects.

Object: 7 – Dumbbell Nebula… M27 / NGC6853
Date Observed: 3rd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds at first to cause problems, very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on and clouds started coming in from the North, North West until most of the sky was clouded over.
The Dumbbell Nebula in the constellation Vulpecula for some reason did not look as clear as it could have been and the “dumbbell” was not as defined as I know it should have been.

Object: 8 – Pleiades / Seven Sisters… M45
Date Observed: 21st January 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon and very little wind, cloud cover to the North but it did not move into the East, South or West during this observing session. It was a very cold night with temperatures dropping down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of the session, which lasted approximately 4 hours, the scope was iced up but the dew heater and strips kept the corrector and ep’s clear.
I got a better view of this through the scope itself this time rather than just using the finder scope because of the Nagler’s APFOV of 82 degrees. It really doesn’t matter though because through the finder scope, binoculars or the telescope itself the Pleiades is a magnificent object to see and it one of the “must see” Messier objects.

Object: 9 – Jupiter
Date Observed: 2nd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on.
Both Jupiter and Venus were in Virgo and dropping down towards the horizon when I observed them. The bands showed OK but did not pick up the spot. On this observation the Jovan moons were arranged two either side.

Object: 10 – Wild Duck Cluster… M11 / NGC6705
Date Observed: Evening of 27th and early morning of 28th May 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, was round the 80F mark and very humid when starting observing dropping down in the early morning to 67F. Light clouds kept drifting in and out until about midnight when it cleared up. Heavy dew later on in the evening/early morning.
A fairly large “loose” open cluster and I can see where the wild duck name comes from for it does resemble a flight of ducks. Powers used were 127x and 187x.

Object: 11 – Bodes Galaxy… M81 / NGC3031 & Cigar Galaxy… M82 / NGC 3034
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
I went first to M82 then to its neighbor M81. For me M81 is the grandest of this pair but this should not take anything from the cigar. This was the best viewing so far that I have had for these two galaxies.

Object: 12 – Swan Nebula… M17 / NGC6618
Date Observed: 2nd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on.
Very bright Globular Cluster, this fine object stood out well in the dark sky.

Object: 13 – Albireo-Double… Double List
Date Observed: 30th September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but rather on the cold side.
Albireo (whose position is at the head Cygnus the Swan) showed clearly as a blue/yellow split. I was observing this double at 70x. Viewing this star was the first time that I used something else on the keypad apart from the “M” or “NGC” keys.

Object: 14 – Perseus Double Cluster… NGC869 & NGC884
Date Observed: 2nd September & 3rd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, (2nd) good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on. Viewing conditions for the 3rd were similar for that of the 2nd but later on clouds started coming in from the North, North West until most of the sky was clouded over.
The famous double cluster in Perseus was clearer on the 2nd but still good enough on the 3rd to be very impressive as I was seeing them for the first time.

Object: 15 – Whirlpool Galaxy… M51 / NGC5194
Date Observed: 3rd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds at first to cause problems, very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on and later clouds started coming in from the North, North West until most of the sky was clouded over. I could spend long parts of my observing time just looking at the Whirlpool and its companion NGC 5195 as they are one of my favorites but on this evening the clouds were starting to roll in and spoiling the view.

Object: 16 – Lagoon Nebula… M8 / NGC6523
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement).
M8 seemed to me to vary in brightness, it also appeared very large but seems to be in two parts! The centre is very bright. Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 17 – Beehive Cluster… M44 / NGC2632
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
A bright and large open cluster, this cluster resolved well in the finder scope too

Object: 18 – Western Veil Nebula… NGC6960 & Eastern Veil Nebula… NGC6992
Date Observed: 29th October 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no clouds and very little breeze but very cold with heavy frost later.
I found that the Western Veil Nebula was fainter than the Eastern Veil Nebula but thought that the both of them are excellent objects to observe.

Object: 19 – Globular in Canes Venatici … M3 / NGC5272
Date Observed: 3rd September 2005
Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds at first to cause problems, very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on and clouds started coming in from the North, North West until most of the sky was clouded over.
A great globular cluster that is more compacted and brighter towards its centre.

Object: 20 – Globular in Sagittarius… M22 / NGC6656
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the Powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement).
M22 is a globular cluster that was easily resolved, it seems to have lots of stars spread over a large area with a bright, tight centre. Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 21 – Butterfly Cluster… M6 / NGC6405
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the Powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement).
Good open cluster of stars, which did in my mind, resemble a butterfly! Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 22 – Double Double – Epsilon Lyra 1 & 2… Double List
Date Observed: 30th September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but rather on the cold side.
I started observing this double double at 70x, then changed to 107x then tried 186x and finally 311x, which I suppose, “pushed” it a bit. I liked the view from the lower power better than the higher one but that is just my personal preference.
Object: 23 – Globular in Serpens … M5 / NGC5904
Date Observed: 22nd May 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, generally clear, low 41F. (but felt colder), wind N@ 5 to 10mph. Very heavy dew round midnight.
M5 is a great globular cluster that is both large and bright and it has a tight centre. Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 24 – Blue Snowball Planetary Nebula… NGC7662
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the Powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement).
On first sight of NGC7662 you can see straight away where it’s nickname of the blue snowball comes from. It is round in shape and a bluish color but it did not seem to me on this viewing that it had a uniform brightness. Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 25 – Spiral Galaxy… M66 / NGC3627
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
M66 is a Leo Triplet (along with M65 and NGC3628) that I found averted vision improved the viewing of it.

Object: 26 – Coathanger – CR399… Asterism List
Date Observed: 29th September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no clouds and very little breeze but rather on the cold side.
The Coathanger cluster asterism in Vulpecula is one that looks exactly like its name implies. I liked the good contrast that there is between the “hook” and the “handle”

Object: 27 – Galaxy in Leo… M65 / NGC3623
Date Observed: 17th April 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark clear night, cold evening (low 39F), wind NE 5 to 10 MPH, which at times caused problems with the viewing and made focusing difficult.
M65 is one of the galaxies that make up the Leo Triplet group along with M66 and NGC 3628. It looked almost vertical and quite bright as opposed to other galaxies viewed this evening.

Object: 28 – Ptolemy’s Cluster… M7 / NGC6475
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the Powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement).
Great open cluster that is very large and loose with a bright centre. Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 29 – Bernice’s Hair Clip… NGC4565
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the Powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement). NGC4565 is a large edge-on galaxy and with averted vision I thought that I picked up the dust lanes but I’m willing to admit that it might have been averted imagination (wanting to see the dust lanes) obviously I will be revisiting to clarify to myself whether it was vision or imagination! On seeing this I’m not sure where the nickname of Bernice’s Hair Clip comes from? Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 30 – Globular in Pegasus… M15 / NGC7078
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement).
Circular in appearance and seems to have a very tight centre which is also very bright!
Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 31 – Owl Cluster… NGC457
Date Observed: 29th October 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no clouds and very little breeze but very cold with heavy frost later.
Great bright open cluster, regarding its shape, I tended to think more of E.T. or a “matchstick” figure rather than an owl

Object: 32 – Milky Way
Date Observed: 2nd September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but there was very heavy condensation later on.
Although I had seen the Milky Way before, on this evening I saw it as I had never seen it before. With the night being dark and clear it stood out brilliantly.

Object: 33 – Trapezium in Orion… Center of M42
Date Observed: 21st January 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon and very little wind, cloud cover to the North but it did not move into the East, South or West during this observing session. It was a very cold night with temperatures dropping down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of the session, which lasted approximately 4 hours, the scope was iced up but the dew heater and strips kept the corrector and ep’s clear.
I started out looking at M42 with a 22mm eyepiece and as always it was a magnificent sight with the trapezium standing out like a beacon. I then put on the O-III narrowband filter and once again enjoyed what I was looking at. I did not change to an higher power to just get the trapezium for the view was spectacular as it was and I will revisit M42 again in the future and then maybe use higher power

Object: 34 – Open Cluster in Puppis… M46 / NGC2437
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
A beautiful rich and large open cluster, for some reason (think I was more concerned with the cluster) I did not “pick” up the planetary nebula on this viewing.

Object: 35 – Double Triangle (Star Gate)… Asterism List
Date Observed: 17th April 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark clear night, cold evening (low 39F), wind NE 5 to 10 MPH, which at times caused problems with the viewing and made focusing difficult.
Three outer stars form a large triangle and in the centre of this there lies another but smaller triangle. When observing this asterism, it is not hard to imagine it as a star gate. Of all the asterisms that I have observed so far this is in my opinion the best to date.

Object: 36 – 24 Com Double… Double List
Date Observed: 17th April 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark clear night, cold evening (low 39F), wind NE 5 to 10 MPH, which at times caused problems with the viewing and made focusing difficult.
The two stars stood out quite well with the primary one being orangey in colour and the secondary being somewhat of a bluish-green.

Object: 37 – Open Cluster in Sagittarius… M25 / IC4725
Date Observed: Evening of 16th and early morning of 17th June 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Generally clear, low 62F with winds S at about 5 to 10mph Heavy dew later on starting about 1:00am and closing me down round 3:00am (did not have the powertank for the heater and heater strips as it was in the process of being returned under warranty for a replacement).
Nice large open cluster which I consider to be on the loose side.
Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 38 – Open Cluster in Gemini… M35 / NGC2168
Date Observed: January 21st
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, Clouds to the North but stayed there. Very cold evening.
This is a splendid open cluster that is better viewed at low power.

Object: 39 – Open Cluster in Cepheus… NGC7510
Date Observed: 29th September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no clouds and very little breeze but rather on the cold side.
Fine open cluster, which to my mind had a centre that rather looked like a triangle or wedge.

Object: 40 – Globular Cluster in Hercules… M92 / NGC6341
Date Observed: Evening of 27th and early morning of 28th May 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, was round the 80F mark and very humid when starting observing dropping down in the early morning to 67F. Light clouds kept drifting in and out until about midnight when it cleared up. Heavy dew later on in the evening/early morning.
Although probably overshadowed by its near neighbor M13 in the same constellation, M92 is a very fine and bright globular cluster whose centre is compressed and very bright, individual stars could be seen. I used 127x then moved to 187x for this viewing.

Object: 41 – Open cluster in Auriga … M37 / NGC2099
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
A rich open cluster that is compressed in the middle and that appears a lot larger than M36 and also brighter.

Object: 42 – Galaxy in Andromeda… NGC891
Date Observed: 29th July 2006.
Comments: Generally clear but with some clouds drifting about, low 76F. Wind SW at 5 to 10mph. I started my observing session round 10:3opm and it was still very hot and humid. It looked like dew would set in early but it did not after about 1:00am though it was a different story. This object was also the last one I needed for my NexStar 50 Club Observation Log.
Although I started my observing session on the 29th I did not see NGC891 until just passed 3:00am the following morning. I have been observing up until 1:00am when I put the scope into hibernation and went inside for a couple of hours so that 891 could climb higher and give me a better view hopefully. It was turned 3:00am when I came back out and woke up the scope and did a test on goto to Polaris and it was very near the centre of the FOV. The dew by this time was very bad and if I had not left the dew heaters on it would have made further observing impossible. I then entered 891 and went there. I had seen 891 previously but had not recorded any log so this was for the list. Although I could see it, I did not regard the view to be good, last time I had looked at it was by far the better view. I tried several things to try to improve this including putting a blanket over my head and the ep to see if this would improve it but it did not. I tried averted vision and that did not improve matter any, different power ep’s also did nothing to help. I sent the scope to M31 to see a comparison and 31 looked a lot better. I then did M110 but that was not much better than 891. I could pick up the rough shape and it’s inclination and see that it was big but that was about all. NGC891 is one that I will definitely be revisiting in the future.

Object: 43 – Open Cluster in Ophiuchus… NGC6633
Date Observed: 22nd May 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, generally clear, low 41F. (but felt colder), wind N@ 5 to 10mph. Very heavy condensation round midnight.
At the time I viewed NGC6633 it was low on the horizon (which I believed caused the viewing to be not as good as it could have been if viewed at an higher altitude) and it appeared to be a loose open cluster that seemed to cover a wide field. Started observing this at 127X (22mm) then went to 187X (15mm).

Object: 44 – Galaxy in Coma Berenices… M100 / NGC4321
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
Elliptical! Brighter towards the middle but had an uneven look to its centre. Did not see on this observing session any suggestion of the spiral arms.

Object: 45 – Open cluster in Auriga … M38 / NGC1912
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
A large bright rich open cluster one of three very impressive Messier open clusters in Auriga.

Object: 46 – Trifid Nebula… M20 / NGC6514
Date Observed: Evening of 27th and early morning of 28th May 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, was round the 80F mark and very humid when starting observing dropping down in the early morning to 67F. Light clouds kept drifting in and out until about midnight when it cleared up. Heavy dew later on in the evening/early morning.
I found M20 to be very impressive in spite of the clouds that kept drifting in and out of the fov and spoiling the view. Caught glimpses of the dust lanes in spite of the cloud movements. This is one of the Messier’s that is well worth revisiting. Power used was 127x to start with changing to 187x.

Object: 47 – Betelgeuse… Named Star
Date Observed: 21st January 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon and very little wind, cloud cover to the North but it did not move into the East, South or West during this observing session. It was a very cold night with temperatures dropping down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of the session, which lasted approximately 4 hours, the scope was iced up but the dew heater and strips kept the corrector and ep’s clear.
Betelgeuse the red super giant, classed the Alpha star in Orion by mistake (Rigel was classed Beta) stood out crisp and clear on this night

Object: 48 - Globular in Sagittarius... M55 / NGC6809
Date Observed: 30th September 2005
Comments: Viewing conditions, good dark night, no moon or clouds to cause problems and very little breeze but rather on the cold side.
This large Globular Cluster had a loose outer appearance but was tighter towards its middle.

Object: 49 – Open Cluster in Auriga… M36 / NGC1960
Date Observed: 18th March 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, Good dark clear night, cold evening, later on the temperature dropped to a low of 19F, and the wind was from the NNW at 5 to 10 MPH. No dew problem.
A nice large cluster but not quite as bright or as large as it’s neighbors in Auriga M37 and M38.

Object: 50 – Eagle Nebula & Cluster… M16 / NGC6611
Date Observed: Evening of 27th and early morning of 28th May 2006
Comments: Viewing conditions, was round the 80F mark and very humid when starting observing dropping down in the early morning to 67F. Light clouds kept drifting in and out until about midnight when it cleared up. Heavy dew later on in the evening/early morning.
Although clouds kept spoiling the view of M16 I was able to make out this nebula to be fairly large and “scattered” and the cluster stood out at times in spite of the clouds. I would class this as somewhat disappointing as I’m sure this would look a lot better without the nuisance of clouds coming into the fov. Powers used were 127x and 187x.