NexStar 50 Club Observation Log

Name: Keith Hoffman
NexStar Telescope Model: NexStar 80GTL

________________________________

Object: 1 - Orion Nebula… M42 / NGC1976
Date Observed: 9/10/04, early am
Comments: I was surprised to see the eagle shaped nebulosity at 90x (10mm), in the city. I was expecting to see mainly trapezium and other stars in the nebula, and a hint of nebulosity, but the 80mm scope really surprised me with its contrast, even with only the included eps. Update: 9/12/04 early am: After work (night), I went to the local semi dark canyon (black star), and the sky was exceptionally dark in the direction of Orion, I used the 25mm ep and the nebula was stunning, with wisps at the end of the “wings” that extended almost to the edge of the fov. In the 10mm, contrast was even greater, and I could clearly make out the dark parts, and with averted vision, I could see the nebulosity of m43. It was just the view of m42 I was hoping for, despite the encounter with the rattlesnake who took temporary residence in the heat under my vehicle, a nasty surprise when I started to pack in.

Object: 2 - Hercules Cluster… M13 / NGC6205
Date Observed: 9/09/04 late pm
Comments: This was another “in the city” viewing, first light of the scope. M13 was clearly visible as a blob, with a slight hinting of stellar details. When I get to darker skies I will try some more power.

Object: 3 – Ring Nebula… M57 / NGC6720
Date Observed: 9/10/04 pm
Comments: wow! I wasn’t expecting to resolve this one with 80mm, but with the 25mm ep, and careful focusing along with prolonged viewing, I was able to see it as a small smoke ring. It was very small, but also faint, so I didn’t push it to the 10mm. I was very happy to finally see it in a scope that I actually owned. When I get to a darker sky, and/or get a skyglow filter, I will try for higher powers. This was at the beach, Corona Del Mar, CA. Slightly less light pollution than my home, but the south/southeast skies are darker over the water. Lyra (and M57) was near zenith at this time. I had a layman passerby hanging around, getting a free astronomy lesson and viewing, and he too was able to see the smoke ring, after careful focusing. He was more excited than me, but what excited him more was when we resolved the disc of Uranus.

Object: 4 - Saturn
Date Observed: 9/10/04, early am
Comments: WOW, I wasn’t expecting to see a whole lot more than my old 60mm scope showed at its maximum 60x zoom, but wow. I didn’t have higher power than 90x (included 10mm), but I was able to CLEARLY see the Cassini Division, hints of banding, and Titan. At times I even resolved a 2nd moon, closer to Saturn than Titan. It was a humid and still night. …Update…, subsequent morning views of Saturn have yet to be so nice, as seeing hasn’t been as good since. One time I was able to faintly see the Cassini division since then, but nothing like that first night. I need to try filters when I get them in the future. Update: another still night, and I was even able to clearly make out an equatorial band, darker tan in color. Cassini was a clear black line on this time as well.

Object: 5 - Moon
Date Observed: 9/10/04 early am
Comments: I watched the post 3rd quarter crescent rise, and I was blown away by the difference in this long tube 80 versus my 60mm that I have been using for years. I was enjoying the view too much to go get my moon map and identify individual craters, but lets say that I saw craters within craters, little peaks inside craters, and detail and relief was amazing. I will look at the moon a lot with this scope, especially after I get a Barlow and more eps. The earthshine was amazing, and really nicely visible in the scope at both low and high power, very beautiful at low power. 9/11 early am addition. Wow, I could actually make out Maria detail in the dark/earthshine side, very nice.

Object: 6 – Andromeda… M31 / NGC224
Date Observed: 9/09/04 pm and 9/10/04 pm
Comments: I love this Galaxy. I view it as often as I can, in as many instruments as I can. It is much better from darker skies, but on 9/9 I was home and 9/10 at the beach. The beach view of the central core at 36x was nice. The glow of the disk was becoming more apparent than it is in my smaller aperture instruments. I can’t wait for a dark sky view when I get a 32mm Plossl. Update: 9/12/04 early am, from darker site: I didn’t see any dust lanes, however I could make out more of the disk, as it extended to the end of the FOV and beyond. I think 80mm is too small for the dust lanes, but I could see a whole lot more of the glowing galactic disk.

Object: 7 – Dumbbell Nebula… M27 / NGC6853
Date Observed: 9/12/04
Comments: Clouds at the beach forced us to come back to the apt complex and do some “sucker hole” observing, because the clouds were moving fast and at times leaving large clear areas for a while (which I believe cuts down on the skyglow a tad, because it prevents some of the city light from hitting the sky. I manually punched M27 into the hand controller when there was a big open area showing the whole summer triangle. I couldn’t believe it when there was a fuzzy patch just to the right of center in the FOV. The nebula was bigger than I expected, bigger than the ring, but seeing detail wasn’t as easy. After a while and with some averted vision, I was able to see hints at the dumbbell shape.

Object: 8 – Pleiades / Seven Sisters… M45
Date Observed: 9/10/04 early am
Comments: This is more of a binocular object, and the long focal length of the gtl makes it impossible to fit the whole thing in the fov. Maybe an expensive superwide could do it. Nevertheless it looked great in the 25mm. The main stars are VERY bright and VERY blue. It is hard to tell if hints of the nebulosity are true nebulosity, or chromatic aberration coupled with bad seeing. In the GTL scope, it is fun to “pan” through the Pleiades at slower slew speeds.

Object: 9 – Jupiter
Date Observed: 11/04/04 early AM
Comments: Finally! After a brief dawn encounter with the gas giant a couple weeks ago that I didn’t bother logging, due to it being extremely low in the sky, I finally got a better and longer look. Venus and Jupiter were at a .6 degree conjunction, and both easily fit in the FOV of the 25mm EP. When I first saw the conjunction, it was in a sucker hole, and by the time I got the scope set up on the patio, it was completely clouded over. I manually slewed to the Moon near zenith, and also had a look at Saturn while waiting for the East to clear up. The wait paid off, I noticed Venus moving extremely rapidly through Orion (really the ISS, not really Venus, but just as bright), and was able to catch the end of its journey across the sky in the scope. After that, the clouds had parted in the East, and the real Venus and Jupiter were clearly visible.
Seeing wasn’t all that, but the scope performed well enough with the 10mm 90x (tried 5mm 180x, but seeing wasn’t cooperating). I was clearly able to see the 2 main bands, much darker than they appear in my 60mm scope, and all 4 Gallileans were a no brainer, but the closest one to Jupiter at the time was VERY close, and my 60mm might not have been able to split it from Jupiter. I also saw what seemed to be darkening in both polar regions. I am not sure if this was an illusion due to the seeing creating a “border” around the disk, but it did appear to be constant. No GRS this time, but that could be either due to seeing, or it being on the far side. I have a feeling I might be able to see the GRS some time with this very scope. This now means I have seen all the planets except Pluto, with this scope, if I count the even briefer encounter with Mars that same dawn mentioned above.

Update 11/23/04 early AM: Seeing was a little better and Jupiter was higher in the sky, Detail very sharp at 36-50x, but too small to scrutinize. 90x with the 10mm showed the darker polar regions, and the bands were very well defined against the globe. One of the moons was just about to go to the dark side, clouds covered the view, and when they cleared the moon was behind by the planet. Pushing to the 5mm 180x was not as sharp, but despite the fuzziness, the added image scale showed wispy festoon detail in the bands. One of the festoon areas was noticeably larger, and might have been the GRS.

Object: 10 – Wild Duck Cluster… M11 / NGC6705
Date Observed: 9/09/04 and 9/10/04
Comments: I will use the 9/10 beach viewing session. WOW, this one is almost like a globular cluster. The people who gathered around me were all interested in this object. Now that I have the goto to find it, and more aperture than my 60mm scope and 70mm binos (and more power than binos), this is going to become one of my favorite clusters.

Object: 11 – Bodes Galaxy… M81 / NGC3031 & Cigar Galaxy… M82 / NGC 3034
Date Observed: 9/12/04 early am
Comments: I used the goto to locate M82. The pair was in the “glow”, not much higher than 10-15degrees over the horizon. The best views of these in my 15x70 have always been much closer to zenith, and at this particular location (blackstar), they were always just barely visible because of the skyglow in that part of the sky (looking back towards town). Now this time, they were a little farther east, as they were rising ahead of the bowl of the dipper. With the 80mm gtl, I was able to get the best view of them yet, despite the “low in the glow” position. I could clearly make out the core of M81, and the perpendicularly positioned M82 cigar. This was one of my favorite big binocular objects, and I can’t wait to see it from a darker position, in the NexStar… If they look this good now, I cant wait till they are against a darker background sky.

Object: 12 – Swan Nebula… M17 / NGC6618
Date Observed: 9/23/04
Comments: I will check back in with this one when there is no moon, and I have a UHC filter (hopefully soon), but I was surprised to be able to detect the nebulosity of the Swan Nebula. It was definitely just a hazy cloud, but I could see if had shape to it, a winged type shape, hard to describe, but definitely not circular. 10/03/04 update. Moon hadn’t risen yet from the beach. After viewing m8 with my ultrablock filter, I goto’d over to m17 with my 18mm WA ep, and it was nicely defined, like outstretched swan wings.

Object: 13 – Albiero-Double… Double List
Date Observed: 9/09/04
Comments: This was one of the first objects I slewed to when I took the scope out and aligned it for the first time. I love the Gold/Blue double. It is like a mini jewel of the sky. There is not much more to say about it. It is about 35 arc seconds between the stars I believe, easy to split at low power.

Object: 14 – Perseus Double Cluster… NGC869 & NGC884
Date Observed: 9/09/04 and 9/10/04
Comments: Again I will use the Beach viewing session on the 10th. This is a beautiful object, as the people who also got to see it at the beach will attest to. The goto got it almost dead on. A definite low power object, it extends to both ends of the FOV in the 25mm. I can’t wait till I get a 32mm plossl. Stars easily resolved, and the cores of each cluster really stand out. Even a small child commented that there were 2 of them next to each other. Update 9/12/04 early am: When I got out of the car and the stars seemed to be blazing against the sky, the double cluster was my 2nd target (M42 being first), WOW, this looked just like a photo in a textbook, to give you an idea how awesome the DC was, I noticed a hazy patch in Perseus, and was wondering if it was a cloud, or maybe some Milky Way, so I turned on the star pointer, and did a manual slew to it, and lo and behold, hey, it’s the double cluster… It was visible to the naked eye… I can remember seeing beehive naked eye from a site like this (M31 wasn’t even naked eye), but not the DC, I guess because it’s the first time I have viewed the dc that close to zenith from a decent location.

Object: 15 – Whirlpool Galaxy… M51 / NGC5194
Date Observed: 12/14/04 AM
Comments: From a Mag 5-5.5 site (Near El Cariso CA, Ortega Hwy), I was surprised to finally see this. Obviously altitude (m51’s altitude in sky) and light pollution were hindering me before. The galaxy was quite large compared to m81/82/65/66, and I could clearly see both cores, and the outline of the 2 colliding galaxies. Spiral arm detail was difficult, and it was a little breezy, so I didn’t go higher than 36x. It was quite nice.

Object: 16 – Lagoon Nebula… M8 / NGC6523
Date Observed: 9/10/04
Comments: From the beach… The open cluster on the “left” side of the view (erect prism) is very tight but easily resolvable. The Hydrogen nebula at the right was clearly visible as blueish white in the scope, but the blue nebulosity behind the cluster was not visible in this scope. The spectators liked the view of this one a lot as well. (if only m42 had been up…)

Object: 17 – Beehive Cluster… M44 / NGC2632
Date Observed: 9/11/04 early am
Comments: Something was going on that was lighting up a lot of the sky in the general area, but never fear, Nexstar is here, and with goto I was able to even zoom in at high power to resolve the feature I like to call, the mini Hyades, an asterism in the center of the beehive that closely resembles the Hyades. This is in my handful of favorite open clusters, a 15x70 favorite.

Object: 18 – M5 / NGC5904 Globular Cluster in Serpens (substitute for Western Veil Nebula… NGC6960 & Eastern Veil Nebula… NGC6992, aperture challenged)
Date Observed: 10.03/05
Comments: Serpens was getting caught up in the Newport Beach/Huntington Beach light dome, but I was able to make out M5 as a small fuzzy snowball. There was too much light pollution to resolve into stars.

Object: 19 – M38 / NGC1912 open cluster in Auriga (substitute for Omega Centauri… NGC5139. Latitude challenged)
Date Observed: 9/10/04 and 9/12/04, both early AM
Comments: see notes for M35, 36,37. I like to view these in a row. All very nice open clusters, which I first detected in my 15x70 binoculars, and would be able to get 2 or 3 in the FOV at one time. They resolve much more cleanly in the scope.

Object: 20 – Globular in Sagittarius… M22 / NGC6656
Date Observed: 9/10/04.
Comments: When we first zoomed in on this in my friend’s 8” lx6 after I located it in 15x70’s a couple months ago, I knew this was surpassing M13 as my favorite globular. Seeing it in a C11 with 16mm T2 nagler at a public outreach confirmed that. Well when I punched it into the 80GTL at the beach, it wasn’t quite the c11/nagler view, but it was definitely approaching the 8”. At 36x (25mm) there was a hinting of stellar resolution, but kicked up to 90x with the 10mm, it was apparent. I can’t wait for darker skies and maybe slightly higher power. (Update, this cluster was great when pushed to 100x with a 2x Barlow and Meade 18mm WA ep)

Object: 21 – Butterfly Cluster… M6 / NGC6405
Date Observed: 9/10/04
Comments: I didn’t spend a ton of time on this one, as I have observed it many times before, and for some reason it is not one of my favorites. I will note that it has an interesting shape, almost similar to the teacup outline of Sagittarius, minus the spout. Could also be described as being shaped like a house sliding down a hill. There are a lot of dim stars making up this cluster, and bad seeing (it is rarely very high in the horizon here) makes it tend to twinkle in a visually pleasing way, although I’m sure it annoys professional astronomers trying to do research =)

Object: 22 – Double Double – Epsilon Lyra 1 & 2… Double List
Date Observed: 9/09/04 and 9/10/04
Comments: YIPPEE, I am now able to resolve the famous double double! ANIMAL STYLE, no wait, that’s an In N Out burger (it’s a Calif thing)… Back to the double binary… At 90x it was just barely a clean split, the doubles split perpendicular to each other, one pair points up, the other sideways. More power would be useful, as at 90x you have to carefully focus to split them. Since they are bright stars, and each double’s companion is equal brightness, they look kind of chunky, almost figure 8’s but split just a tad more to where they are cleanly divided. The one on the left, oriented up and down ( 8 ) is an easier split than the one on the right, which is oriented side to side like an infinity sign, viewed with correct image prism)

Object: 23 – Sun aka Sol (substitute for Jewel Box… NGC4755)
Date Observed: 9/10/04
Comments: Using the supplied Celestron/Baader Astrosolar filter, I concluded my first light all-nighter with a view of the morning sun. I was very pleased with the neutral yellow-white color of the Sun in the filter. There were 2 main sunspot regions, a smaller one, and a larger one, which seemed to consist of 2 sunspots that had collided, or were breaking apart. There was a lighter ridge around the dark spots that seemed to have a thin line border. On closer inspection I noticed the lighter colored specks of detail on the Solar surface, Granulation. I Observed the Sun a few other times, and even tried to image it with my Nikon FM2 SLR body. The photos may be out of focus because I don’t have a clear focus screen. If they come out (still haven’t gotten film developed) I plan on posting them to the Nexstar or Baby NexStar yahoo groups, along with my lunar attempts on the same roll.

Object: 24 – Blue Snowball Planetary Nebula… NGC7662
Date Observed: 9/23/04
Comments: I have tried for this many times, and it has always been right in front of my eyes, but I didn’t realize it. On discovering that there was more info on the info feature, by pressing up and down, and I saw how small it was, I began looking closer at the stars in the fov, rather than looking for something resembling m57… and there it was, a fuzzy star… I centered it and went to 10mm 90x, and lo and behold, it resolved to an object resembling a blue snowball, the blue was very subtle in my small scope, but the best way I could describe it would be, a fuzzy Uranus.

Object: 25 – Spiral Galaxy… M66 / NGC3627
Date Observed: 12/14/04 AM
Comments: FINALLY, after many tries to pierce the light pollution, a trip up Ortega to 2200+ft easily showed M65 and M66 in the same FOV of the 25mm EP. They are similar in size to m81/82, but they are actually closer together. M81/82 also looked pretty nice from that site.

Object: 26 – Coathanger – CR399… Asterism List
Date Observed: 9/20/04
Comments: It was much larger than I expected, I had to “pan” around at 36x to see the whole thing. It resembled, to me at least, a straight coathanger with a hook in the middle, not quite the triangular wire type of coathanger I was expecting, but I could see why they call it the coathanger.

Object: 27 – Galaxy in Leo… M65 / NGC3623
Date Observed: 12/04/04 AM
Comments: FINALLY, after many tries to pierce the light pollution, a trip up Ortega to 2200+ft easily showed M65 and M66 in the same FOV of the 25mm EP. They are similar in size to m81/82, but they are actually closer together. M81/82 also looked pretty nice from that site.

Object: 28 – Ptolemy’s Cluster… M7 / NGC6475
Date Observed: 9/10/04
Comments: Another one of my favorite clusters. I like the way it has an almost 3d effect, like you could fly through it like a star field. Best at lower powers, there are many sub asterisms, as in any open cluster. This one is very bright and very beautiful, almost as bright as the beehive.

Object: 29 – Globular Cluster in Canes Venatici…. M3 / NGC5272 (substitute for Bernice’s Hair Clip… NGC4565, aperture/LP challenged)
Date Observed: 11/23/04 early AM
Comments: From the patio, it was not very high up, and still in the light dome, but this scope seems to be able to pick up those brighter globulars in those conditions, as it has many times on this log previously. It was clearly a globular, bright snowball/comet like core, with the fuzzy outer edges representing the outer stars that would likely just begin to resolve at higher powers from dark skies. 80mm is not exactly globular resolving aperture though…

Object: 30 – Globular in Pegasus… M15 / NGC7078
Date Observed: 9/12/04
Comments: First, from the city, it looked like a small/distant comet without a tail, as most globulars look in small instruments with low power. Later that night, from the canyon, it was much brighter, and I pushed up the power to 90x with the 10mm, and could start to see the chunkiness in the texture, as groups of stars seemed to resolve as spherical groups. I am begining to realize that when it looks like stars are visible in globulars with small instruments, that it is most likely clumps of stars, spheres within the sphere, that appear to be fat stars making up the cluster. It is still a lot cooler than just seeing it as a hazy comet like glow though, but nothing like the time I saw M22 in a C11/16mm T2 Nagler…that was resolving individual stars.

Object: 31 – Owl Cluster… NGC457
Date Observed: 9/12/04
Comments: I got a hoot out if this one, and will be sure to check it out again soon, especially when I can show my friend. It is almost comical, cartoon like, how the 2 brightest stars clearly look like owl eyes, but on closer inspection, there is a body, wings, and little feet. (It took the girl I was with to point out the little feet, for me to notice them at first, but now I will always seem them I'm sure. What a hoot!

Object: 32 – Milky Way
Date Observed: 9/12/04
Comments: Starting from the Double Cluster, I slowly panned the scope around through Perseus, and through Cassiopeia, to soak in the expanse of the faint and numerous Milky Way background stars at low power. This is much more rewarding with my 15x70 binos, but for the purpose of this log, I scanned around the area with the 80gtl. The electronic drives gave a kind of sci fi space flight feel to the view, seeing the stars whiz by slowly. I’m sure this would be even more rewarding in the shorter tube 80gt, or the 102gt with an inch more aperture, and a short focal length. The next time I am out to a dark enough sky early enough to see Sagittarius again, I will ad the M24 Milky Way patch to this log entry as well. (Update 10/03/04, I viewed the m24 region of Sgr, wasn’t dark enough to distinguish m24, but the amount of dim stars everywhere was really amazing, rivaling the Cyg region)

Object: 33 – Trapezium in Orion… Center of M42
Date Observed: 9/10/04 early am
Comments: at 90x I tried to split the Trapezium to its full 6 stars. Well I got the 4 main ones really easily, but it only hinted at splitting to 6, the brighter 2 stars seemed to be elongated just a tad. MORE POWER NEEDED (maybe more aperture as well)

Object: 34 – Open Cluster in Puppis… M46 / NGC2437
Date Observed: 9/23/04 (early am)
Comments: What was previously seen as mainly a hazy nebulous patch, next to the more easily resolvable m47 in the fov of my binoculars, now becomes a very rich, yet dim/faint open cluster in the 80mm scope. I kept going back to this one a few times before I called it a night as the dawn was starting to lighten.

Object: 35 – Double Triangle (Star Gate)… Asterism List
Date Observed: 12/11/04 early AM
Comments: Very cool. At first glance it looked like a triangle with a star in the middle, so it gave the feeling of being sucked in. Then I noticed 2 fainter stars near the central star, forming a 2nd triangle with the central star. I forgot which movie/show used this, but I remember a sci fi show where a ship either entered/exited warp, or went through a fold or gate, and the same shape was used.

Object: 36 – 24 Com Double… Double List
Date Observed: 11/18/04 early AM
Comments: An easy split at low power, even low in the sky as it was rising. Appears to be a gold/green pair. I will check again when it is higher in the sky.

Object: 37 – Open Cluster in Sagittarius… M25 / IC4725
Date Observed: 9/23/04 early pm
Comments: The typical run of the mill open cluster, not too big, not too small, not too dim, not to bright. I will have to check back with this one in better skies, but even with the moon I could resolve a whole bunch of stars. A “civilian” commented that there were a whole lot of stars in one area. It was his first cluster viewing I believe, so I went over to the double cluster, to give them a finale before they had to move on… Big difference.

Object: 38 – Open Cluster in Gemini… M35 / NGC2168
Date Observed: 09/10/04 early am
Comments: See notes for m36. I usually include all 4 of these, the 3 in Auriga, and its neighbor in Gemini. All 4 are very similar, smaller tighter open clusters with almost spherical shaping. So far the 80 gtl has only seen them “in town”, but when I get to darker skies, they will surely be observed. Update, 9/12/04 early am: So I got to a darker sky, and I am starting to eat my words about 35-38 looking very similar. See update notes for M36 as well, as I like to hit these in a row, while covering ground (sky).

Object: 39 – Open Cluster in Cepheus… NGC7510
Date Observed: 9/23/04
Comments: I almost missed this one, but decided to center and investigate the small oblong patch of fuzz in the fov; it was starting to look like a small open cluster. I went to 90x (10mm) and carefully scrutinized it for a while, allowing my eyes to adjust. I could start resolving a few of the brighter stars on each end of it. It had the appearance of a slim/long triangle. Very small and subtle as clusters go, no wonder Messier and his crew never logged it.

Object: 40 – Globular Cluster in Hercules… M92 / NGC6341
Date Observed: 9/20/04
Comments: m92 was in the light dome over Newport/Huntington Beach area, from the vantage of Corona Del Mar (beach spot). It was still clearly visible at low power as a small comet-like fuzz. I panned over to m13 for a comparison, and it was a slightly larger, comet-like fuzz… I will need to check back with this object from darker skies.

Object: 41 – M2 / NGC7089 Globular Cluster in Aquarius (substitute for Tucanae… NGC104, latitude challenged)
Date Observed: 9/23/04
Comments: I found this bright globular amongst the light of the gibbous Moon, a couple constellations away. I tried higher power to resolve it, but it only hinted at resolving. Still a nice view though. Very “comet like’ at lower powers. Probably why it is one of the first objects Messier cataloged. (I'm still wondering why M-1 was cataloged first, as it is much harder to see)

Object: 42 – M37 / NGC2099 Open Cluster in Auriga (substitute for Galaxy in Andromeda… NGC891, aperture challenged)
Date Observed: 9/10/04 early am and 9/12/04 early am
Comments: A very nice, nearly circular in outline, open cluster. Made up of many dim stars. See notes for M35 and M36 as well, as I tend to observe m35-38 in a row. A tradition I picked up from trying to see how many of them I could fit in the FOV of my 15x70’s

Object: 43 – Open Cluster in Ophiuchus… NGC6633
Date Observed: 10/03/04
Comments: I must have overlooked this item, as I could have easily logged it earlier if I tried. I was missing out on a real nice cluster. A relatively large cluster, not very circular, it was more oblong from the top of FOV to bottom. Very easily resolved and well defined, I would call it more sparse. Sparse, but well defined and with bright mostly blueish white stars. Very visually pleasing indeed.

Object: 44 – Galaxy in Coma Berenices… M100 / NGC4321
Date Observed: 12/04/04 AM
Comments: I figured I was on a roll with 65/66 and 51 (Ortega spot), so I looked at my list of “what’s left” and gave m100 a shot. I was using 18mm WA ep (50x), and detected a small fuzzy spot. Closer inspection and a few seconds of watching it revealed a brighter core.

Object: 45 – Table of Scorpius… NGC6231
Date Observed:10/03/04, right at nightfall
Comments: I FINALLY got out early enough with a clear South view, to catch this very southern object before it was gone for the year. It turns out that I found this object in my 15x70 binos this spring (mistaking it for m73 because of its appearance on the seds page, at lower powers the 2 items have a similar shape). Being so low in the sky on a smoggy evening, I could not detect any nebulosity, but I could clearly make out its triangle shape, actually more like a Y because there is a star in the middle, like the cross of a Y, with some other faint stars distributed in the small area of this small cluster.

Object: 46 – Trifid Nebula… M20 / NGC6514
Date Observed: 9/10/04
Comments: well I observed it, there’s not much to see from semi light polluted skies with only 80mm of aperture, but what I could make out was the star in the center of the nebulosity, where the 3 dust lanes meet, as well as a hint of nebulosity. The dust lanes were nowhere to be seen though. I will try again from darker skies, but my hopes are not high unless I get a nebula filter and a trip to REALLY dark skies at high altitude.

Object: 47 – Betelgeuse… Named Star
Date Observed: 09/10/04 early am
Comments: I used this red supergiant, the shoulder of Orion, as not only an alignment star, but also to do an out of focus star test, to see my diffraction pattern. This is a brilliant, red star, but don’t say its name 3 times in a row!

Object: 48 - Globular in Sagittarius... M55 / NGC6809
Date Observed: 10/01/04
Comments: From the beach. M55 resolved as a large globular cluster, a big hazy snowball in the low power. Sky conditions were too bright for enough contrast to resolve many stars at higher power. It was definitely smaller and harder to resolve than nearby M22. A definite item I will try to catch up with again in darker skies. Globuars are becoming my favorites.

Object: 49 – Open Cluster in Auriga… M36 / NGC1960
Date Observed: 9/10/04 early am
Comments: I actually did 35 through 38 in a row, bam bam bam. I like these clusters because I can fit 2 or 3 of them in a wide binocular field in dark or semi dark skies. I was REAL impressed that I was able to resolve it from my patio in the new 80 GTL. This, and the other 3, is/are a smaller open cluster, smaller than the beehive and butterfly that is… It is mostly spherical in shape, very similar to its companions. I wonder what the Charioteer must have done to earn so many jewels. Update, 9/12/04 early am: MUCH BETTER from darker skies, and I am beginning to eat my words in saying 35-38 are very similar. One even showed hints of being shaped like a 5 pointed star, but I didn’t note which one, as I was trying to cover a lot of ground in a limited time. (star shaped one is m36 from my best memory)

Object: 50 – Eagle Nebula & Cluster… M16 / NGC6611
Date Observed: 9/23/04 early pm
Comments: A nice small, but bright open cluster… I really like this fairly sparse cluster, however I was not able to detect the nebulosity. I will check back from darker skies with a nebula filter when I get one (probably Orion ultrablock). The stars appear very white in the scope, and are probably hotter white or blue/white stars. 10/01/04, Slight hints of nebulosity visible from the beach with ultrablock filter.