Star Party October 2011

Well, it is kind of late here, and I haven’t written the whole thing up, but it was a pretty good party, for me.  The sky was a little hazy at first, but it cleared up as the night got older and colder.  Here are the constellations I considered:

Cygnus, Lyra, Sagittarius (well, I think I saw it, but it was setting at the time), Cassiopeia, Pegasus, Andromeda, Perseus.

I found nearly everything I was looking for, some old standbys, and at least one new find (I mean new for me to find).  I will come back tomorrow and fill it all in.

So, here goes:

Cygnus:  well, Kathy really likes albireo, and even though it was almost directly overhead when I could first see it, it is a good test of my ability to find anything.  Using the telrad, and the finder scope (which I think is 7x) I did find it.  That was an auspicious beginning of the night.  Now, I know you are thinking that Cygnus is full of all kinds of things, and someday I hope to track them all down, but I am going to have to wait for a better angle.

Lyra.  Okay, M57, but again almost directly overhead.  But I found it, again the telrad working very well.

Sagittarius, it was setting into the moonlight and the city lights.  No chances there.

Cassiopeia:  There is something that has been shown to me a few times, that I have never been able to find on my own.  NGC457.  Don’t laugh.  I just never knew where it was.  But we were waiting for Jupiter to get over the trees, and so I thought, let me just scan the area.  And what the heck?  There is was.  I didn’t even use any finding technique, except the old fashioned push the scope around and wait til something appears.  This is a great cluster.  Marlene proclaimed it the best thing she had seen all night (and maybe ever).  Kathy also liked it alot, once she recognized the shape.  It seems also cool to me that as it goes across the sky ET does a headstand.  I felt pretty good about that, so I went for NGC 581 (M 103).  Again the telrad had me right on it.  I saw clearly the triangle with the slight nebulosity.  Checking it against the picture in the book (which I almost never do), confirmed the find.

Again, there are lots of things in Cassiopeia, but Jupiter was on the rise.  Kathy was getting impatient, so even though it was still low on the horizon, I turned the scope on it.  It was beautiful.  In the 25mm eyepiece you could see 4 or 5 moons, and the bands.  No spot this time (something I have never seen.  I need to get back on the phone call list).  Anyway, I soon had a line of observers at my telescope.  The lowly 6 inch dob had a line.  Kathy said, “See if you look at Jupiter, you will be popular!”  Indeed.  Planets are the home runs of amateur astronomy.  Saturn is a grand slam (at least when you can see the rings.)

Pegasus:  Only one thing in Pegasus is a sure thing:  M15, which is a pretty nice globular cluster.  A pretty easy find using the telrad to hop from Enif.  And then on to

Andromeda:  Which had been up almost all night, but was finally high enough to afford a good look at M31, M32 and M110.  Well, clearly M31 M110 maybe M32.  Basically this convinces me that I really need a chair for this telescope.  Next time the Blue Snowball.

Perseus:  Toward the end of my night, I noticed Perseus and remembered the great Double Cluster.  I think I have found this before, but I didn’t really remember, and in any case I was really happy with the telrad, and thought this would give another opportunity to practice.  So NGC 869 and NGC 884.  I was a little confused at first about which star was 15-eta and which was 23-gamma, but I finally got it sorted out, and got right on the great Double Cluster.  Next time I will try to find Collinder 29 as well.

I think that was about it for that night under the stars.  One Day’s Gazing.

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