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Sunday, August 9th, 2009
Haven't had my 12" Dob out for a while.  Drug it out tonight for a quick look at 10:45pm.....and ended up staying out until nearly 2am.  The seeing started out pretty average but got better and better.   At first I made the rounds of some bright objects:  M27, M57, & M13.
 
M57 was very nice at 150x.  M27 was prominent, but only the Dumbbell shape was visible.  M13 was average.
 
I then switched to Jupiter.  Initially I could only see the two main cloud bands with no detail.  Io was just off the limb of the planet.  I watched it begin to transit where it turned into a clear, round black dot......easily visible. 
 
Neil stopped by about midnight, and by that time the seeing was better than I have seen it all year.  Now the lesser bands were visible and there was detail and irregularities in the main bands.  We tried yellow and blue filters.   They did slightly enhance the contrast on the main cloud bands, but diminished the finer detail.   I prefer the unfiltered view.   The Great Red Spot was not in view......which is a shame.   I am sure it would have been quite easily seen.
 
I don't often use my nebula filters (not sure why).   Neil suggested we go back to M27 and M57 with an O III filter.  What a difference.   It noticeably increased brightness on both objects.  We could now see the fainter nebulosity in M27.
 
Neil located NGC 6781, a very faint planetary nebula.   It was totally invisible without the filter, and yet easily seen (although faint) with the O III. 
 
Finally, we turned the scope toward the moon with a 6mm eyepiece in the focuser (250x).   Tycho showed amazing details in the crater walls.   The highlight was the crater Theophilus  on the edge of Mare Nectaris.   The detail visible was spectacular!   I have never seen it better.   The Straight Wall (Rupes Recta)was a fine, sharp white line....as the sun was illuminating it from the west.  
 
By this time I was wishing I had set up my imaging gear to get some webcam video of both Jupiter and the moon, but then, I might have missed some great "live" views.    I have to be up at 6:30am, and clouds were gathering......so it was time to call it a night. 





Comments:
On 08/10/09 at 08:37am Barry wrote:
7:25am and I have already been up for an hour. Yuk!!! Had to drive my stepson to work (long story).

I enjoyed sharing the views. Thanks for finding 6781. Now, I am fired up to image it. Turns out it looks a bit like the Dumbbell...more rounded, but with the same reddish fringe around it. 11.8 magnitude, 2,500 light years away, 1-2 light years across. (These things are huge)

On 08/10/09 at 03:39am Neil Heacock wrote:
Barr, thanks for letting me join in on your observing session tonight. What a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed our views together. Jupiter and the Moon were simply stunning. I don't know if I've ever seen either quite so crisply. Both were absolutely picture perfect.

It was fun playing "now you see me now you don't" with NGC 6781 and the OIII filter. What a cool thing it is, to see a nearly 12th mag planetary nebula from within the city limits with a waning gibbous Moon shining in the sky - incredible. I love what narrowband filters let us see.

Thanks again for sharing the views and I think you're right... this was not a good night to image or else we might have missed seeing it with our own eyes.

-Neil



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