It's been nearly 2 months since the last clear sky. This hobby, as awesome as it is, sure can be limiting here in the Northwest.
This weekend is star party weekend. New moon, but lots of clouds up
there. I'm heading off to Camp Hancock with my brother for a party with
about 60 other amateur astronomers. Hancock is between Antelope and
Fossil in north-central Oregon. While we drove there, we offered up
many prayers that the clouds would go away.
When we got there and set up I took a few pictures of my setup.
Two of them are of the Ruby Lith filter I put over my laptop. A few
people have asked me to post a picture of the filter. Here they are:
By twilight, the 99% cloud covered sky began to simmer
down a bit and you could almost see Jupiter. If it would only clear up
a tad bit more there would be at least one thing to look at. 8^)
But lo and behold, by 9:30 or so the sky was almost perfectly clear
and by the time it was completely dark, the sky was totally clear!
Narry a cloud to be seen. What an awesome turn of events. It remained
clear until about 3am.
Though I won't log every object I saw tonight, I will highlight the new ones.
In working on the Caldwell 109 list of 76 Northern Hemisphere
objects, I wanted to catch as many that I was missing as possible. Not
all of the objects I'm missing are rising tonight, but I caught all of
the ones that did.
C3 - Irregular Galaxy
Interesting irregular galaxy in the tail of Draco. Pretty dim, but
rather large. It was perfectly framed at 107 power with my 14mm
eyepiece. Starry Night has it as 21' wide and that sounds about right.
Since this 9.some magnitude galaxy is spread out without a nucleus that
a typical eliptical or spiral has, it was all the more faint.
Surprisingly enough, it did have some shape to it though.
C19 - Cocoon Nebula
Boy. Not nearly as spectacular as I was expecting. My expectation
for this nebula was way to high. It wasn't much more than a soft faint
fuzzy patch. I was expecting to see the dust lanes, somewhat like the
triffid, but maybe not quite as bold. Perhaps on another night that's
darker and offers better contrast I may see more detail. Now, I'm
really not sure what to expect from my scope in viewing this object.
C29 - Galaxy
This looks like a face on spiral. Another relatively large galaxy.
A tight bright core with large dim diffusion around the outer part. No
detail or modeling, but a nice imge all the same.
9P/Tempel 1 - Comet
This is the comet that NASA is going to sessplode (that's how my 3
yeard old says it). Okay, so they're not going to blow it up, but they
are planning on hitting it pretty hard. That will be very exciting. See
the article at http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov
Tonight it is very faint at 10th magnitude. I'm not sure I've tried to
look at a comet this dim before. In the same field of view tonight is
NGC 7462 a long edge-on spiral and NGC 4754 what looks like an
eliptical probably much further away. I do not have any details on
these galaxies. I could not see the tail of this comet. Though the sky
was dark, there was a lot of light coming from either aurora or
reflective glow so the contrast was not as good as it could have been.
Over all it was a very nice evening. I viewed dozens of objects.
Many of which were in the vacinity of new one's I was looking for. The
evening was 100 percent better than I was hoping it would be. New
friends, clear skies, and another great observing evening with my
brother. It doesn't get much better than that.