I enjoyed back to back observing sessions last Friday and Saturday evenings (August 27 and 28). Friday evening I was at Powell observatory in Louisburg, Kansas for the monthly ASKC star party. A club member named Chris with a new Oberwerk PM2 p-gram mount and an APM 12x50 set up to my right, and then on the other side of my long time observing friend Dave, a newer member named Ken set up with an Orion 100mm BT. Fun to see other binocular enthusiasts at the club star party.
Here are a few of my observations from Friday evening.
NGC 6791 OC, Lyra
This OC was high overhead, making it a little inconvenient for the 100XL, but I have been wanting to see it for so long that I started with it as soon as it was dark enough to reasonably observe. And I could see it! The description from my journal: "Gorgeous!! Better with the 100XL than the XT-8. Tried 20/14/10 XWs and liked the 14 view best. A distinct nebulous glow in averted with a hint of granularity and a few faint stars winking in averted vision." I was struck by how rich the star field is around 20/21 Lyrae. Initially, I was star hopping to them from Epsilon1,2 (4&5 Lyrae) and Zeta 1,2 (6&7 Lyrae) but then realized that I could see 20 and 21 Lyrae naked eye. So many double stars!
Espin 2490 Lyra
19h21m +37*41' / SA2K: 8; UM2K: 49
AB 10.57/11.60 21.2" pa 40*
BC 11.60/11.80 7.6" pa 10*
Just at the edge of 6791. I haven't noticed it before because it is too faint for Lenexa light pollution. According to StelleDoppie it is an 11-fold system, but most of the members are 13th and 14th magnitude. I observed it with the 100XL-SD and 7mm XW eyepieces and also with the XT-8. Could see what I take to be the ABC components. An enjoyable view. All components white. Steve Smith shared some fantastic images of the star field including ES 2490 in the Double Star form in this topic.
NGC 6709 Aquila
Viewed this with both the 100XL and the XT-8. The richness of the star fields compared with the view from my yard was slightly disorienting – the W asterism doesn't stand out so clearly. OTOH, the cluster is readily seen in averted vision and can easily be swept up. As with many clusters, the view with the 100XL is more pleasing to me. The cluster seems richer seen against a larger star field, the nebulosity more striking. The double stars (BU 1464 and HJ 870), can be seen in the 100XL, but the secondary of HJ 870 is more distinct with the XT-8. It was not a very steady evening, somewhat limiting higher magnification views with the telescope.
M11 / NGC 6644 / M26 / NGC 6712 Scutum
The latter three of these four DSOs are objects I was unable to observe from my yard in recent weeks and were easily seen from Louisburg. A terrifically fun romp to wander through the star field picking these out. The ease with which they can be located with binoculars is delightful. I was observing with the 20 XW – would have been a good idea to switch up to the 10 XW. I'll make a note to do that on my next safari in this region. M11 is gorgeous in both the 100XL and in the XT-8. The views complimented each other nicely. One of the richest and brightest open clusters in the summer sky. NGC 6664 is coarse (not concentrated) but nevertheless distinct from the surrounding star field and perhaps best seen with the 100XL. I did not view this series of objects with the XT-8, which would be a nice exercise to try. The astro images of the cluster don't do it justice – it gets lost in the rich starfield. Much more apparent observed visually. M26 is more compressed, brighter, and richer than NGC 6664. It stands out well from the surrounding star field and is a fine binocular object from a darker site. NGC 6712 is bright and easily seen but looks nebulous (distinct outer shell with brightening toward center). No stars resolved.
NGC 6760 Aquila
This globular cluster is considerably fainter than 6712 in Scutum. Readily but not easily seen with the 100XL even from Lewis-Young park. Probably not as challenging from a really dark sky like the ASKC dark sky site. Observed with the 20mm XW. Did not try with 10, which might have brought out a bit more detail. Fun just to spot it.
A striking thing about the region in Aquila near Scutum is the richness of the Milky Way star fields. It looked like clouds of stars in the 100 XL, an impression I don't recall experiencing from telescopic observations.
Moonrise was relatively early, around 10:40 PM local time, and when it was just above the horizon it was remarkably red due to the forest fire smoke. As red as I have ever seen it. When the moon was higher in the sky it washed out the star fields, being about 79% illuminated, I think. Anyway, I turned the 100XL on STF 2993, which I have been meaning to observe since aznuge shared his observation of it in this topic last month, and subsequently a drawing.
STF 2993 Aquarius
An easy triple system, enhanced by its proximity to the Psi Aquarius asterism. I later noticed that the galaxy NGC 7606 is in the same field, but with the moon and haze I saw no hint of it. Ted Aranda describes it as faint in his 10-inch bino telescope (3000 Deep-Sky Objects: An Annotated Catalog), so it doesn't seem too likely for the 100XL, but I'll revisit the field on a better night and do some snooping around, in an optical sense. The field ring is the FOV through the 100XL with 20mm XW eyepieces (about 2.5 degrees).
STF 3008 Aquarius
23h23m -08*28' / SA2K: 17; UM2K: 122
7.21/7.67 7.1" pa 147*
Just northeast of the Psi trio this is a pleasing double for the 100XL, observed with 7mm XWs (80x), close but fully resolved, the primary was white and the secondary a light peach color.
BU 715 Aquarius
23h14m -10*41' / SA2K: 17; UM2K: 122
6.14/10.90 3.8" pa 256
Had a brief look at this with the 100XL but could not resolve it. More a job for the XT-8 or TV-101. And it was getting late. And the moon was reducing visibility a lot. So I just went on.
STF 2998, 94 Aquari
23h19m -13*28' / SA2K: 17; UM2K: 122
5.27/6.97 12.1" pa 353*
Another excellent nearby double. The colors light yellow and blue, easily resolved with the 100XL and a relaxing fun view.
Saturday evening I decided to observe with the 100XL again, from my driveway, wondering if I would enjoy the experience as much after the richness of the star fields seen the night before. And found to my satisfaction that I had just as much fun. The evening was more transparent than the previous night, which helped. The seeing was only marginally better. But there is just so much to see. And the 100XL provides such fine views. Even with light pollution it is still irresistible to me.
I wanted to revisit the DSOs in Scutum to see what was visible, but the lower portion of the constellation was already behind the trees / below my roof from where I had set up. (Closer to the house.) So I went for the globular cluster NGC 6712, which I have tried to observe from home before without success. Using the 10mmXW eyepieces. I started from three stars in the string running from R Scuti (which did not look particularly remarkable) down to alpha Scuti, working southeast from those. I came across S Scuti, a strikingly red star in a delightful triangular asterism – I used Sky Safari to identify it. From there I pinpointed the location of 6712 and was able to see it. Faintly, but steadily in averted vision. A triumph of suburban astronomy!
STF 2425 Aquila
19h00m -08*07' / SA2K: 16; UM2K: 125
7.92/8.64 29.5" pa 177*
While working on locating NGC 6712 I also came across this fine double star, primary light yellow and secondary grayish. I couldn't locate it in Sky Safari, so marked it on the UM2K chart and later identified it. It was bright and striking in the 100XL. It should also be visible in mounted 10x50 binoculars, something I want to test.
NGC 6760 Aquila
This globular had been remarkably faint from Louisburg, so I didn't anticipate seeing it from my yard but I was able to do so. Seen faintly in averted about 50% of the time. To accomplish that, I had to pinpoint the precise location. Really another triumph. And I could have stopped there. But I didn't.
I had a quick look at M71 in Sagitta – stars of which were actually visible naked eye, Gamma and Delta, I suppose. M71 was better seen with the 100XL than with the TV-101. Not surprising, really, for a fainter object – binocular vision enhancing what can be seen in averted. I tried KRU 8 north of the Coathanger, to no avail. But STF 2523 was easily resolved and HLM 23. I tried the Baader Hyperion on these and it provided an excellent view – sharper than the 100XL.
M27 Dumbell, Vulpecula
Really gorgeous with the 100XL. Tried it with both the 10mm XW and the 7mm XW. Maybe the best suburban sky planetary nebula? Bright and large. I could see brightening in the lobes of the planetary. Fine starfield too.
NGC 6823 OC Vulpecula
Spent time roaming the wilds of Vulpecula with the 100XL+20mm XW working west from 12 Vulpeculae around the streams of stars near this cluster, which is distinct from the star field (at least in a suburban sky) with numerous faint members in averted. What looks like a multiple star system can be seen in the center area of the cluster, making a linear formation that is better seen in averted. I bit difficult to pick out. Sky Safari identifies one element as POU 4027 9.35/11.30 17.7" 307*. A line of stars extends from that, which may have contributed to the impression it made through the 100XL. Stelle Doppie actually lists this as a 15-fold system. So maybe a few of those other stars are also part of it.
Roamed around a bit in Vulpecula with the 10x50s and enjoyed the region around 18/19/20 Vulpeculae which is a favorite starfield in the constellation. Also viewed with the 100XL-SD+20mmXWs. The bright yellow 19 Vul making a fine color contrast with its blue-white companions and 18/20 Vul as well. NGC 6885 is a terrific binocular open cluster, despite light pollution. I need to observe this region from Powell observatory.
NGC 6834 OC Vulpecula
I hopped up to view this OC, just over the border from Vulpecula in Cygnus. It is cluster like in averted and seems to be elongated EW. A subtle cluster compared to 6885, but still enjoyable and an object to revisit. Need to view it from a darker site.
STFA 53 / 49 Cygni
20h37m +31*34' / SA2K: 9; UM2K: 47/48
6.29/6.54 182.7" pa 177*
Went back to roaming with the 10x50 and wandered along the star chain between 23 Vulpeculae and 39 Cygni and then over to the area around 53 Cygni, where I came across this excellent binocular double, easy and enjoyable with hand held binoculars.
Edited by Fiske, 01 September 2021 - 08:34 AM.