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2019 NE Ohio Amateur’s 22” F/4.16 / 8” F/4 Observing Log

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#1 andreww71

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Posted 05 January 2019 - 11:03 AM

I’m following some other forum member’s posting style and consolidating my observing notes for 2019 under one thread. Most of my observations will be using the 22” since the number of nights I observe are so few I try to get the most out of my time observing.

 

01/03/19 – I took the scope out in the front yard for my first observing session of the year. I stuck to the classic late fall / early winter favorites. From my location NE of Cleveland, a half mile from the south shore of Lake Erie I can, on clear nights this time of year see the Milky Way very faintly overhead in Cassiopeia stretching down to the northwest in Cygnus. This was a short 1 hour session though as the amount of traffic on the street and neighbor’s porch lights were really annoying me.

 

01/04/19 – The NWS was forecasting clouds for NE Ohio but the visible satellite showed me that I might get a few hour observing session in so I headed out to my local dark sky site. I ended up getting about three hours in before a broken band of clouds overtook my location from the south.

 

I took this night to do a casual tour of winter time favorites interspersed with a few not so well know objects as well. The transparency was a very good but the seeing early on was horrible though it got better about an hour into the session.

 

Nebula: NGC 2175 – I used the OIII filter and 86x, M42 and surrounding area, IC 434/B33 – Horsehead Nebula – I used the H-Beta filter and 86X

 

Open Clusters: M35, M36, M37, M38, NGC 1907, NGC 1807, NGC 1817, NGC 2141 (need to check this one out under darker skies), NGC 2158, NGC 2194

 

Planetary Nebula: IC 2003, IC 351, NGC 1514 (astonishing what the OIII does for this object!), NGC 2392 – I used 334X for a great view

 

Although I didn't log any new objects this was a very satisfying night under the stars none-the-less.

 

 


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#2 Pete W

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 09:13 AM

Sounds like a great evening of observing.  Thanks for sharing.  Planetaries, large apertures, and high mag go together well!


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#3 andreww71

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 10:24 AM

01/05/19 – Second night in a row the NWS forecast was for mostly cloudy and the visible satellite showed clear for at least a couple hours before clouding over. I headed out to my local dark sky site again. Unlike the previous night both the seeing and transparency was sub-par. I decided to focus on the area of the sky near zenith using Uranometria charts 36 & 37.

 

Nebula: NGC 2261 (Hubble's Variable Nebula) – This was the last object I looked at before packing up. This is a pretty neat object. R Monoceros shines like a beacon at the tip and the nebulosity fans out behind it though it is pretty uneven in brightness.

 

Open Clusters: M103, TR1, NGC 654, NGC 663, NGC 659, NGC 743, NGC 225, NGC 189, NGC 136, NGC 381, NGC 433, NGC 436, NGC 457.

 

In regards to open clusters it’s incredibly valuable to have access to published observations of these objects as opposed to just using cataloged information. For example, one book that I have lists the total number of stars in NGC 189 as 90 but a published observation revealed about half of that number using a 24” telescope. Obviously an image will reveal a larger number so the catalog value is most likely correct. From my local site I counted about a half dozen stars over an extremely faint haze. I’ve also found that I am not always able to see the “un-resolved” background haze reported by others because my skies are so bright which leads to confusion as to whether or not I’m actually observing the object. In this case I note that I need to observe the object when I’m at one of the two darker sites that I observe from. Challenging these open clusters are!

 

Planetary Nebula:
NGC 246 – located on the meridian at the end of evening twilight I used 86X and the OIII to get a pretty nice view. It was extremely difficult to view this without the OIII. From CCP, WV this object is visible in my 9 X 60 finderscope!

 

I then moved on to M76 which was almost directly overhead. Using 127X and OIII I was impressed with the brightness of the core and wispy extensions on either side. My 2” OIII filter no longer threads into many of my eyepieces so I had to stick with this low power view.

 

After two hours a band of clouds moved in from the north. I decided to pack it up and head home thinking the NWS was right. Once I got home the sky was dead clear and it stayed clear to about midnight.


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#4 andreww71

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 10:28 AM

Sounds like a great evening of observing.  Thanks for sharing.  Planetaries, large apertures, and high mag go together well!

Planetaries are an interesting group of objects. Many require really large aperture to reveal their subtle details but others look great in much smaller scopes. I remember the first time I saw the internal structure in the Eskimo Nebula. I was using an 18" scope but then was able to repeat the observation with a 12-1/2" no problem.

 

Andrew


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#5 andreww71

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 06:15 PM

So, after January 5th I have been shut-out of observing until Friday night, March 8th - the last night of EST. There have been very few clear evenings this winter but about a half dozen clear mornings. I have a hard time getting up to observe objects that are well placed for viewing in May or June in February. I may change my habits some day but until then...

 

I started out very low in Canis Major and looked at a few open clusters but it was not happening. Everything seemed washed out. I then moved up into Monoceros to observe a couple of standout clusters but only M50 caught my attention. Only NGC 2360 in Puppis stood out and looked impressive.

 

Changing gears I moved the scope over to NGC 2903 in Leo and it looked surprisingly good! I've concluded that from my skies I'm really only going to get excited about the brightest of galaxies.

 

I finished up the night with a peek at some of winter's best before packing it in. It was clear the whole night but at the end of a long work day an all-nighter was not in the cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 



#6 andreww71

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 12:27 PM

March 2019 rolled on and has offered many nights of observing.

 

03/11/19
03/12/19

Looking at my observing log shows that March is tied with November(!) with the most nights with recorded observations - only September has more, for the past four year period of 2015 - 2018. After my ho-hum session on 03/08 where I was left unsatisfied with my observations I found some enthusiasm by heading out to the driveway for some work night astronomy a few days later.

 

The late winter sky makes driveway astronomy enjoyable with its myriad of open clusters and planetary nebula that hold up well under my sub-urban skies. I spent both Monday and Tuesday nights looking at many of the bright winter favorites: M46, M47, M42, M42, M35, NGC 2392, M36, M37, M38, Double Cluster, NGC 1817, M78, M76, NGC 1245. Unlike the night of the 8th these were pretty leisurely sessions but I found them extremely enjoyable and very relaxing.

 

I finished the session on the night of the 12th with a view of the Pup. My wife was just finishing walking our own Pup so stopped by for a view. I first jumped over to Rigel to show her how close the companion is to the main star and then moved back to Sirius. It took a minute or two but she saw it. I thought I thoroughly explained to her that she was looking two stars but when I got back into the house after putting the scope away I found her googling for images of the “Pup Nebula!”

 

03/23/19

I took advantage of this clear Saturday night with about 2 hours of darkness before moonrise and headed out to the local dark sky site.

 

Highlights include going far south for open clusters M93 and NGC 2421. Looking at my notes shows no observation logged for M93 so this was a first. The stars were a bit bloated at this low elevation but the view was excellent.

 

On a whim I pointed the scope at Regulus hoping to catch a glimpse of Leo I. With no finder chart and my less than dark enough skies I really had no chance. I did see the nearby galaxy IC 591 without difficulty.

 

The highlight of this session though was when I put in the 4.7 Ethos (569X) and turned the scope first to NGC 3242 and then to NGC 2393. I don’t often get very steady seeing in the late winter / early spring but both of these planetaries looked fantastic!

 

I packed up at moonrise and was home in bed by midnight.

 

03/25/19

The skies were a deep blue the entire day and by the time I got home from work I decided to pack the scope up and head to the local dark sky site to take advantage of a work night observing session. These work night sessions will come to end about the beginning of April as the end of AT will extend too late into the evening to make these observing sessions practical. Make hay while the sun shines…

 

I decided to take advantage of the darker skies and focus on nebula this night.

 

I started out about 20 minutes before the end of AT with M42. I used a number of eyepieces and just took in the view. I saw the standard A, B, C, D, E, F stars as well as number of others outside of the trapezium. I need to spend some time to see if I can spot those inside of the trapezium.

 

Next was the planetary NGC 1514 in Taurus. An excellent example of what an OIII filter does for an object. Without the filter the CS is blinding but the surrounding nebula is almost imperceptible. Put the filter in and the nebula fills in nicely.

 

I dropped the scope down to the southern horizon, still chasing the winter milky into Puppis. Using the 31N2 I brought the open cluster NGC 2467 into the field. There is a hint of nebulosity without a filter. I put the OIII in and nebulosity becomes much more obvious. This is an outstanding object that surely would be a showpiece if it wasn’t so far south from my latitude. None the less I was rewarded with an excellent view.

 

I moved the scope north into Canis Major to view Thor’s Helmet and though the skies were pretty good for my local site I’ve seen this object much better in WV.

 

I dipped back south into Puppis again to catch the bright planetary NGC 2440. I found the southern declination didn’t hurt the image at all and so I ended up with the 4.7 Ethos observing this object at 569X. The oblong shape is pretty obvious even at lower power but the mottling across the surface reminded me of M82.

 

I finished my session in Orion with a view of Abell 12. The planetary is difficult to view given that it is right next to Mu Orionis so you can’t even put the 4th magnitude out of the field to reduce the glare. I put the OIII in and at 172x the round glow of the planetary comes into view.

 

03/26/19

High clouds were on their way in but it looked like the skies would stay clear for few hours after sunset this night so I settled for a driveway session.

 

Along with the usual suspects I added the bight planetary NGC 2371-72 and two rich open clusters in Gemini, NGC 2304 and NGC 2266 to my list.

 

There’s a slim chance it’ll be clear the night of March 31st here so I may add one more night to an already productive month!


Edited by andreww71, 30 March 2019 - 07:21 PM.

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#7 andreww71

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 07:43 PM

My last post in this thread was March 30th! I made a concerted effort to get more observing in this spring though none of it was under really dark skies. June, July and most of August brought lots of smoke to northeast Ohio as a result of various fires in Alaska, Canada and even Russia!  I did get lucky the last week of August with a two night trip to Calhoun County Park in WV to observe under truly dark skies.

 

Observing highlights are listed below. All observations are using a 22” F/4.16.

 

April

 

I had one driveway session in April and missed out on two nights late in the month where skies cleared just before midnight but I had already turned in for the night. “Waiting for the clearing” is one of the most difficult aspects of weather to predict here.

 

May

 

I logged three nights in May but the first two were somewhat short due to equipment problems.

 

05/23/19

 

The last night I logged in the month was the charm.

 

I spent the night viewing bright Messier and NGC galaxies and came away with some fantastic views.

 

NGC 4725: I couldn’t detect the pronounced delineation between the core and the spiral arms that appears in photos but I could clearly see a difference between the core and outer arms. The core was smooth while the arms were clearly “rough” in appearance. I feel under darker skies these features will be much more clearly visible.

 

M81: I could detect the division between the bright core and the outer spiral arms. I was impressed. Seeing anything other than the core from my site is remarkable.

 

M51 / NGC 5195: WOW! At 334X the galaxy filled the field of view and looked like a photo!  The extensive halo surrounding NGC 5195 was clearly visible. This is the best view of this galaxy I have ever had.

 

June

 

06/29/19

 

I headed out to my local dark sky site for a short session. The night was very warm and humid and the seeing was (surprisingly) horrible.

 

NGC 6369: The little ghost. I used 127X but didn’t note anything other than its shape. I expect this will look much better, and reveal more detail with better seeing and more magnification.

 

NGC 6445: The Box nebula looked, well, boxy. I think darker skies as well as better seeing might reveal more detail including a bit of the broke outer halo of nebulosity seen in images.

 

August

 

August is typically one of my least active months. This year I logged three nights, all with excellent transparency.

 

08/24/19

 

IC 1311: Located in Cygnus this cluster looked impressive at 206X. It wasn’t fully resolved in the 22” but instead showed a number of stars superimposed over a faint background haze. Regardless of the level of resolution, this cluster just looks really good!

 

08/28/19

 

The two factors that never seem to align: clear skies and no commitments, came together this past week to allow me to take a trip to Calhoun County Park, WV. The weather looked very promising with a strong cold front coming through providing at least two mostly clear nights, daytime temps in the 70’s and low (for the east coast) dew points in the upper 50’s.

 

Unlike my site close to home, Calhoun offers much darker skies that are only a 3-1/2 hour drive away. By 9:25 (20 minutes before the end of AT) I could clearly make out the pipe nebula naked eye!

 

I spent the early part of this night very low on the southern horizon checking off open clusters in Scorpius. Sadly, given the crappy seeing this low on the horizon, none of the objects looked very good. Targets included NGC 6400, NGC 6404, NGC 6451, TR31, M6 and M7. Even the big Messiers were somewhat lacking though a smaller scope with a wider field would have given a better view.

 

NGC 6520 / B86: The cluster looked okay but the real show stopper was its pairing with the prominent dark nebula B86. This is a really interesting pair of objects that looks fantastic. After the less impressive views of the objects in southern Scorpius above, coming across this pair perked me up a bit!

 

Czernik 38: This open cluster in Serpens boasts an impressive number of members (80) in various publications, but its catalog number of CZ38 implies it is not an eye popper in anything other than a really big scope. Using 206X with the 22” revealed a number of stars in the field with a hint of haze in the background. I need to study an image of the cluster and then make another observation to try and determine just how many stars are visible.

 

IC 4954 / 55: These are two reflection nebula located in Vulpecula. My deep sky field guide to Uranometria doesn’t clarify the location of each catalog number – it only states it is a pair of detached nebulosities aligned NW – SE.  I first observed these the night of 08/24 at my local dark sky site but wanted to check them out under darker skies.  The northwest component is the fainter of the two but it extends due south around a parallelogram of stars. I did confirm that I saw the brightest portion of each section at my local site but in general more nebulosity was visible under darker skies.

 

During the course of the night I stopped by and looked at many favorites in between objects on my list.

 

08/29/19

 

I started out the night concentrating on object on Uranometria chart 339. At the end of twilight, objects on this chart would be passing through the meridian. There are a number of show piece objects on this chart including M17, M24, M20 and M8 to name just a few.

 

M8: I placed the Lagoon Nebula in the center of a 31mm eyepiece (86X), which gives a FOV of just under a degree and was amazed to see the faint extremities extend outside of the FOV. The level of detail was amazing! The large dark rift that runs through the center, effectively splitting the object in half was very pronounced. There is a very bright knot of nebulosity on the west side that also stood out. Panning around revealed the extensiveness of the nebulosity.

 

M20: I moved up to the Trifid nebula for an equally impressive view. Without a filter, both “halves” of the object appeared equal in brightness. I found with the 13mm eyepiece (206X), the entire object fit neatly in the FOV. I spent some time just soaking in the view.

 

NGC 6546: In spite of this open cluster’s II1r classification, I found it challenging trying to define its extents in a very rich star field. My best view was using 206X.

 

NGC 6603: I’ve seen this cluster before but the view is always incredible with this object being situated within the boundaries of M24. Talk about stars and more stars!

 

NGC 6589/90: These two reflection nebula lie due south of NGC 6603. I kept to low power (86X) and found these two nebula to be pretty easy.

 

IC 1283/84: Using low power and the OIII I was not able to identify this object from the background.

 

NGC 6559: There are a number of other nebula in this area as well but trying to identify them using the “outline” shown on the uranometria chart is a daunting task. It’s difficult trying to see where one object ends and another begins. I could clearly make out 6559 and some of the “other” objects in the vicinity. Like hunting down faint planetary nebula, an image of the region will help tremendously in identification. None the less, I was pretty satisfied with view I had of the region as a whole and the amount of detail visible.

 

IC 4684: Lying north of NGC 6559 and separated from the nebulosity of the whole area, I found this reflection nebula easy to identify.

 

Working my way north along the Milky Way I stopped to view planetary PK24+5.1 (M4-9). Using 206X the planetary looked evenly illuminated to me though the Deep Sky Field Guide lists it as ring structure.

 

The rest of the night I continued along the Milky Way up into Cygnus viewing a mix of open clusters and planetary nebula.  Dew on the eyepieces became a problem after 2 and I packed it in at 2:30. The glorious fall Milky Way stretching through Cassiopeia and Perseus was in full display to the north and gave a preview of what will be better placed for evening viewing later in the season.


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