Double Quasar Saturday Night 1/4, Fiddletown

by Shneor Sherman

Somewhere around 11 or 11:30 p.m., I decided to look for the Double Quasar in Ursa Major, as that area of the sky semed quite clear and dark. I took out a chart (photo, actually), found NGC3079 - a pretty edge-on - which points to the Double Qusar, 15 arcminutes away. The signpost is a triangle of faint stars that points directly to the Double Quasar. I saw the triangle and the quasar, as an elongated "point", at 343x, exactly matching the chart. I invited the other observers to have a look. When Jane came over, I showed her the chart, and she saw the object, and noted that the view exactly matched the chart (0r perhaps she said that a bit later). Jane noted that when defocused it looked more like a double object. I looked again, and again noted the elongation. But when I defocused, I thought I saw a bluish tint (that may be averted imagination, though). When Randy, who had been staring at Saturn all night, looked, he could not even identify the field in the eyepiece as the same field as the chart. No doubt, his night vision was shot as a result of staring at Saturn and trying to see M1 in the glare...

Nevertheless, there it was, 8 billion light years away, and some of those incredibly ancient photons nearly 2/3 the age of the universe stimulated my optical receptors.

My platform was not aligned perfectly, but the object stayed in the 343x 66-degree apparent field for several minutes at a time. I really should have increased the magnification on this object. The photo showed the quasar as brighter - or at least taking up more area - than the signpost stars, but the eye does not see it like that. Equipment used: 18" dob on a platform, 6mm Pro-Optic Ultraview eyepiece.