Long time, no post (Marathon, Kitt peak and ...)

by Bill Chandler

It's been some time since I've lurked or posted to TAC-SAC. Work and other responsibilities has pulled me in too many ways. However, my love for observing has not diminished. I've had a few opportunities over the past few months to get out and 'see'. He's a quick update: Before Christmas, I was spending a lot of time researching, (and eventually purchasing' and metal turning lathe. A Logan 922. I'm a bit of an apprentice machinist and I wanted the lathe for making some Astro parts for my scopes.

(note: if anyone needs something turned (not to complex) drop me a line. I'd be happy to see if I can help). Part of the reason for buying the lathe, I was unable to find anyone who could (or was willing to) turn some parts for me. :-(

So... :-)

Just after getting the lathe, I got caught up with some buddies at the McClellen Air park auction. We bought a BUNCH of office furniture. so I've been busy 'disposing' of same (need $ to fund my scopes ya know). Then, last week, the wife and I flew to Tucson for the GEM & Jewelry show. She has a business designing jewelry and this is where she gets here supplies. Since I was going to AZ, I might as well take my 5" Mak-Newt for some 'clear sky' observing! ;-)

The plan was to observe on Sunday (2nd). However we arrived late and there was no time to re-con the local sties and setup for an all-nighter. On Monday, We went to Kitt Peak and attended the nightly observing program. http://www.noao.edu/outreach/nop/

While the weather was 'somewhat' cooperative, the observing was pretty nice. We had access to both scopes (16" Richey and 16" Meade LX200). Didn't see any 'extraordinary objects' since the group was mostly non-amateurs. But what we did look at was nice. :-)

The next day (Tuesday) it was overcast :-( This continued into Wednesday as well. Since we were leaving on Friday, I had only Wednesday night for an all night session. The weather reports called for 'clearing' in the eve. So I chanced it and took my equipment out to the Whipple Observatory on Mt Hopkins http://tdc-www.harvard.edu/mthopkins/

While amateur are not allowed on the TOP of the mountain, they do have a site setup for amateurs and your equipment.


Being Wednesday night, no one else was there. I had the place all to myself :-) VERY DARK (after the moon set) and clear (after the clouds cleared). I used this opportunity to do a 'short' Messier marathon. I've never attempted this before, so I thought it would be good training for next months full marathon. I observed approx 68 objects before my thermal insulation ran out (at 3AM) . It was a bit cold and I was getting tired. To catch anymore objects, I would've had to stay out another hour to let Scorpio rise then Sagittarius. I won't list all 68 objects here, but I the first one was M74 in Pisces and the last was M68 in Hydra (below Corvus).

The other nice thing about being so far south, is access to some objects in the constellations Carina and Vela. I kept see a VERY bright star on the southern horizon well below Orion. I couldn't place it. looking it up in my star guides, I discovered it was CANOPUS (a Carinae) mag: -0.63, RA 06h 24m 02.55s & Dec -52 41' 59.5". I also checked out a couple of clusters in southern part of Puppis NGC2451 http://www.ne.jp/asahi/stellar/scenes/object_e/ngc2451.htm and NGC2546. Nice 'rich' collection of stars. :-) I'm looking forward to going back (someday) and seeing some more. :-)

One last thing, Anyone going to or doing a Messier Marathon in March? any details (when, where, etc) would be great :-)

It's nice to be back :-)