Observing Report for this weekend

by Brian Zehring

I really spent a majority of my time this weekend getting used to the scope and looking at some of the usual stuff just to see what the difference was in the 30" versus the 22". One fact that I have seen for myself and was confirmed by Rick at Starmaster is that somewhere around 20" of aperture and over the quality of the sky really starts to make a huge difference in contrast seen at the eyepiece. Meaning the difference in aperture in the larger sizes is really only magnified on a good night. The bigger scopes seem to do a "better" job of magnifying poor transparency, etc for some reason. We had two of the poorer nights at BC that I have seen, so contrast was down a bit but there was still some great views. The ladder took a little getting used to, but really wasn't an issue. The most amazing part of the scope is to watch the GOTO move the thing and I could swear it is quieter than my 22". I almost feel like I should put a backup signal on the thing so people know it's coming. Could you imagine hitting the goto button and getting a beep, beep, beep as loud as a delivery truck or something? That would be funny.

Here is what I looked at over the weekend, Friday night was packed with hilarity with Randy, Jim, Jane, Alvin, myself and some woman that pulled up late and mostly kept to herself and her 14" Starmaster. Randy and Jane were glad she was there, imagine having an 18" and being the smallest scope around. Saturday was a good time as well.

My favorite quotes of the weekend:

jane- "M51 looks pretty good in your 30" Brian, but it's no Zambuto!"

Everyone- "It's so much easier to use your star charts when you don't need a flashlight thanks to Mattingly leaving all the lights on in his observatory. You ever heard of red lights? Maybe curtains?"

Me- "I have to be an idiot magnet"

Jim,Randy,me- "Last call for (insert object here) in the 30"! We got (insert object here) in the 30"!" It never gets old. I bought the scope almost exclusively for the right to use that joke.

Anyway on to my notes:

M42: Unbelievable. By far the most incredible view I have ever seen. The stars embedded in the nebula were too many too count, and they all shone through even at a very low power. I have seen high magnification views of the Trapezium where you can see stars embedded around it. But this was a 31mm Nagler (thanks Jim) with stars shining all through the nebula, very cool.

Double Quasar: Not as bright as I would have expected, but there was quite a bit more seperation than in the 22".

Thor's helmet- For some reason had never actually seen this one. Very nice with filter, with structure evident in the helmet and beard. Very nice.

Hickson 50: Friday night saw at least two of the members at the 11 o'clock position from mag 17 star. 10-20% with averted vision, very difficult.

Abell 10 (mag 15.2): Brighter than I had seen previously, some hint of irregular shape that is not apparent in the photograph I had with me. Checked Icplanetaries (Eric Honeycutt's site) and found picture there was closer to what I saw. Saw mag 15.7 galaxy cgcg 421-49 about 8'above abell 10 and briefly glimpsed mag 17.5 MAC 0531+0704 about 11' away. I did not have a picture of this galaxy and the stars on the chart did not go down to what I was seeing in the field. I drew a picture and compared to a DSS field to verify. Definately at the limit for that night.

Abell 12 (mag 13.9): One of my favorites, right off (2')naked-eye star mu orionis. Not visible without filter due to light from nearby star. Seperated further than I had seen it before and some internal structure evident.

Abell 13 (mag 16) Large object (132")with very low surface brightness. May have seen a piece of it, but need much darker skies.

Abell 21-Medusa nebula (mag 11.3) I have no idea where the name comes from. Looked more like a crescent moon shape with internal structure visible. Amazing how the whole thing pops in to view with an 0III filter. Nice little cluster of 4 15th mag galaxies closeby were observed as well.

Abell 22-24 Not visible. Skies conditions were worsening leaving faint planetaries out of the question.

Finished the night looking at galaxies in markarian chain with everyone else along with other Virgo galaxies.

All in all a good weekend.