Clouds? What clouds?

by Craig Colvin

After weeks (it just seems like months) of clouds I was surprized and excited to see the clouds disappate around 8:00pm. The Clear Sky Clock showed all white boxes and the weather report said scattered clouds so I hadn't been expecting any observing for another few days. But there it was clear skies above me! There were some low clouds way off to the NE but they kept their distance (perhaps by my sheer force of will?). I setup up my scope and my new laptop support arm and waited until the kids got to sleep and the skies darkened.

My plan this evening was to tackle the Herchel 400 objects in Coma Berenices and one Caldwell object in that constellation.

I started off with NGC4559, a faint galaxy framed by two 12th mag stars. It was quite faint, almost twice as long in the SE-NW direction as it was wide. There was a 13th mag star near the center. No real structure could be determined.

Next was the Caldwell object NGC4889 a 11.4 mag galaxy. I'm not sure about the magnitude as it was was much, much fainter than the mag 12.9 galaxy NGC4874 visible in the same FOV. Had a bright core, haze extending out in the E-W direction visible using averted vision.

These faint objects were nice but I realized that I really wasn't in to spending the night looking at 11th and 12th magnitude galaxies so at this point I decided to scrape my plan and look at some nice bright objects. There were quite a few Messier objects that I had seen for the first time during the Messier Marthon but had never really spent time looking at so I decided to spend some quality time with them. I observed M92, M57, M14, M12, M10, M107, M19, and M101. My observation of M57 during the Marathon had been so quick that I really didn't appreciate how great an object it is. It was definitely the highlight of the evening and I spent a lot of time trying different magnifications. I was unable to resolve the central star but it was still great to look at.

I finished off the evening with a few more Herchel objects in Boo and Crv, NGC5446, NGC5248, NGC4038, and pNeb NGC4361. I finally pack it up at 1:55am but was too excited about the evening to sleep. Finally dozed off sometime around 3:30am and dreamt of the stars.

ObserverCraig Colvin
LocationMy home in Almaden Valley
EquipmentOrion XT10 dobsonian
Eyepieces35mm Panoptic (34x), 13mm Nagler (92x), 6.7mm Meade UWA (179x)
Time9:08pm - 1:55am PST
Sky ConditionsLM 5.0 (8 stars in Leo (field 9)), seeing was good. The sky was very clear except for a low cloud/fog along the horizon to northeast.
WeatherCool with temperatures in the low 50s dropping to the high 40s. Some light dewing towards midnight. NO CLOUDS!! :)