Montebello Sunday 18 May 2003

by Matthew Marcus

As previously stated, we had about 7 observers with an assortment of scopes including a 7" Tak. The transparency was OK for MB and the seeing was very good at times.

I started with Jupiter and Saturn, which are getting rather low. Jupiter was soft, with bands but no other features visible. Saturn barely showed Cassini's division. Good bye, Saturn! See you next year!

Somebody issued a Collimation Challenge to the effect that before I observed planets, I should test my scope by splitting Porrima, which I did handily.

Since I haven't been out in a while, and since MB isn't a prime deep- sky location, I decided to do some relatively easy stuff. Astronomy (June) has a list of DSOs in Coma. Most of these are bright galaxies, but the list includes M53 and its ghost, 5053. The Coma Cluster was represented by its brightest member, 4889, which was my last target before the Great Obliterator came up. The dark lane was visible in 4565. I did log one new object, 4302/4298, a galaxy pair I'd somehow missed. I can't say I split them, but I did fancy seeing a bulge on the side of the brighter one which was correctly positioned to be the fainter one.

I also got 3C273, the brightest quasar. It forms a double with a foreground star. I remember it being equal to the foreground star, but this time it was distinctly brighter. This object is variable by a magnitude or so, so maybe it's at a bright phase.

I left shortly after moonrise, happy to have finally gotten some scope time.