A Short Night In The Country

by Tom Campbell


May 26, 2003

ObserverTom Campbell
LocationIola, Kansas (Long: 95°24'W Lat: 37°55'N)
EquipmentDiscovery DHQ 8" dobsonian
Eyepieces1.25" Plössls - 25mm (49x), 15mm (81x), 10mm (122x), 6mm (203x), 4mm (305x)
Time10:00pm - 11:00pm CDT (04:00-05:00 UT)
TransparencyClear (8/10)
SeeingMostly Stable (7/10)
WeatherTemperatures in the 60s. There was little or no breeze.

Observing Summary

A friend of mine knows a farmer out in the country who has given us permission to observe from one of his pastures. We were both finished with our respective Memorial Day activities, and decided to meet out in the pasture at dusk. My younger brother wasn't busy and wanted to go, so I brought him along. We met at the pasture at the same time. My friend had brought his youngest daughter along, so we had a miniature star party.

To make things better, when we arrived, the farmer's son-in-law was in the pasture, just finishing up with haying for the evening. That meant we would be able to view in short grass (a real plus when trying to avoid chiggers and cow patties). After briefly checking with the son-in-law to make sure that we wouldn't be getting in each other's way, we set up along one edge of the pasture and waited for dark.

Although the sky was clear, the air was moist, and I knew that dew would be a problem. I decided to try a trick that I had heard about on the internet. I took a piece of thin foam from a motherboard box, cut it to size, and wrapped it around the Telrad as insulation. Hopefully, it would help a little bit in staving off the effects of dew.

My brother and I both had to go back to work early the next morning, so we weren't planning on staying too long. My friend worked the evening shift, so he was able to observe for a while longer. With the "guests", I knew that I wouldn't get much done on my observing plan, but I enjoyed looking at some showpiece objects in truly dark skies. My brother spent a lot of his time gazing through my friend's 20" Starmaster, so I was able to observe a few objects on my list that were hard (if not impossible) to see from my backyard.

NGC 5466BoötesGlobular Cluster10:10pm CDT
RA: 14h 05m 27sDec: +28° 32'Mag: 9.2

This was pretty large, but extremely faint. It appeared as a hazy patch of light with a bright foreground star nearby. It was round, but the shape was difficult to determine precisely due to the faintness. The best view was at 49x.

Through my friend's 20" Starmaster at 162x, several individual stars were resolved and it took on the definite appearance of a globular cluster.

NGC 4485/4490Canes VenaticiInteracting Galaxies10:30pm CDT
RA: 12h 30m 31sDec: +41° 42'Mag: 12.3

NGC 4490 was fairly large and elongated. The core appeared stellar, but it was off-center. NGC 4485 was much smaller, much fainter, and nearly perpendicular to NGC 4490. No details were visible in either galaxy. The best view was at 49x.

NGC 4618Canes VenaticiBarred Spiral Galaxy10:40pm CDT
RA: 12h 41m 33sDec: +41° 09'Mag: 11.2

This galaxy appeared faint, with the best view at 49x. With averted vision, it was somewhat irregular in shape. The core was merely a slight brightening in the center.

By this time, my secondary was completely dew-covered, and even my covered Telrad was beginning to lose the battle to dew. Knowing that my brother had to get up early for work the next morning, I decided that it was a good time to pack it in for the night. The trip was short, but it was nice to be able to look through the eyepiece without having to shield my eyes from nearby streetlights.