by Michael Huster
My primary *observing* goal was to start and finish my Astronomical League Binocular Messier certificate. It would be my first. I want to add firsthand observing experience to help me in teaching astronomy.
|Dates||25 - 30 June, 2003|
|Conditions||Dark skies all nights. After twilight I estimated the skies as 5.5+ magnitude.|
|Equipment||Celestron Ultima 9x63 binoculars, 5.4 deg FOV on a paralleogram tripod mount.|
|Guides||I used the Astronomical League, Messier|
|Objects||A Beginner's Guide and Astro Cards.|
|Results||I logged 53. Only 40 are necessary for the certificate. Some were very challenging; I only glimpsed a wisp of nebulosity with averted vision.|
List in numerical order:
I started on Wednesday at 10:30PM working through the Messiers in Ursa Major and working south, then east and finally into Ophiuchus at 3:00. I logged 16 the first night. On Thursday I started with M83 in Hydra and into the Milky Way in Scorpius. The highlight for me was seeing (or recognizing) dark nebulae for the first time. M24, wow! It was a treat to see the open clusters and nebulae after spending the first night on galaxies and globular clusters with unresolvable stars. I finished with M54 & 55 in Scorpius. I was packing in for the night around 3:00 when I realized M31 was up. I was stunned by the view as M31 was clearly visible for 3 deg in the binoculars! What a treat before bedtime. I logged 22 Messier this night. On Friday I started with M29 and some of the Messiers that were near azimuth by the time I went to bed the previous night. A highlight was identifying M32 and M110 near/in M31. John Whitehouse and I hunted down some help for positive identification. I finished the night with the open clusters in Cassiopeia and M33 in Triangulum. I logged 12 by 3:00 Saturday morning when I quit. Saturday was the public star party, so I switched to the 8" LXD-55 Schmidt-Newtonian. (The public doesn't want to look through bino's when there are scopes around.) Between 1:00 and 2:00 I logged four Messier galaxies in Ursa Major with the telescope. The last night I was getting tired. I used the telescope to work on my starhopping. I find star hopping much more difficult with the telescope than with bino's. I had bought a Rigel QuikFinder earlier in the day. It definitely is a big help, but I still struggled. My surprize was that while using the bino's to help the star hopping with the telescope I found and logged M66, 65 and 49 in the bino's. I hit the wall around midnight and went to bed.
I really enjoyed the star party. My thanks and appreciation go to Jim Ster who was the driving force behind the move to Shingletown.
(Seize the Night!)