Snake Eggs

by Tom Campbell


June 26, 2003

ObserverTom Campbell
LocationIola, Kansas (Long: 95=B024'W Lat: 37=B055'N)
EquipmentDiscovery DHQ 8" dobsonian
Eyepieces1.25" Pl=F6ssls - 25mm (49x), 15mm (81x), 10mm (122x), 6mm (203x), 4mm (305x)
Time9:00pm - 12:15am CDT (03:30-05:15 UT)
TransparencyVery Clear (9/10)
SeeingStable (8/10)
WeatherTemperatures in the 60s. There was little or no breeze.

Observing Summary
OPHIUCHUSM9, NGC-6235, NGC-6284, NGC-6287, NGC-6293, NGC-6304, NGC-6316, NGC-6342, NGC-6355, NGC-6356, NGC-6401
SAGITTARIUSM8, NGC-6568, NGC-6569, NGC-6583, NGC-6603, NGC-6624

My neighbors had some relatives visiting with them when I came outside tonight carrying my telescope. As I was setting up, I overheard them asking my neighbor what I was doing. My neighbor, who has looked through my telescope on several occasions, told them that I was setting up a telescope. By the time I had checked collimation, their curiosity got the better of them and they came over for a peek. There were six of them altogether. Besides the parents, there were a couple of early teens and a 3-4 year old.

The dad was really polite, and just wanted to see the telescope itself, as he had never seen one that large, except on television. I told him that if he could stick around another half-hour or so, it would be dark enough that I could show him and his family a few things. They couldn't stay, so I quickly aimed in the twilight at Jupiter, and they all took turns looking at the cloud bands and moons, and agreeing that it was pretty neat. By this time, most of the stars in the Big Dipper were visible, so I showed them the double star Mizar.

They asked a few questions about Jupiter and Mizar, and how the telescope worked and then left. They were polite (even the kids), and thanked me for the show and science lesson. I already felt good about tonight's observing session, and it wasn't even dark yet.

After they "show" was over, I began to settle in on my observing plan. I had set up my telescope near the alley. It was a lot brighter there, but it offered me my only view of the southern skies: a patch of sky about 30 degrees wide between houses and trees. As twilight neared an end, Scorpius was well framed within the "hole" and I figured I could go after some of the globular clusters in the lower part of Ophiuchus. On the star charts, there were a wide stream of them, appearing to drop like eggs from the underside of Serpens.

NGC 6293OphiuchusGlobular Cluster10:20pm CDT
RA: 17h 10m 10sDec: -26=B0 35'Mag: 8.3

The best view of this globular was at 203x. It had a bright core, not quite stellar. The cluster appeared mottled, although individual stars were not quite detectable with direct vision. Using averted vision, a couple of stars would pop in and out of view.

NGC 6316OphiuchusGlobular Cluster10:25pm CDT
RA: 17h 16m 37sDec: -28=B0 08'Mag: 8.1

This globular was faint, with the best view coming at 81x. A faint field star next to the cluster appeared brighter than the cluster itself. The cluster looked like a small, faint smudge of light, with no stars resolvable.

NGC 6304OphiuchusGlobular Cluster10:30pm CDT
RA: 17h 14m 33sDec: -29=B0 28'Mag: 8.3

This cluster was fairly bright. At 203x, it appeared round, with a non-stellar core. It had a slightly mottled appearance, but no stars could be individually resolved.

NGC 6355OphiuchusGlobular Cluster10:40pm CDT
RA: 17h 23m 59sDec: -26=B0 21'Mag: 8.6

This globular was extremely faint. At 81x, I had to use averted vision to see it. It appeared as a faint fuzzy patch of light, easily missed on low-power sweeps of the area. With direct vision, the core would become stellar and the nebulous patch would disappear, whereas with averted vision, the stellar core would disappear and only the nebulosity was detected.

NGC 6284OphiuchusGlobular Cluster10:45pm CDT
RA: 17h 04m 29sDec: -24=B0 46'Mag: 8.9

This globular was fairly large and bright, with the best view at 203x. Two bright stars were at the edge of the field, making it easier to focus, but far enough away to not interfere too much with viewing the cluster. The core was stellar and the overall shape was round. With averted vision, a little mottling could be seen, but no stars could be resolved.

NGC 6235OphiuchusGlobular Cluster10:55pm CDT
RA: 16h 53m 25sDec: -22=B0 11'Mag: 8.9

This cluster was faint and small, somewhat difficult to detect. The best view was offered at 81x, where it appeared as a dim smudge. Even the exact shape was difficult to discern, but there was a definite brightening near the center.

NGC 6287OphiuchusGlobular Cluster11:00pm CDT
RA: 17h 05m 09sDec: -22=B0 42'Mag: 9.3

The best view of this globular was at 122x. It appeared somewhat bright and fairly large. Individual stars couldn't be resolved. The core was non-stellar.

NGC 6342OphiuchusGlobular Cluster11:05pm CDT
RA: 17h 21m 10sDec: -19=B0 35'Mag: 9.5

This cluster was somewhat faint and small, with the best view at 81x. With averted vision, a stellar core popped in and out of view. A faint star was nestled next to the globular, that had a similar magnitude as the core.

M 9OphiuchusGlobular Cluster11:10pm CDT
NGC 6333RA: 17h 19m 12sDec: -18=B0 31'Mag: 7.8

While I was in the area, I had to catch this one. The best view of this globular was at 203x. With direct vision, a few individual stars were resolved, but averted vision revealed many more. Compared with the other clusters I looked at tonight, this appeared really bright and large.

NGC 6356OphiuchusGlobular Cluster11:15pm CDT
RA: 17h 23m 35sDec: -17=B0 49'Mag: 8.2

This cluster appeared large and bright. In fact, when I first located it, I thought I had mistakenly gone to nearby M9 again. The different arrangement of field stars soon convinced me otherwise, however. The globular was a little smaller than M9, and showed up best at 203x. The core appeared large and bright, but individual stars were not detected. A little more aperture would probably make this cluster a showpiece.

NGC 6401OphiuchusGlobular Cluster11:20pm CDT
RA: 17h 38m 37sDec: -23=B0 54'Mag: 7.4

This cluster appeared small and faint, with a stellar core. The best view was at 81x. With averted vision, the stellar core was pretty steady, while with direct vision, the cluster turned into just a dim fuzzy patch of light. This was the complete opposite effect of NGC 6355. The overall shape appeared to be slightly elongated.

Scorpius was ducking behind some trees by this time. I dug out my map of Sagittarius, which was now in full view, and decided to just look at whatever caught my eye.

M 8 (Lagoon)SagittariusOpen Cluster + Nebula11:25pm CDT
NGC 6523RA: 18h 04m 03sDec: -24=B0 18'Mag: ?

At 49x, the cluster is really obvious, and a rectangular patch of nebulosity is seen nearby. With averted vision, a larger and fainter nebulosity can be detected in the surrounding area, just barely brighter than the background sky. A dark band could barely be seen bisecting some of the fainter regions of nebulosity.

By using an O-III filter, however, the whole scene changes. The cluster becomes slightly dimmer and less noticeable, but the nebula really stands out. The nebula appears in several shades of grey (although it started taking on a slightly greenish appearance at times). Within the nebula were several spiraling arcs of dark areas which gave the cluster an overall rose shape. With this view, the nebula completely engulfed the cluster. I heard somebody recently mention that they thought the Lagoon was boring in small scopes. My advice is to buy an O-III filter; I think the Lagoon is prettier than the Orion Nebula!

NGC 6568SagittariusOpen Cluster11:30pm CDT
CR 369RA: 18h 12m 48sDec: -21=B0 35'Mag: 8.6

This open cluster was fairly rich and large, but it contained a lot of dim stars. The cluster contained several strings and arcs of stars arranged in nearly a heart shape. The richest area of the cluster appeared to be the outer edges. All together, a couple dozen stars were visible.

NGC 6583SagittariusOpen Cluster11:35pm CDT
CR 370RA: 18h 15m 48sDec: -22=B0 07'Mag: 10.0

This cluster was faint and small, best viewed at 122x. With averted vision, a few stars were visible, but it mainly appeared as an oval-shaped patch of light. It would be very easy to miss this one on a casual sweep of the area.

NGC 6624SagittariusGlobular Cluster11:45pm CDT
RA: 18h 23m 41sDec: -30=B0 22'Mag: 7.6

The best view of this globular cluster was at 203x. It appeared fairly bright, and almost had a stellar core with averted vision. It also was somewhat large, but no individual stars could be resolved.

NGC 6569SagittariusGlobular Cluster11:50pm CDT
RA: 18h 13m 39sDec: -31=B0 50'Mag: 8.4

This globular appeared somewhat faint and small. The best view was at 81x. Individual stars couldn't be resolved, but the shape was round, with a slight brightening in the middle.

NGC 6451ScorpiusOpen Cluster11:55pm CDT
CR 352RA: 17h 50m 42sDec: -30=B0 12'Mag: 8.2

This open cluster was rich and compact, with the best view coming at 203x. There was some nebulosity noted, probably due to faint, non-resolvable stars. The overall appearance reminded me of a baby grand piano, or maybe the Prudential logo. The brightest stars were along the outside edge. The cluster had a few small arcs and chains, along with several clumps of stars. About two dozen stars were visible altogther, of varying magnitudes. This would probably look terrific in a little larger telescope.

NGC 6603SagittariusOpen Cluster12:00am CDT
CR 374RA: 18h 18m 30sDec: -18=B0 24'Mag: 11.1

This is the small open cluster inside M24, the Sagittarius Star Cloud. The best view was at 203x, where it looked like an oval-shaped fuzzy patch. Right down the middle of the major axis was what appeared to be a chain of stars in a straight line. It gave the impression of the cluster's backbone.

I really hated to pack it in tonight. If anything, the seeing was improving as the night wore on. However, work the next morning necessitated my calling it a night. Despite all the light pollution from nearby streetlights, I almost felt like I was viewing from a dark site