SW lot 17 November, renegade astronomy

by Jamie Dillon

Yup, just to show how baaad we are, Joe Bob, Duval and I met up Monday night in the SW lot. There was a light breeze thru much of the night. It was nice and clear after sunset, then we got socked in for over an hour, the sort of conditions where we could see enough stars overhead to know that the cloud was only a few dozen feet above us. We waited to good effect, and around 9 or so we had really decent skies again.

A lot of the fun consisted of showing Ray some of the sights. He was having a good gander in his scope at 457, that well-regarded OC in Cassioipeia. I showed him the hops between delta and epsilon Cas to M103, then that fancy trio of clusters 663, 659 and 654. Yes you can be sure I made him sit down and look at Trumpler 1. Never ceases to amaze, that lovely little flight of geese. 9000 lightyears away in fact, all huge beacons, O and B stars, like our Belt stars only 3 times as many, 6x farther away from here.

After it had cleared again, I had the rare treat of showing a new observer his first view of the Orion Nebula, in Felix. Ray was properly blown away. Also got to show him Saturn and sigma Orionis, that 10-star system of which we see 7. (Felix is a Celestron 11" f/4.5 Dobs with optics made by Discovery Telescopes. Was using a 22 Pan, 16mm UO Koenig, and a 10mm Radian.)

Joe Bob and I stayed till moonrise, just past midnight. Seeing was moderate, 3/5, and limiting magnitude around 6.0. I got started with 6819, an interesting OC in Cygnus that I'd missed. Pretty and dense in a lovely field of bright stars. Joe Bob sez it looks like a fork with splayed tines. Lots of little stars.

Then hung out in the neighborhood around M52, looking for Sh2-157, my first Sharpless object. Steve Gottlieb had mentioned this one as esp bright and complex. Long, all right, ca 1=B0. Obvious in OIII with bright clump on S end. Interesting unfiltered, background brightness with veins. En route to Sh2-157, I ran onto this really pretty OC. Making sure of its location, it turned out to be the next object on the wish list, 7510. Showed two converging skeins of stars, like a big cousin of Tr 1. There's a dense cluster of little stars inside he skeins. Beautiful.

It was just above freezing, nicely cold, with enough breeze to make the work manly. By moonrise the wind had picked up, but we were packed up and very satisfied. Joe Bob's 12.5 Portaball has great optics and a cool design, and Ray's new scope is a dandy clear-eyed SCT. Having found an MCG galaxy last New Moon, and a Sharpless EN this time around, we're into some big boy stuff. Just keeps being more fun.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all,