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Lots of Observing, More on Green Laser Pointer

Posted: 12 November 2014

Opened: Tuesday, 11 November 2014, 1812 MST
Temperature: 69°F
Session: 747
Conditions: Mostly clear, some clouds low in west

1820 MST: viewed Mars, 83X. Small, no details. Switched to my new Baader Zoom 8-24mm Eyepiece and would use it for this night's observing. Used the 2" nosepiece. Mars still had no details visible, even at the highest magnification. It was really too low in the southwestern sky and too far away for good viewing. A slight gibbous phase did show however.

Next, viewed Neptune. The zoom eyepiece was very convenient to first center the planet at low magnification, and then zoom in using higher magnifications. Then viewed Uranus; nice using all magnifications.

1840 MST: began doing Deep Sky Object (DSO) observing with the zoom eyepiece. First was M13 (Great Globular Cluster in Hercules); the view was good at all magnifications. Using 12mm (167X) the view was a good compromise of magnification and object brightness. The same was true when I viewed M92 (globular cluster). M56 (globular cluster) was visible at all magnifications, but was best at 24mm (83X) due to its faintness. Then viewed M57 (Ring Nebula); very nice view at all magnifications, including using 8mm focal length (250X).

Viewed Epsilon Lyrae (Double-Double Star); one component was easily separated at all zoom eyepiece focal lengths, and the other using 16mm, 12mm, and 8mm. The double star Albireo was a pretty and colorful view at all focal lengths.

Next, viewed M31, M32, and M110 galaxies in Andromeda. The galaxies were not all visible in the same field-of-view (FOV) but individually were good views. M32 was especially good using 16mm (125X) and averted vision. The nucleus of M31 was good all the way to 8mm (250X).

M15 (globular cluster) was a good view at all magnifications. M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) was good at all focal lengths, but was a really nice view at 16mm (125X). Using 8mm (250X), M27 was about 1/4th of the eyepiece FOV with lots of structure visible. Then viewed M45 (Pleiades), low in the eastern sky. The entire cluster was not visible in the 24mm FOV, but hints of nebulosity were visible at all focal lengths.

I then began preparing to take some photographs of my new green laser pointer in use. I mounted the D7000 DSLR on a photographic tripod outside of the observatory. Took photos at several exposure settings while aiming the laser pointer at the constellation of Perseus. This was the best one, f/5, 10 seconds, ISO 3200:


Yep, the green laser pointer will be very useful at star parties. Thanks again to OPT for donating it to Oracle State Park in honor of its being designated as an IDA "International Dark Sky Park".

1946 MST: resumed observing with the 8" LX200-ACF and Baader zoom eyepiece. Some breezes were now blowing. Did a tour of DSOs in Perseus. M76 (Little Dumbbell Nebula); it was visible at all magnifications but was best at 24mm (83X), 20mm (100X), and 16mm (125X). NGC860 (open cluster, part of the Double Cluster) was very nice at all focal lengths. Same for NGC884 (open cluster, the other part of the Double Cluster). M34 (open cluster); good at all magnifications. NGC1245 (open cluster); faint so was best at 24mm. NGC1275 (faint galaxy, Magnitude +11.6); with averted vision it was visible at all magnifications, but best at 24mm. NGC1342 (open cluster); it was a large cluster so was best at 24mm and 20mm. NGC1528 (open cluster); also large, best at 24mm.

2010 MST: finished Perseus tour. It was calm now but some clouds had appeared low in the south. I spent several minutes away from the eyepiece enjoying the view of the night sky. Resumed telescope observing at 2023 MST with a tour of DSOs in Taurus, low in the eastern sky. NGC1647 (open cluster); large, best at 24mm. NGC1817 (open cluster), sparse and faint, best at 24mm. Also viewed some stars in the Hyades Cluster. While observing Taurus stars I discovered that the battery in the Antares 7x50 Illuminated Crosshairs Finderscope had failed. Didn't have a replacement in the observatory so removed its illuminator and attached an illuminator from an illuminated reticle eyepiece. Also, had to swap the rechargeable batteries in the Wireless AutoStar II.

2050 MST: did some SQM-L and Dark Sky Meter (iOS app) comparison measurements.

2105 MST: viewed M1 (Crab Nebula). It was visible at all focal lengths but was best using 24mm. Then viewed the open clusters M36, M37, and M38 in Auriga. All were good at all zoom eyepiece focal lengths. M38 was so large that it was best viewed using 24mm, 20mm, and 16mm.

Closed: Tuesday, 11 November 2014, 2143 MST
Temperature: 57°F

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