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Fun Night of Observing Many DSOs, Slow Moving Satellites

Posted: 20 November 2014

Cloudy skies returned on Tuesday, 18 November, but clearing began late afternoon on Wednesday, 19 November.

Opened: Wednesday, 19 November 2014, 1808 MST
Temperature: 61°F
Session: 751
Conditions: Clear, some clouds low in West

1815 MST: viewed Mars, low in Southwest sky, 83X. Switched to my new Baader 8-24mm Zoom Eyepiece using its 2" nosepiece for the remainder of the night. No details were visible on Mars (too far away and too low in the sky for much magnification). Then viewed Neptune and Uranus.

1835 MST: began Deep Sky Object (DSO) observing using the zoom eyepiece. Started with the Andromeda Galaxy, M31. Beautiful sight at 24mm. Its companion galaxy M32 was nice using 12mm and 8mm, with its nucleus visible. M110, another companion galaxy, was visible down to 12mm, but was too faint for viewing using 8mm focal length.

Next viewed was the Triangulum Galaxy, M33. Two spiral arms were clearly visible using 24mm, 20mm, and 16mm. The Little Dumbbell Nebula, M76, was nice at 24mm and showed structure down to 12mm, but was a little faint at 8mm.

1902 MST: began doing AutoStar DSOs tours in some constellations. First was Aquarius: M72 (globular cluster), M73 (open cluster), NGC7009 (Saturn Nebula, planetary nebula), M2 (globular cluster; good at all focal lengths and a showcase object for a zoom eyepiece), and NGC7293 (Helix Nebula, good at 24mm).

Next was Pisces: M74 (galaxy). Then Sculptor: NGC55 (galaxy), NGC134 (galaxy), NGC253 (Sculptor Galaxy), NGC288 (globular cluster), and NGC300 (galaxy).

While doing these DSO tours it was obvious just how handy it was to use a good quality zoom eyepiece for observing DSOs. It allowed zooming in to see details and to determine just how much magnification an object could take. Most of the observed DSOs were good 24mm to 12mm.

1936 MST: did some observing of the Pleiades, M45. Since I was not using a focal reducer, the entire cluster would not fit in the 24mm focal length field-of-view (FOV). But it was still a nice view.

1952 MST: took a tour of DSOs in the constellation of Cetus: NGC246 (planetary nebula), NGC247 (galaxy), IC1613 (galaxy), and M77 (galaxy).

I then took a look at the star Mira (Omicron Ceti), 24mm. 2005 MST: while observing Mira I noticed a "star" that was moving very slowly in the FOV. It was a satellite, likely in a very high orbit. I continued to watch the satellite, slewing the telescope only occasionally to keep it in the FOV. At 2008 MST: I saw a blinking "star" that was very slowly coming into the FOV. Another high satellite, rotating or tumbling. I followed both slow moving satellites, one blinking, in the same FOV for several minutes. They were not quite in parallel orbits but were in equatorial orbits and were moving at about the same speed. 2013 MST: I finally stopped observing both satellites. It was a neat experience to catch two slow moving satellites in the eyepiece quite by chance.

2019 MST: began observing the open star clusters in the constellation of Auriga: M36, M37, M38, NGC1664, NGC1857, NGC1893, and NGC1907. Also viewed IC405 (faint nebula) in Auriga.

Closed: Wednesday, 19 November 2014, 2053 MST
Temperature: 50°F

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