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Observing Session:
Double Stars, Globular Clusters, Galaxies, Ring Nebula

Posted: 1 June 2019

On my last report I mentioned the poor astronomical seeing quality forecasts for the past several sessions. This was the Clear Sky Chart forecast for this night's session:


The timeframe of 2100-2200 MST shows poor seeing forecasted, improving to average later in the night. As I mentioned in my last report I plan to redo the PEC modeling for the telescope, but I need to wait for steady seeing to do that. Hope this weather pattern improves soon.

Friday, 31 May 2019, 1903 MST
Temperature: 82°F
Session: 1358
Conditions: Clear, breezy

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece


After opening the observatory dome I relaxed on the observatory patio bench.

1928 MST: sunset.

2000 MST: back inside the observatory. Still breezy.

2002 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

As the forecast was for poor astronomical seeing again this session I decided to not prepare the camera for imaging until I verified the seeing conditions.

Viewed the double star Castor, 102X.

2009 MST: viewed Epsilon Lyrae (Double-Double Star), low in the northeastern sky, 102X. Could not resolve the secondary stars due to the low altitude.

2015 MST: viewed Omega Centauri (globular cluster), very low in the southern sky, 102X. It was faintly visible against the still bright twilight sky. 2034 MST: the sky was darker now and Omega Centauri was a nicer view.

2038 MST: High Precision OFF.

Viewed Centaurus A (galaxy), very low in the southern sky, 102X. The dust lane was visible.

Then viewed some objects at 102X magnification: M13 (the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules), M92 (globular cluster), and M57 (Ring Nebula, planetary nebula).

2048 MST: decided to check out the seeing conditions for StarLock autoguiding. Slewed to NGC3344 (galaxy) and viewed it, 102X.

2054 MST: StarLock ON.

As I monitored the StarLock autoguiding corrections it quickly became obvious that seeing was not good enough for imaging this session.

2058 MST: StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

2100 MST: began viewing galaxies, 102X. The Leo Triplet (M65, M66, NGC3628 Sarah's Galaxy) had all three galaxies in the eyepiece field-of-view. Nice view. The galaxies M95 and M96 were also nice views at 102X. Then viewed several galaxies in the Virgo Cluster: M87, M88, M86, M84, M90, NGC4435, and NGC4438.

As I had not done a strictly observing session in a long time it was nice to just do that this night.

2119 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Friday, 31 May 2019, 2130 MST
Temperature: 70°F
Session Length: 2h 27m
Conditions: Clear, breezy

Since first opening the observatory in August 2009, this year so far has been the cloudiest on record, resulting in the smallest number of sessions from January through May.


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