2011-11-23 19:00 – 2011-11-24 00:00 CST
Location: Home, front and backyard
~35F, slight occasional breeze, humid
Seeing: 2/5, Transparency: 3/5
New moon, nice and dark
Equipment: Celestron 15x70mm binoculars, DIY dew/light shields, tripod
I tested out the new Celestron binos again, and am VERY happy with the results. Added some light/dew shields to them and it seems to help in my light-polluted suburb. Overall very happy with the binos…for $50!
What I saw:
* M45, Pleiades
Pleiades was fantastic, beautiful in the wide ~4.4° FOV. Really, really cool. I wanted to sketch it but by the time I had a chance, it was too high near zenith to use the tripod so things would be steady enough. Still, it was beautiful. I love how the main stars have a bluish tint to them. I was able to show Pleides to some friends who happened to stop over, they were very impressed as well.
I could easily make out all four Galilean moons again, no problem. I swear I could see the main equatorial bands if I squinted and looked away at the right angle, but it was tough. All four moons appeared very close to the planet tonight.
* NGC 884 / NGC 869
This double cluster was, as always, very cool. Especially in the wide FOV. It would take forever to sketch all the stars I could see. It was actually pretty small in the binos, I prefer this one with a little more magnification. Still, a very cool object in anything.
* M81, Bode’s Galaxy / M82, Cigar Galaxy
I tried a few times to scan around above Ursa Major to find this, and perhaps got lucky to find it eventually. The two galaxies were very faint and relatively small. Luckily the area around it somewhat recognizable with the L-shaped formation of stars helping to frame it. I was excited to be able to see it at all with the binoculars.
* M13, Hercules globular cluster
The great globular cluster in Hercules was pretty awesome, even though it was a “fuzzy, ” but it was a pretty big one, even in the binos and average/poor transparency and seeing (and light pollution). I am always amazed at how big everything in the sky really is…makes me wish more and more for a long power outage (on a clear night, of course).
MAN there is a ton of stuff in and around Cygnus! I have no idea what I saw there…it is just an amazing area to pan around in. Stellarium tells me there is a lot to identify, and I plan to attempt to do that soon.
* M42, Orion Nebula
This had me floored. Orion was high in the sky already around 23:00 CST, so I decided give it a try with the binos. Wow! Awesome. The great nebula had my attention for at least 30 minutes. I was amazed to see anything nebulous at all, but it delivered beautifully. Damn I love space. I wanted to sketch it but I don’t think I am ready to sketch nebulae yet, since I have only done a couple.
* M38, M36
These two open clusters were so cool tonight. Very high and near zenith, and both fit in the FOV. If they were lower I would have attempted to sketch them…and tried, but I couldn’t get a good enough view with the binos on a tripod to do so. I attached a screenshot from Stellarium showing a good representation of what my view looked like. Very neat.
* Orion’s Belt
I would call this my first serious sketch (attached). I took about 30 minutes to do and get it as close as possible to my actual view. I used an extra fine point felt tip marker, but in the future will use pencil. The marker got too cold, and didn’t allow for me to re-do anything. Regardless, it was a really cool view, and something I thought was doable. I attached my sketch and a Stellarium screen shot of the same area for comparison. Not too bad I guess, assuming Stellarium is 100% correct.
My sketch of the view of Orion’s belt and a Stellarium screen shot: