2011-12-26 Sight Report – what time is short, turns long

Shot of my journal from that night. The reference to M110 has been corrected to indicate M32.

 

2011-12-26 22:30 – 00:45 CST
Location: 93d36 ‘W 41d44’N
Weather: ~38 F, clear, slight occasional breeze
Trans: 3.5/5, Seeing: 1.5/5
Equipment used: Zhumell Z10 10″ Newtonian reflector

Yeah, so I meant to “go out real quick” and just see what a couple of things looked like with my new 20mm eyepiece.

Right. “Real quick” apparently means 3+ hours.

What I saw

* NGC 457, Owl or E.T. Cluster, Cas.
20mm EP, 62x
I really like this cluster. The positioning of NGC 457 in my new 20mm Agena Astro eyepiece at 62x was just about right. Cassiopeia is such a neat area for open clusters, and it is placed perfectly in the sky right now.

* M103, Cas.
20mm EP, 62x
M103 is somewhat lackluster, but still a nice view. If I remember correctly, the bright stars resembled somewhat of an “L” shape, and a slightly fuzzy core.

* NGC 884 / NGC 869, Double Cluster, Cas.
20mm EP, 62x
62x was just a bit too much magnification to fit both clusters comfortably in the field of view, I think this just SHINES with my 15×70 binoculars and just about perfectly (without the “tail”) at 41x. However, looking at each cluster individually was nice at 62x.

* M31, M32, Andromeda Galaxy and companion, And.
20mm EP, 62x
[See journal sketch]
I would have thought transparency wasn’t good enough to get a decent glimpse of M31, but wow was I wrong. M31 looked great through the 20mm EP, and I was lucky enough to even be able to see M32 (I think for the first time!). Awesome! I made a REAL quick non-official sketch of the FOV so I could correctly ID the companion galaxy with M31 later, and I’m glad I did because I originally thought it was M110.

* M33 (nogo), Tri.
20mm EP, 62x
I don’t know I keep trying in my red-zone backyard, and I almost thought I had a faint fuzzy splotch this time…but, I did not. DARK SKIES, COME TO ME!

* NGC 404, Galaxy, And.
20mm EP, 62x
[See journal sketch]
This one was also new to me. NGC 404 is known as “Mirach’s Ghost” because it is relatively hard to see lenticular galaxy, but I saw it accidentally, and very close the bright Mirach in the constellation Andromeda. I made a quick sketch in my journal of what I saw, again to ID it later, just because I noticed what looked like a large fuzzy star near Mirach and thought it might be something of interest. For some reason I kept going back to it…

* M52, Open Cluster, Cas.
 20mm EP, 62x
I found this accidentally while scanning around near Cassiopeia, and I like it. I’m starting to really dig these open clusters.

* NGC 663, Open Cluster, Cas.
20mm EP, 62x
NGC 663 is the cool open cluster near M103 that Charles Messier apparently missed, or just didn’t care to catalog, oddly, because it’s way better looking than M103. Beats it hands-down. Looked great at 62x!

* M42, Orion Nebula, Ori.
20mm EP, 62x
30mm EP, 41x
M42 is another sight I CANNOT get enough of. It’s one of those objects that I often stay out a little later than I should to get even a small glimpse of, because seriously…the best nebula in the sky — freaking clouds in space that actually look like clouds to even small telescopes, looks absolutely AMAZING in medium-size scopes like my 10″ reflector. And WOW, my new (cheap ($36)) 20mm eyepiece frames this puppy  PERFECTLY. Sorry for the capital letters in this note, but they are worth it. It was my best view of M42 yet!

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