Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Observing Report - 12.13.04

This is the first online observing report of what will be many (hopefully). Last night was such a great night of stargazing, I felt the urge to transfer the contents of my notebook to an online home where I could further spectulate and elaborate on the entry/experience and share it with you (whoever you may be) Not to mention, you get a chance to see a little bit of a different side of me -- the very least, its a great way to procrastinate! Without further ado. Lets get into it.

Observing Location: Ashburn, VA
Observing Date: 12/13/04
Observing time: 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Seeing: Average
Transparency: Average to Above average
Temperature: ~ 30'F


M1 - It took a little effort to find M1, as Taurus was still fairly low in the sky and transparency was not so fantastic at the beginning of the night. However, I did locate it after a little while as a "smudge" of light. This was my first viewing of M1. M1 is the remnanet of a supornova seen by Chinese astronomers in 1054 AD. For more info go here: SEDS.org

M36 was the unlikely first of 3 notable open clusters in the constellation Auriga. I say unlikely, because I was looking for M37 first. However, M37 is lower in the sky than M36. So, for a fleeting moment I mistook M36 for M37. I took a closer look in my finder scope and coold actually make out 2 smudges, the centered was M36. For more info go here: SEDS.org

M37 This open cluster proved to be brighter and larger than M36. It was mostly bluish and hue and was readily visible in the finderscope. It was rich with stars and quite breathtaking to behold. For more info go here: SEDS.org

M38 I really liked this cluster. It definitely has a unique shape, which is hard to make out from the picture at the right. It has been described as the Greek Pi. However, I prefer the "oblique cross" description. For more info go here: SEDS.org

Saturn Seeing must've been pretty good when I moved onto Saturn as I could see the Cassini divide and the cloud details at both 48x and 120x in addition to four of the planet's moons. For more info go here: SEDS.org

M31 and 32 Then it was onto M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) which I've viewed many times in my old scope, but not yet in the XT8. It was far brighter than I expected it to appear in the eyepiece with a well defined core. I was also greeted by the companion galaxy M32 which looked like a glowing snowball. For more info go here: SEDS.org

M42 Otherwise known as the great Orion Nebula. I could've stared at this for hours, and did for the good part of one. The new scope brought at far more detail than I have ever seen. It did not look real. The was still a greal deal of bightness when I went from 48X to 120X. The trapezium was clearly visible. It was incredible think that I was looking at a region where stars are being actively born. For a cool press release (from 1995) go here:M42

M35 Then it was back to Gemini to visit M35. M35 was the "first" Messier object I ever observed back when I initially picked up the hobby. It was an easy hop thanks to the kick ass finder scope. It showed up as a slight smudge. I was presented witha fine splash of stars at 48x. For more info go here:M35

M45 The Pleides is always a kick ass site. Otherwise known as the Seven Sisters, who doesn't like to look at something shiny? A nice sight, as always (even in the finderscope!). For more info go here:M45

Last night was also a special evening as the sky was punctuated by streaks of lights as the "Geminids" entered our atmosphere.

It was odd, driving to work this morning. After such a moving night of observing, it makes you even look at your own planet differently - as another (ableit unique) celestial body in a very big, and diverse universe. Whee!