Tuesday, September 3, 1996

Hale-Bopp... dim and dimmer?

I was in my backyard tonight, catching up on the whereabouts of the next great comet.

Last night, not knowing its current location, I scanned low in Ophiuchus, mistaking some globular clusters for the comet. So, today, I looked in the May issue of S&T, to see where they placed it for early September. Boy, that sucker is moving!

Anyway, I remember it having a very bright nucleus, with quite a large bright coma, diffusing nicely.

Well, tonight I *think* I caught up with it, and either my backyard is suddenly a good magnitude brighter (which I doubt), or the comet seems dimmer.

I place it in roughly in the area of M14 (a fairly generous estimate, not exact at all). Since there should not be anything that bright in the general area, I assume I am looking at Hale-Bopp, but damn, it seems dim.

Anyone else think this guy is fading?

Sunday, September 1, 1996

Best constellation?

I was outside in my suburban backyard last night with two friends, using my 8" f/7 dob, another using a 55mm fluorite refractor. It was an enjoyable evening talking about the sky, observing trips, equipment and so on.

I had once jokingly stated to one friend that Ophiuchus was the greatest constellation in the sky, with more of a wealth of objects for observing than any other. Dark nebula, galaxies, outstanding double/multiple stars, loads of globular clusters, several Messier objects, planets crossing through it.... yep, I said, old Oaf has it all....

Last night, looking up at the Milky Way, one friend started needling me again about that comment. So, I thought I'd ask the question here....

For the average observer, not you guys out in Arizona with 30" buckets and mag 8 seeing, but the rest of us who get out to semi-dark skies on a semi-regular basis.... what constellation do you feel has the most to offer for an evening's observing. I am interested not in just quantity, but variety.

Please give examples to support your choices.