It was a very good night at Willow Springs. Thanks to Kevin Ritschel for inviting us down. Our group this trip consisted of Greg LaFlamme, Steve Gottlieb, Kevin and me. 15", 18", 18" and 33.25". Greg and Steve were getting SQM of 21.6. Seeing down low varied from average to poor, up high, a bit below average to very good. Early in the evening the 3-1/2 day old moon was scintillating at under 200X, but there was plenty of detail to be seen. Saturn looked nice, but would not take much power. Thin clouds seemed to sit over the mountains to our west, but never did intrude on our observing. No dew, temps bottomed out at 48F around 4 a.m. Even though temps were moderate, everyone had on varying degrees of warm clothes. I made the mistake of not changing out my thin cotton "monkey" socks for warm ones, and regardless of the other warm clothes, I was chilled much of the night. I guess I was too involved in chasing targets to bother fixing the problem.
Conversation was good, its a fun group. After reading Bill Drelling's comments about color in the bright summer nebulae in the southern sky, there was discussion about color perception as it applies to viewing astronomical targets... both the physiological effects, and how the brain sees "what it wants to see" so to speak. It becomes somewhat a philosophical discussion, really. But, in the 33, several of us agreed that while we can't say we perceived "reds" in the Swan or Lagoon, the tones seemed warm. The cool green tones were obvious in the gray filament of each target. Man, can that scope bring out detail!
Thanks to Greg, for brewing up the great French Roast, both early in the evening, and again this morning.
Before listing the targets I found with my scope (I won't describe those other showed me in their gear), a bit about the trip there and back. The more I travel this route, the more enamored I become with the quiet untraveled back roads of California. For years, I saw people refer to this area, notably John Pierce mentioning what a great motorcycle ride it is, but never really considered going. Lightly traveled, each successive turn off the prior highway strips away another layer of the urban life I live in downtown San Jose. At one point, the American music stations all fade, and it feels almost like a short trip south of the border, listening to the Salsa and Country Mexican stations, y no habla ingles, nada. The river cut valley, hills so clear and sharply contrast against the blue sky, it looks like they've been razor cut. It took me an hour thirty five to arrive, where I found Steve and Greg outside their cars just a hundred yards from Kevin's property. It was a great way to start an observing trip.
The drive back this morning was via a bit different route. Instead of taking the 156 back to San Juan Bautista then 101, I followed 25 through Hollister, and was home in an hour twenty five minutes. A short drive for great dark skies. Sleep dep is catching up... I've had about 3-1/2 hours sleep, but it was well worth it.
Here's what I saw.... in a relaxed and convivial observing session (the moon didn't set until 11:30 pm).... my telescope is an 18" f/4.5 Obsession, all eyepieces mentioned are Tele Vue Naglers. No alcohol, no smokes, just an eye to the sky... Mr. Natural.
Arp 185 UMi GX 3.0'x2.4' 11.8B 16 32 38 78 11 56
12mm - very bright stellar nucleus, elongated oval with apparent streak through major axis NNW/SSE. 7mm shows brighter possible on SSE side, hint of spiral arm on NNW side, stars embedded just SSE of nucleus. No larger core, only very bright nucleus.
HCG 84 UMi GX6 0.7'x0.4' 15.4B 16 44 22 77 50 20
HGC 84A, B, C all obvious although dim, in 7mm.
Arp 293 Dra GX 1.5'x1.4' 14.1P 16 58 31 58 56 13
12mm - NGC 6285 and NGC 6286, both barely visible with different orientations, 6826 is brighter, elongated, NNE/SSW, 6825 is smaller, dimmer and almost E/W. Both galaxies have dim elongated cores slightly brighter than the extensions.
N6155 Her GX 1.3'x0.8' 13.2P 16 26 08 48 22 01
7mm - fairly bright, amorphous, rather tattered looking like its disturbed. Elongated N/S but brighter central elongation seems slightly offset NNW/SSE. Central elongation appears to be large portion of galaxy, only a bit of dim extension around it. Stellar core is only occasionally very dimly visible.
NGC 6229 Her GC 4.5' 9.4 16 46 48 47 31 40
7mm - bright globular resolves well but not to the core. Core is 1/4 to 1/3rd diameter of obvious extended object, which appears to be more populated to the west, but also extended more NNW/SSE. Very nice glob.
N6239 Her GX 3.3'x1.2' 12.9B 16 50 05 42 44 22
7mm - odd galaxy. Elong WSW/ESE with strong concentration along major axis, but apparent dark intrusion on s side or mottling, possible disturbed galaxy. No hint of nucleus..
AGC 2197 Her GXCL 89.6' 13.9 16 28 12 40 54 00
Incredibly rich cluster. 29 galaxies logged.
N6166 Her GX 2.2'x1.5' 12.8B 16 28 38 39 33 05
7mm - faint but obvious. Little in the way of detail, elongated, no central concentration, but elong WSW/ENE, possible spiral arms, stubby off ends, WSW end to S, ENE to N.
AGC 2199 Her GXCL 89.6' 13.9 16 28 36 39 31 00
7mm - 18 members including NGC 6166 viewed. Obvious ones are 6166, and MCG 7-34-50, others are dim as 16.5.
NGC 6207 Her GX 3.3'x1.7' 12.2B 16 43 04 36 49 56
7mm - extended N/S with bright stellar core. Quite bright. With time, galaxy extends in width and shows hints of spiral structure.
HCG 82 Her GX4 0.9'x0.7' 14.6B 16 28 22 32 50 58
All four seen with 7mm. Dimmest is only averted and intermittent. Interesting alignment, two pairs, each pair in nearly the same orientation.
M13 GC 20.0' 5.8 16 41 41 36 27 37
Gorgeous with 12mm, looks asymmetric. Elongated N/S with more stars to W than E. Resolves to the core. Big sweeping chain of stars extends out to S from the propeller.
Abell 39 Her PN 2.9' 13.7P 16 27 33 27 54 33
Very interesting, seen at low power easily, at higher power it virtually disappears. Use OIII filter.
N6181 Her GX 2.5'x1.1' 12.5B 16 32 21 19 49 29
7mm - mostly N/S and more extended off the core to the N. Averted greatly increases the outer envelope. Bright core, but appears to be mottled with some dark intrusions. With averted, core has occasional stellar nucleus, and spiral swirls forming envelope around brighter core. Nice galaxy.
HCG 81 Her GX4 0.5'x0.3' 17 16 18 13 12 48 11 7mm - very faint glow elongated NE/SW, very occasionally another glow to its north. Only averted. Easy location.
Can't wait for the big 4th of July observing bash....