Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 10 10! A fine night at Willow Springs.

Sunday afternoon, Richard Navarrete, Marko Johnston, Mina Reyes and I all met at Willow Springs for what would be an excellent night of observing. Between us, there were three 18" Dobs, and a pair of 20x80 Celestron Giant Binoculars on a parallelogram mount. Conditions were warm, requiring no more than a few light layers of clothing, and although the SQM readings were average for our location, they were better than conditions reported from other sites the prior nights. To our west there was some brightening over the hills, in the direction of Hollister, but overhead, we were going deep, and enjoying hunting challenging targets in the early fall skies. To the north, Comet Hartley 2 was on the verge of naked eye visibility. Over the night, Mina was doing quick sketches of the comet's position every 45 minutes or so, and you could easy follow its rapid motion against the background stars.

The night was very pleasant, with everyone sharing views, taking time to chat, joke, have a few drinks, and relax with each others company. The way it should be! Among the most interesting views were Abell 85 in Marko's scope, and several Hicksons in Richard's... of which I thought Hickson 16 was amazing, and could rival Hickson 68 for best in class!

I had created an Excel with about 100 targets to choose from, in a swath of sky a degree wide centered on RA 23:29. I began in the north, and as usual, never got much further south than zenith. Its just too much fun teasing out detail - in some cases, just teasing out anything at all!

I don't know what time we called it a night, but it must have been between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m. As I lay in my truck, in bed, door open to the south... I fell asleep watching Orion climbing high in the sky to the south. I don't think I'd been to Willow Springs since maybe June - this was a great return.

Big thanks to Kevin Ritschel, whom I was very pleased to see again. A big red coming your way next time I visit.... thank you so much for the hospitality... your guests give you all 10's.

Here are the targets I viewed, and brief notes:

N 7762 Cep OC 11 23 50 01 +68 02 18

18" 20mm - 25 stars of similar (tier 1) magnitude in three distinct chains, largest one running E/W for about 13', next largest running S of the E end of the long one for about 8' and the shortest one between the other two running NW/SE for only 2' and having only 4 stars. Rest of cluster is dim background comprising of a distinct haze.

Sh 2-155 BN 60 2 22 56 43 +62 37 04

18" 20mm - three bright stars are embedded in nebulosity. SAO 20334, SAO 20335 and SAO 20332. Ultrablock helps show mottling throughout the area.. Nebulosity is most distinct on the W or "inside" of the curve of the three stars.

Sh 2-165 BN 10 2 23 39 48 +61 56 15

18" 29mm - Ultrablock reveals a distinct small bright glow around GSC 4284:722 - along with dim nebulosity located tightly to the NW of the star, and extending more dimly away to the S and a bit to the SE.

Sh 2-161 BN 55 2 23 15 29 +61 51 43

18" 20mm - Ultrablock shows very slight glow between SAO 19274, GSC 4252:370 and GSC 4248:909 with "brightest" area near GSC 4248:909.

M052 CAS OC 13 8 23 24 12 +61 35 00 NGC 7654

18" 20mm - bright, distinct cluster about 20' diameter - 1 very bright star near edge of cluster, about 20 bright (tier 1) stars embedded in estimated 50 dimmer (tier 2) stars. Dim glow of many more stars is throughout cluster.

Sh 2-158 BN 10 3 23 13 39 +61 30 40 N7538

18" 7mm - pair of "bright(er)" stars, (actually three), with dark lane to their W in an obvious glow surrounding the stars. Brightest section is S of the stars. Lower section (N of the stars) the glow is obviously mottled. Nice find!

Sh 2-162 BN 40 3 23 20 41 +61 11 52 N7635 = Bubble Nebula

18" 7mm - surrounds mag 8.7 star SAO 20575 - is mottled extending W with an E/W split showing a dark lane. Brightest section of nebulosity SW of star, to NE is an arc with a hard edge.

N 7419 Cep OC 2 22 54 20 +60 48 55

18" 12mm - nice compact cluster consisting of 1 very bright (tier 1) star, two dimmer (tier 2), and 19 dim ones, at the end of a nice chain of three stars in diminishing magnitude leading to the cluster. Very attractive at 193x.

NGC 7510 Cep OC 2 7.9 23 11 30 +60 34 00

18" 20mm - nice spray of stars in three chains coming off a mag 9.6 star, and all extending W. Very compact and distinctive.

Sh 2-157 BN 90 3 23 16 03 +60 02 44 18"

12mm - dim glow around GSC 4263:2102 and extending toward a distinct chain of stars to the east. Filters do not help. Distinct but very dim.

Abell 82 Cas PN 94" 12.7 23 45 47 +57 03 59 PK 114-4.1 = PN G114.0-04.6

18" 12mm - OIII filter. Dim, round, possibly annular. At least two stars involved, one bright. Bright star is possible central star. Appears mottled.

Abell 83 Cas PN 42"x37" 15.5 23 46 46 +54 44 38 PK 113-6.1 = PN G113.6-06.9

18" 12mm - OIII filter. Very dim, about 7'x3' E/W. Even brightness, possibly crescent and open to the north.

Abell 84 Cas PN 147"x114" 13 23 47 44 +51 23 56 PK 112-10.1 = PN G112.9-10.2

18" 12mm - OIII filter. Obvious oval glow that includes a bright star. Star makes nebula appear uneven in brightness, may be an optical illusion, but very noticeable. Nebula may be 2x as large as it seems around star, extending away from the star as a large oval with uneven brightness.

NGC 7686 And OC 7.4 5.6 23 30 60 +49 08 00

18" 20mm - large coarse cluster with wide range of star magnitudes. Dominated by brightest star in center of group. Wiggling the scope creates excellent "Mexican Jumping Star" effect. Perhaps 8'x10' in size.

NGC 7662 And PN 32x23 9 23 25 54 +42 33 00

18" 7mm - OIII filter. Distinct torus in center is dark. No central star. Torus surrounded by very bright glowing ring, which is immediately surrounded by a dimmer ring of equal thickness. This "inner" section is elongated generally E/W. Surrounding inner section is a large and dim "change in contrast" envelope extending in a mostly N/S elongation.

N 7640 And GX 10.5x2.0 11.3 23 22 06 +40 50 44

18" 12mm - large elongated galaxy with slightly brighter core and mostly even surface brightness. Some variation seems to indicate slighter brightening on NE half. Star embedded just off S of the central region appears to bifurcate galaxy, but this is illusion.

N7445/46/49 And Trio 4 14.6:14.4:14.0 22 59 42 +39 06 00

18" 7mm - trio shows readily at this magnification. NGC 7449 seems mostly round but perhaps a bit of elongation. NGC 7446 about equal in brightness and shape to 7449. NGC 7445 is noticeably dimmer, and shows elongation.

Arp 86 GX 3.3'x2.1' 12 23 47 04 +29 29 00 NGC 7753

18" 7mm - this NGC is listed as nonexistent, but NGC 7549 found at location. First seen though were NGC 7550 to its S and NGC 7457 to NGC 7550's W. Finally, after seeing NGC 7549, CGCG 454-15 appeared.

All astrophotos from Digital Sky Survey except NGC 7662 credit Adam Block and Orion by Hubblesite. Mina Reyes photo by Guillermo Moran.