Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 13, 2009 Observing Report

After nearly a month, I was finally able to get a session in. We have had 2 weeks straight of cruddy nights. Actually, although clear, tonight was not great either. There seemed to be quite a bit of moisture in the air, even though it was cool for May. That did not stop me from trying using the scope.

I started the session around 10:45pm with Saturn. It was not at its best, but pretty nonetheless, with 2 moon showing nicely. Next was the Leo Triplet. This one was tough. My neighbor's backyard light was on and washed out quite a bit of the sky. In the UWAN 16mm giving me 37x, I was able to faintly see all three galaxies. It made me want to get out to a dark sight. There just are too many street and house lights around, even at 11pm.

After Leo, I then tried to hit M104 (Sumbrero Galaxy) to no avail. The sky was too bright for this attempt. Dejected, I then tried M5, by now it was 11:30pm and my eyes were getting better adjusted. The globular cluster was an easy find, and I was quite happy. The happiness did not last too long, though as the 80mm refractor provided a mushy view of the cluster. I am not sure if it was the aperture or seeing conditions.

I then tried to hit clusters M10 and M12, but at this point the clouds were fighting me and I called it a night. It did feel great to get outside.

Objects seen:
Leo Triplet (M65, M66, NGC3628)
Several doubles

Friday, May 8, 2009

April 29, 2009 Moon Image

I forgot to post this shot here. I am quite happy with the sharpness and focus. It was my first attempt at a non full moon. This made quite the difference in focus. Of course, having more aperture and focal length would make focusing a lot better.

Moon 4.29.09

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 16, 2009 Observing Report

This was a quick one hour session as I was a bit tired after a late day trip to Boston with the family. We arrived home around 10pm and I was able to set the scope out at 11:00 for a proper cooldown. It was around 12:40am that I went outside to begin the session.

First up as usual was Saturn. It is still at a nice position in the sky, but bordering my southern haze, which is caused by the heat emanating from my neighbor's house. Nonetheless, the ringed planet was a pleasure to track. Brightest views of course were in the 16mm UWAN, which gives me 37.5x magnification. The 4mm BO/TMB also gave a crisp disk, but at 150x mag in the 80mm scope, the view was not bright enough tonight. There have been better nights.

Up next and very close to Saturn was the Leo Triplet. I had to go back there as during my last DSO(deep sky objects) session I forgot to get views of the galaxies. Tonights view in the 16mm UWAN did not dissapoint. The only problem was that I was starting to yearn for a bit more aperture. I began to wonder what I would be able to see in a 5" or 6" scope, refractor of course.

From there, I had a problem settling on a target. It was not the fault of the scope. I just had not put enough forethought into what to see tonight. I was not planning on it being cloudless. After looking at my charts I decided on M57. It was a quick find tonight. I started with the star Vega and moved over to the Nebula. It was best seen in the 16mm UWAN. Again aperature fever struck. I was pondering the view in larger scopes. Also I wondered if an Ultrablock filter might show me anything. Probably not in the 3.2" scope.

After enjoying the Ring Nebula, I settled on M92, the globular cluster in Hercules. It was an easy catch in the 9x50 finder, and both the 16mm UWAN and the 4mm BO/TMB provided superb views. From there I went to M13, another globular in Hercules, which provided similar views. Both of these clusters were the highlight of the night. For whatever reason, I was able to resovle stars at the edge of the clusters. I have never been able to do that before. Again, I am pushing the limits of the 80ED refractor, but they really did look superb today.

This highpoint concluded the session as I was tiring. I would have to say the theme of the night was aperture fever. Oh, and since I have not discussed the mount up to this point, it must have done it's job and not gotten in the way. The EZ Touch is really great. Tracking is easy and the movement is so smooth that finding object is a breeze. The mount has been a great investment and I know that it will easily support that larger scope I see myself getting when the time is

Objects seen:
Leo Triplet (M65, M66, NGC3628)

Friday, April 10, 2009

April 10, 2009 Full Moon

Take a chance to go out to grab a shot at the full moon. Come out OK, but I feel that focusing is off. I need to get the moon closer for the shot.

Equipment: Orion 80ED
Sony A100 DSLR
Wo EZ Touch Mount

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April 5, 2009 Observing Report

After 5 days of staring at the new mount, I was finally able to put it to it's proper use. We had 5 straight cloudy night after the mount arrived. That is about par for the new equipment curse. In the end though it was worth the wait. In short, the mount is very solid and a perfect match for the Orion 80ED.

As usual, I took the scope out at 7:00pm for its normal cool down period. At 8PM, I tool a quick look at M42. The scope swung over nicely and I had the Orion nebula into the 16mm UWAN field of view in a matter of seconds. Then I swung over to the moon in another 5 seconds. I could tell that this mount was going to be great. I went back in the house to complete my nightly duties(kids' baths and bedtime time reading). In between I would sneak out for a few quick peaks through the scope.

At around 10:15pm I got down to business. Because of the moons brightness, I chose only Saturn and moon itself as targets for the nights. Swinging back and forth between the two was very easy. It was a pleasure to use the mount. There was minimal vibration on my lawn. Even giving the tripod a good wrap, resulted in sub-second recovery time. I could not believe the difference from the old mount.

Saturn was looking really good to today, especially with the 5mm BO/TMB planetary giving me 120x power. I could see some banding and the ring system showed up nicely across the planet. The view was so nice, I was yearning for some more power. Two moons were also visible, one on each side of the planet. Also, with the 60 degree FOV of the eyepiece, the planet stayed in view for quite some time, so I did not really notice any problem in not having slow motion controls. I would just move using the base of the focuser or the diagonal. It was very smooth.

I spent the greater part of the session on the moon. This was my first lunar experience with both the mount and the 16mm UWAN. One word describes the experience. Wow! It was beautiful and bright. I now need a filter to dim the satellite. The eyepiece gives me 37.5x power, and the 82 degree FOV means that the subject stayed in view for a good 5-7 minutes. this meant I had to rarely move the mount. The one thing I did notice with the eyepiece is some purple color (chroma) when the moon was in the far right of the eyepiece. This was only with the brighter side of the moon. When it drifter over to the left side, the color was green. It was not too bad, but was noticeable.

Putting the 5mm BO/TMB into the diagonal, I was allowed to study the numerous craters on Luna. Again, with this mount, the views were extremely steady. I was having a wonderful time. This had to be the best Luna experience I have ever had. It of course left me wanting more. I am in need of a good barlow to provide me some closer views of those craters. Also, with the BO/TMB, I noticed no color on the moon. This was quite interesting.

Around 11pm, the clouds started rolling in and I took my equipment in for the night. I told my wife that the mount is excellent. It held up really well, even with the 15mph winds I forgot to mention earlier. Also, slewing from object to object was really a breeze and tracking was simple. The UWAN is working out real well, but I have to look into that off axis color. I noticed some with Saturn, but a bit more on the moon.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Waiting on the WO Eazy Touch

The mount should arrive this week. The weather has been dismal and may continue to be after the Eazt Touch arrives. Last Thursday, the WO Dovetail did arrive and I have attached it to the Orion ED80. It is quite the piece of metal!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24, 2009 Observing Report

Today was quite interesting. I took the scope out at about 9:15pm to cool down a little. It is still quite cold here in Rhode Island. I took another quick look at the Orion Nebula(M42). It is quite beautiful and I wish I could get some more time exploring the trap. I will have to do that soon before it hides for the summer.

At about 10:15, I went out with a stool to begin my session. As has been the past couple of nights, I started with Saturn. I viewed it with the WO UWAN 16mm (37.5x) and the BO/TMB 4mm (150x) and quite enjoyed the ringed planet. The air seemed quite steady tonight so the seeing was quite good. This was great, because the last day was quite breezy and unsteady.

I then began the interesting part of the night. First, I thought I would try to find M3. Having seen it before, I thought it would be easy to get to. A combination of bad light pollution and a shaky mount contributed to 25 minutes of fruitless searching. I decided to go to the constellation Virgo and work my way over from there.

Looking at S&Ts Pocket Sky Atlas, I saw that M53 was close my in Coma Berenices. This proved to be an easy find as it is right next to one of the corner stars. M53 is a globular cluster at 7.6 magnitude and was a decent view in the Orion 80ED coupled with the 16mm UWAN. From there I easily hoped over to M64 (Black-Eye Galaxy) which is 8.5 magnitude. Again , the detail was not great in the 3.15" aperture scope, but I was quite happy to find it. It made me feel better in my sky hopping abilities.

From M53 I slewed over to the star Muphrid in the constellation Bootes. At this point, the time was about 11:15pm and the sky was a bit darker, with M3 being a little higher in the sky. It was an easy find now and the 6.3 mag globular cluster was a fun sight in the UWAN (37.5x) and the 10mm Sirius plossl (60x). Next, I hoped over to the star Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici. From there is was a quick jump to M63 (Sunflower Galaxy) which is 8.6 mag. I ended the night with a look at the 8.2 mag M94 galaxy.

At this point, I was freezing. Next time I must remember to double up on the socks. The night was quite successful overall even with the terrible start. The good news is that I finally placed an order for the William Optics Eazy Touch mount yesterday. I expect it to come in within a week from now with the requisite cloudy nights to follow.

Objects Seen:
M53 (first time)
M64 (first time)
M63 (first time)
M94 (first time)

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 22, 2009 Observing Report

I ordered the eyepiece off of William Optics Ebay store on Tuesday and it arrived from Taiwan on in great shape on Saturday. After a quick view tonight, I have to say it was $180 well spent. The eyepiece was brand new in a sealed bag.

I coupled it with the Orion ED80 and it really shone on M42. Not only was the nebula in clean view, but also the surrounding nebula. Also with that wide field of view it was lovely to not have to slew the scope as much. The mount jiggles too much as is.

Next I went to M45 and was floored with the amount of stars that showed. You have to remember that I am upgrading from the Orion Sirius 25mm. This eyepiece rocks!
There is one problem though. Now I want to round out the eyepiece set with the 4mm, 7mm and 2-inch 28mm. The latter will require a 2" Diagonal. Yeah, this is a serious issue, but first I have to address the mount problem.

After putting the little ones to sleep, I went back out for round 2 of the observations. This time I headed for some different objects. M44 was killer, the Beehive was sparkling with nice crisp stars. I then tackled M67 and was quite happy to see it for the first time.

I then headed over to Saturn and quite enjoyed the planet with several of the moons. After that I closed the session with another first, the Leo Triplet. I could never get this grouping with any of the other eyepieces, but with the 17mm UWAN, it was as clear as day. I was psyched.

Objects seen:
Leo Triplet (M65, M66, NGC3628

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 20, 2009 Observing Report

Ahhhh! What a difference from Sunday. Seeing was great tonight. I set the scope up at 7:45pm and took a good peak at M42. It was great again. Could nicely make out the trap and quite a bit of nebulosity, thanks to averted vision. Man I could have studied it longer, but I had one child with wet hair on the floor upstairs and another in the shower, waiting for her bath.

Around 11pm I go to go back out. This is when the fun began. I began with the M81/82 combo, Bodes Galaxies. It took about 2-3 minutes to find and showed up well with the 25mm Sirius Plossl(24x). I have to admit that the 20mm of the set is quite useless. It had to be taken out of rotation. The 10mm Plossl(60x) worked rather well. I saw some decent shape in both galaxies. Next up was the TMB/BO 4mm Planetary(150x). Now I know that this was pushing it, but ma I had to try. Both galaxies showed up, but were very faint.

Up next was M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy. This one took about 10 minutes to find. It ws quite faint in all 3 eyepieces, with the 10mm showing me the best detail. I am glad to have found it in the 80ED, but now I am getting hungry for more aperture. After conquering M101, I moved over to M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. This one only took 2 minutes to find, if that. Again, as with M101, the galaxy was faint, but I was able to see both cores and some of the spiral arms.

After all that deep sky success, I moved over to the ringed planet Saturn. This was the first time with the Orion 80ED scope and I was very happy. I was able to spend a few minutes with the TMB/BO 4mm and enjoyed the view like never before. It was even better on Saturn that when I last looked at Jupiter a couple of years back.

Well this was the end of a successful night and I can't wait to get out a bit earlier next time, when I can try M44 and the Christmas Tree Cluster. The one thing to take away from the viewing is the need for a more stable mount. I really had a hard time keeping all the views steady.

Objects seen:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Feb. 20, 2008 Lunar Eclipse

Never go around to posting this. I was about 10 minutes out of totality. Loved how it cam out.

Orion 80ED with Sony Alpha A100 prime focus.

Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/1
ISO Speed: 200

Lunar Eclipse