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

March 15, 2009 Observing Report

Man, I finally had a chance to get the scope out. 2008 was not a good year for observing. We had lots of issues with Sophie and her G-Tube, so many nights spent with her or flat out exhausted. Anyway, the tube is out for now and she is eating better with our help. Lets hope it stays that way.

I took the scope out around 8pm to cool off, knowing that it would be hours later that I would observe. Before I went in though, I took a look at M42 and was astonished at the detail that even the 20mm plossl could give. I stayed with the scope for a few minutes taking in the grandeur that is the Orion Nebula. I had never had such a view of it and could not take my eyes away.

After putting the kids to bed and a workout, I went outside at around 11pm. The seeing was not too great. This did not deter me though and I set about searching for a couple of objects. This is where frustration set in. I am not happy with 2 things about my setup.

First, the mount in truly in capable of handling the 80ED scope. It was shaking too much and the scope would sometimes drop to the zenith, even after attempts to tighten it up a bit. I still hope to step up either to the WO EAZY touch or a GEM in a bit higher price range. Funds are not abundant at the moment, so frustrations will continue.

The second thing thing that disappointed me was my eyepiece collection. My lower power eyepieces are all plossls and I need to upgrade to something better. I feel that I can get better views from the scope, even on less that optimal seeing nights and believe the eyepieces to be the limiting factor. To rectify this, I have a WO UWAN 16mm coming in. It should arrive next week and will replace both the 20mm and 25mm Orion Sirius Plossls.

So my attempts to locate some galaxies around Ursa Major(M81, M82, M101 and M51) were in vain. Now I know I am pushing it with the scope from a less than ideal location, but I thought it would be OK. I will try again tonight if the sky remains clear. Lets hope my luck comes in. I am confident I can locates their region, seeing them would be fun.