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.