Blackbird, July 30 2011...
- 30 July 2011, BlackbirdI arrived at Blackbird a little after sunset and I was the only one there tonight. I got set up and polar aligned early and started to look at Saturn. It is quickly sinking in the West and won’t be visible for very much longer. It wasn’t much to look at since it was so low and the atmosphere hadn’t steadied up yet. But it was nice to see it.When I first got started in astronomy, one of the first books I used in the field was the book, “The Universe from Your Backyard”. It was a collection of articles from Astronomy magazine called, “The Backyard Astronomer”. These articles featured the most interesting deep-sky objects in a constellation. The articles cover an average of 15 deep-sky objects per constellation for a total of 690. I converted all of the objects listed in this book over to Sky Tools so I would have the lists of these objects to hunt down while in the field. I spent the evening filling in the holes in my observing logs from these lists.My first object of the night was Antares. The atmosphere was very steady to try to split this double star. I don’t know how many times over the years I have looked at this star but never tried to split it. Tonight was the night. My 15mm Panoptic and 13mm Nagler showed the secondary quite nicely. But I put the 2.5x Powermate on with those two eyepieces and it just split it without question. It was a good indication of how steady the atmosphere was going to be. There is a variable star, BM Sco on the outskirts of M6, The Butterfly Cluster. I took a look at this star and noted its decidedly yellow/orange color, contrasting with the rest of the cluster members which were white. RR Sco is another variable which is a deep red and very pretty!A new planetary nebula that I found was NGC6567 in Scorpius. It was nearly stellar at low power but increasing magnification gave away its true nature. At the highest powers it showed its nebulosity quite easily and had a tiny companion star just off its edge. A tiny open cluster, Biurakan 4 is also in the same field at low power as NGC6567. I took another look at NGC6229, a globular cluster in Hercules, since I hadn’t made a log entry on this object since September of 2000. It is rather bright for its small size but even with the steady skies and high power I was unable to resolve any stars. I took a look at Vesta, the asteroid that is making headlines because of the Dawn probe now in orbit around it. It was very bright and very easy to see.I spent some time in Cygnus hunting down open clusters. NGC6819 was one of the best. Very much like a globular cluster. Small, tight with lots of density. Central part of cluster is split like a Y. 13mm Nagler again resolves all stars through the core. Irregular shape and fades into background evenly. Very pretty open cluster at high power. Best of the night! The final object of the night was the double cluster, h and chi Persei, or NGC869 and NGC884. I hadn’t logged these two individually so I gave descriptions for each and entered them in my logs. I rounded out the evening by looking at Jupiter which was very high by 3am. I maxed out the power and observed an amazingly clean disk at 385x. I stared at Jupiter for quite a while. Simply stunning.I was fighting dew all night. Even though it was a constant battle, it was such a great night I welcomed the break from constant observing. The temperature was comfortable and I finally gave up and left the field somewhere around 3:30am.Log Entries:Antares A deep orange star. Double. Secondary is tough but obvious at high power resting at about the 10 o'clock position. Companion is much fainter. Appears blue. But that must be because of the overpowering orange of Antares. Very pretty pair. Even apparent split with both 15mm Panoptic and 13mm Nagler! 7/30/2011RR Sco A very red star! Easy to spot as it is much brighter than the field stars. Very nice in 24mm Panoptic. Shows itself very red compared to field stars. Very pretty! 7/30/2011BM Sco Variable on the outskirts of M6, The Butterfly Cluster! Yellow/orange color. Brighter than all other members. 7/30/2011M6 Butterfly Cluster. A very large open cluster in Scorpius. Many members fill the field. All members are spread out and are very bright. A very pretty open cluster. Best view in 24mm Panoptic. Variable star BM Sco resting right on the outer edge of the cluster. Brighter than all other members and very yellow/orange. A nice contrast to all the other blue/white cluster members. 7/30/2011NGC6567 PN in Scorpius. Easy to see its nebulosity at any power. Round, bright core and nearly stellar at low powers and a good finder chart is necessary! But highest powers reveal nebulosity and a small companion star. A very pretty field and a very nice PN. 13mm Nagler and 2.5x Powermate hold this nebula easy! 7/30/2011Biurakan 4 Open cluster in same field as NGC6567. Tiny, very few members. Three bright members with just a few fainter members that seem crowded around the brightest star. Very pretty and rich field. A really neat little cluster. 7/30/2011M17 Omega Nebula. A very bright nebula in the shape of a sideway Y. Best and brightest in 19mm Panoptic. UHC filter shows mottling across nebula. Open cluster behind it and the cluster is elongated. Very pretty sight at low powers. 7/30/2011M20 Trifid Nebula. Open cluster and nebulosity. Dust lanes are easy even without UHC filter. Filter helps define the edges of the nebula and show dust lanes easier. Very pretty. Best at low powers. 7/30/2011NGC6530 Open cluster part of Lagoon Nebula. Many bright members elongated and within nebulosity. Brightest part of Lagoon is to the side of cluster. A very pretty sight especially at lowest powers. 7/30/2011R Lyr 13 Lyr. A very yellow star in Lyra. Very pretty and brighter than anything else in the field. Best at low powers. Really shows color. 7/30/2011RR Lyr Variable. Ivory color. Very normal looking star. Good at all powers. 7/30/2011NGC6791 Berkeley 46. A very faint and difficult open cluster. Rich but members are extremely faint with hardly any stars resolvable. Best in 24mm Panoptic. Slightly elongated. 7/30/2011NGC6229 Globular in Hercules. Tight, small bright ball of stars. Bright core with a small outer halo of stars. None are resolvable at any power. Two stars next to the cluster make for a nice triangle. Very neat little glob. 7/30/2011NGC6611 Open cluster surrounding the Eagle Nebula. Not much nebulosity visible, even with UHC. But the cluster is rich and seems to circle the central part of the nebula like a ring. The stars are all in a circle around the nebula. Best in 24mm Panoptic. 7/30/2011Vesta Asteroid in Capricornus. Very bright. Doesn't seem to want to come to sharp focus like a star. Best at high power. 7/30/2011NGC7082 Large and rich open cluster in Cygnus. Elongated. In a rich field. Lots of members and cluster is easily resolvable. 24mm Panoptic shows this cluster the best. Very pretty cluster. 7/30/2011NGC7062 Open cluster in Cygnus. A very small and tight cluster. Dense almost like a loose globular. Lots of faint members. Low power does not resolve many but a few of the brightest members. These 4 stars frame the cluster in a keystone shape. 13mm Nagler definitely brings this cluster to life resolving all of the fainter members. A really nice view with the 13mm Nagler. One of the nicest clusters of the night. 7/30/2011NGC6819 Wow! My favorite open cluster of the night! Very much like a globular cluster. Small, tight with lots of density. Central part of cluster is split like a Y. 13mm Nagler again resolves all stars through the core. Irregular shape and fades into background evenly. Very pretty open cluster at high power. Best of the night! 7/30/2011NGC884 Chi Persei, half of the double cluster. Huge, fills 24mm Panoptic eyepiece. Many bright members spread out unevenly. A tiny little asterism in the center that resembles an oval. Two opposing triangles. Stars are blue. 7/30/2011NGC869 h Persei, half of the double cluster. Fills entire 24mm Panoptic eyepiece. Central part of cluster is divided into two distinct parts. One has an asterism that resembles a parachute. A perfect arc of stars over another single star. Many cluster members in a loose circular shape but very clumped. Not evenly distributed. Such a beautiful bunch of stars. 7/30/2011Doug Norton