Tuckahoe, June 25, 2001...
- 25 June, 2001 Tuckahoe
Well it turned out to be an outstanding evening of observing with quite a few people showing up. Including myself, all in attendance were Dan Kidwell, Steve Long, Keith Lohmeyer, Tim Milligan, Jeff Ballard and Teresa Young with her dog Webber tagging along. What a monkey he is.
I arrived at 7:30 with the intention of it just being a double star night because of the moon. It set late and I didnt think I would stay out too much longer after that. As I was setting up before it even got dark, Steve and I noticed a super meteor that lasted for at least five seconds in the south. If it had happened when it was dark, it surely would have been one of the brightest meteors I ever would have seen. The mosquitoes were out in full force as well. The field hadnt been mowed in quite a while so there were plenty of them to annoy us.
Mars was waiting for us to observe it as soon as the sun went down. Even though it was hot and very humid, the atmosphere was extremely steady. I cant remember a calmer night. But we were fighting dew constantly. Even low on the horizon, Mars held as steady as it possibly could. There was an incredible amount of detail to be seen. I tried a few color filters on it to see if there would be any improvement in detail. The yellow filter pulled out more detail in the dark areas and the blue filter pulled out more of the ice caps. The 13mm Nagler showed the best view and the best detail at 153x.
Early in the observing run I stuck mostly to double stars. Keith had never given double stars much thought but I showed him as many as I could so he could get an idea of the diversity they show. Hopefully we have another double star observer. I found as many of the tightest doubles as I could to test how steady the night really was. I split Gamma Ophiuchi, a 1.5 arc second double, with my 9mm Nagler at 222x. Both stars were equal in magnitude and color, both being a brilliant blue white. This proved it was a steady night. But I had an even greater challenge in Nu Scorpii. This is the twin sister of the famous double-double Epsilon Lyrae. In some respects its a bit tougher I think. At first glance in a low power eyepiece, its an attractive double with a good separation. But as the power increases it shows that each star is again a double. The primary is bright with an equal pair in color and a slight magnitude difference at an extremely close 1.2 arc seconds! The second pair is considerably fainter with both stars nearly equal in magnitude but the color seems a bit rustier. The separation was wider but difficult because they were so faint. A very challenging object that tested the limits of my visual acuity. Staying at the eyepiece for a long stretch waiting for the atmosphere to settle afforded those moments of excellent seeing and for clean splits between the closest pair.
I continued finding many more double stars with the occasional glance back at Mars. Later on in the evening Steve noticed a faint fuzzy in the same field as Mars. I never paid attention to it thinking it was just a lens flare. But Steve zeroed in on it and it turns out it was a globular cluster. I thought it was M62 but I just looked at Megastar and it is more likely M19. Either way it was a pretty neat sight, seeing a planet so close to a deep space object. Good eye Steve. Im ashamed of myself for not noticing it. And I call myself an astronomer, sheesh.
I spent the rest of the evening looking at old favorites in Cygnus and the surrounding area. Most notably the Veil Nebula I used my 2-inch UHC filter on it and it really brought out the sections of it very well. I tried using the O-III filter but with a scope that has an f/ratio of 10, it just made the whole field way too dark. I also tried hunting down the cocoon nebula to no avail. Neat time Ill get it. I also hunted down some open clusters and a few more double stars.
Dan Kidwell was doing his best to suck all of the mosquitoes out of the air with all the cooling fans running on the back of his telescope! He said that the last time he was out he had quite a few bugs inside his scope. I took a look at M11 in Scutum through his scope and it blew me away. What an awesome sight. Teresa was busy hunting down objects despite not having a battery to drive her motors or run her dew prevention. I convinced her to bring the scope out of its box anyway and get busy observing. She found quite a few objects just by star hopping from the charts. Shes really getting good at it. The rest of the group was busy and I didnt ask what they were looking at but I looked through Steves scope once but I cant remember what it was I looked at!
It was a great night and I wish I could have gone out the following two nights because they too were very clear. But I actually needed my sleep this time since I had to travel. Most of us left around 1:00am. Dan and Jeff were still observing as we drove off and I think Tim was as well but I cant remember for sure. Hope to see more folks out there the next clear night. Hope for clear weather this weekend!!
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