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OR: Observing 3 amateur discoveries from Lake Sonoma (2/03/05)

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  • Steve Gottlieb
    Taking advantage of the brief break in the cloudy weather, I ran up to Lake Sonoma after work on Thursday night (February 3) and arrived about 6:00 to find Bob
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 5, 2005
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      Taking advantage of the brief break in the cloudy weather, I ran up to
      Lake Sonoma after work on Thursday night (February 3) and arrived about
      6:00 to find Bob Douglas already set up with his new 18-inch
      Starmaster. Bob has been waiting patiently the past couple of months
      for a chance to get under dark skies, but has been making up for lost
      time – he also observed at Long Rock Flat just two nights earlier. It
      was a good decision to head up mid-week as both transparency (~6.5) and
      especially seeing were very good.

      While I started to set up my twin 18-inch Starmaster, I commented to
      Bob that I forgot to bring along a finder chart for Comet Machholz
      (C/2004 Q2), though hopefully it would still be easy to spot naked-eye.
      After peaking last month around mag 3.5 (even visible through thin
      clouds from my badly light polluted skies in the east bay), it's down
      about a magnitude now, but still easily visible naked-eye about 9
      degrees NNE of the double cluster and now circumpolar. This comet was
      the 10th found by amateur Don Machholz last August 27th with a 37-year
      old 6-inch f/8 Criterion Dynascope from his home in Colfax.

      Lower's nebula (Sharpless 2-261) was discovered on photographs taken in
      1939 by Harold Lower and his son Charles (amateur telescope makers from
      San Diego) using a homemade 8-inch f/1 Schmidt Camera (that's right,
      f/1). With my 18-inch, Lower's nebula was not initially noticed in a
      rich star field using the 31 Nagler (63x). Adding an OIII filter, much
      of the field took on an irregular patchy appearance (partly due to the
      unresolved background milky way glow), but in addition a 10'x8' oval
      glow (only part of the entire complex which shows up strikingly on
      images) was locally brighter surrounding a group of stars south of the
      geometric center of the nebula. The highest surface brightness region
      (still faint) was an extended patch situated south of mag 8.4 HD 41997
      by a few arc minutes.

      Lower's discovery was likely the last amateur discovery of a nebula for
      65 years. But on January 23, 2004, amateur Jay McNeil (well-known for
      his encyclopedic knowledge of planetary nebulae) took a wide field CCD
      image of the M78 region using his 3-inch Takahashi FTGC-76 and ST-10XME
      CCD from his suburban site in Kentucky. Carefully examining the image
      he noticed a new reflection nebula near M78, apparently illuminated by
      a young eruptive variable star. After viewing M78 and several other
      faint reflection nebula in the vicinity, I moved to the vicinity of
      Jay's discovery using 225x and noticed an extremely faint glow, ~30"
      diameter, about 1' W of a faint double star. Initially I glimpsed the
      nebula without reference to the discovery photo, but once the object
      was confirmed it could almost be held continuously with averted vision
      although no structural details were visible. I'm guessing a 10-inch
      scope or so may be necessary to glimpse this object, though first check
      if you can spot nearby NGC 2064 and 2067 which are easier targets. This
      faint object is located ~12' SW of M78 in a region of numerous
      reflection nebulae and young Herbig-Haro objects. For a labeled image
      see http://www.seds.org/messier/Pics/Jpg/m78mcn1l.jpg or the SEDS page
      at http://www.seds.org/messier/more/m078_mcneil.html

      Last year, David Kingsley posted an observation of an extremely distant
      quasar in Lynx, APM08279+5255, so this object immediately went to the
      top of my observing list. At a redshift of 3.9 (and one of the
      intrinsically brightest known objects in the universe!), this object
      makes QSR 3C 273 in Virgo (z = 0.16) appear to be in our neighborhood
      by comparison. This object was discovered accidently just a few years
      back in 1998 during a survey of distant carbon stars in the galactic
      halo. See
      http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/~pkondratko/Astro208/paper/frame2.htm for
      the technical details. It was also featured on APOD (see
      http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap980818.htm)

      I had previously observed another very distant quasar, HS 1946+7658, in
      Draco at z = 3.05), but it's still mind boggling to contemplate that
      the tired light from APM08279+5255 left roughly 11 billion years ago!
      To be visible at this distance (and relatively bright) it may benefit
      from significant gravitation lensing, although a lensing galaxy or
      cluster is not evident on the images I've seen. In any case, this will
      likely be the most distant object I'll ever see visually. Using a
      photographic finder chart (the 15th-16th magnitude QSR is not plotted
      on the GSC, so it may not show up on amateur sky-plotting software).
      At first, I picked up a 15th magnitude star near the position, but
      carefully I realized the QSR was situated about 1' NE of the star I had
      identified. With averted vision, the target popped into view. I would
      have estimated the magnitude as ~16 (the R-band is given as 15.2),
      after finishing up I realized that clouds had drifted into that portion
      of the sky and probably detracted from the view. Although we only
      viewed for a few hours, it was great getting out under dark skies again
      and seeing several unusual objects.

      Steve Gottlieb
    • James Ster
      Awesome report Steve. After reading it and viewing the CSC s this morning, I really regret not trying to go out last night. The next time I m out with the
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 5, 2005
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        Awesome report Steve. After reading it and viewing the CSC's this
        morning, I really regret not trying to go out last night. The next time I'm
        out with the 30", I think I'm going to do a Quasar survey. Do you recommend
        any specific catalog or database for finding them?

        Thanks!

        -Jim


        > Taking advantage of the brief break in the cloudy weather, I ran up to
        > Lake Sonoma after work on Thursday night (February 3) and arrived about
        > 6:00 to find Bob Douglas already set up with his new 18-inch
        > Starmaster. Bob has been waiting patiently the past couple of months
        > for a chance to get under dark skies, but has been making up for lost
        > time - he also observed at Long Rock Flat just two nights earlier. It
        > was a good decision to head up mid-week as both transparency (~6.5) and
        > especially seeing were very good.
        >
        > While I started to set up my twin 18-inch Starmaster, I commented to
        > Bob that I forgot to bring along a finder chart for Comet Machholz
        > (C/2004 Q2), though hopefully it would still be easy to spot naked-eye.
        > After peaking last month around mag 3.5 (even visible through thin
        > clouds from my badly light polluted skies in the east bay), it's down
        > about a magnitude now, but still easily visible naked-eye about 9
        > degrees NNE of the double cluster and now circumpolar. This comet was
        > the 10th found by amateur Don Machholz last August 27th with a 37-year
        > old 6-inch f/8 Criterion Dynascope from his home in Colfax.
        >
        > Lower's nebula (Sharpless 2-261) was discovered on photographs taken in
        > 1939 by Harold Lower and his son Charles (amateur telescope makers from
        > San Diego) using a homemade 8-inch f/1 Schmidt Camera (that's right,
        > f/1). With my 18-inch, Lower's nebula was not initially noticed in a
        > rich star field using the 31 Nagler (63x). Adding an OIII filter, much
        > of the field took on an irregular patchy appearance (partly due to the
        > unresolved background milky way glow), but in addition a 10'x8' oval
        > glow (only part of the entire complex which shows up strikingly on
        > images) was locally brighter surrounding a group of stars south of the
        > geometric center of the nebula. The highest surface brightness region
        > (still faint) was an extended patch situated south of mag 8.4 HD 41997
        > by a few arc minutes.
        >
        > Lower's discovery was likely the last amateur discovery of a nebula for
        > 65 years. But on January 23, 2004, amateur Jay McNeil (well-known for
        > his encyclopedic knowledge of planetary nebulae) took a wide field CCD
        > image of the M78 region using his 3-inch Takahashi FTGC-76 and ST-10XME
        > CCD from his suburban site in Kentucky. Carefully examining the image
        > he noticed a new reflection nebula near M78, apparently illuminated by
        > a young eruptive variable star. After viewing M78 and several other
        > faint reflection nebula in the vicinity, I moved to the vicinity of
        > Jay's discovery using 225x and noticed an extremely faint glow, ~30"
        > diameter, about 1' W of a faint double star. Initially I glimpsed the
        > nebula without reference to the discovery photo, but once the object
        > was confirmed it could almost be held continuously with averted vision
        > although no structural details were visible. I'm guessing a 10-inch
        > scope or so may be necessary to glimpse this object, though first check
        > if you can spot nearby NGC 2064 and 2067 which are easier targets. This
        > faint object is located ~12' SW of M78 in a region of numerous
        > reflection nebulae and young Herbig-Haro objects. For a labeled image
        > see http://www.seds.org/messier/Pics/Jpg/m78mcn1l.jpg or the SEDS page
        > at http://www.seds.org/messier/more/m078_mcneil.html
        >
        > Last year, David Kingsley posted an observation of an extremely distant
        > quasar in Lynx, APM08279+5255, so this object immediately went to the
        > top of my observing list. At a redshift of 3.9 (and one of the
        > intrinsically brightest known objects in the universe!), this object
        > makes QSR 3C 273 in Virgo (z = 0.16) appear to be in our neighborhood
        > by comparison. This object was discovered accidently just a few years
        > back in 1998 during a survey of distant carbon stars in the galactic
        > halo. See
        > http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/~pkondratko/Astro208/paper/frame2.htm for
        > the technical details. It was also featured on APOD (see
        > http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap980818.htm)
        >
        > I had previously observed another very distant quasar, HS 1946+7658, in
        > Draco at z = 3.05), but it's still mind boggling to contemplate that
        > the tired light from APM08279+5255 left roughly 11 billion years ago!
        > To be visible at this distance (and relatively bright) it may benefit
        > from significant gravitation lensing, although a lensing galaxy or
        > cluster is not evident on the images I've seen. In any case, this will
        > likely be the most distant object I'll ever see visually. Using a
        > photographic finder chart (the 15th-16th magnitude QSR is not plotted
        > on the GSC, so it may not show up on amateur sky-plotting software).
        > At first, I picked up a 15th magnitude star near the position, but
        > carefully I realized the QSR was situated about 1' NE of the star I had
        > identified. With averted vision, the target popped into view. I would
        > have estimated the magnitude as ~16 (the R-band is given as 15.2),
        > after finishing up I realized that clouds had drifted into that portion
        > of the sky and probably detracted from the view. Although we only
        > viewed for a few hours, it was great getting out under dark skies again
        > and seeing several unusual objects.
        >
        > Steve Gottlieb
      • Steve Gottlieb
        Here s a starter list, Jim: By the way, the second brightest QSR (after well-known 13th magnitude 3C 273)
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 5, 2005
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          Here's a starter list, Jim:
          <http://www.seds.org/~spider/spider/Misc/qso.html> By the way, the
          second brightest QSR (after well-known 13th magnitude 3C 273) is little
          known PHL 1811 in Capricorn (V = 13.9) was not discovered until 2001
          (see
          http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/embpcgi.pl/cgi-bin/res-
          page.epl?objid=32109).

          A more extensive list is on Wolfgang Steinicke's page
          (http://www.klima-luft.de/steinicke/KHQ/khq_e.ht). He put together a
          booklet (I have a copy) which even has labeled finder charts, though I
          'm not sure if this is available. In the case of QSR's I've found that
          using (DSS) images are more helpful than software-generated charts
          which often don't go deep enough to distinguish 15th and 16th magnitude
          stellar objects.

          Steve

          On Feb 5, 2005, at 11:29 AM, James Ster wrote:

          >
          > Awesome report Steve. After reading it and viewing the CSC's this
          > morning, I really regret not trying to go out last night. The next
          > time I'm
          > out with the 30", I think I'm going to do a Quasar survey. Do you
          > recommend
          > any specific catalog or database for finding them?
          >
          > Thanks!
          >
          > -Jim
          >
          >
          >> Taking advantage of the brief break in the cloudy weather, I ran up to
          >> Lake Sonoma after work on Thursday night (February 3) and arrived
          >> about
          >> 6:00 to find Bob Douglas already set up with his new 18-inch
          >> Starmaster. Bob has been waiting patiently the past couple of months
          >> for a chance to get under dark skies, but has been making up for lost
          >> time - he also observed at Long Rock Flat just two nights earlier. It
          >> was a good decision to head up mid-week as both transparency (~6.5)
          >> and
          >> especially seeing were very good.
          >>
          >> While I started to set up my twin 18-inch Starmaster, I commented to
          >> Bob that I forgot to bring along a finder chart for Comet Machholz
          >> (C/2004 Q2), though hopefully it would still be easy to spot
          >> naked-eye.
          >> After peaking last month around mag 3.5 (even visible through thin
          >> clouds from my badly light polluted skies in the east bay), it's down
          >> about a magnitude now, but still easily visible naked-eye about 9
          >> degrees NNE of the double cluster and now circumpolar. This comet was
          >> the 10th found by amateur Don Machholz last August 27th with a 37-year
          >> old 6-inch f/8 Criterion Dynascope from his home in Colfax.
          >>
          >> Lower's nebula (Sharpless 2-261) was discovered on photographs taken
          >> in
          >> 1939 by Harold Lower and his son Charles (amateur telescope makers
          >> from
          >> San Diego) using a homemade 8-inch f/1 Schmidt Camera (that's right,
          >> f/1). With my 18-inch, Lower's nebula was not initially noticed in a
          >> rich star field using the 31 Nagler (63x). Adding an OIII filter,
          >> much
          >> of the field took on an irregular patchy appearance (partly due to the
          >> unresolved background milky way glow), but in addition a 10'x8' oval
          >> glow (only part of the entire complex which shows up strikingly on
          >> images) was locally brighter surrounding a group of stars south of the
          >> geometric center of the nebula. The highest surface brightness region
          >> (still faint) was an extended patch situated south of mag 8.4 HD 41997
          >> by a few arc minutes.
          >>
          >> Lower's discovery was likely the last amateur discovery of a nebula
          >> for
          >> 65 years. But on January 23, 2004, amateur Jay McNeil (well-known for
          >> his encyclopedic knowledge of planetary nebulae) took a wide field CCD
          >> image of the M78 region using his 3-inch Takahashi FTGC-76 and
          >> ST-10XME
          >> CCD from his suburban site in Kentucky. Carefully examining the image
          >> he noticed a new reflection nebula near M78, apparently illuminated by
          >> a young eruptive variable star. After viewing M78 and several other
          >> faint reflection nebula in the vicinity, I moved to the vicinity of
          >> Jay's discovery using 225x and noticed an extremely faint glow, ~30"
          >> diameter, about 1' W of a faint double star. Initially I glimpsed the
          >> nebula without reference to the discovery photo, but once the object
          >> was confirmed it could almost be held continuously with averted vision
          >> although no structural details were visible. I'm guessing a 10-inch
          >> scope or so may be necessary to glimpse this object, though first
          >> check
          >> if you can spot nearby NGC 2064 and 2067 which are easier targets.
          >> This
          >> faint object is located ~12' SW of M78 in a region of numerous
          >> reflection nebulae and young Herbig-Haro objects. For a labeled image
          >> see http://www.seds.org/messier/Pics/Jpg/m78mcn1l.jpg or the SEDS page
          >> at http://www.seds.org/messier/more/m078_mcneil.html
          >>
          >> Last year, David Kingsley posted an observation of an extremely
          >> distant
          >> quasar in Lynx, APM08279+5255, so this object immediately went to the
          >> top of my observing list. At a redshift of 3.9 (and one of the
          >> intrinsically brightest known objects in the universe!), this object
          >> makes QSR 3C 273 in Virgo (z = 0.16) appear to be in our neighborhood
          >> by comparison. This object was discovered accidently just a few years
          >> back in 1998 during a survey of distant carbon stars in the galactic
          >> halo. See
          >> http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/~pkondratko/Astro208/paper/frame2.htm for
          >> the technical details. It was also featured on APOD (see
          >> http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap980818.htm)
          >>
          >> I had previously observed another very distant quasar, HS 1946+7658,
          >> in
          >> Draco at z = 3.05), but it's still mind boggling to contemplate that
          >> the tired light from APM08279+5255 left roughly 11 billion years ago!
          >> To be visible at this distance (and relatively bright) it may benefit
          >> from significant gravitation lensing, although a lensing galaxy or
          >> cluster is not evident on the images I've seen. In any case, this
          >> will
          >> likely be the most distant object I'll ever see visually. Using a
          >> photographic finder chart (the 15th-16th magnitude QSR is not plotted
          >> on the GSC, so it may not show up on amateur sky-plotting software).
          >> At first, I picked up a 15th magnitude star near the position, but
          >> carefully I realized the QSR was situated about 1' NE of the star I
          >> had
          >> identified. With averted vision, the target popped into view. I
          >> would
          >> have estimated the magnitude as ~16 (the R-band is given as 15.2),
          >> after finishing up I realized that clouds had drifted into that
          >> portion
          >> of the sky and probably detracted from the view. Although we only
          >> viewed for a few hours, it was great getting out under dark skies
          >> again
          >> and seeing several unusual objects.
          >>
          >> Steve Gottlieb
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > --
          > "I was in heaven, bathed in ancient Photons from all directions, I
          > could feel the strength returning to my poor photon depleted body, I
          > was saved! HALLELUJAH!!!!!" -- Rashad Al-Mansour, 1998
          >
          > http://tac-sac.org/
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
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