|Another incredible evening. This evening I didn't even bring out the 6", but stuck with the 12" the entire night. 4 hours of killer observation with a few friends. The green laser pointer was extremely handy tonight as none of my friends have ever seen such objects before and it was helpful to show them exactly where we were looking.
Tonight I went through my list of Messier objects that I've been growing in my ability to just point them out with the laser, then get them in the scope within a few seconds:
M3 - Globular Cluster
M13 - Globular Cluster
M53 - Globular Cluster
M92 - Globular Cluster
All of which are spectacular. They really come to life with the 15mm and 12mm eyepieces.
M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy
M65 - Leo Triplet 1 Galaxy
M66 - Leo Triplet 2 Galaxy
M81 - Bode's Galaxy
M82 - Cigar Galaxy
So far, M81 and M82 are the brightest, clearest galaxies I have found.
I had my friends look for 3 things:
1- See how many moons they could spot
2- See how many bands on the planet they could count
3- And get it to look spherical
Everyone came up with the same info - 4 moons, 5 bands, and at 315X magnification, everyone saw the planet spherical. That was fun, so we did it again with Saturn next.
I had my friends look for 4 things:
1- Notice the bands on the planet
2- Notice the shadow cast on the rings
3- Notice the Cassini Division
4- Get it to look spherical
Again, every one was able to get something out of all 4 things.
Besides tonight just being a minor star party for me and three friends, after everyone left, I didn't pack it in. I put in another hour and a half looking for new objects. Here is the list of what I found new this evening:
M5 - Globular Cluster
Another star cluster gets added to my list. M5 is cool. A very large nucleus with tiny dots of light surrounding it. I could see it very clearly.
M57 - The Ring Nebula
This was awesome. At 27 degrees it was a little low on the horizon for my area, plus the night was a little foggy down low, but none the less, it was clear as a bell and looked fantastic. A spectacular ring with a not quite black center. My 9mm eyepiece at 150X magnification was the best view for this one.
M64 - Blackeye Galaxy
Very faint, but there. Even with averted vision it was difficult to make out any detail, but it was sweet finding another galaxy.
M97 - Owl Nebula
Very, very faint. Also there, and I'm looking forward to getting my UHC filter which may help draw out some detail in these very faint objects.
M108 - NGC 3556 Galaxy
This is an on-edge galaxy that sounds like it should be more prominent in my scope than it is. Perhaps a clearer night will reveal it's very interesting dust lanes.