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Friday, April 30th, 2004
This evening was another one primarily of discovery. I failed to write down what I was finding as I was finding things, and in turn, I do not have the first several objects I looked at.

The sky was mixed for viewing. I could clearly see 4 of the Little Dipper stars, so clarity was terrific, but the moon was a waning gibbous and washing out the sky making for poor contrast on the objects I was intending on viewing.

Nebulae
Tonight, I was nebula hunting. I did most of my observation with my UHC filter on my 32mm eyepiece. Though the night was very rewarding, there were a few disappointments. I was really hoping to see the Crab, the Bubble, the North American and the Eagle Nebulae. Unfortunately, though I tried, I could not see any of these, I think because the moon was simply too bright.

However, the others were fantastic. [Obviously] there was a variance in the detail and brightness of each one that I looked at, and some wre much harder to find than others. I also learned that most of the nebula are in the belt of the Milky Way. This was making it a bit harder to find them because of the sheer number of stars in the view. I looked for many open clusters around these nebulae, but I only identified perhaps 3 or 4 of the dozen I went after. The entire section of the sky looked like one giant open cluster to me. Ah the pains of being a novice! Here is a list of what I saw (the one's with asterisks are one's that I have never seen before).

M16 - Eagle Nebula*
As I mentioned before, I did not see any nebulosity within this cluster, but I absolutely saw the cluster and now know where to look on another much darker night.

M17 - Omega Nebula*
Probably the most spectacular view of the night. Rich cloud formations, detail within the clouds, and the more I looked at it, the more it came to life. I can't wait to look at this one again on a darker night.

M27 - Dumbbell Nebula*
This nebula was very easy to find and bright in the sky. You could clearly see the variation in the clouds. It was awesome. Because it's a planetary nebula, it was pretty small and I was able to see it very well in my 12.5mm eyepiece.

M57 - Ring Nebula
Though I have looked at the Ring Nebula before, and though the sky was pretty washed out because of the bright moon that sat very high nearly the entire evening, I have not seen this nebula quite as clearly as I did tonight. Again, the best eyepiece for this object was the 12.5 with the UHC filter.

M97 - Owl Nebula
This object was so faint, even with the UHC filter, there is really not much to comment on. My brother who was observing with me couldn't even see it at first, but after long hard stares and many attempts at averted vision, he finally saw it and it was really not anything to write home about.

NGC6990 - Veil Nebula West*
In tonights sky, this one took many attempts to see and ultimately, I had to wait until the moon set in order to catch a faint glimpse of it. Again, it looks like it has great potential for darker skies.

NGC6992 - Veil Nebula East*
This one also took many attempts. At first, I could not see it at all, thoug I knew I was looking right at it. Finally, after the moon wen't down, I was able to see it. It was pretty large and very subtle. I'm really looking forward to seeing this one at the next new moon.

Other Observations
During my nebulae hunting, I found several other objects though I looked for many more than I actually found this evening.

M11 - Wild Duck - Open Cluster*
Moving across the Milky Way heading for the Eagle and Omega Nebulae, I found the Wild Duck Cluster. It looked pretty cool. I had to pop my UHC filter off to get a better look at it. It was excellent.

M29 - Cooling Tower - Open Cluster*
Amoung the myriad of stars in the Milky Way, the Cooling Tower was relatively easy to spot as there are 6 key stars in the center that resemble a domino.

M36 - Pinwheel Cluster - Open Cluster*
In looking for the Crab Nebula, I realized that there are several open clusters just above it. Since I couldn't find the Crab, I decided to look for the open clusters. Again, being in the belt of the Milky Way, there were very hard to find, and I only ended up finding this one on that hunt.

M52 - The Scorpion - Open Cluster*
In looking for the Bubble Nebula, I found The Scorpion cluster. There are several nebulae near it, but I found none of them.

NGC 2264 - Christmas Tree Cluster - Open Cluster*
I was really hoping to see the nebulosity of this one, but I must need a different filter or darker skies to see it. This cluster really does form the shape of a Christmas tree.

There was more that I looked at this night. Jupiter, Saturn, M13, M44, M53, M81, M82, M92 among others. The moon was simply too bright to try and find anyting that was too near to it so I stayed away from that part of the sky altogether.

Overall, it was an awesome night. Very fulfilling and the longest session I have done yet. I was out there from 10:00pm until 5:00am hunting and observing 99% of the time. I have not had quite that lengthy of a session before and though I was tired, it was totally worth it.





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