|Tonight the moon was waxing in a 4 days old, so for the mmost part the sky was relatively dark, but coming off of a pitch black experience at Indian Trail Spring, the sky seemed much brighter than I normally percieve it.
Still, I wanted to observe, so I looked into the northern sky to see what was around Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Perseus and Cepheus.
Nearly everything I looked at was pretty faint, and there were a few objects I couldn't see at all. Most oof what I looked at were NGC objects, and not necessarily in the brightest NGC list. In order to find many of these objects, I found myself relying more on the pattern of the stars in the field and comparing that to what I should be seeing acording to Starry Night Pro. It worked out very well, but made for a pretty slow session.
Cool computer trick:
I learned a trick for using my computer while observing this last weekend. On a tip from one of the guys at the star party, I went to my local art supply store and purchased 2 sheets of this material called "Ruby Lith". It's a thick, blood red cellophane like material. I also purchased some thickish black card stock. Both the card stock and Ruby Lith came in 24" square pieces. I used the card stock to make a frame that slides over my computer screen. Then cut a perfect screen hole and slide the Ruby Lith between the cardstock and the screen. This makes every part of the screen that is normmally white, deep, deep red. I used the pices to make 8 layers of the Ruby Lith so I could control the darkness of the red cellophane. For my back yard, 4 layers is perfect. For a place like Indian Trail Spring, I'd probably use all 8 layers to make it really really dark.
Now, on to the object journaling...
NGC 205 - Galaxy
Just outside of the view of M31, NGC 205 is relatively faint in my sky tonight. It was there, and rather large, but not very bright.
M32 - Galaxy
Not much more than a bright spot in the outer fuzz of M31, M32 is an obvious object. Smallish (for a close galaxy), tight and bright. There appears to be no real fuzzy outer edge of M32. It looks more an ultra-tight globular cluster to me at this point.
M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) - Galaxy
Initially seen in binoculars tonight, M31 is so large it's fascinating. I cannot contain it in my 65 degree eyepiece. I'm looking forward to getting a scope that can not only contaiin the entire object, but can track it an take a picture of it.
NGC 457 (Owl Cluster) - Open Cluster
Perhaps they call this the Owl Cluster because it has a 5th magnitude and 6th magnitude star for the "eyes" of the cluster. This is a very small cluster and most of the stars in it are pretty faint ones. Once I had it in the field of view, it was obvious that it was there, but still, not a real easy find.
M103 - Open Cluster
Though this cluster is pretty small also, it has some very nice color in it. Tewo or three bright blue stars line the middle while near the very center is a large red star. These are all surrounded by white stars. It looks much like a medallion.
M52 (The Scorpion) - Open Cluster
About a third of a degree to the left of the Bubble Nebula, this is another open cluster that is mixed in with the Milky Way band though it's not nearly as lost in the stardust as some of the others I've tried to find. I couldn't make out any kind of a scorpion shape whatsoever. Perhaps on another observation I will.
IC 1805 - Open Cluster
This open cluster intrigued me because the picture I saw of it had some cool nebulosity in the cluster. I have had little opportunity to see such a sight so I tried it tonight. Sure enough, though not as much as in the photo, there was distinct nebulosity in this cluster. I had to put on my UHC filter to see it, and perhaps if I had an OIII filter or an H Beta filter I may have seen more. As mentioned earlier, the sky was not as dark as it can be in my backyard, so perhas even on a simply darker night more nebulosity may be seen. Very cool.
NGC 7635 (Bubble Nebula) - Diffuse Nebula
With the UHC filter, this was an obvious nebula. Though I ws hoping to be able to define the bubble itself more, it was still a decent looking object. Now that I know where it is, on my next visit to really dark skies, I intend on pulling this one up again.
NGC 7538 - Diffuse Nebula
Though I was definitely in the right region, I never really made out the nebula I was expecting to see there. I will try again another night.
NGC 7281 - Open Cluster
An interesting circlet of stars make this cluster noticeable, but whoa mama was it small. I wouldn't call this one of the more incredible objects I've seen, but it was still interesting. I only found it based on the star pattern and what Starry Night showed me I was looking for.
NGC 7261 - Open Cluster
This is the "head" of Cepheus I supposeand is in the outside edge of the Milky Way band. I'm really not sure of the point in locating Open Clusters within the Milky Way band. The entire thing looks like one giant cluster to me. This is another object that I would never have guessed was a catalogued cluster.
NGC 6939 - Open Cluster
Small, faint open cluster. It took me a bit to recognize this. I think I'm going to give up on looking for NGC clusters for a while! This takes a really long time and is not very gratifying to a beginner like me!
NGC 6946 - Galaxy
About half a degree from NGC 6939, I didn't actually see this object though the description makes it sound bright enough for my 12" Dob to pick up. I knew that I was looking in the proper field of view, but it simply was not there. I definitely will try this one again. It not only looks like I should be able to see it, but it looks like I should possibly make out spiral detail on it. Perhaps only in pitch black sky.
NGC 1039 (Spiral Cluster) - Open Cluster
This is a small, tight cluster with very few stars from my vantage point. I see perhaps 6 or 8 stars. Without the help of Starry Night Pro, I doubt I would have recognized this as a catalogued object.
NGC 884 (Perseus Double Cluster) - Open Cluster
This is not my first time looking at this object, but everytime I look at it I'm fascinated. It is a truly stunning object group. With blue stars, a few red stars and mostly white stars, it's one of the more coloorful objects I've seen to date.