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Saturday, March 12th, 2005
Kah-Nee-Ta night 2.

The second night at Kah-Nee-Ta was EXCELLENT. The seeing conditions were much clearer and there was no wind.

Tonight I wasn't going to stay up for the summer objects to rise because I had to be out of there by 11 am the next day and drive 3 hours home.

The moon was a 3 day old waxing crescent so it was a bit high and didn't set until about 9:00 pm. This of course added some light, but I started the evening early and looked at the beatiful terminator on the moon and caught Mercury before it set while twilight came in. They were spectacular.

The absolute highlight of the evening was a HUGE meteor that essentially flew right over us. Because we were just off of a main highway and many cars passed by over the course of the evening, when I saw the light of the meteor I was not facing it and thought it was an oncoming car (yes, it was THAT bright) so I turned my head and covered my eyes. When someone yelled that it was a meteor, I looked up just to catch the tail end as it went behind a hill. It was HUGE... bigger than the moon and very, very green. It lit the sky up green as it passed. Just after it crested the hill there were several bright white flashes like lightning. You can read a local news story here.

Simply amazing. I wished I would have caught more of it as some of the other folks at the star party did. But what I saw was incredible. A once in a lifetime event I'd imagine.

Once that was over and the ooohs and ahhhs calmed down it was back to the scope. Tonight, I was determined to get as many of the Caldwell objects as I could.

Some of the 109 Caldwell's are in the southern hemisphere so I can't get them all until I go visit down there a few times. Before tonight I had logged 32 Caldwell objects, now I logged another 24 for a total of 56.

Some of the highlighted new objects for me are:

C-50; NGC 2224; Rosette Nebula
This was wonderful. Very large. It over-filled my 40mm wide-field eyepiece. The entire image must be over 2 degrees. The veins in the nebulosity were spectacular. You could see nebulosity without a filter, but with the UHC filter it was at least 2 or 3 times brighter. The star cluster in the nebula was beautiful. About a dozen bright blue-white stars peppered the nebulosity which had a darker center and more gases outside of the cluster. I'm looking forward to catching this one in an even darker sky and I'd like to try the OIII filter on it.


C-38; NGC 4565 - Edge-on Galaxy
Wow! For a relatively faint (10.19 mag) galaxy, the buldge of the nucleus is picture perfect and the dust lane that runs down the entire length of the edge is very obvious, even in a 10" scope (my brothers - the smallest one I looked at it in). I looked at it in my neighbors 28" Dob and it looked better (of couse), but not by much, surprisingly.


C-60/61; NGC 4038/4039; Antennae Galaxies
Another *very* cool object. Two distinct interacting/colliding galaxies. The line that distinguishes the objects is clear and it definitely looks like 2 separate kidney bean galaxies joined siamese style at one end. The funny thing about this is that on the previous night, a visitor to the party asked me if I can see interacting galaxies in my scope. I laughed and said, "No way. Only the Hubble and other huge telescopes can see that kind of stuff". As Bugs Bunny puts it, "What a maroon!" I saw interacting galaxies with my own two eyes (well... at least one I suppose) in my own equipment. Awesome.

This night was a more methodical and loggable observation session. Far less marathon like and in the 8 hours I observed, I logged 37 objects of which 35 were new to me.





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