|Once again it has been far too long since I had a good observation session. The weather in the northwest has been schizophrenic. Clear and sunny, then cloudy and rainy within 45 minutes. Evenings have pretty much all been cloudy. Very annoying since objects have come and gone and I've not had a good chance to revisit the objects from this time last year, as well as log new ones.
Tonight, however, was nice and clear. Very clear actually. The transparency was a good 6, but the moon is 11 day old gibbous washing out nearly everything. Still, I wanted to get what viewing I could in.
Not wanting to look for new objects on such a washed out night, I thought I'd test my memory.
I know of 9 objects in Ursa Major. I saw all of them except M40 (because I didn't look for it) and M108, M109 and M97, all of which are fainter than 10th magnitude. I couldn't see any of them.
M81 - Galaxy
M82 - Galaxy
I looked at these briefly in the same field of view. They were surprisingly bright and very easy to find. I expected more of a hunt. Apparently, M81 is 7.8 magnitude. Much brighter than I thought.
M101 - Galaxy
Very faint. It wasn't any more than a slight smudge on the greyish backdrop. If I didn't know exactly where this object was, I never would have seen it.
M106 - Galaxy
I could barely see this. Barely see this. At 9.1 magnitude, this was the faintest object I could see.
Mizar - Double Star
Double stars are so cool. Mizar is not as extreme of a double as some others, but it's neat to split the fainter Zeta Ursae Majoris from it's brighter companion.
I have 3 objects memorized in Canes Venatici, M51, M63 and M94. In the past, while going through the Caldwell list, I've seen several more objects in this constellation but I don't have their locations committed to memory at this point. I only bothered looking for one tonight. The brightest one.
M51 - Galaxy
M51 and it's companion were both able to be seen tonight, but they were pretty dim. Brighter than M101, I found them relatively easily, but M51 had no real shape or spiral arms. It was just a dim small fuzzy spot with an even smaller fuzy spot next to it.
I know of 3 objects in Hercules and the only one I couldn't see was NGC 6207.
M13 - Globular Cluster
Of course, as one of (if not *the*) brightest globular in the northern hemisphere it was large and bright. But in the moonlight, there was not much resolution at all. There was not much detail to it tonight because of this.
M92 - Globular Cluster
Very bright. Much smaller than M13, and not much resolution in the stars because of the moon, this object looked more light a very close comet with no tail. Large, bright nucleus with a sort of coma around the edge.
I know of only 2 object in Lyra. M57 and Espilon Lyrae. I looked at both.
M57 (Ring Nebula) - Planetary Nebula
M57 was bright an offering clear ring-ish detail. I didn't bother throwing on a filter because it looked pretty cool as it was. Generally speaking, my UHC filter will double the brightness of this nebula.
Epsilon Lyrae (Double-Double) - Quadruple Star
A quick glance at this only. I did not push the magnification to split the individule doubles. It usually takes me about 300 power to begin to see all 4 stars. Tonight, I was happy just looking at the first "layer" of binaries and recalling to memory the way they look at high power.
Cygnus is the constellation I have the most objects memorized in. There are 11 total (though many more in the constallation boundaries - I just know of 11). The one's I didn't see are NGC 7000 (North American Nebula), IC 5070 (Pelican Nebula), NGC 6888 (Crescent Nebula), NGC 6826 (Blinking Planetary). The rest I took a crack at.
M29 (Cooling Tower) - Open Cluster
A small but very obvious cluster that looks like a domino. Nothing fancy here.
M39 - Open Cluster
One of my favorite open clusters in the sky. It's framed nicely in my 2" 32mm eyepiece. Tonight I saw no color in any of the 2 dozen or so stars, and I can't recall seeing much color in the past. On a night like tonight, the only thing I was really losing was the fainter stars in this cluster.
Omicron 1 Cygni - Triple Star Group
I like looking at this one because it's the only triple star I know at this time.
Fairy Ring - Asterism
Though I've never seen this object in Starry Night or any other chart, a friend told me about it and it's a cool object. A near perfect ring of binaries. Some are bright white, some are red, some are blue. A very cool object.
Albireo - Double Star
One of the most gorgeous double stars I've seen. Albireo has a larger brighter red giant star with a much smaller blue dwarf companion. They are very distinct from each other and even on a night with a near full moon, the stars look awesome.
NGC 6992 (Veil West/Network Nebula) - Supernova Remnant
Completely invisible (as one would imagine). However, I thought I'd try my OIII filter on it since I heard that OIII filters are suppose to work in light polluted skies on objects like the veil. Sure enough, not only could I see it, it actually had some modeling to it. I could clearly see it's shape. What a pleasant surprise. So I looked at it in my UHC filter. It also was there, but not nearly as clear as the OIII. Boy, I can't wait to see it in really dark skies with this new filter!
NGC 6960 (Veil East) - Supernova Remnant
I thought I'd give the other side of this supernova remnant a look while I was in the neighborhood. Without the filters it also was completely invisible. Even with the UHC I could just vaguely see it. But again, with the OIII, it was there. Fainter than 6992, but definitely there. Very nice.
M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) - Planetary Nebula
Tonight, the detail I'm used to seeing (because I normally look for this stuff on much darker nights) was simply absent. I didn't start pulling out filters and doing comparisons like I did with the Veil, because I was just happy to see it. Faint, fuzzy, no detail.
M3 - Globular Cluster
I only have one object in Bootes memorized and that's M3. Tonight it looks much like M92 does... a comet with no tail. There was essentially no resolution in the stars.
M53 - Globular Cluster
I have only 5 objects in Coma Bernices memorized and they are nearly all very faint NGC galaxies. So the only one I tried to find was M53, It was very faint. Looked even less like a globular cluster than the other smaller fainter GCs I looked at tonight.
On top of the DSO stuff, I did look at Jupiter which wasn't spectacular tonight, and the Moon. How could I go a night like this without looking at the Moon? It was crisp and highly detailed. When it's this close to ful, there doesn't seem to be much on the terminator, but it was interesting and I spent a few minutes on it. No pictures or high mag scans, just awe inspiring full views.
I'm looking forward to my next outing to Indian Trail Spring in a few weeks. I can see ver ver faint objects from there and the bright objects are nothing but extraordinarilly spectacular.