A very clear night. The evening was pretty dark for around here
even though the moon is a waning gibbous. Moonrise wasn't until about
12:30 so I had a good two hours before the sky began to really get
Seeing was decent though I didn't perform any specific tests to estimate where it was on the seeing scale.
brother came over and showed me something very cool that made the
evening extremely fun. We turned on all of the NGC/IC, Bright NGC and
Finest NGC databases in Starry Night as well as their labels and just
tried to see what we could see. He asked me if I could pull up a trio
galaxies in Draco just to try and see them and get a bearing for the
magnitude we may be able to go for. The galaxies were around
13th magnitude, so I knew they would be faint if there at all. But if
we could see them, then that would set the pace for the night.
Amazingly enough, they were brighter than I expected and so we went after a few other faint objects. Here is what we saw:
NGC 5987 - Galaxy
Using Starry Night to star hop (because I knew this wouldnt be an
obvious find in the eyepiece) we pulled up this 12.70 mag galaxy. Sure
enough it was there. Faint, but there. There were no stars directly in
its way, so you could just barely see a sliver of light between a few
stars. This gave us hope to go after another handful of faint fuzzies.
NGC 5985 (Galaxy), 5982 (Galaxy), 5981 (Edge-on Galaxy)
These three galaxies were all in the same field of view. This was the
trio in Draco my brother was talking about. 5985 and 5982, though dim,
were definitely visible in the field. At 13.90 mag, 5981 was extremely
difficult to make out and I'm not even sure I really saw it. I knew
exactly where it was and what it was supposed to look like, but I don't
think I really saw it. 5982, in the center of the grouping, was the
brightest of the three. It had the brighter and denser core than the
one below it. 5982 (12 mag) is actually slightly dimmer than 5985
(11.90 mag), but because its not as spead out, it was the brightest of
the three objects.
NGC 6210 - Planetary Nebula
Again, star hopping to this object it was slightly
different than the stars around it in the low power finder (37 power).
It had a slight tinge of blueish fuzziness about it that made it ever
so slightly stand out. At 300 power however, it became a definite small
blue fuzz ball. Color was easy in this one, but no central star
tonight. This PN is logged as 9.00 mag.
IC 4665 - Open Cluster
A large open cluster. I've looked at this one before. Just above the
shoulder star Cebalrai, this oen cluster has about 2 dozen very bright
stars in it. It looks a great deal like M39 in the eyepiece.
NGC 6633 - Open Cluster
Another large open cluster. This one however is very long and narrow.
But it nearly fills my 1.75 degree FOV at low power. Its shapped a bit
like an elongated "S". I'd say about 3 or 4 dozen stars in it. Many
very bright stars. Its surrounded by relatively black space, so the
"S" shape of the cluster looks really neat as you come across when
scanning for it in the eyepiece.
NGC 6572 - Planetary Nebula
Similar to the other Planetary Nebulae we looked at tonight (Blue
Snowball, Blinking, others), this was very blue. Somewhat obvious in
the eyepiece, but clear as a bell at higher power. This one, unlike the
othersshowed us it's central star. In fact, my brother and I were both
surprised at how bright the central star was. Ophiuchus rises through
the light pollution of Portland for me, so I was very pleased at how
bright this object was for us. My expectation of it was very low, so the surprising delivery was awesome.
IC4756 - Open Cluster
Moving off from NGC 6633, this one is only a few degrees away. It's also
an even larger, but much dimmer cluster. I wouldnt describe any of the
stars as bright. The cluster itself was very round and large. Nearly
filling the FOV. Several dozen, dim stars with no color that I could
Delta 1&2 Lyrae - Binary Star
My brother learned of another binar pair in Lyra. Like Albireo, this
double has a red star and a blue star. They were much further apart
however. Seprated by quite a distance in the 40mm, the 14mm eyepiece
gave us the best view. Too much magnification and we'd lose the pairing.
NGC 6781 - Planetary Nebula
Now this was a hard one. The moon was starting to come up and Aquila
was starting to go down; and into Portland no less. This planetary is very
large and at 11.80 mag it is also the most faint one we tried to see. We
did see it, but only by star hoping at about 150 power until we had the
right field of view. Once we were there, I couldn't see it straight on at all.
I also couldn't see it very well with averted vision. I had to bump and move the
scope in tiny increments to make it show itself. A large, round,
extremely faint planetary. No inkling of a central star. Barely an
inkling of the object itself.
Well, that was our evening. We actually looked at few other objects, but these were the highlights of the session.