Sunday, October 20, 2013

Observing highlights 10-20-2013

Tonight's goal was to align the finder scope to my Meade 10" Lightbridge telescope I recently had refurbished. The scope has been sitting in a corner of my basement for about a year and a half now waiting to be repaired. (It had a faulty mirror). Now that has been repaired it's time to get it out into the moderately light polluted skies and see what an additional 2 inches of aperture can do.

My finder scope is an Orion EZ Finder Deluxe. It's been my favorite for quite some time now (I honestly can't remember when I bought it, but it was at least a couple years ago). Getting it aligned took a bit of work. Partly because at some point I had reversed the base to the mount and had to take the base off the main tube. And, of course, I did this in the backyard and dropped one of the tiny bolts. Fortunately I have several neodymium magnets and after four or five minutes of sweeping the grass with them I recovered the bolt. After reversing the base, aligning the scope was a snap.

At this point I was down to about a half an hour before the just past full moon would peek over the surrounding hills. I pointed the dob towards Cassiopea and saw several things through my 2" 32mm eyepiece. Eta Cassiopeia - a nice double - was particularly clear. This double is a little different in that it's two stars have vastly different magnitudes. Nightwatch lists the brighter as mag 3.5 and the dimmer as mag 7.3. The Mag 7.3 was nicely visible, though, and i could see the 12" separation pretty clearly. Moving from there I picked up NGC 457, the Double Cluster and M 103.

From there I moved over to Andromeda and picked up the Andromeda Galaxy and one of the smaller galaxies (to the up and left in my eyepiece). Even under light polluted skies the Andromeda Galaxy has some nice definition. I couldn't see any particular details within the galaxy, but I could see the outline of the galaxy nicely. (The 8" Orion dob only showed me the central core under the same conditions).

At this point I could see the sky brightening in the east, so I tried for one more object - M15 in the end of Pegasus. This I found remarkably easily despite it being ~mag 6.3. I should point out that anything dimmer than mag 6.0 is pretty unobservable with my 8" dob under these conditions - although the ring nebula (at Mag 8.8) shows up as a tiny spot. However, M51 is too dim to observe in the 8" scope.

 Regardless M15 looked quite nice in the 10" scope. After that I packed everything up and came inside. I hope that the skies will hold out for at least one more night and I'll be able to catch a few things tomorrow night.

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