Thursday, April 25, 2019

Messier Objects Observations - 2017

*** Note:  I have this post set to stay at the top of the blog.  All new posts will come after this.

I want to list which Messier objects I've seen so far this year (2017) and will keep this page at the top of the posts so that if you would like to follow along, it will be easier to locate.  How well or easy to see is based upon observations through my 8" reflector using the highest magnification possible.  Your results will vary of course depending on your equipment.

*** I have decided to add and NGC (New Galactic Catalog) Objects after the Messier objects.

       Messier #    Apparent Mag.            Name or Type                                  Actual View

              3                                                 Globular Cluster                             Moderate
              5                                                 Globular Cluster                             Moderate
             10                                                Globular Cluster                             Moderate
             12                                                Globular Cluster                             Moderate
             13                                                Hercules, Great Cluster                  Easily seen
             16                                                Eagle Nebula                                  Moderate
             20                                                Trifid Nebula                                  Easily seen
             27                                                Dumbbell Nebula                           Moderate
             49                                                Galaxy in Virgo                              Dim
             53                                                Globular Cluster                             Moderate
             57                                                Ring Nebula                                   Moderate
             81                                                Bode's Nebula                                Dim
             82                                                Cigar Galaxy                                  Dim
             92                                                Globular Cluster                            Easily seen
            101                                               Pinwheel Galaxy                           Incredibly dim

      NGC#          Apparent Mag.              Name or Type                                 Actual View

     6543                                                    Cat's Eye Nebula                           Dim, Blue

Monday, June 5, 2017

JUNE 3rd-4th Scope Session at Hueston Woods

                      OXFORD, OHIO, USA

It wasn't too bad of a night considering the moon had been waxing for a few weeks.  The sky was clear enough that we were able to spend most of our time in the northern sky away from Luna's glare.  Doug Elick joined me on this night's adventure, and we used his 10" Dob in addition to my 8" Newt.

A list of objects we were able to see:

NGC 6543 Cat's Eye Nebula
M92 - Globular Cluster
M57 - Ring Nebula
M13 - Great Cluster in Hercules
M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy (I think?!)
Iridium Flare
International Space Station (ISS)

This was the first time seeing the Cat's eye nebula.  It was just a blue dot, looking much like Uranus did the first time I saw it.  It is very usual to see something that looks like a blue star, most stars are white/yellow/orange colored.  With more magnification the 'dot' became more of a round ghost like shadow.  In my professional option, it was kick ass.

M92 is a globular cluster located just 'leading' the constellation of Hercules.  By leading I mean, it comes up in the East just before Hercules, so Hercules kind of chases it in the sky.  M92 is almost as impressive as the globular cluster in Hercules.  It is very easy to find and very pleasurable to view.

M57 is an exploded planetary nebula, with a green tint to it.  It can be tricky to see, but thanks to the stars of the nearby constellation of Lyra, one should have no problem locating it.

M13 Popular and easy to view globular cluster located in the constellation Hercules

M101  The Pinwheel Galaxy, located in Ursa Major, was extremely hard to see.  It was but a mere smudge of grey smoke.  It is a galaxy we view face on, but the surface brightness is ultra-dim.  Good luck seeing it with anything small than a 12" telescope.

Iridium Flare - 66 Iridium communication satellites orbit the Earth, and at certain times at night the sun will illuminate the satellite and make it visible for a second of two as it rotates, hence the flare.  I saw it twice, spaced by about 5-7 seconds apart..  It was like nothing I've see before in the sky and I plan on trying to view on again soon.

ISS - Just as we put all the equipment away, I got an ISS alert on my phone.  So we waiting around another few minutes to watch the International Space Station come over the horizon.  It was only visible for about 2 minutes before it disappeared in the middle of the sky.  The ISS is only visible while sunlight is hitting it, and fades away if it crosses the Earth's terminator. 

To finish off a good night already, we saw 6 deer in the road at different locations, and two more just outside of the park.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Early July 2016 Objects

List of objects seen by myself and Doug in both the 8" and 10" telescopes:

Ring Nebula
Owl Nebula
Cooling Tower
Fox Head Cluster
Great Cluster in Hercules
Dumbbell Nebula
Pinwheel Nebula
Whirlpool and companion Galaxy

Viewing location: Hueston Woods State Park,  Oxford Ohio, Archery Range parking lot

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Eyepiece Collection and Accessories

This is just a quick video of some of my eyepieces and accessories.   It was done on the fly and hopefully does not contain too many errors...

I did notice a few errors while watching the video.  But overall not too bad :)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Webcam Pic of Jupiter


Pics by Mike Banta and Doug Elick

Original stacked picture

 Brighter version

This photo of Jupiter started as approximately 1200 frames of video in AVI format captured by a cheap Philips 700 model webcam.  The webcam was disassembled and had the focusing lens and LED removed.  The lens was very easy... the LED was a not so easy.  The webcam had a 35mm film canister attached, which allows it mate with the telescope(see pic below).

Modified webcam

The video was captured and saved via free webcam software (Free 2x Webcam Recorder), and then processed (stacked) by another free piece of software called Registax 6.  The stacked process takes all frames from the video and uses the best still frames to make one complete and hopefully better picture.

This isn't the best picture but it was really cold outside and we had a really late start because of the webcam preparations.  You can clearly see the two main bands and it sure looks like the Great Red Spot is visible.  Here is a much better pic taken by someone much more capable for comparison:

The goal was just to get the webcam ready and do a test run.  Success.

Monday, March 28, 2016

2016 Observed Celestial Objects

This is just a list of objects that I have seen through my scope for 2016


(Not my pic, nor me :p)


I will update this throughout the year.


MESSIER # / NCG #                   COMMON NAME

108                                               The Surfboard Galaxy
 97                                                The Owl Nebula
 51                                                The Whirlpool Galaxy
                     5195                        An interacting galaxy
 42                                                Orion Nebula
 81                                                Bode's Nebula
 82                                                Cigar Galaxy
 38                                                Starfish Cluster
 36                                                Open Star Cluster

A Trip Around The Big Dipper

The Big Dipper (Not my pic)

This post covers a night of scoping with my friend Jason at Hueston Woods the evening of 3/26/2016.  This objects of interest are as follows:

Messier #97    - The Owl Nebula
Messier #51a  - The Whirlpool Galaxy
Messier #108 -  The Surfboard Galaxy

The Big Dipper is not a constellation, rather something called an asterism, which is a  prominent pattern or group of stars, typically having a popular name but smaller than a constellation.  In this case the Big Dipper makes up the larger constellation known as Ursa Major, or the Great Bear.   Ursa Major is a circumpolar constellation, meaning it rotates closely around Polaris (the North Star) and therefore is always visible in the sky all year long.

The goal was to see how many objects were visible using my 8" Newtonian reflector.   All 3 objects listed above were pretty faint on a night with a pretty clear sky.  They appear as faint, colorless 'ghosts' which is no surprise since all 3 have a surface brightness of 13 or fainter.  A bonus object was seen in the same FOV as the Whirlpool Galaxy, an NGC object.  

I plan to get pictures next time I'm out.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Messier Object Tracking

*** Note:  I have this post set to stay at the top of the blog.  All new posts will come after this.

I want to list which Messier objects I've seen so far this year (2014) and will keep this page at the top of the posts so that if you would like to follow along, it will be easier to locate.  How well or easy to see is based upon observations through my 8" reflector using the highest magnification possible.  Your results will vary of course depending on your equipment.

       Messier #    Apparent Mag.            Name or Type                                  How Viewable

  • M3                     6.4                     Globular cluster                               Dim, moderate
  • M5                     5.8                     Globular cluster                               Dim but easy
  • M10                   6.6                     Globular cluster                               Dim, moderate
  • M12                   6.6                     Globular cluster                               Dim, moderate
  • M13                  5.8                      Great Cluster In Hercules                Dim but easy
  • M29                  6.6                      Cooling Tower O.C.                        Dim, moderate 
  • M31                  3.4                      Andromeda Galaxy                         Dim but easy
  • M39                  4.6                      Open Cluster                                   Easy
  • M42                  4.0                      Orion Nebula                                  Naked eye visible
  • M45                  1.6                      Pleiades                                          Naked eye visible
  • M53                  7.7                      Globular cluster                              Dim, fairly hard
  • M57                  8.8                      The Ring Nebula                             Dim but easy
  • M81                  6.9                      Bode's Galaxy                                 Dim, moderate
  • M82                  8.4                      Cigar Galaxy                                   Dim, moderate
  • M92                  6.3                      Globular cluster                               Dim, but easy
**** NOTE:  This post is closed.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Waning Gibbous Moon

Waning Gibbous Moon - Jay Clyburn

Waning?  Waxing? Which is which?  Read on!

This picture was taken by Jason Clyburn last weekend using a DSLR and tripod.  It is in fact a 'Waning Gibbous' moon, meaning it is going away or disappearing a little more every night until it reaches 'New' moon.

Confused about the moon phases?  Let's have a brief overview.  'New' moon is when the moon is between the Sun and Earth and the back side (relative to the Earth) is fully illuminated.   During this phase, we don't see the moon at all because the side facing us is not receiving any sunlight at all.  Only the back side.  This is a great time to stargaze because you don't have any sunlight bouncing off the moon and washing out the sky.

After the New moon phase, it starts to 'wax' a little more every night.  A Waxing moon means that we are able to see a little bit more of it every night as more of the moons surface is illuminated (from our perspective.  Half the moon is always fully lit, we just don't always see it).  I like to think of waxing as adding more moon.  When you wax a car, you add wax to it.  Works for me :)  So the moon gets more full every night until it becomes full.

A full moon occurs when the moon is behind the Earth, relative to the Sun.  The whole lit side comes into our view.   This is a time when you will probably experience the worst viewing of the sky because of how bright the moon becomes.

After a full moon occurs, it begins to wane, or lesson how much of the surface is illuminated.  The moon gets less covered every night until it reaches New moon again, and the cycle starts over.  It takes about 30 days for this cycle to happen.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

M5 - Photographed

M5 Globular Cluster

Messier object #5 in the constellation Serpens.  This picture was taken last night with a DSLR through an 8" reflector.  I believe it is at ISO 200 and exposed at 10 seconds.  The telescopes tripod was only minimally aligned so I didn't want to expose for too long.

Another Messier object, M5.  This globular cluster is pretty easy to find.  Just look a degree or so under Virgo's right foot as she comes up in the East.  I was able to see it through my digital camera's viewfinder, which I was not expecting to happen.  I could not see it naked eye though on a really clear suburban night.  The really nice thing about being able to see it through the camera viewfinder is that I could balance the telescope with the camera on it.   Objects that are too dim to see through the viewfinder have to be found using an eyepiece first.  So there is a balance issue when switching form camera to eyepiece on the telescope.  I won't go into that any further now...

M5 isn't quite as impressive to me as M13 (The Great Cluster In Hercules), but it still very nice to see.  The picture above didn't turn out too bad, considering this was first 'serious' solo shoot.  My gear doesn't do the best job of tracking objects, so I can't do any kind of exposure for more than 10 seconds or so.  Honestly I've just been too busy/lazy to master polar alignment of the mount and/or drift alignment :)