Home Forums RAC Main Forum General Discussion Observing tonight?

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    Dean Johnson

      Well, tonight was just one of those nights. I got out there and set up at sunset, the sky was a little hazy, but it had been a beautiful day. Then twilight comes on and I get a beautiful look at Saturn. Wow. Titan, three "amateur" moons, Cassini's Division visible despite the low ring tilt angle, southern hemisphere atmosphere banding and even a little planet shadow on the rings.

      After that I'm getting all lined up for some deep sky hunting in Bootes and then BOOM!! The wind picks up like crazy and clouds roll in from the NW. I'm thinking about trying to hang in there until my magnifying glass blows off the table. Maybe not tonight.

      Oh well, I got in an hour and Tomorrow! Tomorrow! There's always tomorrow! Tomorrow's a day (night) away! ;D

      Randy H

        What a nice night tonight, absolutely still out there. Got 4 Herschel's: never officially added 65/66 companion NGC 3628 and also added 3489, 3521, 3626. I was putzin' with equipment tonight and mended my Howie Glatter laser holder for the telrad mount on my Celestron GT 80. Then I punched in some NGCs and followed the laser beam up to the faint fuzzies! I was able to grab these over the sky glow of Rochester without having to star hop, which would have been impossible otherwise.

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        Dean Johnson

          Cool! I'd like to see that setup in action some time.

          I got out there for two and a half hours tonight. I got in observations on Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. I think this will be the last night to see Mars and the Beehive together in binoculars, at least mine anyway. I nabbed four Herschels — NGC 5273 in Canes Venatici (extremely forgettable), 5322 in Ursa Major (a nice elliptical), and a "2 for 1" in Virgo, NGC 5363 (Elliptical) and NGC 5364 (Spiral). Those two sit in a nice star field and look very good. The elliptical stands out and then you can see the dimmer, but larger spiral below it.

          I'd have stayed out there longer, but I planted trees all day and I'm desparately tired. A short but glorious night for astronomy! ;D

          Dean Johnson

            Hello astronomy fans! I got out tonight for four and a half hours. I had hoped for the sky to really give me a chance to make some major progress, but two things happened. One really good and one not so good.

            The first good thing that happened was that the two folks that I knew that lived further back on the road stopped by and they had a good long look through the telescope and binoculars at what I call "the obvious stuff". We looked at Saturn, Mars, M44 (the Beehive Cluster), Gamma Leonis, Polaris, M13 the great globular in Hercules, and the galaxies M81/M82. Bruce and Betty Bergsgaard really liked everything they saw. They have a little telescope, but I think there's a chance that they might get more interested now. They have an invite to the Star B-Q.

            After they left, I started to make some progress. I bagged NGC 5466, a globular in Bootes (way cool, but faint. It's BIG! a spooky looking object in my 8" SCT). I also bagged NGC's 5373 & 5374 in Ursa Major. These are outlying companion galaxies to M101. All are Herschel 400 objects.

            Then the clouds started to roll in on me. High thin ones that robbed me of magnitudes, layer by layer. I had one hole of clear sky that I went to to nab NGC 7160, an open cluster in Cepheus for my Binocular Deep Sky list. Then that was about it.

            I wanted to stay at it until the Moon rose at 3:30 a.m, but not even Jupiter or Antares was showing on the southern horizon, and only Arcturus, and the Summer Triangle could be seen near the zenith. I don't think I'll be able to finish my Lunar 100 until July now.

            Oh well. Astronomy teaches us to be patient. It was still a glorious night for astronomy.


              I think you did more observing this week than I have done this entire calendar year.  We have been cloudy since Sunday.
              I did get out this past Saturday for about an hour, but it was at home, so very light polluted.  I snagged M81/M82, M13, M3, M51, M97 and some nice views of Saturn.
              Hopefully it will stop storming here soon.

              Dean Johnson

                It is really great to hear from you Dave. A lot of us miss your input at the monthly astronomy meetings and at the Eagle Bluff Star Parties. I hope that Iowa is treating you well. If you could make it to the Star B-Q (weather permitting) it would be really fun to hook up with you again. If not, a road trip to the Iowa Star Party in September would be a great thing to look forward to.

                I have gotten out every chance I have had, but with the weather, it seems like the elements are working against us. I have 108 hours in so far this year, but a lot of that I have to credit my Lunar 100 observing program. The Moon is a very interesting object, and once I'm done with the Lunar 100, I'm going for Lunar II. Duane got me interested in the Moon and for that I am very greatful. It is a wonderful way to pass the time at your telescope, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

                The BIG thing is that you finally learn how to understand such a cool object, so close at hand and so often overlooked and sometimes denigrated.

                I look forward to seeing you again! 🙂

                Dean Johnson

                  Hello astronomy fans! 🙂 The Clear Sky Chart says tonight might be OK for some observing, but tomorrow night going into tomorrow morning is looking pretty darn good.

                  I got rained out today, so I used some of my unexpected free time making copies of my journals when I FINALLY finish the Lunar 100 and Binocular Deep Sky. I'm jonesing for some telescope time, so tonight I think I'll start on Lunar II, make some planetary observations (Mars' position, now closing on Saturn, Saturn and Jupiter) and start charting the Ursa Major Moving group as listed in Burnham's Celetial Handbook. It would make for some interesting conversation at a star party to be able to point out the two dozen or stars that he lists as belonging to that group.

                  If you can stay up late, take advantage of the dark sky after Moonset. You'll have three hours of darkness tonight and two plus on Sat. morning.

                  Clear skies! ;D

                  Dean Johnson

                    I had another long day of tree planting and didn't get out there as early as I hoped. It was partly cloudy when I got home, so I watched the Twins crush the Brewers. Yay!

                    Then I got a few hours sleep, woke up at 2 a.m. and looked out. The stars of the Big Dipper were bright and clear. They seemed to be saying, "Come out and play!"

                    So I loaded up and went out to the Flatin Farm. Jupiter was spectacular. The two innermost moons were just emerging from behind the planet. I found NGC 7006, a small, tight globular cluster in Delphinus for the 130th object of my Herschel 400 quest, had an unsuccessfull search for NGC 7086 in Cygnus as the sky brightened in the NE, then did binocular viewing of Capella, Fomalhaut and the star fields of Sagittarius and finished the morning by watching the two inner moons of Jupiter pull away from the planet.

                    As I was writing down my last notes, a phesant stepped out on to the road about 15 yards away from me and went "Er, Er!!" He was fun to watch. I didn't move and he just stood there. I think he liked the music from MPR. 🙂


                      In case you didn't Journal it, the moons were Callisto, Ganymede, Io and Europa from left to right (or probably the other way as you saw them in your scope) with Io and Europa just popping out from behind Jupiter (Io farther, Europa closer).

                      I've been jonesing to shoot Jupiter but it needs to get up there a bit higher and we need to pull a little closer. Tonight there is a Callisto shadow transit as Jupiter rises, so if anybody wants to spot that, check it as early as you can.

                      I've observed the Moon some lately, but haven't had a good night out in a while. Can't wait. C'mon StarBQ!


                      Dean Johnson

                        Thanks for the heads up about the Callisto shadow transit. I went out there tonight thinking it might be AGNFA, but I didn't realize just how good it was going to be.

                        I got set up at 8:30 and could start observing right away with the Moon prominent to the SE. Sure enough, there was the Aristarchus plateau with my last Lunar 100 telescopic object, Vallis Schroteri. That wonderful little lava flow valley stood out like a sore thumb. Just three more naked eye observations on slender cresent waning and waxing Moons and the Lunar 100 can go to the Astronomical League. I also got Mons Agricola, my first target journaled for the Lunar II.

                        Saturn was next and the atmosphere was rock steady. Titan and two "amateur moons" close in on the same side as Titan. Was that Iapetus above Titan or just a field star?

                        Mars is closing in on Regulus and Saturn and there will be a conjunction of those object about July 5th or so.

                        Jupiter came up at 10:20 p.m., but I didn't get a good look at it until 10:50. Then I could see Callisto's shadow and the two other moons on the other side. I started in on the Ursa Major Moving Group, but as I knocked them down one by one, I always checked out Jupiter between each star.

                        Wow! What a cool shadow transit event. Another moon came out on Callisto's side and the four moons were as tight into Jupiter as I've ever seen them. I did all the stars in the Big Dipper asterism while this was going on. Epsilon, Beta, Zeta A and B, Gamma and Delta Ursa Majoris, so I've got a good start on the UMMG.

                        But the best was yet to come. At 11:54:55, a big BRILLIANT meteor appeared! It went from above Yed Prior in Ophiuchus to just below 32/36 Serpens Caput and petered out halfway to Zubeneschamali in Libra. Holy Smokes! The trajectory was short, but it lasted for a second and a half, was brighter than Jupiter and while the head was blue white, it dropped off three fragments that were golden in color. It looked like a piece off a firework from the 4th of July! 😮

                        I got my money's worth tonight. The Flatin Farm hayfield is getting cut tomorrow, so the field will be nice and short for us on the 27th. I also took my daughters digital camera with and took some pics. She'll post them to the forum tomorrow. She's more computer literate than I am.

                        I am so happy I got out tonight. It was wonderful. Most definately, AGNFA.

                        Dean Johnson

                          Hello astronomy fans! I've had a lot of fun the last two nights.

                          Saturday night was a local outreach night. I got my neighbor Mike and Diane Schmidt to bring their daughter Elizabeth and her four kids out to the Flatin Farm. I showed them "the obvious stuff". Saturn? "That doesn't look real!" "It looks like a decal!" (I hadn't heard that one before  ???) I showed them Polaris, (it's suprising how many people don't know that the North Star is a double star.), M13 the great globular in Hercules, M57 the Ring Nebula, Jupiter and Alberio (Beta Cygni). The two older kids(Savannah and Beaumont, the mom names her kids after places where she travels) were Super Interested in astronomy. They live out east and had never seen so many stars and had never looked through a telescope. The Mom wondered why she couldn't see the constellation Gemini during her birthday month, and I tried to explain that one until she tried to grasp that the Sun was in that constellation during that particular month. "Where is it during the other months?" "How come we can't see Orion right now?" Fortunately the older kids were a bit quicker on the uptake. They are very intelligent and could become avid astronomers.

                          Tonight, was just incredible. I saw the double shadow transit of Jupiters moons (Europa and Ganymede). Saturn was awesome. Titan and three of the "amateur moons" made a graceful arc east of the planet. I continued to watch Mars close with Saturn and Regulus. This will be a great thing to point out to the folks come 4th of July. I did binocular observing of the Milky Way in Cygnus and couldn't believe how the North American Nebula stood out. I even could make out the Pelican Nebula right next to it. The dark nebulas in Cygnus were super apparent tonight.    I nailed NGC 7008, a planetary nebula in Cygnus that has been eluding me for some time. I actually found it while the Moon was rising over the horizon. Then as I watched the shadow transits of Jupiter's moons so our Lunar Moon could rise, I saw Lacus Autumni and Lacus Veris on the outer reaches of Mare Oriental. Awesome!

                          It was a Glorious Night for Astronomy! I hope some others got out there and enjoyed the sights. It wasn't a night geared toward making progress in observing goals, it was just plain a pleasure to get out there and enjoy the night sky and look at stars. It was incredibly beautiful.

                          Come on down to the Flatin Farm for the Star B Q if the weather looks good. I hope it is a night just like this one. 🙂

                          Rick Murray

                            I have been getting out a little to. Seems I have to re-learn some trails to find objects. Have had a good time trying !!
                            I plan on attending the "Star-B-Q on Friday night with my 12" Dob. Can we meet in Spring Grove  .. Kwik Trip some time after 6:PM ? I don't plan to drive into Iowa without a very good map ( I do not have GPS ). What do I need to bring for food?
                            On Saturday night I will be setting up for a camp ground star part south of Winona at the Pla-Mor Camp Ground. I will be in the play ground area on the river side of the road. 



                              It's really easy to find. One you head south on 16, you barley cross the border and then take a right. You really can't miss it.

                              If Dean is serious about a two night star party, I might just stay down there. It's going to even more than a glorious night for astronomy! 🙂


                              Dean Johnson

                                Sunday night should have been the Star B-Q. It had a beautiful clear sky, just a hint of a breeze from the north, temp's in the low 60's and dry air.

                                Jupiter was very interesting and became more so over the course of the night. It started out with 2 moons at 11:10, and by 12:12 a third moon appeared to the east of the planet and was followed by a shadow transit. By 1:12, the three moons made an equilateral triangle with a 6th mag. Sagittarius star that looked like an out of place Galillean moon. By 2:55 a.m. the 4th moon appeared to the west of the planet, but the innermost moon on the eastern side had disappered into Jupiter's shadow! And the shadow transit is still going on! Wild!

                                I had a bright 2d mag. meteor zip through under the Big Dipper at 11:17:05, color white, 1 second duration. I had a couple of really "fast movers" zip overhead later while I was going after some Herschel objects, but was so busy I didn't journal them.

                                I managed to find open clusters NGC 7044 and 7086 in Cygnus to add to my Herschel 400 count, NGC 7044 looks like a dwarf galaxy because the cluster stars are so faint. 7086 was VERY hard to find. I tried for NGC 7296, but there are SO many stars in Cygnus that I couldn't know if I had it or not. I'll have to bring Steven O'Meara's book with from now on. It's got pics of all 400 objects, but I'll star hop to them on my own before I compare star fields.

                                I did have some high clouds overhead for a while, so I spent some time looking at old favorites like M6, M7, M22 and M24 the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud. I did notice for the first time the dark nebulas B92 and B93. Very interesting.

                                What capped off the whole night though, was when the Moon rose. I got The New Moon In The Old Moons Arms, my 98th Lunar 100 observation (Naked Eye). When I checked it out with binoculars, I was stunned. There to the right and upper right of the waning cresent Moon awash in Earthshine was the Pleadies star cluster.  8)  I had read earlier that it was going to accompany the rising Moon, but had forgotten about it until I saw it. Wow. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in astronomy. AGNFA.

                                Dean Johnson

                                  Hello astronomy fans! I got out there and started observing the minute the Sun dropped below the horizon (8:45). I was hoping to catch the 'Cresent Moon, Waxing' for my last observation needed for the Lunar 100.

                                  At 9:12 p.m. I found it!! It was a very thin cresent Moon, one of the thinnest I've ever seen. There even looked to be a "break" in the cresent at the midway point, but I think it was one of the minor Mare's on the limb. I am very happy to have completed the Lunar 100, but a little ticked at myself for so badly underestimating how challenging it could be. It is a very tough observing program, but by doing it, I got a lot more respect and enjoyment out of observing the Moon.

                                  Saturn, Mars and Regulus keep up their fascinating western waltz. Mars has now moved between Regulus and Saturn and will pass from one to the other for a conjunction on July 10th. On July 4/5 they will almost be in a straight line. It would be a good binocular demonstration for an outreach event.

                                  Jupiter showed all 4 moons, 2 on each side with a nice spread. I got globular cluster NGC 6287 in Ophiuchus for my Herschel 400 search, and was all ready to kick some astronomical butt on more Herschel objects when, lo and behold, some high thin clouds moved in! I checked out the beautiful M5 globular in Serpens, but the sky kept getting worse. Oh well, I had accomplished my main goal for the night.

                                  It was very fun to come home, find my family sleeping peacefully, and then check out all the chatter on the forum! Man, there is a lot of stuff going on!

                                  The RAC ROCKS!! 8)

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