Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Visual Fun and Games!

Last week I spent some time in the front yard with my 6" Dob, checking out the Moon and Jupiter. This inspired me to dust off the old 12" Lightbridge and head out this evening. And dust it off I did! I had not used it in maybe 10 months or so. The poor thing had cobwebs in the lower tube assembly and was quite dusty. Anyway, after a quick dusting and de-webbing, I packed it up and took off to one of the more popular observing spots in Austin, Texas - the Mansfield Dam.

One other chap turned up, who had a nice 12" LX200. He was good company but I wondered what happened to everyone else I used to see out there. A good clear night used to attract quite a crowd. Oh well, maybe another time.

Anyway, after a very quick setup including collimation, I had a great few hours under the stars. It remained very clear and despite the Austin Clear Sky Chart indicating strong winds, it stayed relatively calm through the evening. The other chap swore he saw a few meteors here and there but they remained elusive for me.

Highlights of the night included:
  • Neptune! (Found it using the SkySafari iPhone app!)
  • Comet Garrard (faint at magnitude 7.8 but it looked great with my 22mm Panoptic)
  • The Double Cluster
  • M13 (Very nice tonight, tons of detail!)
  • Jupiter (All four moons visible, with the Great Red Spot visible as well)
  • Star Cloud in Sagitarrius
  • M57 Ring Nebula
  • A few other small open clusters
A great night out indeed. I need to more evenly split my time between visual and photographic astronomy and be sure to enjoy the simple pleasure of actually looking at the objects directly.


Jon Sig said...

Hi Phil,
Great fun for you, I always take
my 8inch dob along when I go observing even when I'm trying to take pictures. These objects are the same that and I always check out. M13 and M57 Ring Nebula are the objects that I use to see how the movement is in the sky

Regards Jon Sig

Phil said...

Hi Jon!
That's a good idea. Maybe I'll take a Dob with me when imaging as well. Pretty sure it will all fit into the car.
Hope you're having some nice clear skies up there!

Dan's Big Shed said...

Hi Phil,

I have been in love with astronomy and deep soace cosmology for many many years and now, thanks to my beautiful wife, I have just purchased an Explorer 130mm f/650 reflector telescope. It arrives in a week and I'm really excited!

It's nothing to your 12 inch beauty but I can finally indulge my hobby without relying on other peoples observations. A wonderful feeling.

Keep up the good work,

Dan Grubb, small light pollution free village, North East UK.

Phil said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for dropping by! That scope sounds great and it sounds like your wife is a gem! I hope you have lots of great views through it. Aperture isn't everything, and you can get some superb views from many smaller scopes these days. Besides, 130mm is a really good size, especially a reflector (just think about what Galileo used!). I started out with a very similar scope and loved it.

Go for Jupiter! It's bright and high right now and you'll see some great detail (cloud bands and moons). Mars rises early in the morning and is at good viewing right now as it is relatively close to earth. Lots of nice stars clusters coming up into view as well, so hunt those down (check the Auriga constellation). And then, of course, as Orion comes up you'll be treated to great views of the Orion Nebula. Get a moon filter (cheap!) and check out the Moon too.

Be sure to read up on mirror collimation - it makes a difference!

Enjoy your new toy and let me know if I can offer any advice or anything.