This weekend had some more clear skies, and I had been warned well in advance. I cleared the Saturday morning calendar, and packed up back out to Rattlesnake Lake with a bunch of the SAS guys for some viewing.
The seeing and transparency were phenomenal – a very stable atmosphere with not much crud in the air. This makes astronomers happy! The moon didn’t come up until 2am, so we had great darkness for a few hours. Sadly, a bunch of the things I wanted to knock off my list were hiding behind a large hill to the southeast – I need to find a viewing site that has better horizons in that direction.
Just a few new Messier’s knocked off the list for tonight:
- Globular clusters: M80
- Open clusters: M11, Double Cluster (NGC 884 and NGC 869), Owl Cluster (NGC 457)
- Galaxies: M31, M32, M51, M59, M60, M110, NGC4638, NGC5195
- Reflection nebula: Veil Nebula (specifically the eastern components of it: NGC 6992 and NGC 6995)
- Planets: Jupiter
Favorite item of the night goes to M11. I had just gotten done complaining to a few people how boring I thought open clusters were, and then I centered on M11. Wow – it’s totally opened my eyes to how cool some open clusters can be. This one’s definitely a new thing on my hit list of things to look at again. Most disappointing thing: M80 – a tiny globular. Most pleasing view: getting M59, M60, and NGC4638 in the same field of view.
67 Messier objects completed since November 2007. Not bad – 3 more to go before I can file for the initial Astronomical League Messier certificate. I’ll be at the Olympic Star Party on Hurricane Ridge this weekend, so I hope to knock out a bunch of the eastern ones that keep evading me at Rattlesnake.