Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DeepMap 600 & Almond Butter Washed Out Astronomy

Yesterday spring arrived to my storm rattled corner of the universe. After spending a good portion of the day garage spring cleaning and rushing dinner to the table some astro foraging was in order. In my previous post I talked about my 600 Blitz - tonight would be a slower pace, and relaxed photon meal time with galaxies and planetary nebulae on the menu. RED the 10" not so fancy tele with the plumbing piece draw tube focuser was set up, lined up, and primed up. SUG was in his finest warm gear with the 600 DeepMap in hand ready to go. The Venus Mercury dance in the west is coming to a end but it is a pretty sight. Oh what is this I see in the west - oh no high altitude haze rolling in with the tide of Pacific Ocean air! OK I should have a couple of hours of good seeing anyway.

Now it is dark and time to observe and just as I start - Oh no their back!!!!!!!!!!! my neighbors to the south of SUGS eastern facing backyard are back(seasonal renters). Every light in their home is on, first and second floors, beacon like (no kidding folks) light from their front porch, garage floods my yard. Their light is bouncing off my stucco finished home, neighboring house to my north, even my juniper trees are glowing with a sick ashen green! There is no escaping this invasion. I am just beside myself - months they have been gone and tonight they show up!

Mrs.SUG patiently listens to the plight of her spouse - I ask for nothing more than a roof over my head, clothes to wear, something to eat, and some sky to look at! She says "hey if anyone can see stuff out there it is you so go give it a try and you know how to make the best of it!" She's right I gotta make the best of it or sink. RED is game for the challenge so lets go!

My viewing is around mag 4.2 with the haze and lighting soup over head as I lay back in the lounger with a jar of almond butter and spoon in hand to help comfort me and strenghten me for this endeavor. Lets just hang here for awhile. Funny thing is the more almond butter I eat the more I see. Sometimes I can see mag 5, then back to mag 4 even with the neighbors lights blasting through the slates of my fence. OK I am ready to go with comfort food inside and targets in mind.

Galaxies start falling like flies to RED's crude optics. Stray light is all over the place but we are on a quest and we will not be deterred! Even with this photonic intruder from earthly sources flooding RED's tube and eyepieces we are going to make this work.

Here are some of the highlights:
  • M94's core is brilliant with ripples seen just off of it.
  • M51 arms discerned - easy.
  • M63 delicate haze shows some unevenness.
  • M101 haze fills the eyepiece with some dark areas near the core.
  • M106 shows a way out appendage like it is being torn.
  • M97 the Owl has eyes tonight! with the help of a LPR filter. Nearby M108 is on the threshold of my vision but there in the same field.
  • M81-2 are easy. M81 shows hints of its arms and I am seeing a bar?
  • Globbies M13, M3, M53, M92, fall captured to RED's mirror net. M3 shows a distinct topaz shine, with 53 giving me a spooky kinda view. I'm enjoying 13's wild star arms and 92's dense star jam.
  • M65-66 are easy but NGC 3628 is hiding!
  • On to Coma where Melotte 111 and Alpha, Beta, Gamma Com on the threshold of my vision. But it is enough for the hunt!
  • M64's black eye is seen with a adverted stare.
  • NGC 4565 is a ghost - tap the tube there it is, then gone!
  • NGC4889 the brightest of the Coma far flung cluster can just be seen! Not bad!
  • On to Corvus and to face my neighbors lighting head on: NGC 4361 Ghost of Jupiter is seen with the help of the LPR.
  • NGC's 4038-27 are dots of light but seen.
  • M104 is a specter in this sky glow viewing site. Its dark lane is still easily seen and its core is a bold pin point - very cool.
  • When it was all said and done 41 targets where acquired, 2 cups of tea downed, 1/3rd of a jar of almond butter consumed with remains on my mouth, gloves and telescope.
This observe wore me out. It is easy to observe when conditions are good, it is a test when they are not. Once I got past my attitude things started working right. I finished off the jar of almond butter on my couch composing a tactful note to my on and off neighbor to the south and dreamed of early morning Lunar vistas to see at dawn. I 'm glad I continued on.


Drive-by Astronomy said...

You were very busy. Great list of celestial morsels for the retina and almond butter for the GI tract.
Red had his "game on" for this observe.
SUG was in the "Observing Zone"

Definitely disregard the other post.

Johany said...

There's nothing like some light pollution to make observing the night sky more fun, huh? I can't believe your neighbors decided to show up in all their shining glory that night! Among all the nights!!!

I'm sure the almond butter helped somewhat, though! Hopefully your next observing mission will fare out better! Or they'll be hearing from you!!! :)

Sidewalk Universe said...

Johany it was really bad but the Almond Butter helped! They will be getting a letter from me......

Are you seeing anything with your bino's and 600?

Yes I do like the AL observing pins etc. A good thing indeed! I did the lists just did not fill them out! Oh well.....

Remember to exercise self control when you are at NEAF and rescue Drive-by from the snack stand!!!!!!!!

Sidewalk Universe said...

Hey SUG NEWS FLASH : Just figured out how to delete unwanted comments!

SUG continues to be computer challenged but big in heart!

Thanks for the warning Mike!

Johany said...

On Saturday night they had this event for children to make their own starfinder in an observatory 2 towns over where I live.

My family and I had a chance to look at all these cool telescopes out on the sky deck (including a $10,000 dollar refractor which was amazing) and we peeked through the observatory 16 inch scope. That 16 incher was a beauty to behold!

The cool part about the whole evening was how for the first time my family and I got to see Saturn and its rings! It was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! The hubby felt that it was fake somehow cause it looked so awesome! The image of Saturn is still imprinted in my head!

I also looked through a 10 inch Dob that was homemade and saw The Great Orion Nebula through it. That was pretty neat. At first one expects to see all the pretty colors that come with this nebula that you see in pictures. But I guess black and white has it's own unique beauty as well.

One of the volunteers at the observatory event showed us this green laser as he pointed to nearby stars. My son got a kick out of that. He called it the Jedi Light Saber!

I was so impressed with all the volunteers that I signed up as a volunteer myself and to be included on their email lists. I'm not going to volunteer all the time but I could sometimes.

They were all so nice and helpful. And they gave all the 75 kids that showed up these really cool NASA goody bags, chocolate chip cookies and refreshments to boot!!! It makes anyone want to volunteer!

All in all, it was a fun night!

Sidewalk Universe said...

Hey Johany, thanks for the update and story! This is truly what amateur astronomy is all about. Look at your response to it - such a positive life experience.

Neat scopes huh? Once you have your own scope and train your eye you will see some color.

Your hubby's response to Saturn is very common. I am glad this event fueled your excitement and is moving you forward.

Looking forward to your NEAF experience!

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