Monday, November 7, 2011
Frosty 12.5" Observe.
We got a clearing this afternoon from the winter like squalls and clouds. Our temps even warmed a bit so out in the garage I went to do some cleaning. As I was out there 12.5"Discovery Dob kept "calling" out to me begging for a opportunity to gather some photons. A number of years back (7?) I undertook a series of Lunar observes with 12.5". Yes indeed aperture is king especially when you can stop down the scope on the moon and planets. My best views of Mars have been through this scope masked off and the lunar views are outstanding. I need to use this scope more! Even with our moon 3 days from full and our skies still somewhat hazy 12.5 was on my patio by 3 p.m with a few hours to cool down the glass.
The views were nice with 12.5"inches of mirror working for you. My viewing conditions were hazy, cold, Mag 3.5 and you had to wait for those still pockets of air. Using the aperture mask and adjustable polarizing filter, with still air provided nice minutes of viewing - but patience was required along with warm clothing! Lots of good views but the Zucchius /Schiller basin was the best. This horseshoe shaped degraded basin is over looked a lot but crater Schiller's elongated shape makes it a easy capture if you know what your looking for! I spent a good hour observing it's 2 more prominent rims and finally saw the elusive third - arrow point in the pic! Are there more? Yes but some are buried, pounded down by other impacts and just lost in the sea of crater holes lapped upon each other.
I also wanted to bag a few as of yet unseen Herschel objects in Cassiopeia which would be in fine position during my time out. This was not the night to go deep sky with the moon light and haze but open clusters can be done so with some warmth left in my body lets bag a few. NGC 436 is that nice knot of stars in the top right of the pic. It is nearby the way more famous and splashier NGC457 the ET Cluster or Owl Cluster. NGC457 is a Herschel Object also which I have observed in detail before but that roundish group at the top was my main interest tonight. What a wonderful small cluster it is looking like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup at medium power! I will visit this hidden stellar candy treat again next week once we are past full moon and hopefully some warm temps and clearer conditions!
While searching for other Herschel clusters I payed token visits to some very tough doubles in the area. Years ago (10?) I used 12.5 for ALL my observing; deep sky, solar system stuff, doubles and even outreach. It was my work horse scope. It even survived a bad car accident with minor dings! I have forgotten how this scope kills doubles. I really like pairs that have big magnitude differences. Sigma Cas is one of these and 12.5 split this very tough pair with ease. Nice color contrast and pin point stars - lovely lovely with another nearby faint (Mag 10.5 equal Mag pair which I never saw before! This duo of doubles was awesome!
So out on my patio 12.5" sits being now frosted over by our unusual colder, and humid weather. Frost is rare here but I think 12.5 likes it especially since it reminded it's owner this evening that a medium mirrored scope in a cardboard tube mounted on a wood mount can provide a fun observing experience! The owner needed a kick in the head and he got it!