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Checking out an Infinity 80

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#1 MistrBadgr


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Posted 18 September 2016 - 07:19 PM

I got home from a three week trip and had a Meade Infinity 80 patiently waiting form me in its shipping box. I bought it with the idea of putting the optical tube in a special bracket that I bought and use it as a finder on my Meade LX 70 six inch Mak OTA. I bought an LX 80 mount and plan on using the Mak on one end of the mount in a two mount mode operation. The Infinity 80 optical tube would be fitted with a regular star diagonal and a fairly wide angle eyepiece. I had hoped that I could use a Meade 5000 series five element Plossl, 26 mm, since it is lighter than either the HD 60 25 mm or a 24mm 68 degree eyepiece that I have. However, I was prepared to use either of those last two eyepieces if need be to get something near a four degree true field of view.

The telescope went together quite well and the first night was overcast until after I was preparing for bed. I happened to look out the back door and the Moon was shining, so put regular clothes back on and head out. It was past my regular bed time, but this was really important stuff! Just using the eyepieces that came with the scope, I explored the Moon for a while. Top end magnification of the scope is probably in the 80 to 100X range, judging by what I could see of craters along the upper right edge of the Moon's disk. What struck me about using this scope on the Moon was the subtle shading of the disk as a whole. There were rays going everywhere as well as a lot of differences in shading of the magma in the mare. I did have quite a bit of glare in the surrounding sky, but I would expect that with an f/5 scope and a nearly full Moon.

After that, I did some panning around, but the Moon was pretty much drowning out any subtleties in the sky, plus city lights bouncing off the remaining clouds was not helping anything either. I decided to go in and try again later...that was Saturday evening/Sunday morning.

Tonight, Sunday evening, I went back out with the scope, but this time I took along my set of Meade 5000 series 5 element Plossles and a regular prism star diagonal. I came out as things were getting dark, wanting to do this before the Moon comes up if possible. I believed the wide angle of the 26 mm 60 degree eyepiece would be too much for the little correct image diagonal that came with the scope and sure enough it was. The edge was quite fuzzy and the field did not look wide enough for the eyepieces. Switching to the star diagonal, things looked better.

I have had the lenses in my eyes replaced, due to cataracts, and the results have been a bit disappointing from an astronomy perspective....spikes on stars, etc. In the day time, things are good, just not at night with high contrast situations. Therefore, I do not think I am a very good judge of coma and things like that so take what I say with a grain of salt. What I saw around the edges of the field, which was taking in about 3.9 degrees of the sky, was not all that bad. Coma and any distortion of stars around the edge is not really that much worse than what I see with a good scope in the middle of the field, but there was some degradation. Spikes for the bulk of the field was what I normally see with any scope and good eyepieces. I am sure many astute observers that are used to really high end scopes and eyepieces would probably be distracted, but for my purposes, the image was quite acceptable.

I spent a lot of time above and to the right of the Sagitarius Tea Pot. I easily found the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulas. With the Trifid, I could tell that the nebulosity was there, but could not tell much about it with the light pollution I have (dark red zone) and it being that early in the evening. I could see more of the nebulosity in the Lagoon, but I could not actually make out the lagoon itself. The way the stars sort of form a double cascade what quite nice. What pleased me the most with these two nebulas is that I was seeing all of both of them in the same field!

I then pushed the scope to the left and came across a globular cluster. I believe its position was above and to the right of the peak of the tea pot's lid, which would make it M-28. At first, it was just a fuzzy spot, but with a little time spent, I thought I could see a few very faint sparkles. I decided to switch eyepieces and see if that would help. I was trying to get down to a pupil size of around 1.25, but messed up the calculations in my head and decided the 5.5 mm eyepiece would be too much and put in the 9 mm instead. That was a pupil size of 1.8 mm. It turned out to be just about right for the circumstances. With that eyepiece in place and some time allowed for my eye and the optic part of my brain to saturate, I had maybe a couple dozen (rough estimate) sparkles coming and going across the cluster, making it quite pretty.

I am thinking I need to take this little scope out to a dark site, maybe my astronomy clubs green zone observatory, and have some fun and really check this out more.

The altitude mechanism when pulling up or down with the mount's handle is really stiff, but instead of taking things apart, I am going to see if it will wear in and loosen up. Using the knobs to move the scope is working nicely.

Over all, I am well pleased with this acquisition and look forward to using it on a fairly regular basis as part of my telescope mix.

Bill Steen

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Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#2 MistrBadgr


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Posted 20 September 2016 - 07:57 PM

I went out this evening as things started to get dark. I was going to use the Infinity 80 to start trying to find 30 Messier objects from my back yard, just to see if I could. Bands of clouds were coming over and all the Messier objects I had previously observed, that I was going to redo and document were covered over. Vega was shining overhead, so I thought I would get the scope set up on it, then move the view toward where I thought the Ring Nebula was and be ready when it got dark enough.

When I looked through the eyepiece and saw Vega, I also saw Epsilon Lyra in the view!......Hmm....can I split the double-double. I had my set of Meade 5000 series Plossles, so I worked down to the 5.5. I could tell they were doubles and could also just about see dark between the even pair. I looked up and saw that I actually did have a very slight bit of haze. Oh well.....Hmm.....I went back to the porch to my eyepiece bag and pulled out a 4X self centering Barlow I had made.  I put that in the diagonal and stuck in the 20 mm eyepiece. From there, I worked down to the 9mm. By then, I had the split on the even pair for sure, but the uneven pair was iffy. I stuck in the 5.5 mm eyepiece, but that was definitely too much. With the 9mm I did notice defraction rings, but they were just showing in sort of a cone coming out from each pair. Obviously, there is a bit of collimation error. The star diagonal has gotten its prism off before, so that might be the problem.

Well, I just about got a complete split with a scope that is definitely not built for splitting double stars and it did better than I thought it would at over 2X per mm of aperture! I will check out the collimation issue and try again on another night when the sky is clearer.

The sky would not clear enough for me to see the two significant stars of the Lyre on either side of the Ring. The haze was in wave skept getting getting thicker and thinner, just teasing me, but not really good enough to see any Messier objects. I did not get any of the objects, but I did have fun goofing around.


Bill Steen

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#3 MistrBadgr


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Posted 30 September 2016 - 04:25 PM

I thought I would put my notes from attempting to find 30 Messier Objects with the Infinity 80 I bought recently.  Enjoy!



9/21/2016 – Morning

I went out last night with no luck for Messier Objects, due to clouds. Got up early, maybe an hour before dawn. Though the Moon was half lit and within maybe 30 degrees of the Great Orion Nebula, I was able to see both M42 and M43 quite well, though somewhat diminished. With the 26 mm 60 degree eyepiece, the entirety of Orion's Sword was visible in about 80% of the field, giving a nice artistic view. I moved over to the Sirius area and observed the open cluster, M41, below it. With my 4X Barlow and 20 mm eyepiece (80X), I was able to make out five stars in the Trapezium. The sixth star was most likely hidden in some coma or spikes in the area. Will re-observe out of curiosity when I get collimation issue resolved. I could also see very quick sparkles around the Trapezium.

Over-all wow factor was high, even with the Moon being close, just not as high if the Moon were not there. Being able to see the whole of Orion's Sword with some artistic room at the ends was wonderful!


Observing Session Summary:   Objects 1 through 3

1-M42:  Saw much of the nebulosity, but maybe the outer third obscured by moonlight and light pollution. - 6 AM CDT, Sept 21, 2016.
2-M43:  Saw an almost circular patch of nebulosity with one bright central star in the middle. Located above and to the right of M42 in my field of view. - 6 AM CDT, Sept 21, 2016.
3-M41:  Open Custer, roughly 5 degrees below Sirius. Maybe a couple dozen stars were visible. Nice view under the circumstances. - 6:15 AM CDT, Sept 21, 2016.


9/21/2016 - Evening


I went back out this evening, 9/21/2016, with a plan. It went pretty well, but haze had the seeing down to 2 of 5 in most of the sky. Since I have the Tulsa light dome to my west, I decided to start with Hercules as early as I could. At around 8:30 PM CDT or so, I pointed the red dot finder about a third of the way from Eta to Zeta Hercules and there was M 13. With the haze, I could not tell much about it, but the core was strong and I could see a pretty big circular area around it that was lighter than the background, but no definition at all. From there, I went almost straight North of Pi Hercules about the distance between Pi and Eta, and there was M92. At 15X, it looked more like a big fuzzy star than a globular cluster, but looked much better at 44X. Though much smaller than M13, the core was reasonably bright but not much beyond that was visible.


From there, I worked on M5, M10, and M12, but did not find them tonight. With the haze, I really had trouble finding enough stars. I then switched to the Lambda Sagittarius area to redo ones I had done a few nights before for this program. This time, I centered the finder on Lambda Sagittarius, looked in the scope at 15X and a 3.9 degree field. There, in the right spot, to the left of Lambda in my view, was a big fuzzy star. I went to 44X and could make it out better as M 28 globular. I turned the scope to the left (right in my field) about one field width and went up to find M 22. Naturally, it was much brighter and larger than M 28. However, with the haze, I could not see any stars or even any sparkles. I then went back to the west, past M 28, maybe a field width and there was M8 with M 20 above it. With M8, the Lagoon Nebula, I could see the horizontal arrangement of pairs of stars and some of the brighter nebulosity. With M 20, the Trifid Nebula, I could only see the brighter stars of the cluster but none of the nebulosity. There was just too much haze for that.


From there, I noticed that Lyra had moved a bit west from straight overhead, so I tried for the Ring Nebula. I could see both Beta and Gamma Lyra, so I put the red dot between them. With the 26 mm, 60 degree eyepiece in place, I moved the scope until both stars were in the field and could see the tiny dim fuzzy spot that was M 76. I worked my way down the line of eyepieces and found the 9 mm at 44X to (again) be the right one to show me some indication of the hole in the middle of the ring.


I had planned on picking up M32, but the haze was a bit thick in that area and my back neighbor turned on his back yard lights to let the dog out. His lights about to four sealed beam flood lights that reflect off the windows of my house, so I get hit from two directions. I decided that M 31 could wait for another evening, along with M 5, 10, and 12..... I think ten objects in this series in one day with two sessions is enough. The time frame tonight was roughly from 8:30 CDT to 9:30. Pretty fast moving for me, but the haze kept me from studying each one for very long.


Observing Session Summary:  Objects 4 through 10


M13 About 1/3 third way from Eta to Zeta Hercules. Fairly bright central core with fairly large area surrounding showing lighter than background. 15X to 44X 9/21/2016

M92 Almost straight North of Pi Hercules about the distance from Pi to Eta. Looked like fuzzy big dim star at 15X. Bright core at 44X but much smaller than M13 9/21/2016

M28 Dim fuzzy star-like in field and west of Lambda Sagittarius at 15X. Became a more distinct fuzzy patch at 44x. No stars resolved or sparkling. 9/21/2016

M22 Found to left and up, out of field with Lambda Sagittarius centered at 15X. Much larger than 28 and brighter, but no stars resolved with bad transparency. 9/21/2016

M8 West of Lambda Sagittarius roughly 5 degrees. Could see pairs of stars at different angles in a horizontal pattern and brighter nebulosity. 15X 9/21/2016

M20 In same 3.9 deg field as M8 and above it. Could see major star pattern but no nebulosity due to transparency conditions. 15X 9/21/2016

M57 Ring Nebula - almost between and about a third of the way between Beta and Gamma Lyra at the southern end of the lyre. Could see middle hole at 44X. 9/21/2016


9/22/2016 – Evening


Well, I went over several pages of my Jumbo Pocket Sky Atlas and found a long list of Messier objects that are in the sky right now. I think I wrote down enough to actually complete 30, but a lot of them are kind of "iffy." That Jumbo Pocket book is nice, with normal typing paper size charts, hard backs, and a spiral binding. Would only fit in Captain Kangaroo's Pockets though.


Was having trouble finding things somehow, even though the sky looked clear, so I went for the Andromeda Galaxy, M31, which I have already seen with this scope to get a "win" and change the momentum. I went to what I think of as the second pair of stars going down Andromeda's dress, then went toward the North, in line with the two stars and about as far from the northern one as the distance between them. I put the red dot on that spot and quickly found the core. I could see the disk out to maybe 2/3 the way to M32. M32 was at best a very faint fuzzy star when I located it. From the 26 mm eyepiece at 15X, I went to the 14 mm at 29X. M32 was pretty obvious, especially after my vision saturated, and M31 was visible all the way out to M32. At that point, I could not be certain about M110. I tried moving the scope a bit, changing eyes, etc. After referring to my Atlas, using my red cellophane coated little MagLight, I went back studied the field again at 29X, then tapped the scope. I tried it again, but was looking a little bit North of M31's core and saw a dim fuzzy patch where I though M110 should be. I looked away for a couple minutes, looked back and got my bearings, and did it again....same thing. I did this several times and found that I needed my eye in a particular position to get M110 to show up, but it was definitely there when I did it that way.

I then went back to searching for globular cluster, but to no avail. I finally decided to go for M7. M7 almost forms an equilateral triangle with Epsilon and Gamma Sagittarius. I put my scope on that spot, but found nothing. I wondered around a bit and found it!....wait a minute!...that looks like a butterfly! Does M7 look like a butterfly as well as M6 or do I remember the wrong number for the name? I could see quite a few stars with the 26 mm eyepiece, maybe a three dozen, but nothing else. I put in the 14 mm eyepiece and saw quite a few more tiny stars and a significant number of sparkles and dim gray spots.


Thinking that was M7, I went NW of the open cluster I found, looking for another cluster but found none. I went back, started over and found the same cluster several times but could not find the second one. Somehow, it did not occur to me to go in the opposite direction until I was back in the house. Anyway, after a while, the neighbors started turning on back porch lights and letting their dogs out. I looked at my watch and it was 9:40. I had been out beyond and hour and a half. With several things to do tomorrow morning, I decided it was time to go in. I went inside and looked up pictures of M6 and M7. I had definitely found M6.

I did not get a whole bunch this time, but I did get four. One of them that was pretty easy I had considered borderline possible going into the session (M32) and I did not think I would be able to see M110 at all. I had fun and went in with a good feeling. I am very pleased with detecting M110, even though I could not really tell anything about it. I will have to revisit the Great Andromeda Galaxy and its pals from a dark site. I have seen them all very well with a 70 mm f/10 scope from a dark gray zone in the past, so they should light up even more out there with this 80 mm one.


Observing Session Summary:  Objects 11 through 14


M31 To the North in line with the second pair of stars running down Andromeda's Dress. Central Core and area 2/3 to M32 visible. Visible to M32 at 29X. 9/22/2016

M32 Visible as dim fuzzy star at 15X. Became more apparent at 29X to the left of M31 core in my view. Intensity increased as vision saturated. 9/22/2016

M110 Not visible until I used averted vision and tapped the telescope at 29X. Across M31 from M32 and farther from core. Very dim fuzzy area bigger than M32. 9/22/2016

M6 To the west of the Sagittarius Teapot. Was looking for M7, but found M6. By golly it does look like a butterfly, antennae and all! 15X but more stars at 29X 9/22/2016


9/23/2016 - Morning


The alarm clock in my cell phone went off at 6 AM. Got up and somehow decided to go out. Finally managed to get dressed and get enough fog out of my head and eyes to be effective. I wanted to get at least one, the Pleiades, and maybe some of the open clusters around the charioteer.

The Pleiades was east, even with the Moon being in Orion and dawn approaching. I put the red dot finder on the Pleiades, which were quite visible and looked in the scope. My oh my! What a sight! My estimate is fifty stars. I am sure there were a few dim ones not visible, but there could not have been very many. The cluster took up maybe 60% of the field width, leaving plenty of room to see some of the surroundings and all the outlier stars. This is what I bought this scope for!

I finally tore myself away from M45, got out my atlas to see which OC in Augurae was which. I know the ones inside are labelled M36 through M38, with M 35 (I think) being outside the ring. But, I thought it was appropriate to get the numbers ring and see exactly where they were. By the time I looked up, there was enough dawn light to start covering things over (along with light pollution and the Moon). I started to go overhead with the scope anyway, but noticed that the eyepiece was fogged over.


That was enough. I had added another object to the list, making it half of them found, and that was my intent this morning.


Observing Session Summary:  Object 15


M45 NW of Orion Nebula, just west of Zenith. Could see a good fifty stars! (est) With it taking up 60% of field, could see outliers and surroundings. 15X 9/23/2016


9/23/2016 – Evening


Went out this evening around 8 PM and set up, again with the Infinity 80 and a set of 5000 series Plossles. I had made a new list of maybe 11 items to try for, with a lot of them still is the Sagittarius region. I tried for a while with no luck. Things seemed even harder to see this evening. I had noticed the high school band playing, which I enjoy, but failed to realize for a while that the stadium lights for the 10,000 seat stadium were in that direction. (Friday night football game)

I decided to change tactics and went for things more overhead to cut down on atmosphere, dust, and resultant light pollution. I went for M56 first, between Gamma Lyra and Albireo, but simply could not see it. I then consulted my Atlas and went for M71, about ten degrees North of Altair and a touch west, between Delta and Gamma Sagitta. I found a dim fuzzy spot with the 26 mm eyepiece (15X), then put in the 14 mm to get more contrast (29X), which I got. No stars were resolved, but there was enough area a little lighter than the background to make me think this Globular Cluster is pretty big.


The next item I went for was the Dumbbell Nebula, North and a little east of M56 about five degrees. Using Gamma Sagitta, which I could see naked eye with effort, I estimated a spot and put the red dot on it. Sure enough, there was a big gray splotch with not much definition at 15X. I put in the 14 mm eyepiece and the "apple core" shape became apparent. That was the easiest time I have ever had finding the Dumbbell manually.


I then decided to try again for M39 in Cygnus. It is mostly west and a bit North of Deneb. Looking at the atlas, I saw that it was between Rho and Pi Cygni and a little bit west, forming a fairly shallow triangle. Studying the area, I located the two stars with a little effort and put the red dot where I though the cluster would be. I had about half of something with a fairly large number of bright stars. I moved the field a little. There were a number of bright stars in the field that had more space between them than I am used to with open clusters. There was a lot of gray around, which I assume are lots of dimmer stars that cannot quite break through. I can see how this could be taken as nebulosity, if in truth it is not.


Clouds were moving in from the South, the neighbor's four flood lights came on so the dog needed to do his business and sniff around for a while, so I decided to call it a night. I got three more. Not the ten or so I had on the list, but a good evening just the same.


Observing Session Summary: Objects 16 through 18


M71 GC about 10 degrees North of Altair, between Gamma and Delta Sagitta. Very dim at 15X, brighter at 29x. Looked big but no stars resolved. 9/23/2016

M27 Dumbbell Nebula. Located maybe 5 degrees North and a touch west of M71. Could may out a blob at 15X. Apple core shape more apparent at 29X 9/23/2016

M39 OC located about 10 deg WNW of Deneb. Found Rho and Pi Cygni. OC located between and a little west of the two stars. Large oblong cluster at 15X 9/23/2016


9/28/2016 - Evening


We arrived home in a tired but happy state from Houston. I will not go into it, but we had serious medical good news and are very happy. I had worked on the little scope on this trip and needed to check it out, but was dead tired. I decided to do so, just to see if I had the lenses back in correctly after blackening their edges and some other things. I put the scope on Beta Cassiopeia and cranked the focus in and out.....oops! Took the scope back inside and flipped the crown glass over, then took the scope back out.....much better!


Since I was there, I thought I would try and get a Messier object. What is around Cassiopeia? Page 1 in my S&T Pocket Sky Atlas showed Messier 103 near Delta, the bottom star in the squashed side of the "W." I put the red dot on Delta, looked through the 26 mm eyepiece, and looked around. Sure enough, there was a little dolphin shaped thing near the star. But, to me, it looked too close and too small! (forgetting how big my true field is) I looked all around, even down to the double cluster which really isn't too far below and too the right, and also found what I believe to be Stock 2. Stock 2 is very large and impressive with that almost four-degree true field of view.


I kept coming back to that little dolphin. It looked like he had leapt out of the water and was diving back down into it. There was one of the two brightest stars where his nose would be and one for his tail. There were two lesser stars where his flipper and dorsal fin should be. The rest of the area was all grey. I put in the 14 mm eyepiece and things cleared up a bit. I could see another star winking strongly every now and then and another one winking about the same where a vapor plum might come out of his blow hole. All around the area there would be a very faint sparkle that was just on my edge of detection....maybe a half dozen or so stars. The rest still looked like grey nebulosity. I can certainly see why Mr. Messier put this on his list of objects to not mistake for a comet.


I tried to find the other open cluster in the area, M52, but decided I needed to research a little more to make sure I could identify it. I came back inside and looked up pictures of M103. After finally remembering to allow for a reversal in the image to account for the difference between a reflector the images were taken with, and my refractor with a diagonal, it was a perfect match for the little dolphin I was looking at, except that all the grey I was seeing was resolved into stars.

Well, that is the only one for the night. Doing what I did and writing all this down before I forget it is all I can do. What I did do was fun!


Observing Session Summary: Object 19


M103 OC located about 1 deg NW of Delta Cassiopeia (bottom star in squished side of the "W"). Looks like a dolphin diving. Four stars with grey around them at 15X 9/28/2016


9/29/2016 – Evening


The sky was very stable all evening and I give it a seeing grade of 5 of 5.  Transparency started out being close to a five, but gradually degraded toward the end as moisture started to condense, forming a bit of a haze.


M52 is an open cluster located in Cassiopeia.  To find it, I started with Alpha and traveled through Beta, then continued that line for a distance slightly more than the Alpha Beta distance.  Using the Infinity 80 and the 5000 series 26 mm five element Plossl, the cluster was in the field, but not very distinguishable from the surrounding sky, due to lots of stars.  I changed to the 14 mm (29X) and then the 9 mm (44X) eyepiece to make the cluster stand out more from the space behind it.  There seemed to be heavier patches of stars in several areas within the cluster, but there was a lot of grey area where the stars were not resolved.  I want to go back and look at this one with a larger scope to get a clearer view.  The location of this cluster is approaching an area affected by a casino and associated high light businesses about four miles to my North, as well as some light left from being early evening.


M6 is an open cluster under the spout of the Sagittarius Teapot and to the west.  I tried to locate it using the Teapot stars as a guide, but did not located it.  This time, I started from the stinger of the Scorpion, which worked out better.  It is pretty much in line with the two stars of the stinger and maybe six times the distance between the two stars to the east.  I put my red dot on the spot where I thought it would be, and there it was.  I tried the 26, 20, and 15 mm eyepieces, trying to get the best view.  I am not sure if the 20 or 14 was better.  What struck me about this cluster was that it looked like a bunch of curved lines made up of four or five stars each, laid on each other in a rather random way.  It reminded me of a bunch of sticks dropped in a pile.  With the 14 mm eyepiece (29X), there were around 50 or 60 stars that were resolved.  The location of this cluster for me is about as low as I even care to go, and in a direction of a busy and bright street a couple miles to the South.


M25 is an open cluster in the upper reaches of Sagittarius.  I used the right and peak stars in the Teapot lid as a starting point to find it.  This cluster is slightly to the right of a line going from Delta through Lambda Sagittarius and continuing on about the same distance as between the stars or a little longer.  I managed to place the red dot of the finder on a spot that put the cluster on the edge of my field of view.  I started with the 26 mm, then went to the 14 and on to the 9 mm eyepiece for the best view.  I could see roughly 40 stars, with a lot of other dim ones winking occasionally from the grey areas.


M24 is a little north and mostly west of M25.  I used an imaginary point in the middle of the teapot’s bottom, and Lambda at the peak of the lid, to form a line.  I followed the line northward for an equal distance and there was a couple of objects in the area.  The larger one was quite impressive, but was too large, and did not look at all like the drawing in the book, The Year Round-Messier Marathon, that I started using as a guide with this session.  I then remembered (again) that I had a really big field with the scope and eyepiece, and went to the smaller object.  Going first to the 14 mm and then to the 9 mm eyepiece, at 44X, I could make out an image similar to the one in the book.  Having the smaller cluster NGC 6603 show up in the right spot among the stars I was watching confirmed to me I had the right object.  Panning around the area, I did not see anything else that could have been M24…I do not think.


I tried for a while to find M23, an open cluster to the west of M24, but failed to identify it for sure.  I will so some more research and try again another time.

M21 is an open cluster very near the Trifid Nebula.  I forgot all about it and simply did not identify it as such when observing the Trifid (M20) on a previous session.  I went to Lambda Sagittarius and panned westward, finding M8 and M20.  M21 showed to be a little grey area in the same field slightly to the east and about on level with the bottom of the Trifid.  With the 26 mm eyepiece, I could see gray and maybe two stars.  Going to the 14 mm at 29X, I could see six stars.  The rest was all grey area.


M11 is an open cluster in Scutum.  To get to it, I needed to start in Aquila.  Even some of the major stars are pretty dim for me and I needed to get my bearings.  Unfortunately, I had forgot to bring my atlas outside with me.  I had brought the Messier Marathon book instead.  I should have brought both!  So back into the house, with the palm of my hand over my right eye for the atlas.  I finally figured out the location of Lambda Aquila, the star I needed to find M11, down in the Tail of the Eagle.  From there, I picked a spot that looked to be about four degrees to the west of Lambda and a little South.  M11, the Wild Duck Cluster, was in the field.  (That four-degree field is really nice!)


What I saw was two stars, with a round grey area surrounding the left one.  I switched to the 14 mm eyepiece from the 26 and the star on the right turned into two.  Another star started winking at me near the edge of the grey area below the left star.  I tried the 9 mm, but did not see much improvement, if any.

M26 is another open cluster in Scutum.  It is down the left side of the diamond shape of the major stars from M11, maybe a degree to the left of Delta.  As I went down that side, I first located Epsilon and the other star near it.  A little bit lower and I saw Delta.  Just to the east was M26.  I did not see anything there at first, so I wiggled the scope and was able to see a grey area with a star that caught my eye.  It was the only thing in the area where M26 is supposed to be that I could see.  Dropping to the 14 mm eyepiece, I saw a couple more.  At this point, I noticed that the sky was definitely losing its transparency.


M29 is an open cluster near the central star of Cygnus.  I had tried for it at the start of the session, but it was directly overhead to the point that the azimuth control knob was hitting the red-dot finder and not just scraping the side of the optical tube.  (need to turn that four-inch knob cable into a little stubby like I did on my Infinity 102) I had decided to wait until it had moved into a better position.  With the sky transparency worsening, I decided to get this last object for the evening, now that it was in a better position.


The cluster is very near Sadir (Gamma Cygni).  It is about two degrees down the southwestern wing toward Epsilon, then make a right turn to the southeast and go about a degree.  I really could not see anything that stood out because there are so many stars in the area.  I wiggled the scope a bit to see if anything caught my eye, and there was a fuzzy spot fairly near the middle of the field!  I could not make out much, so I changed to the 14 mm eyepiece.  With that eyepiece, I could see two curves of maybe four stars each that curved away from each other, forming a shape that reminded me of a little butterfly.  I could not resolve any other stars and the whole area around the butterfly was grey.


Observing Session Summary: Objects 20 through 27


52           OC in Cassiopeia.  Go from Alpha to Beta and an equal distance beyond.  Clumpy patches of stars with a lot of greys.  15X, 29X, 44X       9/29/2016

6              OC in east end of Scorpius.  In line with Stinger stars and six times the star separation to the east.  Curved lines of stars like a pile of sticks.  15, 20, and 29X          9/29/2016

25           OC in upper Sagittarius.  In line from Delta through Lambda and an equal distance beyond.  Found at 15X but best view at 44X.  About 40 stars resolved.           9/29/2016

24           OC located along the axis of the Sagittarius Teapot and about equal distance from Lambda as the bottom of teapot below. Best View at 44X with small cluster inside.               9/29/2016

21           OC in same field as Trifid Nebula (M20) and to the left.  Found at 15X but best view at 29X.  Six stars resolved at that magnification.     9/29/2016

11           OC in upper Scutum, (Wild Duck Cluster) west of Lambda Aquila, in Eagle's Tail,about four degrees.  Found at 15X.  Saw four stars and a lot of grey at 29X.         9/29/2016

26           OC near Delta Scutum in middle of left side.   Saw three stars at 29X, the rest was grey, with deteriorating sky transparency.    9/29/2016

29           OC about two degrees southwest of Gamma Cygni (central star of figure).  At 29X, saw 8 stars in two curved lines, forming a butterfly-like shape.  All else was grey.   9/29/2016


9/30/2016 – Morning


M47 is an open cluster on the west side of Puppis.  I actually used two stars in Canis Major as the starting point.  Starting at Sirius, I went eastward to Gamma Canis Major and on past about twice the Sirius to Gamma distance, then dropped a little bit South.  The major stars, maybe a dozen in the cluster, formed somewhat of a triangle. There were many more on the verge of resolution, forming a grey, granular look.  I used 15X at the start and dropped to 29X to get the granular appearance.


I spent quite a bit of time looking for M46, which is nearby M47, but could not identify it.  Will come back to it later, maybe after more study and a larger scope.  Light pollution, I think, is definitely affecting its identification.

M50 is an open cluster above Canis Majoris, in Monoceros the Unicorn.  It is almost on a line from Sirius through Theta Canis Majoris, and about that much farther. (maybe nudge the scope a tiny bit toward M47.  There were maybe a dozen stars resolved with lots of grey.  I noticed the resolved stars tended to be in pairs.  Found with the 26 mm eyepiece, but the best view was with the 14 mm.


M93 is an open cluster in west edge of northern Puppis, but is easier to find (for me) from Canis Major.  I went down toward the big dog’s tail end to Delta and Eta.  From that line, make a right turn to the east at Eta and travel about one and a half times the Delta Eta distance.  I could just make out the star Zeta Puppis, east of Canis Major.  M93 is maybe a couple degrees NW of that star.  I put my red dot a couple degrees from Zeta Puppis and found the cluster in my view with the 14 mm eyepiece.  I had forgotten to change back to the 26 mm.  I saw maybe ten stars resolved with lots of grey.


Observing Session Summary: Objects 28 through 30


47           OC on a line continuing from Sirius through Gamma Canis Major and another 2 times. Ten stars resolved in triangular shape.  Other stars nearly resolved at 29X         9/30/2016

50           OC on a line roughly from Beta Canis Major through Sirius and on another 1.5 times the distance.  A dozen stars resolved, mostly in pairs.  Lots of grey.         9/30/2016

93           OC near Zeta Puppis, east of Canis Major's tail.  Resolved ten stars with plenty of grey around.


​Well, that is 30 Messier Objects.  I plan on continuing from my back yard, but know that I cannot get all of them with the Infinity 80.  I will be using my other scopes as needed.  I hope to find 40 more with whatever scope is necessary.

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 09:08 PM

Messier Objects Observations 31 through 70 Project

 Object 31 through 35

October 3, 2016 - Evening

I am not going to go in depth with what transpired on the two previous evenings, but I struggled, due to very poor transparency.  Last night, I did see what has ended up being M16, 17, and 23, but I did not have good enough references to use, considering that I pretty much stumbled across them, to make any claims for this project.

Tonight was a bit different, the sky was clearer than the previous two nights, and very still with only a very minor twinkling near the horizon.  Antares was twinkling a little, but it always does.

I got out right after sundown, waited for stars to show up better.  My goal for the evening was to find and definitely locate the Eagle and Swan Nebulas, and M18 along with them.  I could not see any of the Scutum stars for locating these objects at all, so I decided to look at Antares, just to watch the pretty colors. 

M4:  Then, I decided to make sure of reference stars for M4, Antares and Sigma Scorpii, which I did.  With the greater than four-degree field I have with this scope and a 68 degree 24 mm eyepiece.  I was able to have both stars in the field of view.  I knew exactly where M4 should be and I decided that I would just sit on it for a while, let things saturate, and see what happened.  After things saturated, I did have a very slight grey spot, but with a little investigation, it became apparent that it was a product of my eye.  I tapped the scope, switched eyepieces back and forth.  Eventually, I had the 24 mm in place and started moving the scope back and forth a little bit very slowly.  I finally notice a little grey fuzzy spot, very subtly different than the background moving back and forth when I held by gaze still and moved the scope.  I did have a very slight indication of M4……finally!

M16:  With effort, I finally located Beta Scutum, then looked below it and found Alpha.  It took a while, with concentration and shielding the sides of my eyes with my hands to make out Gamma, the star I wanted.  Keeping my eye on it, I bent down to my red dot finder and moved it over the star.  The star had been coming and going, so this was tough on me.  I then looked in the scope with the 24 mm eyepiece.  Gamma was reasonably in the middle and I could see another lesser, but bright star to its left (right in my field).  This matched my Pocket Sky Atlas.  Moving the scope to the right a bit, I light grey patch came into view, with what looked like a triangle of stars below it and a little to its right.  Considering my four-degree field, I am estimating the centers of the two objects were a little over two degrees apart.  I went to the brighter one and put in the 16 mm eyepiece.  More stars, over a dozen, were resolved or winking at me and the grey area was more apparent.

M17:  I then went to the lower object, which the atlas showed should be M17.  It was there, and I could see some nebulosity.  It was, however, so dim that I really could not make any real sense out of it and could not really see the Swan shape.  I found it, and I know that is what it is because of the reference stars and being very careful about finding the right ones.  With a casual view, and not specifically looking for it or checking references, I probably would have not noticed it at all.

M18:  This one, with my light pollution and its low elevation would have definitely been missed, without referencing the atlas.  There was a little something in the right spot.  There were maybe four stars visible.  When I wiggled the scope a bit, I could see other material in the clump.  Using the positions of M16 and M17, I knew that M18 should be maybe a degree below M17 and back to the west a little bit.  If I drew a line from M16 to M17, I would have to make maybe a 30 degree turn to the west to get to M18.  I could get part of M16 visible in the field sort of at the top, and have M18 on the edge at the bottom.

M23:  I could not find this cluster when I was looking for it, M24 and m25, as part of the first 30 Messier Objects.  With the success of the evening, and still feeling like I could go some more, I decided to take another shot at M23.  The various ways I had attempted to find this object had not worked for me, so I decided to look at my atlas for any other relationships.  I noticed that M23 is almost in line with M8 and M20, just three or four times farther from M20 than M8 is.

So, back to Lambda Sagittarii with the red dot finder and the star in the middle of the eyepiece.  Move to the west and find M8, with M20 in the field.  Make an educated guess at the line of travel and start making the trip…..just keep going about a half of a field at a time.  Finally!  There is a nice cluster.  Hey, that is one I saw last night and had no idea what it was.  It looks more like a nebula with a cluster in it.  There were quite a few stars visible and lots of grey.  It seemed to spread out l something sprawled out, maybe like a bat.  Well, it is in about the right spot, but it seems I had to go an extra-long way to get there.  I need to look at some pictures.  The drawing in the Messier Marathon book was not making any sense to me.

Well, that was the end of my view.  I put everything up, came inside, got on the computer, and searched for images of M23.  Most were so cluttered with stars that I could not make heads or tails of any of them.  Finally, I found an image that was probably taken with smaller equipment.  The stars in the cluster were mostly resolved, but the lesser ones were degraded enough that I could make out what I was seeing at the eyepiece.  Yes, this was M23.

Through my 80 mm f/5 refractor, with my light pollution, so many stars were greyed out that the cluster looked more like a nebula than a cluster.  In fact, it looked to me more impressive as a nebula that any I have seen from my back yard, except for Orion.  I can certainly understand why someone in the early days might mistake this cluster for a comet.

Well, I had a successful but tough night.  In order to see some of the objects, M18 and M4 along with M110 previously, I have had to push myself hard enough that I am discovering a whole other level of endeavor in my viewing.  Tonight, I pushed my observing brain system beyond anything I have done before.  I am happy.

31-M4   GC about a degree below and midway along a line from Antares and Sigma Scorpii.  Could see the neucleus only faintly due to light pollution at 16X 10/3/2016            8:30 PM CDT

32-M16 Eagle Nebula located 3 deg west and a little North of Gamma Scuttum.  Maybe a dozen stars resolved and significant grey area.  Found at 16X, best view 25X            10/3/2016            9:00 PM CDT

33-M17 Swan Nebula below Eagle Nebula in same 4 deg field.  Maybe a half dozen stars resolved.  Grey area dimmer than Eagle Nebula.  Found at 16X, best view 25X 10/3/2016            9:00 PM CDT

34-M18 OC SE of M17 about a degree.  On edge of 4 deg field with M16 on opposite edge.  Four stars resolved with dim grey area. Found at 16X, best view 25X          10/3/2016            9:10 PM CDT

35-M23 OC almost in line with M8 and M20 but 3 times distance between M8 and M20.  Maybe 15 stars resolved with a lot of grey.  Found at 16X, best view at 25X        10/3/2016            9:40 PM CDT

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 06:10 AM

October 5, 2016 – Evening

I went out this evening, not quite sure what I would try for.  Though I had used my 68 degree eyepieces two nights ago, I switched back to the Meade 5000 series Plossls because they seem to have more light transmission.  Most of the objects I could try to find were toward the South.  However, the area from a little east of straight South and on to the west has enough light pollution that I think of it as a NOZ, or Nasty Observing Zone.  It is not the IOZ or Impossible Observing Zone that is more to the west, in the Tulsa light dome, but it is still very tough.

M2: I decided to try for M2, which is farther east than what I was going for the last time and slightly above the Broken Arrow light dome that has been hampering me.  I located the west line of Capricorn, with two stars on each end of that line that are bright enough that I can see them if I try hard.  From that, I looked higher and identified Alpha and Beta Aquarius.  I am not very familiar with Aquarius.  There really isn’t much there that I have frequently observed.  Checking my Atlas, I found that the globular cluster M2, is almost straight North of Beta Aquarius about five degrees, and a touch to the east.

I put my red dot finder on the spot where I thought might be, judging by its positional relationship to both Alpha and Beta.  I had in the 26 mm eyepiece and studied the field.  Sure enough, there was a relatively dim, but large, fuzzy star.  I centered the object and worked my way down the eyepiece series, studying the object with each one.  It became apparent that there was a brighter central core with dimmer area around it.  The best view, I think, was actually with the 5.5 mm eyepiece.  By that then, the field was fairly dim and getting a bit surrealistic, but I could make out the larger image of the object with averted vision fairly well.  I did not have any stars resolved, but I got the impression that with a little better conditions and a slightly larger scope, a few might have resolved.  However, that is just an impression.  Being more acquainted with splitting double stars than observing globular clusters as anything other than a little ball of fuzz, this impression may be completely false.  I noted my observation time as being 9:10 PM CDT.

Looking at the finder chart in the Messier Marathon book, I saw that M72 and M73 were in Aquarius as well, just on the bottom side of a continuation of the Alpha-Beta line, near and below Epsilon.  I finally located Epsilon as an almost imaginary spot in the sky between the difficult Alpha and Beta Capricorn and Beta Aquarius.  This took a while.  Several times, I tried to put the red dot on the spot where I thought M72 would be, with no luck.  After a while, I changed tactics and put the red dot on Epsilon, placed it in the center of my field, and consulted my Atlas for lesser stars, with the idea of working my way to M72.  I found a trail of three stars, leading southeast of Epsilon to a somewhat flattened diamond of four stars.  M72 would be to the east of the southern end of the diamond about a degree.  Sure enough, I was able to follow the three lesser stars to the diamond and placed what I though should be the spot for M72 in the center of my field and started working my way down the series of eyepieces.  With each one, I would let my eye saturate, then move the scope a bit back and forth slowly, looking for any movement.  No object.  Twice more, I went back to Epsilon and followed the trail to the spot, did the same things, no better results.

M73:  Beginning to doubt myself, I decided to try and find M73, which is very near M72, about two degrees east.  If I could find that one, it would at least prove I was at the right location.  Looking at my atlas, I could see three stars below M 73 that I could use as a guide.  Through the eyepiece, I moved the scope to the east and a little bit south and found the three stars.  I could see some dim stars in the general small area where M73 should be, but nothing obvious.  Judging by the guide stars, which also had a couple dimmer stars in the lines of the little triangle they formed, I put the center of the field on the spot I judged should be the location of M73.  There was a dim star at about that spot with one on either side of it. (Not sure how far) The spot in the middle seemed to be more than one star in terms of area compared to its light intensity.  I went down the series of eyepieces.  By the time I got to the 9 mm, and using averted vision, I could tell there was definitely more than one star, forming a longish triangle.  The triangle was long enough that if there were only three stars, I thought there should be some dimming between the point on one end and the little line on the other.  With this reasoning, I decided there must be at least one more star beside the three it would take to make the triangle itself.  I put in the 5.5 mm eyepiece, which did enlarge the view and I think made the thing look a bit more like an arrow point. 

What was interesting is that at this magnification (88X) and at 44X with the 9 mm eyepiece, I was seeing a very faint circular patch of grey around the arrow point, maybe four times its diameter.  Later, when I went inside, I looked up some images of M73 and could see four stars that could be taken to be an arrow point.  There was no grey area around the stars in the image, so I am not sure what was going on.  I wonder if something like this happened with Mr. Messier making him believe he was seeing some nebulosity there.

When I was through looking at M73, I looked at my watch and it was almost 11:00 PM.  I am thinking that I made the identification positive in my mind at about 10:50 PM CDT.  The search was a pretty intensive hour and forty minutes after finding M2.  I was exhausted, but satisfied with the night, believing that I definitely earned a “notch” for finding M73 for this project.

Observation Session Summary:

36-M2   GC about five degrees North of Beta Aquarius. Found at 15X as a dim fuzzy spot.  At 44x and 88X, could make out a definite central core with grey around that.              10/5/2016            9:10 PM CDT

37-M73 Four star cluster SE of Beta Aquarii about five degrees.  Identified at 44X as a triangular formation. Affirmed presence of a fourth star at 88X.                10/5/2016            10:50 PM CDT

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 07:34 AM

Well, the Moon was a bit bright when I went out and I thought I would wait a while and let it sink to the west some more. I went back out after nine and the whole sky was socked in......frown.png I decided to work on the scope a little, which I have done. I am getting close enough that I checked the collimation of the collimator itself by rotating it in the diagonal. It is out a bit, but I could not find the little Allen wrench to make adjustments to it. Looks like a trip to the hardware store tomorrow.

There was something I left out of my last post that I thought I would add. I have been having trouble with most of the low globular clusters, which has given me doubts about actually seeing M110. With that in mind, before I started on more objects last night, I went back to M31 and took another look, just to see if I could see M110 again. It was right there! This time, it was readily visible. I am not sure if the sky was actually better than the first time I saw it, or has my optical brain processed the information from before, making it easier to spot. I have read a report by Thomas Jensen, who lives on Bernholm Island, Denmark, who talks about this being a definite tool to use. I have tried this before when trying to see the supernova in M82 a while back. The first night, I could only see M81 and a faint indication of M82. The next night, M81 was easier to find and stood out more against the back ground and M82 was fairly apparent. The third night, I could see a couple of brighter areas in M82 and an extra wink from a third spot that was more like a pin prick every now and then. I did it with a Meade TerraStar 60 and the 14 mm 5000 series Plossl that I am using with the Infinity 80 now.

Anyway, M110 does repeat on different nights. I was hoping to try again for M72 with the idea that it might be more apparent tonight, but no such luck.




Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 07:47 PM

October 7, 2016 – Evening

M15:  I went out this evening with a list of five objects to attempt.  I decided to try M15 first, with the Moon being out and getting a bit too bright when combined with my light pollution.  I thought I probably had the best chance of getting something with this one.

I found the great square of Pegasus and Alpha Andromeda on its corner.  My atlas shows I needed to go to the opposite corner, to Alpha Pegassi.  I could see the stars in the leg and worked my way down it, made a turn a little toward the North at Theta and on to Epsilon.  Saying turning toward the North sounds a bit odd to me, since that corner of the Great Square seemed to me to be pointing South!  However, I did figure out which way to go.  I managed to figure it out, even though my instincts said differently.  I looked along the line from Theta to Epsilon and then went past Epsilon about half that distance and put my red dot on it.  M15 was quite apparent in the field with my 26 mm eyepiece.

I tried both the 14 and 9 mm and found the information I could glean to be about the same.  There seemed to be an intense core…not too big compared to the rest of it, then quite a bit of grey area around it.  In a large scope and dark skies, this globular cluster would be really nice, I think.

I then tried for M72 again.  I found the spot where it is supposed to be, but after two different attempts in the session, I could not see anything that I can conclusively say was it.  I couple times, I thought I saw a slightly lighter spot move when I moved the scope, but it did not immediately repeat.  I also saw a sparkle a time or two in the right spot, but not consistently enough to say it was real.  With the Moon doing its thing, by the time the sky dims down enough to try again, M 72 will be too far over into the bad zone to have much chance of finding it.  In a couple weeks, I may need to take a trip to another spot on the other side of town or even to a truly darker site to get some of the globular clusters that have eluded me from my back yard.

M34:  Looking at my atlas, M34 is between Almach (Gamma Andromeda) and Algol (Beta Perseus).  It is about two-thirds the way from Gamma and Beta, and a little to the North of that line.  Again, the location of this part of the sky was messing with my mind and it took me a while to determine just exactly which star was Algol (Beta).  I finally did, figured out where I thought M34 should be and put my red dot on that spot.  I had a nice cluster in the 26 mm eyepiece.  Working with other eyepieces, the 14 mm seemed to have the best view.  I had maybe a couple dozen stars resolved and lots of blotchy grey around and between them.  There were a few other sparkles showing up occasionally, but not as often as I would have liked.  As with M15, I think this would be a really nice cluster to see in a slightly larger scope and from a dark site.  It actually looked quite nice with this scope and from my back yard.  I will most likely visit it again when the Moon passes.

After M34 is when I made my second attempt at M72.  As stated above, there may have been some very faint glimmering a time or two, but not enough to hang my had on.  The next object on my list was M33.  Not much chance of getting any indication of that with the Moon being up, even though it isn’t even at first quarter…quite.  The other two on the list, M74 and M77 are farther east and can wait until the Moon passes.

I may attempt some more objects in the early morning, but I think the evening sky search is over for now.  Besides, I had a LPI-G Color show up in the mail today and I need to properly attend to this new “tool” (not toy)!

Observation Session Summary:

38-M15                 Globular Cluster in Aquarius. On a line from Theta to Epsilon and half again past.  Very solid, relatively small core with a large area of grey around it.  Found at 15X, 29X best.    10/7/2016

39-M34                 Open Custer five degrees east and one degree north of Algol, Beta Perseus.  Resolved twenty or so stars with lots of lumpy grey around.  Found at 15X, 29X was best.            10/7/2016


Bill Steen

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

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Posted 11 October 2016 - 02:14 PM

October 11, 2016 - Morning

I actually woke up before my alarm clock this morning, went outside to see what it was like….beautiful!.....other than the neighbor SW of me leaving a back porch light on.  Went back inside to get my Pocket Sky Atlas, red flashlight, Messier Marathon book, and glasses.  The scope was already on the back porch waiting for me.

M1:  First up on my list was the Crab Nebula.  I did not know what to expect from this one.  I have picked it up with larger refractors before and had not been able to with a 70 mm.  With the way this scope has been performing and my better educated eyes, maybe I could get it.

I found the big V of Taurus, North of Orion….can’t miss Orion directly to the South at 4:45 AM.  Looking at the southern arm of the V of Taurus, I could see Alpha Tauri or Aldebaran....looks sort of yellowish this morning, rather than reddish.  I followed the line of that arm maybe 15 degrees to Zeta Tauri on the tip of that horn of the Bull.  Looking at the symbol for Zeta on the Atlas, for some reason, my first thought is that the star is “squiggly Tauri!”   The Crab Nebula, or M1 is maybe a degree and a half from that star, sort of in the direction of Beta Tauri, the tip of the other horn, and inboard from that line a little toward Aldebaran.

I put my red dot finder on Zeta Tauri, then moved it a little toward the spot where I thought M1 might be.  Looking through the 26 mm eyepiece, I could see Zeta over at the edge of the field.  I waited a couple minutes for things to show up.  There seemed to be more than one grey spot.  Probably some were real and some imaginary, so I consulted my atlas again.  In the area roughly between Zeta and M1, the atlas showed three rather dim stars, naturally forming a triangle.  The dimmer of the three was the closest to Zeta.  The other two formed a line that almost pointed to M1.

Looking through the eyepiece again, I found the stars and in the right spot, a fuzzy patch was definitely visible….more so than when I had last looked.  I wiggled the handle on the scope a little and sure enough, the spot moved back and forth along with the stars, and became more apparent.  I watched the spot for a while, looking with averted vision from all around the patch, but did not really see any improvement or details.  The patch was a little bit oval in shape.  Well, it should be!

M35:  Referring back to the atlas, I could see that the open cluster M35 was a logical next object.  I had been thinking about the open clusters M36, 37, and 38 in Auriga, but it was a little too straight overhead with me just waking up, so I went for M35.  It is on the same page of my atlas (Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas) as M1, chart 14, and to the left and down from Zeta Taurii maybe ten degrees….same thing in the sky of course…(HaHa!)

In that area are three stars that form what I think of as the northern foot of the Gemini Twins, Mu is the brightest with the other two forming a curve with Mu.  I imagine Mu as the ankle and the other two making up the foot.  M35 is a couple degrees NW of that end star of the foot, 1 Gemini.  There is another smaller cluster right next door to M35 and in between it and 1 Gemini.

I looked for that foot of Gemini and found it, but had to concentrate to see the two lesser stars.  Mu Gemini was quite visible, but not bright by any means.  I then put the red dot finder on the that toe star and looked through the eyepiece.  I then moved the scope a bit in the direction I thought M35 should be, remembering that the image was backwards left and right.  There are quite a few stars in the area and I had to think about how big this cluster should be in my very wide field.  Sure enough, there it was, a really nice one with a couple dozen stars, maybe, showing and quite a bit of mottled grey.  Just off M35, was another smaller, dimmer, and tighter cluster as shown in the atlas, NGC 2158 is the designation shown on the atlas.  While I was viewing M35, the 5AM alarm went off on my cell phone….”Yes, I am awake!”

I still was not quite up to going straight overhead and almost standing on my head to look through the red dot finder, so I thought I would look for M48, an open cluster in Hydra.  I had considered M79, a globular cluster below Lepus, that Hare, but it was behind the roof of a house and I probably would not be able to see it anyway from my back yard.  I had a hard time finding guide stars to M48, other than the two bright stars in Canis Minor.  If I started at Beta Canis Minor and travel through Procyon, the Alpha star, the head along that line maybe three more lengths, I should have spotted M48.  However, after some searching, I really did not identify it.  I decided I needed to do a bit more studying and I still had plenty of time to get this one in another session.

M38:  Well, it was time to go overhead!  For some reason, I kept getting disoriented, going straight overhead this morning.  I normally do not have this problem….probably still too many spider webs in my head.  I even kept loosing the Taurus V and getting mixed up with the right position on the Charioteers race track…that is what I imagine the six sided oval to be.  Beta Tauri is one of the stars of that oval.  I think of it as if the bull is poking the Charioteer with one of his horns!  Beta Tauri is the horn tip star other than the one where I found M1.  I used Chart 12 in my atlas.

The southwestern leg of the race track, between Beta Tauri and Theta Auriga is my reference.  The three open clusters M36, 37, and 38 form a rough line that intersects the Beta Theta line about mid-way, but is not actually perpendicular the way I find myself thinking about it.  M37 is outside the race track, M36 is inside the line but fairly near it, and M38 is more toward the middle than M36.

Since M38 is the farthest west, and at the time of my viewing, seemed to be the easiest to get the red dot finder on.  I did manage to get the red dot on what I thought would be the right spot.  I used the stars Beta and Theta of the line with the spot I thought the cluster to me forming a triangle.  I tried to match the shape I saw on the chart.  Looking through the eyepiece, the cluster was definitely there!  It was bright, large, and had maybe a couple dozen stars resolved.  There was also quite a bit of mottled grey, indicating to me that there were a lot more stars unresolved.

M36:  This one was the closest of the two remaining to M38 and the logical next move…..Ha!  Somehow, I just could not seem to get my red dot on the right spot.  I had to move the scope around to get the right orientation to put the dot where I wanted it, lost my bearings, found them again, and put the red dot where I thought the cluster should be.  I was off a little bit, but some quick searching found it!  This cluster is dimmer than M38.  I had maybe a dozen stars visible and grey for the rest.  With what happened next, I am having trouble remembering M36 more than that.

M37:  From M36, the next step was M37 on the outside of the race track.  It is just across the line from M36 and a little more toward Theta Auriga.  M36 was a little less than two degrees inside the line and M37 is a little more on the outside.  Again, I could not get my red dot finder on the spot and kept losing my bearings.  I moved the scope around several times, losing my bearings more than once and starting over.  Finally, I got situated!  The red dot was on the spot, I looked through the eyepiece, and there was the faintest of the three clusters.  It looked kind of pretty.  There were no bright stars, and at first I did not see any.  Very soon, some started to sparkle at me and I ended up having maybe a dozen very tiny, faint stars being resolved.  The grey was dimmer than either of the other two, but looked a bit smoother.

Well, that was enough!  I had located five object, more than I had expected, and was exhausted.  Time to go in, even though the sky was not quite bright enough to call a halt to things.  I really had a good time!  It might not have been quite so fun, except that I get some sort of perverse enjoyment at getting my brains twisted around like that…..well, sometimes!

Observation Session Summary:

40-M1                   Supernova remnant about two degrees NE of Zeta Tauri, Saw a faint fuzzy oval patch.  Found at 15X, viewed at 29X.   10/11/2016         4:50 AM CDT

41-M35                Open Cluster near the "North Toe" of Gemini. Couple dozen stars resolved with plenty of grey.  OC NGC 2158 seen in field, but dim.  Found and viewed 15X 10/11/2016         5:00 AM CDT

42-M38                OC about half way between Beta Tauri and Theta Auriga and 4 deg NE.  Bright cluster, two dozen stars resolved and mottled grey.  Found and viewed at 15X      10/11/2016         5:35 AM CDT

43-M36                OC about two degrees SW of M38.  Dimmer, smaller than M38.  Maybe a dozen dim stars resolved, plus mottled grey.  Found and viewed at 15X       10/11/2016         5:45 AM CDT

44-M37                OC about 4 degrees SW of M36.  Dimmer and smaller still than M36.  Eventually resolved maybe a dozen very faint stars.  Found and viewed at 15X                10/11/2016         6:00AM CDT

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#9 MistrBadgr


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Posted 31 October 2016 - 06:20 AM

October 16, 2016 – Evening

After several days with overcast skies, the clouds decided to part, with the help of some noticeable wind.  Last night, things were clearing with clouds whizzing by, or at least seemed like that.  I did a little lunar viewing, but there were no Messier objects in position for me to view under the circumstances and full moonlight.

Tonight was different.  The skies were reasonably clear of clouds.  There was significant turbulence, with some noticeable wind at ground level.  The objects that were most available were the globular clusters that I could not locate previously.  I decided to make a trip to a friend’s house, about six miles away to the southeast.  His skies are darker, but there are four sodium vapor security lights across the street, along a metal building.  Fortunately, none were very close to the spot I was going to set up, plus they would be behind me.  The Moon was going to be down for a short period after sunset, I thought this would be a good time to try and find those elusive globulars.

The targets I thought about for the evening were the three globular clusters along the bottom of the teapot in Sagittarius, M54, M69, M70, and the globular M75 to the east of Sagittarius.  Later, toward the end of the session, I remembered M72.  At first, I tried to find the ones along the bottom of the teapot, with no success.  Finally, I decided to go to the top of the teapot and look for M28.  If I could not find M28, near Lambda, then there was not much of a chance of finding any of the lower clusters.  I did find M28, just barely, with the 26 mm eyepiece.  I dropped down to the 20 mm and then the 14 and decided I would probably need the 14 mm to see the lower targets.

45-M69  I decided to try for M69, thinking I could either position the scope by putting the red dot finder on the spot the object should be, using Epsilon Sagittarii as a guide.  I could then use a row of lesser stars showing on my atlas if necessary.  I put the red dot on the spot, then using the 26 mm eyepiece, I found the star I noted in my atlas.  Centering the scope on the spot I thought would be the location of M69, I changed eyepieces to the 14mm.  I did see what looked like a very dim but fuzzy star.  I moved the scope back and forth a tiny bit and more grey showed up.  Sure enough, there was M69.

46-M70  From M69, I moved to M70, which should be located about half way along a line from Epsilon to Zeta Sagittarii which is the bottom of the teapot.  I put the red dot on the spot that looked to be the mid-point of the bottom line of the teapot.  This time I just left the 14 mm eyepiece in the diagonal.  At first, the globular was not visible.  I wiggled the scope, but saw nothing.  I started a search of the area and quickly found the object.  With this one, after I had found it, I could see a small fuzzy spot.  But, I did not notice it to start with without some scope movement.  Working the scope around a bit, I eventually saw a larger amount of grey, but not what I would call large.

47-M54  This one is located toward the east end of the teapot bottom, just above the bottom line itself.  Using the 26 mm eyepiece and putting the red dot on Zeta Sagittarii, I took a look at the star, then moved the scope in the direction I though it should go to put the star on the very edge of the field and get the cluster on the other edge somewhere.  I re-checked the red dot to see what that movement (about two degrees) looked like, then made a slight correction to put the scope on the spot a little better.  I could not see anything with the 26 mm eyepiece and scope movement, so I put in the 14 mm and repeated the movement process.  Sure enough, I found a fuzzy spot.  Stopping the movement, looking at the spot, then moving again, the spot got a bit bigger.  Re-checking the position of the red dot finder, the scope was on the right place.

After M54, I tried for M75.  I did manage to located an arrangement of four stars, Omega, 59, 60, and 62 Sagittarii, as a base to work from.  I could not see them with just my eyes, but they were quite obvious in the scope with the 26 mm eyepiece.  I tried for a while with no success.  After a bit, two thoughts surfaced in my mind.  1.  The Moon was climbing and the light level was going up.  2.  I had forgotten about M72, the globular cluster near Epsilon Aquarii that I had failed to find before.  Well, I knew exactly where M72 is located and how to get there.

48-M72  I went to Epsilon Aquarii, which is east of Alpha and Beta Capricornus.  Those two were very visible and Epsilon Aquarii was visible as well.  I put the red dot on Epsilon with the 26 mm eyepiece in place and worked down to the flattened diamond I had seen before.  No globular….go to the 14 mm.  Well, maybe but not sure.  I decided to put in the 9 mm….hmm…something there…..move the scope….there it is!  A faint grey spot moving with the stars as I moved the scope a little.

I could have gone back to M75, but decided to stop with four successes.  Most likely, the Moon was going to be too bright.  I wanted to get out my Sky Atlas 2000 and do some studying for star patterns around M75.  Coming back home to write this, I noticed that I have over-looked M55, another globular.  Looks like I need another trip to my friend’s house!

Observation Session Summary:

45-M69                GC about 4 degrees NW of Epsilon Sagitarii.  Found dim fuzzy spot with 14mm eyepiece with scope movement.  Not visible with 26 or 20mm.             10/16/2016         7:50 PM CDT

46-M70                GC about half way along line between Zeta and Epsilon Sagitarii.  Small fuzzy spot visible with 14 mm eyepiece with scope movement 10/16/2016         8:10 PM CDT

47-M54                GC about three degrees along line from Zeta to Epsilon Sagitarii, and a little on the North side.  Small fuzzy spot visible with 14mm eyepiece and scope movement.     10/16/2016         8:15 PM CDT

48-M72                GC about four degrees South and one degree east of Epsilon Aquarii.  Small fuzzy spot visible with 9 mm eyepiece and scope movement.       10/16/2016         8:40 PM CDT

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#10 MistrBadgr


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Posted 31 October 2016 - 06:21 AM

October 18, 2016 – Evening

I was asked to go to our friends’ house, on the other side of the light pollution strip to the South of my back yard, and borrow a card table and chairs for a ladies get together at our house on Thursday, now being Tuesday, and rain expected on Wednesday.  Naturally, I took the Infinity 80, eyepieces, and atlas along with the idea of trying to pick up a couple more of the globular clusters that I have no real chance of seeing from home.  After loading up the table and chairs, I set up the scope with cars traveling behind me, a porch light from a neighbor on one side, and a street light in the other direction.  Sounds bad, but it looked to be a bit darker spot than the last time I was there.  The Teapot was quite obvious, but clouds were on the way from the west.

49-M55  I fiddled around a little, trying to put the red dot on the spot that I judged M55 would be, but not much luck.  The next step was to pick a star, in this case Zeta Sagittarii on the bottom left corner of the Teapot, get it in the eyepiece, then gradually move to the left, referring often to the atlas and identifying the patterns in lesser stars on the star chart(s).  Eventually, I did make it to M55.  I was able to make it out with the 26 mm eyepiece!  It was very dim, but seemed rather large.  I could move the scope a bit and see it move with the stars, so it was not a glare spot on my eyepiece from lights behind me or to the side.  In went the 14mm eyepiece and the spot was more apparent.  One more in the bucket!  Looking at my phone, it was 8:25 PM

Looking up at the sky itself, I could see the clouds were almost in the viewing area.  I tried to locate M75, but had trouble.  I found four stars that are fairly bright and form a lop-sided cross, about half way between M55 and M75.  From that point, what did I do next?  All of a sudden, I got in a hurry, forgot about the left-right switch in the eyepiece, and went the wrong way.  By the time I got things straight, that part of the sky was starting to fuzz up.

50-M30  I really wanted to get two objects if I could, so back to the atlas.  It looked like M-30 was possible and was not at home, so that was the target.  Looking at the atlas, Zeta Capricornus was the star most likely visible that is near this globular.  M30 looked to be about four degrees east and a degree South of Zeta.  I put the red dot finder on the spot that looked to be where M30 would be located, put the 26 mm eyepiece in the scope and took a look.  I moved the scope a bit and saw a little bit of movement for something fairly small and not much brighter than the background.  In went the 14 mm eyepiece, and I could make it out without movement, but was much more apparent when moved.  I re-checked the position of the red dot in relation to Zeta and Delta Capricornus.  This grey spot, smaller than M55, appeared to be in the right spot.  My phone said it was 8:45, and a strip of clouds were moving in.

It was time to go home, so I loaded up my things, said thank you and good evening to my friends, then went home.

Observation Session Summary:

49-M55                GC located roughly 10 degrees east and a degree South of Zeta Sagitarii, Fairly large (for a GC in this region) fuzzy spot visible at 15X, but better at 29X.            10/18/2016         8:25 PM CDT

50-M30                GC about four degrees east and a degree South of Zeta Capricornus.  Small dim fuzzy spot visible with 14mm (29X) eyepiece but not with 26mm (15X) 10/18/2016         8:45 PM CDT

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#11 Philip Pugh

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 12:19 PM

Most of these objects are really tough from the UK and I had to wait 4 years to complete the Messier objects.

#12 MistrBadgr


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Posted 02 November 2016 - 04:39 PM

Hi Phillip!


I can imagine that they were!  You are probably ten degrees North of me and some of these are so low that they are barely in my range as it is.  Somehow, I have not been able to copy observations out of the log I have been keeping and get them to post.  Some sort of glitch in the works.  So far, I have found 61 object, including M33 and M74.  M74 has been the toughest so far, due to light pollution.  M101, from my location will most likely be the most difficult and will require going to a dark site to see.


Bill Steen

Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

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