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.