I decided to try starting a new thread from the point where I am now on my run at the Messier Objects with my Infinity 80. I have been unable to load anything else into the other thread.....don't know why. I am writing this down in Word and then copying it over. However, I have been getting an error message and the posts just disappear. Hopefully, this new thread will work better. If it does work, I will go back and add other posts to fill in what has not been posted.
Thanks for reading,
November 25, 2016 – Morning
Between clouds, Moon position, and other activities, this is the first time in twelve days that I have been able to observe in the early morning! The Moon is two or three days away from being new, the temperature is a couple degrees above freezing, there are whispy clouds in the sky, but no wind apparent anywhere, other than slow cloud movement. Transparency I am rating (between the clouds) as 3 of 5. I have my normal dark red zone light pollution.
I am continuing the hunt for Messier objects with the Meade Infinity 80, f/5 refractor.
63-M44: This morning, Cancer is near zenith at 5 AM. It sits 18 degrees North declination, directly on the zodiac. Delta Cancri, the middle star in the constellation is, for all practical purposes directly in the middle of the rectangular area that is denoted by my pocket star atlas and that star sits on the zodiac line. With that said, that puts Delta at about18 degrees South of being directly over my head at my 36 degree North latitude location. Delta Cancri is also located roughly twenty degrees WNW of Alpha Leonis, the front foot of Leo, coming up in the southeast.
Knowing where Delta Cancri is, then looking up and seeing it, the open cluster M44, or the Beehive Cluster, is located about two degrees NW of Delta. Looking though my finder, I put the red dot on a spot I estimated to be a couple degrees NW of Delta. Looking through my telescope with a 25mm eyepiece, M44 was partially in the field!
At that point, there were no clouds in the way. There are plenty of stars that appear bright with a significant number of varying magnitudes dimmer. I counted 54 stars that I could resolve with many more grey splotches that would show up as stars with a larger scope. I enjoyed the view for a few minutes, then looked at my watch, which showed 5:10 AM.
From that point, I searched for M67, another open cluster in Cancer, but absolutely could not find it. In fact, I had trouble by then just finding Alpha Cancri. Taking a good look at the sky, I realized there was a cloud in the way. Therefore, I decided to move on to another target.
64-M40: This is a double star in Ursa Major, very near where the handle joins the pan of the Big Dipper
Following a line from Gamma to Delta Uma (the handle side of the pan) and then going another couple degrees past Delta is 70 UMa. M40 is just beyond that.
I found the spot where M40 should be with my 25mm eyepiece, I then put in my 9mm and easily saw the split between the two equal stars. The time was about 5:30 AM
I often gets my directions mixed up in the near polar area, between things simply going around in a circle and having the image being reversed from left to right. I have found, at times, another pair of stars that actually meets the criteria of two small stars with nebulosity better. One is brighter than the other and often has nebulosity showing in a circular disk that reaches out to the second, smaller star. I have wondered if that might not be what Messier was actually seeing at the time and not the double star we call M40 today.
65-M108: This is an edge-on spiral galaxy located near Beta Ursa Major, the bottom corner of the pan away from the handle of the Big Dipper. As with M40, I must be very careful of my directions when viewing to the North. M108 is WSW of Beta UMa about two degrees.
I put the red dot on my finder a little to the SW of Beta and looked through the scope. Consulting page 46 of Uranometria 2000, I noted that there was a roughly magnitude 5 star about a degree SW of Beta, which I could see in the field of my 25mm eyepiece. From there, I continued to the SW and passed a single small star, followed by two small stars that were more together. They were oriented roughly east and west with the brighter one to the east. Just to the west of the dimmer of that pair is where M108 is supposed to be.
I switched to my 9mm eyepiece and, sure enough, in the area just west of that last dim star was a brightening in the background. In fact, there were several small splotches forming a horizontal line in my field with the 9mm eyepiece. The time was about 5:50 AM
Seeing more than one grey area in a line, I was a bit confused as to which one was the core of a spiral galaxy. I forgot that this was an edge on spiral. Later, when I was back inside, I looked up pictures of M108. Along the center line of the lens shape of the galaxy were three different areas that were lit up. One was longer than the other two. I believe this explains the spots I was seeing at the eyepiece.
66-M97: The Eskimo Nebula is located about a degree to the SW of M108. I moved the field to where M108 was on the NE edge and looked toward the southwest. At this point, my memory of the finder chart, which is upside down from my view, got me confused a bit.
It seemed that I could see a small spot near the southern of two stars, and I watched if for a while. That spot did not expand or grow brighter, but another larger spot began showing up near the brighter star of the pair. This very round disk of grey was quite apparent with averted vision, but tended to go away when I looked at it directly.
I wondered what that was and looked back at my finder chart and saw my mistake of which star the nebula was supposed to be near. The large grey patch was the Eskimo Nebula. I went back to the scope to verify, and was able to do so for about five seconds. Then, the nebula disappeared. I waited for a bit and looked all around it, trying to pick up an averted vision image from every direction, but no luck.
Looking up at the sky in that area, a large cloud was moving into that spot. I looked at my watch and it was about 6:00 AM. I could see the sky trying to lighten in the east. With a busy day ahead of me, I decided that was enough. Four new Messier objects is good enough for one session and about as much as I can keep in my memory at one time.