Date Time: April 9, 2018 2200-2300hrs
Weather: Clear, bitterly cold, breezy at times, mostly no wind, -5C. Next morning was clear and -10C.
Attendance: Amelia, Matthew, and David McCashion.
Equipment: Amelia's and Matt's My 80mm ED/APO with 12mm eyepiece on tracking/goto mount, 8" Meade LX 200 with 32mm eyepiece with tracking/goto disabled, and Canon Rebel Xsi with 18-55mm lens.
Objective: Original objective was to do a Messier Marathon, but due to schedules/circumstances, there was only time for a short, evening Messier search.
- Venus was very bright, in a 'half moon' phase, and high up in the Western sky as it grew darker. Full darkness didn't come till after 2100hrs!
- International Space Station was very bright as it travelled across the sky. It crossed from NNW to SSE at around 2058hrs.
|Facing SSW, a 15 second exposure of ISS heading SSW @ 2058 hrs.|
- Began Messier search as soon as it got dark enough to see Orion after 2100hrs. Searched for the lowest M object we thought we could see in the western sky, M34, which was in the NW, close to a tree. Actually seen the average open cluster through a tall tree, in the small scope.
- Searched for and found open clusters M44 (Beehive Cluster), M45 (Pleiades or The Seven Sisters), M35(bright, big cluster), M36(faint cluster), M37(average cluster) and M38(very faint cluster). M44 being the most spectacular, actually popping out to naked eye visibility after 2200hrs. It really popped out even more with averted vision.
- Found M1, the Crab Nebula high up in the Western sky, in Taurus, near M35. It looked like a dark hole in space in small scope. In big scope it was a much bigger dark hole in space with barely visible strings of light crossing its face. Very interesting object to observe.
- The Orion Nebula, M42 and 43 were absolutely spectacular in the big scope. The nebula shone brightly and filled the huge field of view of the 2", 32mm eyepiece. The trapezium was clearly split.
- Searched for the Flame Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula, near Alnitak, around the left side of Orion's Belt. Could barely make out some very dark nebulosity, but nothing distinct could be made out.
- At around 2200hrs, seen a Satellite near Polaris, heading NNW.
- Searched for all the Messiers in Leo, which was high in the South at around 2250hrs. Couldn't find them in small scope. Was running out of time, as we needed to finish at 2300hrs, so couldn't continue searching.
- We talked about all the Messier objects in the Virgo cluster and how a good star chart is needed to tell them apart.
- Seen two satellites and no shooting stars.