OR: Dinosaur Point, 3/10/10

Greg LaFlamme, George Feliz, Scott Baker, Rogelio Bernal Andreo, Al Howard and myself met up at Dinosaur Point last night. The transparency was just about average as predicted by the Clear Sky Clock. The seeing was quite soft early on, but it improved a bit to just about average as the night went on. The entire sky was clear and usable, except maybe for a few wispy clouds to the north. The wind was nonexistent. I did not think of getting a temperature reading during the night, but it was rather cold, causing me to bail out early. I eventually got about 5 hours of observing, and successfully tested new dew control equipment. Most of the objects I observed were bright targets from the Herschel 400 and Messier lists. One of the highlights of the night was seeing the spiral arms of M81 in Greg’s 22″ scope, and later in my own 12″ scope. We also counted a dozen members in the NGC 3158 group located in Leo Minor. When I left, Rogelio was doing “ass-trash photography” (those are his words…) while Al was acquiring data for his next APOD. All in all, a pretty good night! I’m now looking forward to this weekend, carrying the promise of even darker skies. Below is my log for the night. Cheers!

Location: Dinosaur Point [Elevation 648 ft]
Telescope: Meade Lightbridge 12″ F/5
Eyepieces used:
– Televue Panoptic 27mm (56x – 1.2° TFOV)
– Televue Nagler 16mm type 5 (95x – 52′ TFOV)
– Televue Nagler 9mm type 6 (169x – 29′ TFOV)
– Televue Nagler 7mm type 6 (217x – 22′ TFOV)
– Televue Nagler 5mm type 6 (305x – 16′ TFOV)
(All times are PST)

NGC 2335 OC Mon 07h07m19.6s -10°02’50” 9.3 mag 07:20p
Barely visible in 9×50 finder scope using averted vision as a small and very pale smudge. This cluster is composed of about 25 moderately bright to moderately faint stars, plus a few fainter ones coming in and out of view, appearing within an area 10′ in diameter. The brightest star (mag 9.5), located near the center of the cluster, appears slightly orange.

NGC 2343 OC Mon 07h08m36.5s -10°38’10” 7.5 mag 07:25p
Already noticeable in 9×50 finder scope. Contains about 20 moderately bright stars within 6′. There is a tight double (J2782A/B) in the center of the cluster. A pretty double, which brighter component, to the east, appears orange, grazes the eastern edge of the cluster.

NGC 2353 OC Mon 07h15m00.6s -10°17’15” 5.2 mag 07:35p
Barely visible in 9×50 finder scope. About 40 moderately bright to faint stars scattered within an area 12’x10′ WNW-ESE. A very bright star (mag 6.0) is located at the SW boundary. Hipparcos data seems to show that the brighter stars in this cluster are superimposed field stars (the cluster supposedly being 3,600 ly away from us) which would explain the large brightness distribution.

M 47 OC Pup 07h37m04.8s -14°30’35” 4.3 mag 07:50p
Easily seen in 9×50 finder scope, along with nearby M46. Composed of about 80 bright to moderately faint stars scattered within 25′. Nice appparent double in the center, with components of similar brightness (mag 6.9 and 7.3). Small and faint cluster NGC 2425 spotted just 30′ SE.

NGC 2423 OC Pup 07h37m35.9s -13°53’53” 7.0 mag 08:00p
Located about 1° N of much brighter M47. Composed of about 50 stars of similar magnitude scattered within an area 12′ in diameter. Nice apparent double star near the center.

NGC 2438 PN Pup 07h42m21.2s -14°45’34” 11.0 mag 08:05p
This planetary nebula is embedded inside open cluster M46, providing a striking view at 95x. Fairly bright and round, about 1′ in diameter. A moderately bright star is located just 15″ SE. At 217x, two faint superimposed stars can be seen, the brighter one being located 5″ NW of the center, while the dimmer one is about 5″ W of the center. Using a UHC filter, the nebula shows up as a ring. The marginally darker inner region is about 30″ in diameter. The eastern portion of the rim seems slightly brighter.

NGC 1444 OC Per 03h50m12.0s +52°41’36” 6.4 mag 08:30p
A bright double star (Struve 446), which components are roughly E-W, separated by 15″, the brighter component being to the E (mag 6.7 and 6.8) is at the heart of this very poor cluster. A line of 4 evenly spaced moderately faint stars starts about 1′ NW and ends 1.5′ W of the double star aforementioned. 6 additional faint stars can be spotted within an area 5′ in diameter. This object is marked as a double star in Uranometria 2nd edition (?)

NGC 2489 OC Pup 07h56m41.1s -30°05’42” 9.3 mag 08:40p
This cluster is composed of about 3 dozen faint to moderately faint stars, fairly evenly scattered within an area 6′ in diameter. The bright orange PX Pup is located just 25′ S. Also, another cluster, named Haf 20, located about 30′ S, was barely detected.

NGC 2567 OC Pup 08h18m58.5s -30°40’35” 8.4 mag 08:55p
Detected in 9×50 finder scope. This cluster is composed of about 3 dozen moderately faint stars scattered within an area 10’x5′ WSW-ENE. 6 stars form a 5′ long chain almost N-S located in the middle of the cluster.

NGC 2571 OC Pup 08h19m22.7s -29°47’11” 7.4 mag 09:00p
About 20 moderately bright to moderately faint stars scattered within an area 6’x3′ WSW-ENE, surrounded by a ring almost devoid of stars about 4′ thick.

NGC 2627 OC Pyx 08h37m42.2s -29°59’42” 8.4 mag 09:05p
About 2 dozen moderately faint stars over a milky background that seems to be composed of many faint stars, some of which coming in and out view as I looked around, within 6′. The southern edge of this cluster seems to be delimited by a region almost devoid of stars elongated E-W and 6′ wide, with a few more stars just south of it.

NGC 3003 GX LMi 09h49m14.5s +33°22’20” 12.2 mag 10:00p
Moderately faint, 4’x1′ WSW-ENE, brighter core roughly 1.5’x45″.

NGC 3021 GX LMi 09h51m36.3s +33°30’14” 12.5 mag 10:05p
Moderately bright, 1.5’x45″ WNW-ESE. Gradually brighter to a faint stellar nucleus. Located 1′ WNW of a moderately bright (mag 11.6) star. Moderately faint superimposed star about 20″ NNE of nucleus that could easily be confused with a supernova.

M 95 GX Leo 10h44m32.4s +11°38’47” 10.6 mag 10:50p
Spotted in 9×50 finder scope. Bright round core 1′ in diameter, surrounded by a faint diffuse halo 5’x3′ elongated SSW-NNE. Located about 1.5° W of M96.

M 96 GX Leo 10h47m20.4s +11°45’45” 10.1 mag 11:10p
Spotted in 9×50 finder scope. Bright round core 30″ in diameter, surrounded by a faint featureless halo 5’x3′ elongated NW-SE. Located about 1.5° ENE of M95 and 1.5° SSW of M105.

M 66 GX Leo 11h20m49.2s +12°55’55” 9.7 mag 11:25p
Member of the famous Leo triplet. Bright core 30″x45″ embedded inside a fairly bright bar 2’x45″ elongated NNW-SSE, surrounded by a fairly faint halo 6’x3′ elongated N-S, appearing slightly mottled and not quite oval.

M 65 GX Leo 11h19m30.0s +13°01’57” 10.1 mag 11:35p
Member of the famous Leo triplet. Bright round core 1′ in diameter, gradually brighter to a stellar nucleus, surrounded by a moderately faint halo 6’x1′ N-S. Faint superimposed star about 30″ ESE of the nucleus. Photographs of this object show a long dust lane lining up the E of the halo, which I failed to notice.