We were at the new star site, Dancing Deer Ranch in Templeton on Saturday, June 5th, 2010. Although we weren’t sure what to expect to see with the scopes (it was really our first time out there), we were quite impressed! Here’s the scoop on the scopes:
From Tom Frey:
“Omega Centauri (NGC 5239) is the largest and brightest globular cluster around the Milky Way Galaxy. It is located in the southern constellation of Centaurus, is 15,800 light years away, and is about 12 billion years old. Estimates are that it contain over 1 million stars. The stars in the core are estimated to be only 0.1 light years apart, where as the closest star to us is about 4 light years away. It’s big. The cluster appears to be as large as the full moon.
“Kent Wallace was scanning the horizon with this binoculars when he said “I wonder if we can see Omega Centauti from here.” Usually the cluster is too far south to be seen from most observation sites at our latitude. Kent then said, “there it is.” Wow! Tom plugged the coordinates into his Argo Navis and slewed to the massive globular. Tom was worried as his scope got lower and lower as it approached the horizon. When it stopped moving at about 5 degrees above the horizon, we literally got down on our knees to view the Big Sheriff of globular clusters. With a 17mm eyepiece at 120x, the spheroid almost filled the eyepiece. The Dave, Kent and Andy followed suit to see it. Considering that we were looking through the “soup” at the horizon, Omega Centauri was remarkably resolved and it was the highlight of the evening.”
From Dave Majors:
“Tom and I were out until about 2:30 AM. The waning crescent moon was rising over the trees to the east just as we were leaving. The seeing improved steadily throughout the night. Tom was working through some of his double star lists and I was working through some of the neglected Miras. We had one final observation of what we thought might be the brightest member of Stephen’s Quintet. If that observation holds up then the limiting magnitude for my 12” was 14.1 for stars and 13.9 for deep sky objects.