Report from June 5th Star Gazing…

On June 5,   CCAS members were finally able to give the Dancing Deer Ranch site a good workout.

Attending with their scopes were the dobs:

Aurora’s 8 year old son Benji with his 3″ scope.

Kent with his 20″

Tom with his 17″

Dave and Andy with their 12″ scopes

The skies were clear, the evening warm, the company good and the stage set for a fine evening.

Seeing conditions were unsteady from some breezes early on but improved throughout the evening

Eagle -eyed Kent got the evening started off by being the first to spot Venus. Venus is still showing a waning gibbous phase. A variable polarizer filter gave better views of the gibbous phase by reducing glare.

As the sky darkened Kent was consistently the first to spot objects – this time Saturn and the Regulus-Mars pair. Saturn was a fine view with at least three moons as well as the rings . Titan was visible of course but there were at least two others. Rhea was on the other side of the disk from Titan. There was a third moon visible on the same side of the disk with Titan which from the S&T wiggle-gram could have been either Dionne or Tethys- possibly both as the seeing was still a bit unsteady.   Mars showed a small disk with little detail.

All during the early evening there were guests staying at the ranch dropping by and looking through all the scopes. Dave was delayed when his Intelliscope Finder stopped seeing signals from the altitude encoder midway through the alignment but got back into the act a little later.

Once it was fully dark Kent noticed that the ridge defining the southern horizon was very low and that stars of Centaurus were visible. Out came his binocs and there it was- Omega Centauri from San Luis Obispo County!!! Several of the observers had never before seen this magnificent globular visually and were very impressed. Tom had to go to a lower magnification as  it filled the entire field of view through his 17mm eyepiece. Individual stars were visible all across the cluster in all the scopes despite the low altitude.

Also visible was the colliding galaxy pair NGC 5128. Through all the scopes the dark lane was visible with direct vision.

A couple of other highlights from the evening were the Stargate asterism and the colliding galaxy pair NGC 4038/4039.

The Stargate is an asterism with a triangle of stars nested inside another triangle near M104. Designated STF  1659 this is a nice attractive set of stars .  Here are links to a couple of sites with more information.

for information on the stars and a finder chart

for PA and Sep measurements if anyone would like to compare.

NGC 4038/4039 is a colliding pair of galaxies in Corvus called the Antennae or Ring-Tail galaxies.  Through Tom’s and Kent’s scopes the U-shape was readily apparent. Through Dave and Andy’s 12″ scopes the dark area appeared more of an indentation and the u-shape not readily apparent.

By midnight Just Tom and Dave were left. They spent the next two hours working through their lists-Tom with his doubles and Dave with his Miras.

Just before finishing off they took a quick tour through the summer attractions and some of the fall attractions. The last item was galaxy NGC 7331 in Pegasus . There appeared to be a faint galaxy about a half degree from NGC 7331. It was only seen with averted vision and very faint at that. From the location this may have been the brightest member of Stephen’s Quintet at 13 mag.

The waning crescent moon was rising through the trees just as Dave and Tom were driving off

Here some links to some APOD images of the night’s observing

Omega Centauri

NGC 5128 or Centaurus A

The Antennae (NGC4038/4039)

Stephan’s Quintet

NGC 7331 with Stephen’s Quintet at lower left

Good Hunting!!

Dave M.

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