Scott Harris – Celestron NexStar 8
Gary Leiker – Edge C8 on AVX
Collin Smith – 4” ED F/7 refractor
When I arrived a few minutes before 10 PM, Gary and Scott were getting finalized on setup, with Scott about finished. I jumped into action. The wind was quite strong, stronger than I’d liked, but Gary’s AVX mount proved up to the task, a task Scott and my scopes struggled with, by comparison. The mosquitoes horrible, but seeing was pretty good. Fortunately for me, Scott’s girlfriend, Leslie, sprayed me down well with repellent, which I had forgotten to bring, and would have had to leave if she hadn’t doused me.
Scott’s 12.5mm Sterling Plossl made for the best view of Saturn earlier in the evening, but the best view Gary and I’d get later.
At Jove no Great Red Spot during our outing, but in our refractors and SCTs, Ganymede was very close to the left of Jupiter’s disk, with Io, Callisto and Europa all on the right, in that order, making a Callisto-capped scalene triangle with Europa farthest out, though a little closer to Callisto. Scott’s 8” SCT with 12.5mm Sterling Plossl put up a nice 160x view of Jupiter, but soon Gary and Scott took off for other targets. At 22:38 Ganymede began to transit Jupiter’s disk. I caught it first, lingering at Jupiter while I enjoying my old-school clock drive. It was a beautiful transit, and Scott even got Leslie to come out and take a peek. It was better in Scott and Gary’s, than mine, of course. Aperture reigneth.
The maiden night-sky voyage for my new TeleVue 16mm Nagler T5 was productive, indeed. I had worried that selling my much-beloved 20mm Meade SWA, along with some others, might not have the result I’d hoped for. Well, I needn’t have worried, and the 16mm T5 works just fine for me. Some complain of the eye relief, but at around 10mm, I found this sufficient. I’m not a fan of tight eye relief, but 10mm’s is no problem for me. The T5 did a great job of framing the Leo Triplet. Now, the Leo Triplet in a 4” refractor is far from spectacular in terms of galactic detail, but through the T5 it does afford a nice framing with all those stars and space about them. M51-NGC5195 were framed very, very nicely. Even Gary enjoyed these, and, again, though galactic detail might be a bit sparse from a huge dobsonian perspective, the M51 pair afforded more detail than the Triplet, with both cores clearly visible. M81/82 were also framed nicely, but NGC 3077 didn’t show up, or at least I didn’t see it.
My 7mm DeLite was all the power I could manage for Jupiter, Mars & Saturn, with the wind beating about my images so. I got as good a view as one could expect from this optical setup under such circumstances.
M3 looked good in our scopes. While Gary put M4 in his Edge 8 to good effect, despite its southern orientation and Lubbock’s glare. I scooped out the Swan Nebula, M17, out of the Sagittarian fare. We all got M57, and the Ring Nebula doesn’t disappoint.
It was getting late, and the moon would be coming up soon. I put the 2” 31mm Baader Aspheric and O-III filter into the diagonal and, kind of, squeaked out the entire Veil Nebula in Cygnus, into the big eye lens. It was a lot easier, and better, to take the glorious eastern side, NGC 6992, then scroll to the western Witch’s Broom side, NGC 6960.
The moon came up so Scott and Leslie left. Gary and I decided to make another round of the eastern planets. I loaned Gary my BCO 10mm ortho, and we managed 200x on Saturn and Mars for the best views of both we’d get this night. The detail on the glove on Saturn, and the shadow of the rings were simply stunning. Even the northern hexagonal cap was hinted at. Wow! Mars showed Syrtis Major into the southern deserts. Such detail! Gary’s mount took the wind and really didn’t shake the view to death, the way my mount did. We appreciated the stability on these high powered views of the planets.
It was late, the moon was bright and had destroyed the sky’s previously dark contrast, and it was time to get home.