Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

A great night for observing

I’ve known guys who say a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. My corollary is that a bad night observing the night sky is better than a good night doing, well, anything else.

But Thursday night, Nov. 11, was a fabulous night for observing and I’m happy to report that everything worked great – at least, until the battery ran out of power.

I was running for three and a half hours, and for most of that time the battery was powering the telescope mount and the tube heater, which keeps the dew away. The dew interdiction has a tendency to drain the battery, but more about that later.

It was a good night and almost every slew was right, even though the mount wasn’t polar aligned. I started out looking at Jupiter through the 25mm, 17mm and 10 mm eyepieces, and once the planet cleared the big tree it was amazing. I also viewed the moon and eventually got several nice looks at the planet Uranus.

Deep sky objects can be a challenge, and I was getting nowhere in slews to M31 – the Andromeda Galaxy – until I used Alpheratz as a calibration star. Then the scope slewed right to M31. Later, I looked at M57 – the Ring Nebula – in Lyra, and M29 and M39 in Cygnus. I have been awaiting a shot at my old friend the Double Cluster in Perseus, and my slew to it was near perfect. I got some great views of it, and did several slews to M31, Jupiter, Uranus and even the crescent moon.

For the first time, I used my 40mm eyepiece and got some great wide-angle views of M31 and the Double Cluster. Usually I use the 32mm eyepiece for such views.

I was about to close out the night’s observing with a shot at the Pleiades, which was showing through the trees, but then the mount began to slew out of control. I stopped it, and noticed that the power light was amber, meaning the battery was low. Before I could act, it died completely.

I shut everything down and broke down the telescope, then hauled it all up to my condo.

The Gainesville site has its disadvantages, but I have managed to work around them and it was great seeing all my old friends in the sky and a few new ones, too.


November 12, 2010 - Posted by | Observations with Vinny | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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