I had a nice excursion from my studies on Tuesday night to spend some time under the stars. Over 2.5 hours, I managed to pick off two targets from my challenge list and also reobserved a few other objects I hadn't seen in a while.
Then I concentrated my efforts on locating Comet C/2014 E2 (Jacques), a rather recent comet discovery. It took a while to starhop to, due its position in the unfamiliar faint southern constellation of Antila. I think I've used stars in that constellation only once before (for an object in neighboring Pyxis).
At Kent's suggestion on the forums earlier in the day, I took another look at NGC 2903, a bright Leo galaxy missed by Messier. I didn't catch the spiral arms as I had hoped, but I did notice a knot in the NNE plane of the galaxy: NGC 2905, a star cloud.
I then unsuccessfully tried for 14th magnitude globular cluster Palomar 4 in Ursa Major. That's the third Palomar globular I've attempted (along with Palomar 1 and 2). Perhaps one of you can recommend one for a modest scope?
I caught a quick look at NGC 4038 and NGC 4039 (Antennae Galaxies) before moving on to M53 and the elusive NGC 5053. This was my first observation of NGC 5053. As for M53, I could not "un-see" my impression of a blue hue to the cluster. Weird, I've never had the impression of any color in a globular cluster before. Have any of you???
Then I wrapped up the night with Mars and Saturn. Given my relatively recent start as an astronomer in 2011, this is only the second Mars opposition I've followed with a telescope. At 15 arcseconds in apparent size, this is the largest I've seen the planet so far. The north polar cap and Mare Cimmerium (I think that's its identity) were not too difficult to spot. The NPC had a noticeable dark rim surrounding it. During moments of excellent seeing, also visible was what seemed to be a brightening near the center of the disk—probably Elysium Mons (a Martian volcanic region)—surrounded by subtle features on either side. 192x magnification was used, viewed unfiltered and with the polarizing filter (to tone down the brightness).
My logs can be found on my new astronomy website (Mars will be posted later):
Herschel II objects seen so far: 42