UGH last nights observing of stellar snowballs


Hmm. Things started out OK, if not stellar (forgive the pun) but deteriorated into the worst seeing I have experienced in quite some time. I was looking at open clusters in anticipation of testing my Baader ortho on Saturn. Things were not terrible, seeing wise at the time but that was to change. By the end of the evening every star was so bad I could not focus on anything. Seriously. No test that night. My scope's images looked like an out of collimation Tasco with a chip in the mirror and the clips tightened to 230 ft lbs.

It was not a total loss though as Kent had the foresight to break out his 16 inch. I did manage to surprise myself by being able to early on see NGC 7789 which is big but not exactly high surface brightness. It was at least identifiable in the 5  inch. The surprise was that I could see Wildt's Red Star in the outskirts. I did not think it could be done from an urban area. Both of us saw the red color at 90x. Any more power and the color faded. I managed it the other night under good conditions in a dark sky with the 4 inch (with effort).

Kent found the huge planetary nebula the Helix in the 16. I am still not sure I saw it in the poor skies. It is just too spread out for urban skies but it seems to me I have done it before. Just can't remember when. Like seeing a black bat in a dark cave with no light.

The best thing of the night was Neptune in the 16. The blue color was obvious and we were actually able to see Triton, moon of Neptune. I am pretty sure of this 13.6 magnitude object. It was in the right place and distance. Sky Tools showed no other objects there. We have done this years ago in Pungo with the 18. Maybe the 12.5 too.

Things were now getting horrible fast. Very dry night but something happened to the seeing. Maybe dust from the asteroid collision. Jupiter looked awful generally despite being at opposition. I have yet to see it good this year. By the time I got home at 1130 it was almost too high to observe. The sky was filled with planetary nebulas at this point.