Finally, A Clear Sky

After what seems like weeks on end without any clear skies, last night the clouds finally scattered and I was able to bring the telescope out onto the balcony for a bit of limited observing. The moon is nearly full, and from within a class 6 Bortle zone, things are going to be that much more difficult. However, I feel at this point I have nearly perfected my technique for collimating my 10-inch dob, with the help of the laser collimator. I plugged in the primary-mirror fan, and waited for it to get darker.

I started the night of observing with NGC 2281, the Broken Heart Cluster. Here I tested out my 2-inch X2 barlow to double the magnification of my 26mm wide-view eyepiece. That closer look made it easier to get in closer to the central little knot of stars.

Next I wanted to see if I could spot my old favorites M81 and M82. After some quick searching (and again being reminded by how much I dislike the laser red-dot finder) I found them.

This screenshot only approximates the view through the telescope. But even with a near full-moon, from city skies, I could still make out some details in M81. In M82 also I could just make out some of the central structure of this starburst galaxy. Of course the view above is flipped upside down through the scope, so that through the 26mm eyepiece, the Cigar galaxy (M82) is on the left and M81 is on the right. A little ways west of these and I could just make out NGC 3077 (pictured here at the top of this screenshot from Stellarium).

And on to new discoveries. The next galaxy I wanted to spot is a bit further west and much farther out into space than the M81 group. From the Alhaud V and 26 Ursa-Majoris pair of stars, I headed north to HIP 46168 and HIP45836. Just a bit west of these is also HIP 45965, and there was the faint-fuzzy I was after, NGC 2841, The Tiger’s Eye Galaxy.

Stellarium truly is an excellent guide to the amateur astronomer who may be observing some of these objects for the first time. I can’t wait to get a chance in the next couple weeks, hopefully, when the moon will be waning and rising very late at night, so that I can head out to my dark sky site and make better observations of these.

My goodness. I almost forgot to mention, I also saw ISS through the scope this night! The ISS app on my phone alerted me that there would be a flyover in the next 5 minutes, So I was ready. When it appeared, I had an easy time spotting the bright slow moving space-station in the scope and following it for a bit. Of course, with it’s rapid motion, it was difficult to make out any structural detail. Would I have been able to even if it had been stationary?

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