Since things seem a bit slow in this forum as Michael mentioned, I thought I would dredge up very old report I had written early on in my attempts to start keeping better track of what I was observing. Something I failed to do for many years previously. Anyway, the writing style is a little different than I utilize nowadays, but nonetheless, conveys my thoughts during the outing at a location that was about a Bortle
4 quality. Since I was in travel mode, I was using an ST120 refractor at the time, which was later sold when I purchased my ES
AR127 refractor. Nonetheless, I liked the ST120, and it gave me a lot of visual pleasure under the sky during several outings during that time frame. Anyway here is what I was up to in late November 13 years ago. Hope you enjoy the read.
Observing Report: Cassiopeia
Date: 26 November 2010
Telescope: Orion ST-120 Refractor on a Vixen Porta-II Mount
Eyepieces: Baader Hyperion eyepieces - 21mm (29X), 13mm (46X), 8mm (75X), 5mm (120X)
Atlas: Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas
My evening with the fair lady, Cassiopeia, started with the open cluster M103. Slipping slowly northeasterly from Ruchbah (Delta Cas), using the 21mm Hyperion (29x), this small, faint cluster came into view. I could make out six to seven stars that reminded me of a straight handled dipper or pan set against a haze of stars unresolved. Bumping the power to 46x brought a few more stars into tenuous view, while inserting the 8mm Hyperion (76x) revealed about fifteen stars against a background haze of fainter stars. Re-inserting the 21mm, I nudged towards the northeast towards a triangle of stars, around which my next targets were located. The open cluster NGC
659, listed at magnitude 7.9, it appeared as a tiny fuzzy patch at 29x. Raising the magnification to 46x, the cluster still remained faint and small, but now a few stars were dancing in and out of view, particularly with averted vision. Pushing up to 76x, the size didn’t change much, but this brought out about half a dozen steadily visible stars, with more in and out of view with averted vision, over the background haze of many more unresolved members.
Moving slowly over to open cluster NGC
663, again at 29x, I found a delightful object. The cluster was large, loose and almost totally resolved, with about two to three dozen stars directly visible, against a light dusting of hazy unresolved stars. Bumping up to 46x, I found the cluster almost totally resolved. There appeared to be a very noticeable dark lane running north-south through the middle of the cluster. Slipping in the 8mm (76x) didn’t really improve the view noticeably. A very light haze of stars still persisted just beyond my ability to resolve them. The dark area still persisited through the middle of the cluster. I then angled north ever so slightly to center on open cluster NGC
654. At 29x, it shows only as a small hazy patch with a 7th magnitude star prominent along the south-southeastern edge. With 46x, averted vision brings forth several stars just north of the 7th magnitude star. The density of this area increases nicely at 76x. Again, applying averted vision brings out a very strong field of stars, with the haze of those yet out of reach. Moving back to Ruchbah, I moved on to the southwest to Phi Cas, and in the same view was my next victim, NGC
457. This cluster a real treat and at 29x it was very bright and loose. About twenty stars were apparent in the shape of a stick figure owl (to me at least). Two bright eyes at the top, stick body, stick wings stretching out to the side, then down to two faint stars as feet. It was so attractive at low power that I didn’t even bother to use the other eyepieces as I felt it was perfect as was at 29x.
I next swung the scope up to Caph (B Cas), in search of my next open cluster, M52. Following the line of A to B Cas, and again by the same distance, I easily found the cluster in my 8x50 finder. I could see a condensed haze with around ten stars winking in and out. Inserting the 13mm Hyperion (46x), increased the resolved star count to approximately twenty, again with the backing haze of unresolved stars. I now noted a small hazy spot just off the northeast edge of M52. Upping the ante a little with the 8mm Hyperion (75X), the cluster was resolved almost entirely. There did remain just a slight underlying haze of stars just beyond resolution. The small hazy area noted at 46x, was now resolved as a faint patch of stars, which appeared to be just an extension of the primary cluster. I did not however, see a hint of the faint Bubble Nebula (NGC
7635) just to the west of M52. I next hopped ESE from M52 to the star 6 Cas. I then moved south to a small triangle of stars in order to find the open cluster pair of NGC
7790 and NGC
7788. At 29x, they both appeared faint and hazy. NGC7790 showed about a half-dozen stars over the background haze of unresolved suns, with more becoming somewhat apparent with averted vision. Increasing the power really didn’t improve the view much. NGC7788, showed a very few stars against the background haze. As with 7790, increasing magnification did little to improve the view.
Moving back to Caph, I then worked southwesterly to open cluster NGC
7789 with the finder. The fuzzy spot slipped easily into view, and with 29x applied, revealed itself as a very rich and large cluster. About two dozen stars were evident over the gauze of unresolved suns. By increasing magnification up to 46x, about three dozen stars were now visible with direct vision. It really did bring to mind a loose globular cluster. I then pushed the power up to 75x, and it appeared that some dark lanes appeared in the background haze. I was surprised at this appearance, and it may well be my imagination.
My final attempts for the evening were the elliptical galaxies NGC
147 and NGC
185, both satellites of M31. I navigated from Mirach (Beta And) to Phi And, then west-northwest to Omicron And. I continued that line onward to a 7th magnitude star that lies between the two galaxies. I was finally able to detect a faint smudge where NGC185 should be, verified by tapping the tube and seeing the smudge shimmy. Try as I might, NGC147 was not spotted. So my evening came to an end. Open clusters are not object I usually spend a lot of time pursuing, but I found it fun and challenging. To top it off with NGC185, faint as it might be, just put the icing on my celestial cake.