The forecast at home, under our
Looking around the sky naked eye I could spot the Double Cluster in Perseus and M31 in Andromeda, though admittedly they were both weak in our home sky than at our dark site house. That was to be expected since there are about three
28mm Astro-Tech UWA (17x, 4.8° TFOV, 4.7mm exit pupil)
13mm Ethos (36x, 2.8° TFOV, 2.2mm exit pupil)
10mm XW (48x, 1.5° TFOV, 1.7mm exit pupil)
7mm XW (68x, 1.0° TFOV, 1.2mm exit pupil)
5mm XW (96x, 0.7° TFOV, 0.8mm exit pupil)
Jupiter (Aries, planet, mag=-2.8, size=46.0”)
The king of the planets was glaringly bright about nearly 7’ southeast of mag 5.5 Sigma Arietis. It was viewed initially at 17x, but then at 68x it presented a large disk with its two primary equatorial bands easily discerned. The four Galilean moons were present, with mag 5.0 Io was off by itself to the ENE of Jupiter. To the WSW of Jupiter’s disk Europa (mag 5.2), Callisto (mag 5.6) and Ganymede (mag 4.6) formed a scalene triangle.
Saturn (Aquarius, planet, mag=0.5, size=43.0”x17.0”):
Next up is probably the most beloved planet of our system, Saturn, with its bright rings. Observed initially at 17x it was tiny disk, with its rings clearly seen tipped slightly forward from our perspective. Going up 68x and 96x, Cassini’s Division was glimpsed in moments of more clarity and steadiness. I also noticed its brightest moon, mag 8.4 Titan, as a tiny pinpoint immediately southeast of Saturn’s disk.
Since I could see the famous Double Cluster with the naked eye, it was a simple thing to aim the scope at this fine object(s) using the unity finder. Taking a look at 17x, they were small within the large field of view, so I boosted magnification up to 36x then 68x.
I could see the famous Pleiades climbing above the eastern horizon, and quickly placed them in the eyepiece at 17x. They were a lovely view, well framed in the large
I know swung over to mag 2.7 Delta Cassiopeiae and nudged SSW only about 2° to easily sweep up one of my favorite open clusters. Known variously by the nicknames of the Owl Cluster, ET Cluster and Kachina Doll Cluster, this curious grouping is highlighted by two bright eyes – mag 5.0 Phi Cas and mag 7.0 HD 7902. At 17x the figure of the “owl” was clearly visible was clearly seen with the eyes dominating the group and the body of the night bird with its outstretched wings. I counted about 20 stars in the field, and going to 36x increased the star count closer to 30 as more of its dimmer members filled in a bit more. This cluster is always a delight and has been one I have looked at often over the decades with instruments ranging from binoculars up to my 17.5 inch.
This staple of the autumn sky was just discerned with the naked eye from my
This companion galaxy of M31 was also readily apparent at 17x southeast of the core of the primary galaxy. Because a great deal of M31’s disk was not visible due to sky glow, M32 was well separated from what I could see of the primary galaxy. It was small, bright and rounded in appearance. Its core was almost stellar within its overall halo, and as is typical gave the impression of an unresolved globular cluster. A fine addition to the overall view and it really stood out at 68x.
This other major companion of M31 can be a bit trickier from light polluted areas. Though its apparent magnitude is the same as M32, its larger angular size reduces its surface brightness noticeably, and therefore it can sometime hide from view. At 17x, I could just discern it’s very dim and diaphanous, slightly large oval disk. It was evenly illuminated across its halo. Then at 68x while a little more readily apparent, it remained nonetheless a very faint ghostly oval that could easily be overlooked by a casual observer.
I next aimed the scope at mag 3.4 Alpha Trianguli (Metallah). With the 28mm (17x) in the focuser, I studied the field WNW of this star, and had hints of a somewhat large and very low surface brightness oval diffuse glow. Having observed this member of the Local Group many times over the year I know I had found my target. I immediately went to 36x and it was more apparent but certainly faint enough that it could easily be overlooked. At 96x, I was picking up some unevenness of brightness within its disk, and particularly a small knot in its northeastern quadrant. I took this to be its largest and brightest (a relative term) HII region,
Looking around the sky I noticed mag 2.1 Epsilon Pegasi (Enif). Aiming the scope at this bright star, I nudged slightly to the northwest and easy scooped up this bright globular cluster using 17x. It presented a small but very apparent round diffuse glow with a stellar looking core buried within. Taking a look at 68x it was quite bright and a little more extended, still with that very bright and tightly condensed core at its center. This cluster is always a fine view and even in the smaller
My final object for this outing was a last second thought. I noticed Lyra lying on its side just above our roof line to the northwest, so I swung the scope around. Aiming at mag 3.4 Beta Lyrae (Sheliak) and mag 3.2 Gamma Lyrae (Sulafat), I quickly swept up this planetary at 17x as a very small and dim grayish rounded glow. Taking looks at 48x and 96x it was more readily apparent, and visually larger at each step. Its center looked lighter than its outer ring structure, revealing its annular appearance. In larger apertures it of course reveals more detail, but even at this
It was now after 0030 hours and I was feeling tired from my activity. I know I will have to gradually increase my activity over time to build my endurance levels. But that is all part of the recovery process. Anyway, thanks for following along on this little outdoor adventure under a not so dark suburban sky. It was a fun endeavor and served to reconnect me to the visible universe I love. Take care and keep looking up friends.