Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stalwart Observing Companion

Rob Esson (at left), one of my favorite observing companions, and I finally made it out for a night under the stars. I can't recall the last time we observed together. Rob travels in his job and is often out of the country. It has been several years at any rate. We went to the ASKC dark sky site near Butler, Missouri and had a pleasant evening even though the observing conditions were not the greatest.

Rob brought his bino chair and was working on the Astronomy League's deep sky binocular program. I set up the 22-inch dob and was looking at whatever came to mind. We had particularly memorable views of comet 17P Holmes, which Rob dubbed the "celestial jellyfish," aptly describing its odd, uncomet-like appearance. We also had fine views of the Veil Nebula in Cygnus and the Orion Nebula, both of which look fabu in the big scope. Oh, and we also looked at one of Rob's favorite Caldwell objects -- NGC 891, a faint but impressive edge-on spiral galaxy in Andromeda.

The skies were murky off and on during the night and became increasingly so after 11:30 PM. The seeing wasn't terrific either. I made a brief, abortive attempt to look at the Horsehead Nebula, an object I have not observed before. The seeing conditions simply weren't good enough. Earlier in the evening, however, I did observe the Cocoon Nebula, a famously elusive object which I have only seen once before and that time rated it an extremely difficult observation. With the 22-inch and a UHC filter it is easy to see even under less than ideal conditions. It reportedly responds well to a Hydrogen Beta filter, an item on my astronomy accesory shortlist.

We knocked off around 2:30 AM, got up at 8:00 AM, packed up, and left the DSS around 10. On our way toward Butler, we saw a flock of 18 wild turkeys, the most either of us have seen before. Some of them were surprisingly large. We shot a number of pictures with Rob's digital SLR. I'll post a few on my blog when he sends them to me. We stopped for breakfast at a diner in Butler on our way back to Kansas City.

1 comment:

resson said...

Thank you for your kind comments Fiske - I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The view of NGC891 through your Dob was the best I have ever seen. I have also sent on to you a couple of pictures of the turkeys we saw after we left the DSS!