Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fall observing

Been awhile since the last post!  Mid-October through mid-Novermber was a busy month on the astronomy front for me- I attended the All Arizona Star Party, made a quick trip to Portal, AZ and also led about a half-dozen programs at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter...all since the last post!

Rather than try and write a long post to capture it all, I'll just provide some brief details and some photos and hope that your imagination is as great as the real events were!  The All Arizona Star Party (AASP) is an annual event, that was held this year at what is referred to as the Antenna site...basically about 2 miles south of Interstate 10, and about 80  miles west of Phoenix, AZ.  I attended with my friend Jerry Farrar, and we camped next to Kevin and Brian from Lunt Solar Systems.  This was quite a treat as they brought the entire Lunt arsenal of scopes and filters.  I had a chance to double stack the new 60 front mounted etalon on my scope (to the left) and it was awesome!  Not only were the views of surface features rich with contrast and detail, but we observed an M 5.4 class solar flare on Saturday morning.  Below is my sketch of the sun, including the flare in region 11121.

Naturally I observed many nighttime objects as well, including many galaxies in the constellation of Aquarius.  Using my 12" LX-200 SCT, I observed NGC 7171, NGC 7184, NGC 7218, NGC 7392, NGC 7723, and the pair NGC 7724 & 7727 that shared the field of view at 152 power.  I also observed NGC 7492 which is a very faint, diffuse globular cluster.  This appeared almost as a mist in the eyepiece with about 6 stars resolved.  I spent some time observing NGC 708, the faith group of galaxies, also known as Abell 262, located in Andromeda.  I was drawn to check out this group of galaxies by a recent image created by my colleague Adam Block as part of the first light of the new 32" Schulman Telescope at the Mount Lemmon Sky Center. Below is a Digitized Sky Survey image and my sketch (reversed left to right), and underneath that is Adam's image of the galaxies.

Copyright Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

If you have read my blog over the past many months, you know that Portal, AZ is home to Rancho del Farrar, one of my favorite places on earth to observe.  Jerry invited me out for a quick trip with some of his family and friends.  While the observing was pretty laid back, we had a great time and the company was excellent.  Prior to leaving Portal, Beth and Ian and I went on a short hike in Cave Creek Canyon to a small cave that can be explored in about 10 minutes. Enjoy the photos of our trip!

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