By Paul Sokolowski
Observing Location: Broad Creek
Date/Time: Tuesday, May 8. We met at the hill at 7PM
Also Present: Cathy Tingler, Steve Clark, Tim Phelan and Tim Kamel
With promises of clear skies, we arrived on the hill at 7PM. Unbeknownst to us, we would be sharing the hill till dark with the K9/Search and Rescue trainers. They have a fun time even though their training/work is quite serious. Quite fun to watch, too.
Since this was my first venture up there this spring, “gardening” was somewhat of a chore. Glad we got there well before sunset.
My focus for the evening was my 15” dob. I haven’t had that scope out in over a year. Fortunately, though slowly, I did manage to remember how to put it together. Getting a little worried that the connection where the trusses meet the secondary housing look a little out of whack. Probably just needs a little bending.
The first “fail” of the evening was with my encoders, specifically the Az encoder. Took me a while to figure it out, but it turned out to just be a slightly bent connecting pin. Easily fixed once found.
My biggest going in concern for the evening was that, having not used the dob in a year and having done some mirror cleaning since, I’d be spending a lot of time collimating. After a few looks at Jupiter (still low in the east so very hazy) and after taking Arcturus in and out of focus several times, I decided to “live with it” for the night. It wasn’t perfect but not bad at all. I’ll fine tune it on a bright star at home some night.
I didn’t do much “hopping”. It was a nice clear night and often I enjoy just looking up at the sky naked eye, so I did a bunch of that. Venus was very bright, as was Jupiter, just a day before opposition. All the alignment stars that you would use for “go to/push to” were easy to locate.
Hopped to M13 in Hercules. Using my 20mm (95X), it was impressive but no resolvable stars. I later switched to a 15mm (127X) and was able to resolve a lot of the outer stars.
Next on to M81 and M82. I enjoy getting them both in the same field of view (barely) with my 24mm (79X). The Cigar was particularly clear. Not bad for 12 million light years.
My last stop was the Leo Triplet. I can usually get those three in the same field but wasn’t able to this time. Maybe I’m remembering incorrectly and needed to go up to my next eyepiece. Or maybe I got washed out a little by the Jones Junction Nebula.
Cathy had announced in advance that she would need to pack up around 10:30. By then we all seemed to have our fill and followed suit.
We left the gate somewhere around 11PM