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September 30, 2002 - A Slow Dance With Saggitarius...

Comments: I like this earlier dark time. It has somehow kept my favourite constellations frozen in place, and a gently warm indian summer night is all I could ask for.

The dob and I walk slowly past the swimming pool. I pat its' winterized side as we go by, knowing that despite the warm night the water would be far too cold. We're heading out to the widen open spaces of the south field to take pleasure in a bit of music and dance amoung the stars.

And Saggitarius is my partner.

There is no real aim tonight. No intent, or pupose. As much as I would enjoy starting a new study area, I find myself quite content to be simple minded at times. Willing to sail the "Sargasso Sea"... Just a quiet time to hop from this nebula to that. Time enough to look at this bold globular and capture that small one. Simply happy to coast along the Milky Way as it streams out from the center of our galaxy...

And glad to know you're still around.

"Oh, can't see? Can't you see? What that one... Been doin' to me."



September 29, 2002 - The Astronomy Hour and the Moon...

Comments: It had been a long and busy day. I've had my hands both full and tied for so long now, it's beginning to feel natural. But, there's a certain measure I take to keep from feeling burned out, and that is just a bit of time to look at the stars. Some might consider the practice of astronomy to be "work", but I consider it to be the finest form of relaxtion I know.

Turning on the tunes, I chose the dob tonight and park it in my routine observing spot. The skies aren't highly favourable, but obtuse targets aren't what I'm after. What I want is the delightful cover of darkness, and the chance to talk with my youngest son. Far too often the television, video games and the telephone interfere with just good old fashioned communication, and during the teenage years, it's far too easy to let you children grow away from you. Oddly enough, there is a certain peace about being in the dark together under the stars. Perhaps it is because you cannot see each other's faces clearly that inspires the exchange of confidences. And maybe, just maybe the sharing is a good thing....

Jon has long been acquainted with the dob. He grew up at the tripod legs of the 4.5. Where other's might score a mark on a door frame, I've watched my youngest son go from needing a stool to view to being taller than myself. Tonight we chose the M31, M32 and M110 as our targets...

And he took us there.

While we bathed in the light of distant universes, we discussed everything from field trips to girls - the X-box to System of the Down. Happily switching eyepieces and lacing our conversation with our observations. The hour passed very pleasantly indeed, and when he had bored with me? Well, I can't compete with chatting on the telephone to one's girlfriend, and I don't even try.

As we began putting the cover back on for the night, he stood looking up at the stars. I've often wondered if he remembers anything we've looked at over the years, and tonight I know. For lo and behold! He has a request!!

Bacon Fettucine....

*****************************************************

And the hours of the night pass far too quickly. Once again it is time for me to rise and shine, eh? Until the time when the weather keeps me standing by the woodburner with my morning cup, I still prefer to stand outside and enjoy the edge of night.

Setting the 4.5 just outside the garage door, it is my great pleasure to see Saturn this morning. Even with the Moon splitting the distance between it and Jupiter, the finer inner moons sparkle like small crystals around the ring edges. Titan walks up and behind, and the shadow play is excellent. Jupiter and the galieans are also quite happy to perform under these steady skies. The delineations on the planet's surface are just strikingly clear this morning, and the crooked waltz of the moons a true pleasure.

Finishing my coffee I stop for one last moment before heading off to my far-too-busy world... That gorgeous silver Moon is just calling.

The huge simplicity of Copernicus arrests the eye at first, but as always, I tend to be drawn toward the Southern Highlands. Craters familiar such as Wilhelm, Longomontanus and Schiller are like old companions. And thanks to a trick of the light? "Dead Cat Crater" gives me the smile I need to start the day.

Off with me now...

"Ride me a southbound... All the way to Georgia now. Til' the train run out of track..."



September 28/29, 2002 - The Sun, the WCAS Star Party and the Moon...

Comments: So my days and nights get jumbled up a bit... What's new? To me each day begins with the Sun and ends at sunrise the next. I realize there's a date involved there somewhere... But I ain't the "dating kind".

Chomping at the bit to finish my responsibilities for the day, I couldn't wait to sneak a look at Helios. This time I used only the Baader filter. I am really trying to give it a fair shake, and the best way I know possible is to use it... Just like I used the Orion before it. This time it was my great pleasure to actually see granulation and faculae with far less trouble than before.

Now, I realize this isn't the clearest shot in terms of the spot itself, but for now I temporarily include it because the camera actually did pick it up!

(oops! and now it's gone, isn't it? ah, well... it wasn't that great any way, and you know ~T... one day those photos are here, and the next? lost in space... ;)

There was also two additional decent series of spots, and normally I do not rush through my observations quite so quickly, but the Sun is always around, and my opportunity to take a Road Trip isn't!

In order to do justice to the Star Party I attended, I have made a seperate page... and without further ado, I invite you to attend The WCAS "Star Party".

I'd once again like to express my appreciation to Monty for the invitation, and to all of those who made the evening a great success!

Unfortunately, ~T had to split for points west before it got very late... Because duty calls again early. And, as usual, you know I've got to take that early morning cup outside with me, and that inevitably leads to the 4.5, and that leads to a few minutes of observing time!

And it was mighty fine....


Everything from the ridges in Rutherford to the smooth dimples in Plato was magnificent...

But, you can see what caught my eye, can't you? Yeah... How can you not look at the "Straight Wall"! And all those little fantasy details that run from Magnius on down... Just too much.

I thought I'd drop by the planets, but I've drooled far too long on the Moon...

Gotta' run...

"Gonna' buy me a ticket... Go as far away as I can. I ain't never comin' back..."



September 27, 2002 - Uranus, Neptune, Albeiro, 61 Cygni, Epsilon Lyrae, M11, Struve 2391, M31, M32, M110, Almach, Mesarthim, Eta Cassiopeia, Iota Cassiopeia, and stroking the open clusters....

Comments: I was bored. September's rain has left me so. I have practiced the finer art of cooking and sleeping to the point where it holds no appeal. I have played with the Gibson until the tips of the fingers on my left hand no longer have feeling. I have worked, I have read, I have eagerly practiced my HTML and JavaScript lessons. In short? I need out....

So I headed east toward one of those little places "where everybody knows your name" ... and tonight it is "Coffee, please." I had thought perhaps to play some billiards, but the younger crowd ruled that arena. Ordinarily I blend in rather well with them, but tonight I felt a bit more obscure. I felt like the company of someone my own age. The type of person who understands that not-so-young bones hurt when the weather is damp. The kind of people who still play ancient games. Time-honoured ones that involve short pieces of weighted metal with very sharp tips... And we aren't shooting at underfilled balloons to win a natty stuffed animal either. I'm talking about cricket.

After a few rounds of "catch as catch can", my opponents began to notice something rather odd about ~T's style. And it makes them nervous. I follow a rotation - starting with 15, and I refuse to take points for that which I wasn't aiming at. (funny, that... coming straight from a person who was more than willing to look at the ngc23 without trying... ;) I've never considered it to be a tactic, for I use it as discipline - a way of "shutting out" everything around me - just the way I practice. (and if you want to get "good" at hitting the bullseye? just put a dartboard in the same room as your telephone and take out your frustrations each time you're put on hold...) All in all, I didn't end up having to pay for any of my coffee last night, and when I had reached my "caffiene load limit"? It was time to go...

What a pleasure it was as I drove away from Smalltown, Ohio's lights to see the stars again! Part of me wishes I could just stop and admire the view, but I'm on the major highways tonight. The days of rain have swollen the many small streams and creeks that honeycomb the farm land, and many of my beloved "back roads" can be treacherous. But, no matter. For it wasn't long until I was in the backyard again, and seeking the companionship of my favourite "old friend"... The 4.5.

Saggitarius has long since departed west, and Capricornus has taken its' place. The sky isn't exceptionally pristine, but it's been so long since I've looked at the outer planets, I am quite willing to take my chances. Working with a current finder map, it doesn't take too long before I find the greenish disc of Uranus, and was well pleased to see that it is still at least in the same field as Mu. Neptune's small bluish form is a bit harder to locate, but I like a challenge. Eventually I did positvely locate Upsilon, and I find myself a bit confused. Wasn't it supposed to pair? Oh, there's a "pair" alright... Two similar magnitudes about an eyepiece field away to the east. Hmmmm.... A look at the charts, and a look at the eyepiece. This has got to be it. I'll bet ya' a cup of coffee...

Since the sky had quite taken me by surprise, I had no real observing "plan" for tonight. Seems like everything I know well has tipped to the west, and the atmosphere isn't going to support faint studies. (and it's too damp for the dob.) Oh, what the heck... Want to just randomly pick some stuff from the charts and go for it? Sounds fine to me! There's enough caffiene in my blood to fuel a 747 to Thailand... ;)

Albeiro it is. One of my most favourite of doubles, but just a shade "too easy" , if you know what I mean. Let's have a go at 61 Cygni instead... Oh, yeah. This is a bit more like it! This double is basically monochromatic, each component slightly orange in color and much closer to one another. A steady pocket in the air reveals the B star cleanly to the southeast, and it is mighty fine! Wanna' go for the "Double Double"? Then let's move back and see what we've got. Patience, now... Patience. Har. No amount of patience is going to put that thin line steady between the four components tonight. During a brief wavier, they are recognizable as doubles, but the majority of the time they touch. Not a good one to pick on with lowering sky position tonight....

Let's go for the M11, eh? And while you're just looking up? Notice that "Scotty's Star" is on the downhill slide... Variables. I like 'em. And I darn well like what just 114mm shows of the M11, too! Hey, we're not rocking it apart the way that the dob can, but it is still a very stellar satisfying open cluster! And nearby is Struve 2391... Ooooh! A disaparate! Yeah, yeah... I like this!! Both your basic white star, but the B is very small and lies most cleanly to the northwest. Very good...

Smiling at the tunes, I give a low whistle as I take inventory of the rest of the sky. If anything, it seems to be improving! For the Andromeda Galaxy is quite naked eye at the moment. Awesome... Let's go peek. I think there is no scope made, nor binoculars that cannot do some sort of justice to the M31. It's slightly golden beauty and intense core reveals itself to all who seek. It's a true beauty. Smaller aperature doesn't do as much for companions M32 and M110, but their revelation is still very nice. Both show concentrated nucleas structure, and decent structure even limited. It's just a very fine part of the sky...

Now, you know I'm gonna' waggle an eyebrow at you in the dark... Let's go dance with Almach. Gamma Andromeda will not reveal the C star to this scope, but to see the golden primary easily separated from the green-hued secondary is still a pleasure! As is Mesarthim... Gamma Arietis is just as tight... Or perhaps even tighter! For we have to wait for a moment of stability to cleanly sepearte this one-on-top-the-other pair of whites.

At the moment, Cassiopeia is in her prime. Shall we go sit on her lap and let her rock us? Heck, yeah... I'll race you there. First let's stop at Eta, alright? For I like this double star as well. Also quite disparate, but cleanly seperated, the B star is very red and ducks away at the northwest direction from the bright yellow primary. Iota is the one to present a challenge! All three are quite white, but the B star simply attaches itself to the primary tonight. The C component is very clean and away to the east... But that little wart B! Grrrrrr... I can see you! If you get any closer to the shoulder of that primary, you'll just become part of it! Fine then... play rough. I like it.

And now? Now I tire of looking at the maps. It was enough just to get out for awhile. There's a mist begininng to rise, and I'm feeling cold, damp and old. I'm ready to just loosen up the stops and brush over all the beautiful open clusters that Cassiopeia contains. Content to stay for awhile at this one, and not need to know its' name. Quite happy to visit with that one, even when I do know what it's called. And just dream upon a cloud of stars...

Seven seven something, isn't it? ;)

"Can't you see? Oh, can't you see? What that one is doin' to me..."


September 24, 2002 - Saturn, Jupiter, M44, M42, M41 and the Moon... NGC23, M31, M32 and M110...

Comments: Man... What a beautiful morning! No London fog today folks. Just crystal clear skies and a silver bright Moon. It really doesn't matter if she's out there... For Selene is one of the primary reasons I got up a bit early. I haven't looked in awhile, and I'm ready.

But first? Let's have a go at Saturn. Since I'm only walking with the 4.5 this morning, there's no outrageous detail, but the good 9mm does reveal the Cassini as a razor thin line, and limb darkening is unescapable. Only Titan, walking along ahead of Saturn like a dog on a leash shows at the moment. The Moon's bright influence puts the hurt on the little scope for revealing the "troopers" but there's all season for that yet.

Jupiter looks just awesome! With the Meade 26mm series 4000, the dimensional effect of the galieans makes getting up early very worth the effort. Both Callisto and Ganymede appear about the same size and magnitude but you can easily discern that Callisto is closest to us! Nearer the body of Jove, Europa definately appears more yellowish and larger... Even though you can itis much closer to the planet! And coming from behind is tiny Io. Most definately in the background... As far as planet detail goes? Who cares! Again... that's a thing I'll study later in the season. For now, I'm just diggin' on the dance of the galieans once again...

And since I also like keeping track of the planet's motions along the ecliptic, I tripped off to the M44. Suprisingly, Jupiter now resides three eyepiece fields, (or about 4 moon widths, if you prefer) away from where I saw it when viewing Comet Wirtanen. Pretty cool how fast and far they travel, eh? I like that. And I like sneaking a peak at the M42 and M41 as well... For it is just incredible to see how Orion has progressed across the sky as well. Where he once was laying on the horizon? Leo is now on the rise... And that means all those grrrrrrrreat galaxies will be along soon! Can't wait...

Now, off to the Moon with me before I have to leave. The bissected Mare Crisium arrests the eye the moment you look. Ringed by its' bright mountains, and punctuated in it's smooth basin by Pierce and Pickard. The edge just looks so crisp and clean this morning, I had to take its' picture, eh? And the area that caught my fancy was here...

Oh, sure.... It's nothing more spectacular than Messala, Geminus and Cleomides. (and a happy little "noise" line from where i need to clean my vcr.) And yeah, that's Atlas, Hercules, Franklin and Cepheus, too. But the ones I like are those little cool ones... The ones in that honeycomb of small craters. Ones with names like Debes, Tralles and Tisserand...

Now, I best git.

*****************************************************

And you know what? There are days when I wish I could find a mountain to jump off of. There are truly moments when I'd give anything to find a hole to crawl into and die. But you know what? It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter....

Now, I'm current and I'm off to galaxy hunt. Come and join me, will you? It's been a long, long day...

Bruce? I couldn't do what I did last night again in a million years. I pulled the dob round to my favourite "shady spot" and took the covers off, giving it a tip in the general direction of Pegasus to make sure I didn't need a ladder. Then I walked back, fired up some tunes, and looked one last time at the map. When I dropped the 17mm in, and went to achieve focus? There it by-gosh was... Right in the middle of the eyepiece.

The NGC23...

I tried telling myself this couldn't be. There was no way, because I hadn't even uncapped the finder! But I knew... I knew because I've looked at the darn thing repeatedly. And when I pushed it to the edge to put NGC26 in the center? I confirmed it in my own incredulous mind. Laughing, I recentered the 23 and put in the 9mm. I've had questions... and now I've got more. I don't see the second stellar point tonight. I tried all my favourite tricks, but it just wasn't there. How can this be? Surely it was almost as bright... at least within one magnitude, of the overlying star? But it's just not there... Perhaps the Nagler pulled out something the Meade Series 4000 can't... Maybe it's just not dark enough. And maybe, just maybe, we found something we can't explain?

Catch phrase for me? It just doesn't matter. Even if I didn't see that additional point tonight, the fact that I didn't even have to aim the scope is enough to make me smile!

After I finished playing with that galaxy long enough for H to nudge me and make sure I was still alive, I did uncap the finder and tripped over to Alpha to admire its' little red companion. And there is another very red star nearby I shall have to remember to tell Terry about. The first edges of the moonlight and wisps of clouds coming from the south bid me to hurry... But I didn't. I took my dear, sweet time running over the Andromeda Galaxy and examining the powerful little disc of the M32. Even with the sky starting to trash out, I was afforded a very, very excellent view of the M110. I don't know why people tend to overlook this one. Although it not anywhere as bright as the 31, it shows fantastic elongation and structure.

From there I just hopped to the M13 for no apparent reason... And played with a few doubles because I wasn't ready to go in yet. And I had this most awful urge... The urge to just give the dob a shove...

And see where it lands.


"Because that one... Even though I'm a mean old woman, Lord... I just never wanted to tell that one goodbye..."



September 23, 2002 - The Sun... Nova Saggitarius and a Galaxy Walkabout...

Comments: I woke up quite early this morning. I guess my odd hours are catching up with me. At first I had high hopes of viewing the planets and walking on the Moon, but a deep ground fog had other plans for me. Ohio would have done London proud this morning. for above me the sky was clear, yet for about ten feet above the ground was a swirling, cold, impenentrable mist. So odd! If I look out my office window, the sky looks beautiful... But on the ground? No way. Regardless, H and I had a wonderful time prowling about in the shadowy mist. He in his classic black werewolf style, and I in my black cape. What a pair, we two! Monsters in the shadows...

But the Sun had its' own way, (doesn't it always?) and by noontime had burned away the cold and damp. I had a quiet day to myself, and it looked like a very good time indeed to devote myself to using the two filters in a manner worthy of study. My findings today are in no way meant to discredit anyone, nor their use of this product. I'm just talking straight up... So, for the purposes of this report, let's simply refer to them as filter A and filter B.

Starting with departing spot 119, the filter A shows a clean edge line on the curve. This is a nice, crisp delineation between the umbra and penumbra regions. Filter B shows 119 to be warped, like something seen beneath a heat haze. Granulation and bright faculae cut through the surrounding field. In short? Filter B displays the Wilson Effect, and reveals details filter A does not.

Moving on to spot group 117-122-127. Filter A once again performs exceptionally well with definition between umbral and penumbra areas. Finer follow spots show themselves at high magnification only. Perimeter plages are easily discerned under any range of magnification. Filter B softens the visual blow a bit. Finer spots also require additional magnification. Perimeter plages show only at low magnification. But filter B, while not performing as "crisply" shows something filter A does not. A variation in the penumbral colorings. In short? Temperature change.

Now on to the really bad boy! Spot 132 has grown like a weed since the last time I solar viewed! My notes indicate that it's increased close to 100% in 48 hours! (and this is one you really should check out the magnetogram information on... it's not often that hale values are so deeply evidenced! you can't miss the reverse roles... ;) Very, very impressive. Worth keeping a very close eye on...

Now, back to visual science. Spot 132 is awesome with filter A. Very crisp delineation between the photosphere and penumbral edges. High magnification allows addition of follower spots devoid of penumbra. Filter B gives precisely the same results, but softened somehow. As an usual note, the coloration aroud 132 is deeper and richer. This might just be a visual "trick" but it's worth noting.

Now, I mean no disrespect to filter A, nor the people who endorse it... But there's something that's not quite right. Even overriding the settings with the video camera, the lens irises when trying to photograph. And the lens irises for a reason. It's a safeguard. Now, I want you to see something, ok? I'm not a rocket scientist, but I can tell you that filter A is letting in wavelengths of light that filter B blocks... Because you can't do this with filter B. If I don't miss my guess, filter A is constructed of the same materials and coatings that eclipse viewers are made of... And eclipse viewers come with warnings, people. Warnings that say not to use them for more than 3 minutes at a time, and only intermittently for not longer than a period of hours. Now please, again... The wavelength of light it's letting through may not be damaging to the eyes... But I purposefully left the tree limb in the shot just to show you.

You might want to re-consider....

*****************************************************

And as the darkness fell, the stars came out to play again last night...

Unfortunately, the skies were perhaps a magnitude less clear visually, but I don't mind. In an effort to study and understand the nova phenomena, I headed back toward Saggitarius first to check on the latest news. Suprisingly enough it seems a bit dimmer tonight than last. Do these things really shift that rapidly? Think, ~T... And my answer? Of course they do. There are a few variable stars I've been rather fond of watching over the years, and I know for fact that in a period of days they will change by a couple of magnitudes. Of course, all this line of thinking does is make me a bit wistful to go check out a certain galaxy. But again, at this point, quite frankly, Scarlett... I don't give a

And I'm addicted. I'll freely admit that. I wanted galaxies tonight despite the seeing conditions. So I lead the dob out to the west side yard and tipped it down. The M51 is right there. Tucked neatly between a distant house and a tree. It's not as beautiful as I remember it to be, but it pleases me greatly to see the deeply concentrated core and one soft outer arm curling toward its' companion galaxy. Doing a bit of shuffle, the M81 and M82 came next. Again, not the finest that I've ever seen them, but at 17mm they still present that form I've come to love so well. So... You're a "starburst" galaxy too, eh? How cool... I promise to never stop learning about you as long as you promise to always be there. And I'd say that's a safe bet...

Coming round again to my favorite spot, it was quite easy to set down on Andromeda and the M32 and 110. The Moon has already began to stain the eastern horizon and the season of a new equinox has begun. (like none of us has noticed that the sun and moon rises and sets in a different place now... sheesh!) But it comes not so quickly that I don't have time to make a few eyepiece switches and play with the big knot of stars at the edge of the M31. What can I say? Galaxies... Ah.....

And now that Selene has broken the horizon, I bid the night adieu. An early call to work tomorrow means that I'll have a chance to look at both it and the two Giants in the morning.

See ya' then...

"I'm gonna' find me a hole in the wall... I'm gonna' crawl inside and die..."



September 22, 2002 - Nova Saggitarius, M22, M11, and the NGC6940...

Comments: No one was more surprised than me that the skies cleared as the darkness fell. And not only did the darkness fall, but the temperature as well... The stars walked and talked.

Thanks to the "heads up" from a friend, I had accurate information on exactly where to find the latest object in the news, Nova Saggitarius. Although I'm not a setting circle type of person, I am a good map reader. So, armed with binoculars and a detailed map of the area, all that was required of me was to head for that part of the sky and pick off the one star that's too bright. And you know what? It was that easy.

Just above the "handle of the Teapot" lays a shallow triangle of stars that I use as a stepping stone to Mr. Wizard's Galaxy. Long familiar with this part of the sky, it didn't take long to confirm its' location against the map, and it was definately visible in the finderscope of the dob. Tipping the "Great White" that way, I could only smile to myself as I observed this bright point of light. Discovered by an observer in Japan doing a routine field pass on the area, and confirmed by another observer in a different part of the world. Then confirmed over and over again by variable star observers the world over... Just that easy.

Still smiling, I made the short hop over to the M22. It feels like it's been forever since I've had a dose of deep sky and this globular is sure a beauty on a clear night with a big scope and a 9mm eyepiece! Feeling good, I made the switch to the big 32mm and just allowed myself to happily stroke Saggitarius for a bit with no real aim. Just a soft touch over some old favourites... Like a kiss in the dark.

Deeply impressed with how clear the sky was, I kept tipping the scope up and up... Until I stopped for a bit on the M11. The raw power of this open cluster at low magnification is still awesome. This wedge of differing magnitudes never ceases to give me pleasure, and the back of my head whispers for more.

Just one more before the Moon comes...

And so it shall be NGC6940. I've never wanted to pick this one apart to see what makes it tick. For me, it remains far more fascinating when left as a cloud of tiny, resolvable points of light. Just like a dream...

Just like the NGC6822.

And speaking of dreams, that phat old Moon is on the rise. It's been far too many hours since I last slept and I've a mind to just stop here. It's enough for now. Take this vision with me....

And sleep.

"Can't you see? Oh, can't you see? What that one... Does to me?"



September 21, 2002 - Still around...

Comments: Ah, now... Don't you know that I was learning to be content in my little grey clouded, rainy world? And then you just had to come along again, didn't you? Let me see you, and get me to thinking...

Would I stop Helios on its' journey? Hold on to it, and make it mine? Oh, no. I'm afraid it works a bit the other way. I know that when I look at you, I stand a chance of becoming blind, but I look anyway. Just as I know that if I'm around you too long, I'll get burned. And where am I? Standing right here. So you tell me... Just who is the Master, and who is the Slave? It's just enough for me to know that somewhere in the sands of time...

I've found you again.

And what an incredible portrait Sol paints today! That "simple" spot, viewed just days ago as it came round the visible side and seemed so boring has taken on some true character. And that character's name is 119.

I don't know where you came from, (of course i do.) but I know I like what I see!! And what I see is a really complex fellow and I want to know more about you...

What we've got here is a Dkc, bipolar area with a really "twisted" sense of humor! Not only is it a very complex group visually, but magnetically as well with an beta/gamma/delta classification. Oddly enough though, when reviewing X-ray flux data, the "spikes" seem to run at a very predictable rate meaning that although 119 might have a great "bark", there's little chance that's its' going to "bite". And even if it did?

I'd like it.

But what you really want to check out is what seems like a rather harmless group that follows 119. Leader spot on this bunch is 117, and here you're going to be asking me, "How could a spot that follows have a rotation number less than a spot that's about to rotate away?" The reason is quite easy. It's called differential rotation... Just simply the fact that spots will a low heliographic latitude rotate at a faster angular rate. (And you know all the angles, don't you? ;)

Now, let's check out this group and discuss why they are some "pretty cool" customers...


This grouping from upper left to lower right consists of 117, 127, and 122. And did you ever call this one right! Leader here is not only "Alpha" but very alpha... It is a unipolar, which is quite rare for one that size! And holding on to a perfect alpha magnetic class. Now, look at the other end, for spot 122 is alo Hsx, just like 117. Both unipolar, and both alpha. Both perfect. Now, let's throw a "sabo" into the mix, alright? For 127 is classed Dao - bipolar - and has a beta class magnetic field!

Oh, yeah... That means the Sun is going to be positively bristling with magnetic activity for the next several days. The kind of activity that could even produce a coronal hole...

What's the odds on it going back to cloudy?

*****************************************************

Duty called, and I had to sleep away the rise of the "Harvest Moon". I can't win 'em all, and I don't even try anymore. But when I got up for work, the skies were clear, and Selene was bright enough to cast long shadows. I just sat on the steps for the longest time, sipping at my coffee and watching H slip in and out of those self-same shadows... Just thinking. Thinking about how Selene would be nothing but a shadowed, scarred rock without Sol. She would be nothing without Helios' bright influence....

Nothing at all.

Setting my empty cup down on the railing, I pulled my jacket a bit tighter around my shoulders and wandered off to the garage to fetch the 4.5. September is not a traditionally "good month" for Ohio astronomically, and I wouldn't mind just a peek at the Moon before I leave for work. And it was worth the time...

Even if it's just to visit the 15,400 foot mountain peak in the center of Humboldt Crater... It's worth all the while.

Now, I've gotta' go...

"Gonna' take a freight train... Down at the station, Lord. I don't care where it goes. Gonna' climb a mountain. The highest mountain... Jump off. Ain't nobody gonna' know..."


September 17, 2002 - Simply stargazing...

Comments: 'Tis the rainy season here in Ohio. Just another change like the many that have crept upon us with silent cat feet... The sky darkens earlier, the bounty of fruit falls from the trees, certain species of birds have began to migrate, and there is a slight chill to the breeze. The clouds come and go, and with their passing leave beautiful open holes in the sky. Sitting upon the steps of the deck, I cradle the guitar and make it weep to the Moon... It has been far too long since I have practiced, and I find a certain satisfaction from having it my hands once again. Peace in harmony....

I thought perhaps to look at the Moon, but I know what I would see. Gassendi in it's glory... Keplar shining like a beacon... The Riphaeus Moutains like a string of pearls... The owl calls from the pine tree to remind me that time is short. Summer is almost over. All too soon...

But there is still one more night to dream upon the stars. One last time to fold the solar cover back and slip softly into the water. Should I take this chance?

Take it. Take it, now...

And so I do. Gasping and laughing at the water's newfound chill. Racing the Moon across the surface.... The sounds of the night accompany my laughter, and disappear as I go below the surface. Sometimes this stargazing can be a very fine thing! How I will miss my lazy backstroke, watching Cygus, Lyra and Aquila turn overhead as I make my laps. Ah, sweet Summer! What a fine time we had, eh?

The moonlight and you. I can handle it.

"And everything I can't remember... As mucked up as it all may seem to be, I know it's me. I cannot blame this on another... He did the best he could for me.

And it's been awhile... Since I could hold my head up high. And it's been awhile... Since I've said I'm sorry."



September 16, 2002 - The Sun... and the Moon...

Comments: There was a bit of a break between the clouds here and there. Nothing much to write home about, but after a few days of inactivity, I'm ready to go back to what I do best... Observe.

Caught between one filter or the other, I chose the Orion today. There's a bit of cloud left in the sky and I just don't feel like dealing with the light scatter. And, oh my stars... How sunspot 105 has changed over the days! The once heart-shaped umbra of the leader spot congealed into a rather irregular mass, and the penumbra surrounding it has undergone the most metamorphasis! Check it out...


As you can see, the changes to 105 have been more significant in the penumbral field than the umbra itself. Far more spectacular has been follower spot, 114, who started off with a grand penumbral field that eventually dissapated! Both areas still hold some fine potential for M class flare activity, but have remained fairly quiet in this trip across our visible solar surface. Just think... There's is a very distinct possiblity that spot 69, alias 105, could return again!

Activity elsewhere remains fairly normal, with newcomer 117 looking like the next spot to show some "class". Still in a rather compact formation,
this relatively ordinary bi-polar spot with an immature penumbra is holding an alpha class magnetic field that will be interesting to watch if the weather cooperates.

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And cooperation can sometimes be a problem, eh? For although the skies appeared to be very clear, steady they were not. Their would be a few moments of excellent transparency, followed by unescapable waves that accompany moving fronts. Do the words, "Oh, well..." mean anything to you? For it doesn't matter to me... I find the Moon beautiful under any circumstance.

At first look, I was captured by Sinus Iridum as usual. How many years must I look at this feature before I tire of it? ("go ask mr. owl...") Could be next month, could be never. I like it. Just as I like the highland area, with Clavius and Longomontanus tossing all those great little crater cookies my way. But as always, each time I view the Moon, it is with new eyes. I have never seen it look identical twice, ok? Even though I have grown to know it's features as well as I do my own, there always seems to be just one little place that grabs my attention like no other...

And tonight it is Cape Kelvin.

Hey, who can miss Hainzel's odd form at the top? Or the bright ring edge of Capuanus? Most of us know that little Copernicus copycat, Bulladius when we see it... And a few might know that at the bottom of the frame is the ragged edge of Agatharchides. But that is not what I want to look at...

What I want is tucked in the shadows.

Cape Kelvin isn't much more than a horseshoe shaped cove cut into the terminator near the duo of Campanus and Mercator. And it's not special. Just a little carved out spot sporting a 6,200 foot mountain peak, and nothing more than a 13 X 30 mile radius. It doesn't contain sharp features sought after by lunar specialty photographers, and it was never a part of any space mission. But you know what? I like Cape Kelvin. I like it simply because it is ordinary.

Just another player in the game...

"And it's been awhile... Since I've seen the way the stars light up your face. And it's been awhile... But I can still remember just the way you taste."



September 14, 2002 - At the Observatory...

Comments: Hey, hey... Into every "Public Night" a little rain must fall, and it was Ohio's turn last night. I've got no complaints. As much as I enjoy working, I enjoy relaxing just as much. And it was truly my pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know some of those "faces in the dark" just a wee bit better.

It was wonderful to take part in the finalization of the plans for the "Hidden Hollow Star Party" (and you can catch us in the recent issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine if you like!) and be in on the ground floor of the excitement of the upcoming event. Sure, we weren't able to put on a public program... But I had just as much fun drinking coffee with some of the senior club members and swapping stories! There's nothing like laughter and tall tales...

You guys always make my night.

For now? Time for this kid to head out for the "Backyard". Grab a cold Corona and a swim... And just sit and dream my dreams while watching the holes in the clouds float by.

Still looking up...

"And it's been awhile... Since I could look at myself straight. And it's been awhile... Since I've said I'm sorry."



September 12/13, 2002 - At the Observatory...

Comments: The temperature drop and the fine skies held in Ohio, and the call went out for people interested in study. And if I possibly can? You know I will... We only had to outwait Selene.

Arriving much later than what I'm accoustomed to, it was my great pleasure to find the lift for "Big Blue" fixed and Jerry already on the hunt! After having had my turn more than once at aiming the metal monster, I simply cannot express my appreciation at his skill... It ain't easy! And it wasn't long before he had one of the first faint fuzzies of the night captured and I was allowed to share. NGC7177 was a pleasure. Caught in a bright field of stars, this stellar nucleas based galaxy showed some very nice elongation in the big scope... I had wanted to see what it could do with some of those difficult, tiny studies and now I know! Rocks 'em right out... Moon or no! Excellent catch, Jerry...

Of course, you know that being at the Observatory means tons of notes to sift through, which presents a bit of difficulty in doing things in a chronological order. Does it really matter? Not one whit. I keep these notes for the day that I become old, blind and unable to do this anymore. Then Adobe Acrobat can read them to me, and I can say, "Ah, yes... I remember." So for now, let me present that which we looked at through "Big Blue" first, and then we'll head on for the 12.5.

M27 - Gawd almighty! The central star is not only smokingly direct, but perfectly steady! The perimeter stars and just awesome. It was my pleasure to be allowed the freedom and time to do a great sketch of the "Dumbbell", but oh my... Just presenting all the field stars that accompany it proves to be very difficult! The best I could do without taking six hours was to pick a few bright asterisms out and go from there. And from there was to simply stare into that awesome sight, laughing at the Frank Zappa music playing and just enjoy. Just incredible....

M72 - Excellent resolution on a small globular cluster. Contains a bright, chevron shaped core and a very noticable chain to one side of the structure. Once again, no one around means a great opportunity to sketch... And I do!

M73 - Jerry has a sense of humor that I defy you not to laugh at... And he dubbed this open cluster, "SO". And shall we just say that stands for "Stupid Open"? Hehehheeeee... Yes. It is one of the sparsest of the Messiers, but it does have one redeeming feature... A yellow giant.

M2 - Flippin' incredible. Absolute, total resolution. During this time, Bruce had also joined us, and we three couldn't wait to put the 9mm Nagler on this one. There is no way that I could sketch this!! The underlying density, and smack you in the face explosion of stars can barely be expressed with words, let alone with a pencil! No colors are present in the M2 save for the blue/white of hot young stars. A "riot" can be perhaps the only way to describe it... For they splay themselves across space in a manner that is just breathtaking! Dark dust lanes etch their way across it... And it is truly something to behold! I don't often use other's photographs for illustratory purposes, but you've no idea of how much I wish I could share what this looks like!! And this? This comes very close...



Photo by : Doug Williams and N.A. Sharp

Now, try to imagine this in the eyepiece, ok? But bear in mind that the exposure time allows the core to look far more concentrated and inpenetrable that it truly is. And what you see? Rocks your world...

NGC7009 - Once again, we've got to play with the "Saturn Nebula"! Who can resist? The quality presented with the 9mm Nagler turns this stretched little blue customer into a true fantasy object. Haloed, dimensional, incredible! And I've gotta' try my hand at sketching this one too! The resemblance the planet caught in a blue cloud is just inspiring.

M57 - Dubbed by Mr. Wizard as the "King of Rings", it holds quite true to that statement tonight. Sure. We've looked at it over and over this summer, but who cares? The braided structure and tiny stars buried both within and without never cease to fascinate me.

M31 - M32 - M110 - What can you say? Even at the lowest of powers these three galaxies remain ever-fascinating. The power with which they present themselves is an awesome display. Unless there is such a thing as, oh, say a 100mm eyepiece? There is no way "Big Blue" can put this trio into perspective. Even 40mm allows them to overfill the field.... But what a field!! You would have to see the incredible dimensionality of the M31's core to understand. It makes one feel very humble indeed...

Saturn - And yes, this one is way out of sync, for Saturn was one of the last of the objects I set the Observatory scope on... But hey! You've gotta' see it. (of all the nights NOT to bring the camera... sheesh!) Of all the beautiful photos you have ever seen of Saturn, they hold true in the eyepiece. Just aching detail can be achieved with this scope. I mean, we're talking about Titan easily perceived as an orb, ok? So you can imagine what it does to the rest... Not only is each ring division totally clear, but details unseen by most scopes within the rings are a delight! I think one of the most spectacular is a rather transient effect, caught during moments of absolute stability, referred to as "spoking". Well, I don't know about "spokes", but occasionally in some of the areas just outside the Cassini you will catch what almost appears like lightning that goes opposite the ring pattern. It's really an amazing effect, and I could stand here all night and look at it!!

Now, let's "time warp" a bit... For in between these studies, I've worked with Bruce and the 12.5 Meade and Monty has also joined our impromptu "party". Ready to rock? Then Bruce is the man to give you the studies you ask for...

NGC7226 - Open cluster. A double handful of stars of similiar magnitudes. The asterism could be roughly called a "ball and chain".

NGC7234 - Very faint, kite shaped concentration of evenly based stars in a small open cluster. Nice field.

NGC14 - Very even. An average sized spiral galaxy with no nucleas present. Best seen with slight aversion, and no sign of structure.

NGC9 - Slight concentration at the center. Basically held direct, it appears roughly flattened and evenly distributed. No real structure present.

NGC1 - Bright! Very direct. Definate concentration toward the nucleas and displays some slight elongation.

NGC2 - Same field pair as NGC1, but an averted only galaxy. Very soft, very even circle.

NGC22 - A soft patch of a galaxy that requires slight aversion. Evenly structured.

****NGC16 - AWESOME! Very concentrated and easily held direct. No problem making out a core area, and what's better? Definate structure curling both above and below... Nice!

NGC26 - A nice faded "patch" of a galaxy caught upon aversion only. Very even.

****NGC23 - Pairs with NGC26. But, Holy Mo! What have we got here? Not only can you see a bright, titled spiral quite direct, but a star superimposed over one end. Whoa... Walk 'er back. Look again, will you? For at the other end is also a very stellar point that is not documented! Do we have a shifted nucleas on an irregular galaxy? Perhaps a supernova candidate? Regardless, what we have here is an very, very incredible little galaxy! (bruce - i did some subsequent investigation on this one, and discovered that it also contains a very high surface brightness nebula that should have been easy enough for us to catch. there's only one problem though, guy... it's not in the right place for what we observed! the nebula is located in the area around the superimposed star that the megastar program reveals... that would account for the reason it appears so easily bright and direct - making the galaxy look shifted. but not the upper one! i'll continue to plug away at current data, but there are frustratingly too many formats that keep webtv locked out. let me know what you come up with. ~T)

NGC41 - A soft, faint patch at first caught upon aversion and then held direct. No structure.

NGC42 - Pairs with NGC41. Very compact in appearance. Easily held direct with a slight concentration toward the center.

***NGC52 - Edge-on, baby! Wooo hooo! (ya'll know what i like, don't you? ;) Running directly between two bright stars, this slim, perfect and basically even edge-on performs very well with slight aversion. As an added bonus, as the eye bounces around the field, a slight bulge toward the center can be discerned. No dust lane.

NGC11 - Elongated. Aversion only. An even, slightly patchy at the edges oval. Paired nicely with a double at the edge of the field.

*NGC13 - Easily held direct with a concentrated nucleac structure. Rather small, but looks great the way it's matched with those two faint stars.

NGC29 - Very stellar field. Aversion only. A soft patch of light that appears most even and regular.

NGC27 - Slight aversion. Very even. A faded, soft oval cloud.

UGC95 - Almost a stellar point. Requires only slight aversion. Very compact. (note: UGC galaxies seem to follow this structure.)

And now? I gotta' kick the tires and light the fires. We've bid Jerry "hasta" some time ago, eh? (and thank you for leaving the big scope open for me!) And now it's my turn. Monty? A pleasure to see you again, my friend. I trust that hanging off the truss tubes with me moving "Big Blue" was an experience? And Bruce? Ah, compadre... You know how much I appreciate the study! 7,000 left to go... And so little time... ;) I'll rock with you any night!

And wish upon a star... Partner? I miss you.

"And everything I can't remember... As mucked up as it all may seem to be. The consequences that are rendered. I've gone and mucked things up again. Again....

Why must I feel this way? Please make this go away... Just one more peaceful day!"




September 11, 2002 - NGC6934 and Asteroid Pallas...

Comments: It was a day of rememberance, yes? A time for all of us to recall the horrible events that transpired a year ago, and how we felt about them. Do you remember where you were? What you were doing? And how you felt when the World Trade Center fell? Did you stand in disbelief at the news of the Pentagon? Yes. Yes, I do remember. Every second. Every moment of that fear that someone I love might have been in one of those places... And the deep sigh of relief when I learned that they were alright. Who among us has a heart that does not bleed for the people who were not so fortunate? Whose frantic e.mails and phone calls went unanswered? Ah, this is the real truth of the day, is it not? The knowing that in a split second of time that all you've ever loved and cared about can be taken from you... And that there is nothing you can do about it.

The flag flys proudly here in Backyard Ohio. Not because I desire to display my patriotism, but because I believe in my country. The torch still burns on the front lawn... I honor those brave individuals who would sacrafice themselves to save the lives of others. You are remembered....

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Perhaps sobered by the day, or simply called to work, my time is very limited tonight. An amazing 60 degree drop in temperatures has left the sky as clear and pristine as anyone could ask for. Knowing that I only have about an hour to practice astronomy before I leave makes me rather selective in what in chose to view... And the choice wasn't hard, eh?

NGC6934 and Asteroid Pallas!

It took me several minutes to locate the NGC6934, because apparently someone moved the sky when I wasn't looking. Heheheheee... If you can "hit" it in the east, you darn sure ought to be able to "hit" it in the west, right? Right. And anybody that gets into astronomy knows that it's a challenge to retrieve a DSO when it's changed positions from where you've studied it last!

But find it I did.

The NGC6934 under low power looks like a bullet hole in the night. Sweet little globular, possessed of lots of grain. Kick in the 9mm? And you've got nice resolution on a very evenly based, random spaced and similiar magnitude star cluster. But, the NGC6934 isn't exactly what I'm about tonight. What I want to capture is Asteroid Pallas! And I'm working stone cold. (megastar! i need you...)

As always, the 12.5 reveals far more stars that what are charted on my simple maps. Knowing that Pallas should be cutting in at a magnitude of 9.5 should make things easy, right? Oh, sure...

"Open here, I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But with mein of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door--- Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-- Perched and sat. Nothing more..."

I know the distance that Pallas is supposed to be away from the NGC6934, too. So which of these stellar points is the asteroid? Who knows....

"Quoath the Raven... Nevermore."

I know it's in the field. That is all. You don't do an asteroid study in one night without very comprehensive star charts and a couple of nights to correctly verify which one moves. So, could I positively identify it? Well, there is one that looks a bit different from the rest... And you know me.

I like that different one.

"And it's been awhile.... Since I've gone and mucked things up, just like I always do. And it's been awhile.... But all that sh*t seems to disappear when I'm with you."





September 10, 2002 - The Sun...

Comments: So, I played favourites today. Shoot me if you must. I stuck solely with the Baader film for my solar observances. There's a new "bad boy" coming into view, and I had to look.

Rockin' new spot 105 holds a twisted beta/gamma/delta class magnetically, and harbours some major potential. Classed as "Fki", this is one to watch, for that means it is a 99% candidate for white light solar flares. This observable phenomena is most exciting to see... and should anyone who reads these reports and also solar observes, should catch one? Please make note of the time, and duration if possible. Then contact me, and I will put you in touch with a study group devoted to this phenomena which greatly appreciates amateur input.

In the mean time? Woooo hoooo! Check this critter out!!


We've got one really nasty looking umbra region shaped like a heart.... But that's where any resemblance to "nice" ends! Pushing through that bipolar heart is a vein of positive magnetic energy that makes it a powerful suspect for major activity. Not only does the leader spot itself pose some interest, but the follower spots as well... Or in this case? The precursors... For they are unipolar. Isn't that just awesome? Check out the followers, for you will see prime examples of differing Macintosh classifications right before your eyes!

Now, are you ready for the really juicy part? You're lookin' at spot 69. Yeah, that wicked one that was around not too long ago! (told ya' i'd keep track one of these days... ;) It was just as big, and just as bad the last time around, so we can surely expect as it reincarnates as 105 to be a major candidate for a coronal mass ejection!

And I can't say as I'd mind if my eyes beheld what that brings once again!

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And that self-same Sun kept things right hot here in Ohio. Several days of high temperatures mean the inevitable heat haze, and that puts a hurt on astronomical studies. But, that's ok... Because there be another Son around these parts today, and it is my great pleasure to wish Jon the happiest of birthdays!! (no, you cannot have the keys for a couple of years yet, ok? ;) I am glad you enjoyed your party!

Things eventually quieted down, and I found myself outdoors once again contemplating the sky. I had hopes of finding asteroid Pallas, but there is no way the sky is going to cooperate. But again, it's ok. I don't mind just hanging out here in the warm water and watching the Summer Triangle float by.

Just dreamin'....

"And it's been awhile... Since I could say that I wasn't addicted. And it's been awhile... Since I could say I loved myself as well."



September 9, 2002 - NGC7331 and Stephan's Quintet...

Comments: It was blasting hot here again, today. Hot enough that I uncovered the pool while I grilled my supper. Hot enough that I had no interest in checking out the Sun... Hot enough that I hid indoors until the darkness came.

Turning on the music just loud enough to hear it, I slid quietly into the water, its' depth like a cool caress. I cannot be in this place without admiring the stars... Arcturus still beaconing to the west... The slow descent of Saggitarius... The quiet flight of Cygnus... There is a bit of haze here and there, but I do not mind. I swim toward a dream. Bright meteors scratch the face of the sky here and there... And how they make me smile! Their silent, frenzied burn-out across the sky is a reminder... "It's better to burn out, than to fade away... My, my... Hey, hey."

I must have been more quiet than usual, for every so often a black bear head and paws would appear at the edge. Checking up on me, eh? Don't worry... For I am only lost in my thoughts. Simply content to listen to the music and enjoy the last of the season's swims. No real intention of anything but stargazing and peace... Eventually I began to get cold, and headed back toward the ladder. I was reaching up for it when the radio played a song from the Red Hot Chili Pepper's that I haven't heard in a very, very long time... And it stopped me. This time I swam to the music, putting all the style and grace into it that I know how.

Because I still dream...

When I had covered the pool and dried off, I sat down on the lawn chair with a warm cup. Sometimes in our quest for astronomy, we wrestle with our own demons. Moot points, discussed by many are not my way. I battle my own incubus. We humans are many sided creatures, capable of great emotions - and many non-emotions as well. In distancing one's self from certain thoughts, perhaps one also distances the self center. That core of what we are when all layers are peeled away. Silly thoughts, yes?

No. I am simply afraid that I have lost touch with who I am. How long has it been since I've done a field study on my own? I am afraid that I have lost touch with the sky. Have I become... gasp! Rusty? Will I sit here in this chair, and drink my tea... Claiming burn-out? Pretending to rationalize my thoughts and emotions, when I know that I can file them away as neatly as a report. Or will I face the truth, and realize that I am afraid to take the dob out tonight because what I want to look at tonight is not a "Nickle Tour" object, and that I'm not going to find in it four minutes...

Non phobos.

The hop to NGC7331 is not the easiest in the sky. The star pattern is vague, and I am out of practice. But when I fall upon it at last? The gratification is worth the time spent. This slender, tilted spiral galaxy is bright and beautiful. Ah, my... How it is meant to be, yes? Just you and me, once again. Look at this silver beauty! And each change in eyepiece sees it differently.... From the drawn back view with the 32mm to capture the field and highlight form - To the 9mm to pull out the intensity of the galactic core. So fine....

Switching back to 17mm, I no longer fear. What I came here for is but a breath away, and although I do not remember what way, I know it is here. And then Stephan's Quintet slides into view...

First only the two that sit side by side are visible, then another scratch of light appears. And another... At at last a little round ball of fuzz. No matter what eyepiece I use, I shall never be able to draw structure from these tiny galaxies, but what they give me is a certain satisfaction. I found them myself. And I'm not letting them go! Every now and then, something pushes just the right button, eh? And all those little circuits light up again... Even if it's only temporary.

I'm grateful.

"And everything I can't remember... As mucked up as it all may seem. The consequences that are rendered... I've gone and mucked things up again."





September 8, 2002 - Idling...

Comments: Yep. The sky was beautiful when I got up last night to go to work... But I sat with a cup of coffee and just admired it. And when I got home? The Sun was out, too... And the temperatures were topping 102F! Did I look? Nope. I mowed. Then retreated to the air conditioning... The sunset and Venus rise was gorgeous. Did I look? Yep. Stopping the Harley on a backroad and drinking in the panorama over a cornfield. Did the stars come out to play last night? Yes, they did. And how fine it was to watch them while enjoying one of the season's last swims... Smiling up at the random meteors, and just floating along...

Idling...

"It's been awhile.... Since I could stand, on my own two feet again. And it's been awhile... Since I could call you."



September 6/7 - At the Observatory...

Comments: Ah, man... What a day! Still marginally tired from all the things I've done and saw this week, I still find myself willing to get up before dawn to chase an iceball. Periodic Comet Wirtanen is due to make a pass through the M44, and I find that rather exciting! So out I go, to take a fast look at Saturn ushering its' satellites along to either side, and Jupiter's dance of the galieans... and of course, M44. Scanning around just a bit, it doesn't take long until I find Wirtanen's location, lock it into my memory, and head back for some sleep!

We've got another great day in the making and more time at the Observatory...

Arriving just at dark, I greeted Terry, Gary and his daughter, and Bruce. I was a bit disappointed to hear that there is a problem with the lift, and that will put a nix on our using the big scope tonight, but you know what? I don't mind. For what I'm really after are those faint galaxy studies that my telescope can achieve, and the one person that can find them.

I guess you'd have to understand what it's like to work with Bruce to really appreciate it. Hey, I'm sharp on galaxies... and although we share the same basic telescope, I cannot do this with the speed and ease that his combination of software and positioning system affords. We're talking beng able to knock out magnitude 14 and 15 studies with total confidence! Where it would take me hours to find perhaps five studies, and confirm them against a map... We're able to do thirty. We are not talking GoTo here, either. We're talking about raw talent. A combination that he devised himself, and I'm here to tell you... It works!

Terry had also set up his 8" Meade reflector, and was working his way across the sky. What smiles he would give us as during various times of the evening he would call out... "Hey! I found it! I don't belive it!! That's the first time I've ever found that..." And I don't think that there is one single person among us who doesn't understand exactly how he feels, eh? So in all fairness, let me say that during the course of the evening, it was my pleasure to look through Terry's scope at the M22, M17, M27, M71, M8, the Plieades, M31, M33 (good job!), NGC7331 (even better! we must be infecting you...) M1, and M36. Great work, kiddo!

And of course, you know I have page after page of my own scrawled notes from the 12.5... And yeah, I really need to learn to use Dreyer descriptions to keep everything neat and tidy, but hey... "It ain't me... It ain't me... I ain't no fortunate one..." So, for the time being, can you forgive me for being a simple minded blonde and just allow me to run wild? Cool!

Then pull up and eyepiece and let me tell you what I saw...

M13 - Splendid! Well out chaining resolution. Excellent concentration. Nice effect at 26mm.

NGC6207- Not quite true sky dark yet, but pulls in easily by running the M13 to the upper right of the eyepiece.

*NGC6058 - Bright planetary. Nice size! Bright central star upon aversion.

**IC1144 - Oh, yeah... A slim edge-on! No nucleac appearance. Lays at and angle to a bright star.

NGC1153 - Small face on spiral. Very round and even in appearance. Just above a bright star.

NGC1152 - Up and away! Even smaller than 53, dim and almost stellar in appearance.

NGC7198 - Small, roundish, appears to be a face-on spiral. Low surface brightness. Caught on eye movement only. No structure detected.

NGC7189 - Requires wide aversion. Round, face-on in appearance. Even brightness. No structure.

NGC7188 - Soft, ovalesque. Slight aversion. Even appearance.

NGC7185 - Also soft, with a slight concentration toward the center. Slight aversion.

**NGC7184 - Elongated. Soft central concentration. Quite large. (hey, dude... i'm picking up arms here!) Easily held direct. Very prominent barred spiral structure.

NGC7188 - Almost a stellar point. Very difficut. Requires wide aversion and patience.

*NGC7183 - Nice elongation! Only slight aversion required. Basically even - but with some hints of a core area.

NGC7181 - Small, very faint and even. Almost (but not quite!) circular in structure. Mild aversion.

NGC7182 - Small and round. Another smooth criminal. Forms the apex of a triange with two similair magnitude stars. Averted.

*NGC7170 - Slight aversion. Most definately lenticular in structure. Very even.

NGC7167 - Soft patch upon slight aversion. Easily seen but has no real direct form. This galaxy is best caught while moving, or bouncing the eye around the field of view.

NGC7165 - Slightly stretched in appearance. Low brightness. Definately a slight stretch in structure. Mild aversion.


NGC7164 - At the end of a chain of stars, this small round galaxy could almost masquerade as a stellar point.... Almost. Guess what? It's a galaxy! Like a soft, unfocusable star. Slight aversion.

NGC7121 - Fairly large with a nearby star. Easily caught with slight aversion. Soft central concentration.

NGC7211 - Small, even. Aversion only. Moderate to on the edge of low surface brightness.

NGC7215 - Slightly elongated. Aversion only. Faint and no real structure.

NGC7220 - Forms the corner of a triangle with two similar magnitude stars. Low brightness. Decent shape. No nucleas.

IC5178 - Very small. No definition. Soft, tiny patch. Wide aversion. No form.

NGC7222 - Very small. Wide aversion only. A faint disc.

*PGC68229 - Almost a stellar point that accompanies a similar magnitude star. Hold that star direct? Bingo! There' s your galaxy. ;)

NGC7230 - Easy. Only slight aversion needed. Slight oval patch with soft concentration in center.

NGC7239 - Very small, very faint. Almost and unfocused, star-like point. You know what? Magnitude 15 with these so-so skies is awesome!

**NGC7717 - Easy spiral structure. Held direct. Deent core area. Soft indications of spiral arms. High wattage star in field of view.

****NGC7709 - Edge-on!! Very easily held direct. Central bulge is splendid! Wonderful extensions... Thinkin' of you, partner. You'd like!

****NGC253 - Very direct and very nucleac! Spiral structure soooooo evident!! Dust lanes - Extremely extended... Perhaps a degree or more of sky laterally. Evidence of knots in the arms. Just too sweet! (notes indicate that Terry also captured this one in the Meade 8".)

*NGC7725 - Brightish core area. Soft patch caught with slight aversion. Decent!

NGC896 - Bright nebula. A very extended, tough to capture. More of a contrast change in the field. I saw it best by concentrating on the known dark areas.

*NGC1032 - Beside a chain of stars, this easy direct ovid shows nice core concentration. Fades evenly to the edges. Very good!

*NGC1035 - Easy, bright and direct. Almost a stellar nucleas. Slight oval shape.

IC247 - A very difficult study in a very sparse field. Requires wide aversion. (interesting note: the "sparse field" actually turns out to be a rather populated area when averted vision comes into play. how i love using a 12.5 scope and watching magnitude 16 stars come out!! now you can understand why i treasure my dob so much!) Once again, the software helpe to locate this fuzzy patch of sky by postively confirming the star patterns.

NGC1070 - Elongated and even with a slight bit of concentration to the center. Easy, slight aversion.

*PGC10360 and PGC10351 - A galaxy duo. Requires wide aversion to reveal almost tiny planetary nebula-like structure. This pair plays hide and go seek! My friends who know me best can understand when I say this is like Gamma Andromeda's B and C stars... You see one, then you see the other, but you never see them both at the same time! I liked this challenge... ;)

NGC1114 - Wide aversion. A soft stretch of an extended galaxy. No nucleas or structure present.

*NGC1162 - Excellent! Direct. Stellar nucleas with nice fading to frontiers. No structure present.

****NGC1184 - Edge-on, baby! (wooo hooo! just the way i like 'em!) Nice, fattened core area, tremendous extensions! Very bright and beautiful!! Easy direct.

UGC2603 - Stellar point caught on aversion. (hey, we're talking magnitude 14.8 here... whadda' ya' want? ;)

PGC1239 - Wide aversion only. Soft patch of light.

And now it's time to switch things off, eh? This time Bruce is going for one that requires the talent and skills of a veteran star hopper. And the man is damn good. Our target? The galaxy that lay closest to our northern pole....

And you know what? He found it.

The NGC3172 is far from being the galaxy to write home about. It requires slight aversionto reveal, and is nothing more than a soft patch of sky fuzz. But here, my deep appreciation of my compadre's skill has never been more evident. This particular galaxy was very difficult to achieve for it is more than akward for an equatorial mount. But, as he kicked on the rock and roll, and kicked in his years of experience, the little beastie was captured at last. Just awesome....

And now, sir? I shall take my leave of you. Had this been another clear night, I would have ben delighted to stay until dawn and walk the realm of galaxies with you. But this is not an ordinary night. For, you see, I have watched where Saturn emerged some time ago... and I know my ecliptic plane. In approximately 90 minutes Jupiter will rise, and just a breath above it will be the M44. And from here? It will never been seen before dawn steals the night. This is the chance of a lifetime for an old kid... One who wants to see a periodic comet conjoin with a Messier. I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful time spent and study... And I can't wait for the future!

Until then... eh? You know where to find me.

Grabbing a cup of coffee along the way, I made it to the backyard just as Jupiter entered the skyline. Running the 12.5 out, I found M44 and Comet Wirtanen immediately. What a beautiful picture this makes! At 32mm, if I look into the side of the eyepiece, I can put all three in the field! Jupiter, the Comet, and a Messier. Just awesome... Somehow there was a need in me to sketch this scene - Even in my less than talented fashion. Running back up to my office, I did take a moment to grab a bite of food, check in with the world, and grab my Crayola sketchbook. Back out I go, and do my best to transport sky onto paper. Then I just stood there.

And watched them until dawn...

"It's been awhile... Since I could hold my head up high. And it's been awhile... Since I first saw you..."




September 5, 2002 - M13, M57, M12, M10, M14, M107, M9, M19, M62, B72, M8, M20, M17, and the M16...

Comments: Hey. What can I say? I was feeling rather wistful when putting together an observing plan for tonight. We have reached "Summer's End", and some of these things will be taken away in the twinkling of a cosmic eye. Between the Moon, the possibility of clouds and the call for duty, there might not be another chance this season to see these things as they are meant to be seen... Under 6.5 skies.

Setting the 12.5 up in the south field as the sky darkens, I fetch only the things I need to make this walk... The small metal case that holds my two favourite eyepieces - the 26mm and 9mm Meade, a single map, my notes and the ladder. These things in place, there are only three things left to make me complete. The Walkman, a cup of chai, and you...

The M13 is truly the best of the globular clusters. Resolving itself out into thousands upon thousands of points of light, the sheer beauty and power of this collection of stars is very humbling. The stars simply burst forth like a frozen firework fantasy... From the unfathomable notches of darkness to the single star that lies at the center, there is no other word to descibe it better than glorious!

The M57 holds clear and steady. No matter how many times I have seen the "Ring" it never fails to make me smile. The star caught just outside the edge... The braided structure with the star buried within... And I stand a peace with what I see. My vision is easy, just enjoying the structure. And the gods of the night tossed me a treasure. For as I would hold that outer star direct, the one within took shape. Look not! For in that moment of excitement and your eye goes directly to it... It disappears. Hold that outer star? And it comes back to play. Ah, Lyra... I cannot ask for more.

By now the sky has become deep and dark. Scorpius has begun it's descent and Ophiuchus is prime. Switching back to the 26mm to locate the M12, and with barely a glance go directly to the 9mm. Easily resolved, the M12 is far less dense than the M13. The core concentration contains three dark intersections and the edge chaining extends in a spider-like fashion. At the edges a few notable reddish stars are clean and easy. For this globular, there is a texture behind and texture feeling. It is beautiful...

As is the M10. Superior resolution! A highly concentrated central mass overlaid on the silver signature of star cloud. The nucleas itself is stretched in appearance. Brighter stars extend in twisting chains... The amount of red stars contained within, and double reds at the perimeters are simply awesome!!

Taking a breath, we go back to 26mm and on to capture the M14. And at 9mm? I realize I've never truly done it justice before. Highly resolvable, behind the scene of the brighter stars lays a soft, intense star field. The major stars pepper over it in a rather random manner, scattering themselves about the surface. Toward the edges, the signature star chains of a globular cluster seem to scallop their way around the perimeter instead of pushing straight out. Oh my. How could I have ignored you for so very long?

Like the M107... Highly resolvable, it's deformed appearing nucleas is a deeply concentrated mass overshadowing a field of silver star density. Oddly enough, there appear to be some dark patches within the density itself, much like the M13! Red stars snap to attention around the edges, and the perimeter stars are much more random than chained. So perfect...

M9! I know you well. Your wedge shaped core is superimposed over the fine texture of the background star. There is a kernel-shaped chain of stars that surrounds it, almost like a circle drawn to capture your attention. The edges appear rather random, but three very red doubles dance along the outside. One of the season's finest!

Returning to the 26mm, (for i do between each target to find them... ;) I make the drop for the M19. I pause here for just a moment in my quest for resolution, for the very nearness of the globular clusters NGC6293 and NGC6284 to the M19 are a fine sight! Then I put the M19 in the center and unlease the 9mm upon it. Ah, closest to the "Heart" you are!! Highly flattened and compressed, the M19's true beauty is the bright concentration of stars at the center. Again I can chose no other word than "density"... You would have to see it, I guess, to understand. Density is what lays behind the stars... A field so fine, and so intense that it becomes a silver grain over which the signature stars are inlaid. Chains bracket the core area... Yet the "density" extends completely to the outer edges. And at those edges? Are beautiful outlying red doubles.... What an incredible cluster!

Now for the last of Ophiuchus' wonderful globulars... The M62. Oh my. The resolution is breathtaking! The core is deformed and highly concentrated. From there it goes unusual, for there is no "peppering" of stars. You have nucleas, then you have density, and then you have short chains. There is a huge amount of edge doubles that have a pinkish tinge to them, like a soft wash of blood over polished silver. Just incredible....

Before I leave this place, I journey back upwards to the B72. How deeply I appreciate my dark southern skies! For the "Snake Nebula" is clearly etched upon the background star, like a scrawling S pulled through diamond dust. Other wells of darkness accompany it, but none like the "Snake", with its' fat belly distended toward a bright star. An awesome sight, and like the "Horsehead", one I only get to see a few times a year. And how very much I love it when I do...

Now it is time to sit crossed legged on the cool grass, and turn my garbled pages of symbols and strange shorthand into notes which I will undertand when I go to write a report. Quite honestly, I would understand what these things mean for weeks yet, but should my virtual work ever disappear how well would I understand something that looks like:

M10 - RS! *>C {}MD DNS ~CH :::RED EXT!!

Oh, probably pretty well if I'd use standardized terminology, eh? But you know me, I'm a rule breaker and I doubt I'll change! Besides, it feels good to just sit here a moment, sip at my cup and listen to the tunes. It helps to block out the siren song of the deep that is calling from overhead: "Galaxies.... Galaxies are out here waiting for you, ~T.... Why are you still petting the things you've already seeeeeeeeeeeeen???"

Hehehhehee... This is why.

Because at 26mm the M8 and NGC6530 are a frozen fantasy. Soft whirls, curls and ribbands of nebula grace the sky. Inky wells of dark nebula counterpoint their grace. The open cluster sparkles like a brooch a diamonds on black velvet. The nebula itself is laced with stars, peeking like anxious children from behind lace curtains. There is a wide, curving dark channel that cuts its way through giving rise to the "Lagoon", and the filaments become the bank of the fabled home of the mermaids. Barnard's dark nebula B88 and B89 stand out like bruises on fair skin. To the west are two bright stars buried within the smoke, and nearby a deep tendril curls like a treble clef. The wisps extend themselves everywhere... And the M8 is a joy to behold.

Ah, "Trifid" my friend. I have come for you, too... And I want the power. The power to see your tipartate structure, each lobe differing from the other. One is thin and ragged, like a cloud being pulled apart by the atomosphere. The other has waves in it, like a transparent silk sheet forever frozen in the wind, stars staining its' perfection. The other is as dense as cotton, with its' interior edge punctuated by dark intrusions. There are stars within the dark lanes, but not in its' heart. For at the center of the M20 is yet another patch of nebulosity like a birthmark covering the fueling stars. How wonderful to have seen you again! Just as you were meant to be... Mine for now, and someone else's tomorrow.

And M17, you joker! I can still feel a twinge in my shoulders where I searched for you just last night! You don't elude me now, do you? Then come... Give me your glory tonight, and I will hand you my soul. Let me linger on your starfields, and dream upon your wings. The living essence of the nebula is so concentrated in that Nike "Swoosh", and yet extends itself in soft filaments that outrun the field of view with the 9mm. The stars dance among these soft curls, and so have I. I thank you, my friend...

Humming along softly to the tunes that play, I create my own irony by forwarding the CD to the Spiderman theme song. There is nothing cartoonish about this tune. It is a grand harmony of the raw edged voices of Nickelback and Saliva, one of the finest to come along in awhile:

"Well, the world isn't ending, for it's love that I'm sending to you... It isn't the love of a hero, and that why I fear it won't do.

And they say that a hero can save us... But I'm not going to stand here and wait. I hold on to the wings of the Eagle... Watch as we all fly away..."


And fly with the "Eagle" I do. Into that fantastic cloud of nebula, and deep into the center where the "Klingon Bird of Prey" is well highlighted by brighter filaments. Such a beautiful place it is, tiny stars showing inside the rip in the clouds. And the notch in the tip of the M16's field! Ah, what fine memories this brings back... The deep ribband where the "Pillars of Creation" lay. The stars shine still within this dark curl, but none so brightly as where the filament comes round. Ah, my... I can feel a deep sigh come from within.

Farewell....

"Rise so high, yet so far to fall... A plan of dignity and balance for all. Political breakthrough, euphoria's high... More borrowed love, more borrowed time... Backed in a corner, caught up in the race... Means to an end, ended in disgrace. Perspective is lost in the spirit of the chase...

Foreclosure of a dream... Those visions never seen. Until all is lost.... Personal Holocaust...

Foreclosure of a dream...."



September 4/5, 2002 - At the Observatory...

Comments: Another outstandingly clear day here in Ohio, and we did it proud. I started off by doing some routine solar observance and photography, concentrating my energies toward rockin' spot series 95. Although the amount of pure light irised the lens using both the Baader and Orion filters - Visually there is no problem. Even in as little as 48 hours, the follower spot with the least concentrated umbra and highly dispersed penumbra has undergone some major changes! The umbra itself seems to be "shrinking" or breaking up. Still holding a twisted beta/gamma magnetic class, this spot still hold some real promise of activity before it rolls round the other side. Spot 96 also shares the same classifications and the series that runs between it and Spot 100 give a fine appearance. Well worth a look!

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Of course, time away at the Observatory means that I'm dancin' and prancin' waiting on the skies to get dark. Snatching up Dan, we head cross country, enjoying the rock and roll and the twisting, tree-lined roads as the Sun sets. We make our way up "the Hill" as the last of the rays are kissing the sky and there is Bruce!

Ah, yes... This is going to be one fine night indeed.

Not long afterward, we were joined by Curt and his newest toy - A Edmunds Scientific 4" refractor. After a gentle round of teasing, we gained entry at last and it was time to get serious. While we each began our rituals of set up, the sky had darkened and the stars had come out to play. Dan gave me the honours of the big scope tonight and I could hardly wait to aim it into Scorpius. Time to say "farewell"...

While waiting on that magnificent mirror to stabilize, I headed off toward Curt the check out this scope. You thought the Vixen was long? You should see this one! Using ingenuity, Curt has managed to mount it on an equatorial meant for a 4.5 reflector, and I can only grin as I remember some of my own techniques. Heading out, we check out airy disc appearance, and cut apart Cor Caroli. Very fine, Curt! I'll give you back your "investment" anytime... ;)

Now, back into the dome and off to Scorpius finest - the M4. Even at 40mm, all questions are now answered. Complete, total resolution.... No globular cluster remains. Through the center of the M4 runs a striking chain of stars. Toward the one o'clock position a pair of red giants speak very loudly. Isn't this breaking the rules? Oh, yeah... And there is yet another red contained within the chain. Setting a bit more magnification toward it with 32mm reveals a swarm of pinpoint stars that lie behind the chain. There is no central concentration. The stars on the edge perform a random dance, adding that magnitude that gives it signature. In other words? Awesome...

Hoping for a shot to pick apart small attendant globular NGC6144 proves futile. Oh, I found where it was at, alright. But the big scope delivers so much light that the wattage of Anatares, combined with it's nebula washes the little globular out to nothing more than a circular patch caught in the mapped star pattern. I mean, you should see Antares in this scope! Uh... Wait a minute here. I really think you should see Antares.

Mr. Wizard? At 40mm the Observatory scope cuts Antares green companion away with ease. Sure, we're getting influence from Antares spurious image, but at even at perfect focus the B star holds. (clang! that's my jawbone again... just pick it up off the floor of the lift and stick it back where it belongs...) I could not have picked a more perfect way to wish "the Rival of Mars" adieu...

Feet back down on the ground again, (cuz' i need a smoke after seeing that!) I headed for Bruce and the 12.5 Meade. He's got in another of my "Summer's End" studies - the M22. Hey, hey.. Where have I seen this before, eh? Rock on! The 9mm Nagler provides a much wider field of view that what I am accoustomed to when doing studies, and I am most impressed with the straight chaining structure and the M22's slight fade to one side with its' interior concentration. Now, I am curious... And you will indulge me, yes? Here's the 9mm Meade. Put it in please? For I need to know in my own mind... Thank you. Yep. Exactly what I see in my scope. Precisely the same amount of resolution and edge of field clarity, but a much, much more restricted view. (m27? i'll be back... ;)

Time to head back to the dome and pick off another. Since we've already picked one apart, shall we go for another? Time to call on the M28. Yes! Now, I like this.... Want to know why? Because I've never been able to resolve out the 28 with my 12.5 and the 32 ain't doing it either! Hehehheeee... Wicked? Darn right. What can be seen with awesome aperature is one very concentrated globular cluster. This one truly has a core area, and splendid resolution to the outer edges.

Still in the mood to hop through Saggitarius, you cannot understand what it like to try and aim this big scope until you have done it yourself. Yes, it is somewhat antiquated... But I like 'em old! I can hear Dan's laughter as I grunt and groan trying to push this twenty foot tall metal monster from atop the lift. What's that mirror go at the bottom? I'm guessing a lot more than I weigh! And when I catch an open cluster in the rich field finder.... Whew! Stop for a bit... Cuz' it feels like my arms are gonna' fall off!

And it's a nice stopping place. The M25 is a treasure at 40mm. The colors contained within this oft viewed open and it's outstanding resolvability are a wonder. Picking out tiny magnitudes, and a host of blues, whites, yellows and reds remind me of the one in Monoceros. I do not recall it's designation, but I can never forget what it looked like! Nor as the summer fades to winter... Shall I forget this one.

Heading out next for the M17 causes laughter again. Holy Kid on a High Ladder! I cannot hit it! Put me on the ground with my dob and I'll have it for you in six seconds... Put me up here and all I can do is laugh!! Errrrrrrrrgh..... Ugh... Umph... Now where was that? Mmmmph... Argh! What say we go back down to the ground, smile and say "Hey, Bruce! What 'cha got?"

And Bruce was the one laughing, eh?

I arrived just in time to view bright nebua NGC6888. Beautiful wispy nebulosity gracing the stars... Just fine! And stepped over to Curt to take in the perfect orb of Uranus...

Now, I made a request at the beginning of the evening... And it is about to be honoured. Mr. Wizard? This is for you....

The NGC6819 is superior, baby. How shall I describe it? We're talking utter resolution here... Overlaid on a cloud of perfectly matched magnitudes is an asterism of brighter stars. A oriental pagoda? A nuclear reactor, perhaps... A twisted strand of DNA? There are two chains of stars with a bridge between them.

"I'd like to believe we can reconcile the past. Rebuild those bridges with an ancient glance..."


The field surrounding the NGC6819 is stellar, as only the Milky Way can be. Everywhere there are stars... Singing their songs to the night. I do something here that I ordinary do not. Sketch. It is here on my field notes where it belongs - A part of me. And a I take one last look before turning the scope back to Bruce? One word comes to mind...

Pi.

Now, we're off and running again. Planetary nebula NGC6894 is our next target and it is superb. With the 9mm Nagler it seems huge and softened with a bit of a darkened center. About this time, Jerry has joined us, and he heads into the dome to hunt down the "Saturn Nebula." This one was THE "talk" the other day, and I wouldn't mind seeing it! And Jerry is the dude to find it...

In the mean time, Bruce has called the NGC6960 from the sky. Wow! This supernova remnant swoops and pulls through a star to both sides. Its' silvery, high surface brightness is just amazing. The best part is how to the lower side it reminds me of a solar prominence - A long tounge of rarified gases stretching completely out of the field of view. Incredible...

Jerry gives out the call, and Bruce and I head inside the dome with the Nagler. I was told I had to see this to believe it, and I am ready. Up we go, he makes the switch and hands it over to me. Oh, my starz! OK, the big scope just totally and completely walked away from what the 12.5 can do!! The NGC7009 is a true blue fantasy. EXACTLY like Saturn, the interior orb of this plantary nebula bears out it's name. It is a perfectly dimensional globe... and it's haloed! Not just extended.... Haloed! A busy swirl cuts around it, dividing it in two. (clang! there goes my jaw again... ;) A most definately dark area exists across the central portion like Saturn's ring shadow... And to make it even more glorious? Bruce captures the central star! This is too much, guy... I couldn't have asked for better!

But it's about to get much, much better....

We go out, Jerry goes back in. He's on the hunt for another Shapely study, and on the ground we're going for an open cluster. The NGC6991 is a loose, open collection of various magnitudes. As an asterism, it looks something like a crouching spider waiting to capture the bright star nearby. Not bad...

The call goes out and we return to the dome to view the M73. Hey, hey! Complete resolution once again, the M73 boasts a triangular collection of brighter stars as its' core, the a big drop in magnitude and the fade away evenly toward the edges. Edges? What edges? The western frontier of this globular is entirely gone. Flattened is almost inappropriate. It is as cleanly and neatly cut away as if a knife had sheared it. Excellent!

Out we go again, and this time Bruce produces a charmed find. The NGC6992 is an incredible supernova remnant. Starting at just one edge, this feathery appearing arc of light spans two and one half degrees with ease! An absolutely splendid silver ribbon that requires movement of the telescope to totally encompass. And when you're pushing one... two.. three fields of view with a 32mm? That's wild!

Leaving the big scope to idle, it's time to head for some very serious study. Now this? I like...

NGC6997 - Set in a triangle of bright stars, this configuration of similar magnitudes remind me of the AOL man. (ouch! ok... i was just kidding around!) Not the most outrageous cluster in the sky, but sweet.

NGC7031 - A chevron shape of multi-magnitudes housed in a nice curl of stars. Highly reminiscent of a miniature M11.

NCG7067 - A small open cluster... But come here, Bruce. Look again, eh? Because it would appear that a planetary nebula is also part of this equation.

NGC7082 - Basically a bar of swirls and curls of various magnitudes. But before you keep on growling about how you're not real fond of open clusters, come and look again, ok? Cuz' this one has a very close, and very awesome red double right in the center. Right on top of one another!

NGC7419 - A handful of brightish stars with a small patch of similar magnitudes. Jerry has dubbed this one "The Paper Airplane Cluster", and I think that is a fine description!

Wishing him a goodnight, Dan turns to stargazing and helping Curt pack up. It's late, but it is time to go for the good stuff...

Galaxies!!

The following is a fine series of studies based on a very narrow field of sky. Thanks to Bruce's excellent coordination with the software programs and saavy knowledge of both sky and scope, it has been my privilege to be allowed to co-observe the following:

NGC7562 - Splendid inner core - Soft haloed spiral.

NGC7562A - Small, smear like apparition.

NGC7557 - Resides a bit more out to the edge of the FOV - Nice, soft core.

NGC128 - Edge-on. Nice brightness, slight bulge to the center. This is the most promient in the field with these other studies.

NGC125 - Very round, very concentrated. Direct vision easy.

NGC130 and NGC127 - Accompanies the 128 as soft patches caught on eye movement. Well spaced away from the 128 itself.

NGC126 - Yeah! A magnitude 15! Slim spiral, easy slight aversion, very well extended!

NGC198 - Soft, smooth elongated spiral. Twin stars sit in the center as this pair edges away.

NGC200 - Also a smooth criminal.... Splendidly elongated.

NGC194 - Round. Bright surface, no core definition. Easily held direct.

NGC199 - Slim and elongated, and with a... Bruce? Come back here and look at this again. Verify? Yes! The NGC199 has a very, very intense stellar point as a nucleas. Aversion makes it snap to attention.

NGC197 - NGC203 - NGC204 - Great trio of soft galaxies forming a perfect symetrical triangle on the night. Also in the field is UM57. Barely perceptable as a contrast change, it is best seen while holding the other galaxies direct. Also listed as PGC2401, we confirm it's presence by going to the data base. It's almost soft star like appearance is backed up by the fact that there are no stars cataloged for this area.

NGC186 - Concentrated nucleas, surrounded nicely by soft spiral structure. Very nice!

NGC182 - A totally even structure spiral. No definition.

And so many, many more await! I could have stayed there all night long... Hopping from one to the next! But even I have to come down every now and again... The dome is secured. All you have to do is shut down the electricity and lock the door. But keep the key, eh? Cuz' I'll be back...

Bruce? Unreal... I can never tell you just how much I enjoy it!

But maybe this can?

"Break new ground of a new frontier... New ideas will surely get by. No deed, or dividend. Some may ask "Why?"

You'll find the solution... The answers in the sky!

Foreclosure of a dream... "



September 3/4 - 2002 - The Sun... And Incredible Skies...

Comments: Partly cloudy here today. Those messy, stingy type of clouds - The ones that let the Sun shine through but never quite clear away. No matter. I'd been reading what was happening on the solar surface, and if there is enough shadow to aim by? It might not be photographic, but it is certainly observable!

And my, oh my... Was it ever observable! Strings and chains of spots everywhere! Continuing on with giving Baader film the attention it deserves, I decided not to use the Orion and base my observation solely with Baader. But where to start?! Why, at the beginning of course... So I toured from the western limb to the east, making note on sunspot patterns and possible classifications. 95 simply steals the show right now... It's stretched out form, series of follower spots and two very decidedly different umbra/penumbral regions make it magnificent! I would guarantee this is the Ottoman's "Atoll"... For the extreme differences between series do make it appear much like a tiny sting of islands!

Although I can make out no faculae, nor edge granulation, perimeter plages are certainly the forte of Baader film. The edges are extremely sharp and well defined - But the lack of gradient contrast makes calling some regions much more difficult. So you see? We need to combine them both... I'm still picking up stray light here. Explanation? With the Orion filter, if you push the solar disc out of the field of view, it is black. There is no sense of orientation as to where the Sun might be. With Baader? It's like finding the Moon... Your eye senses what direction the light is coming from and automatically directs you which way to move the scope. To me, that means the film is allowing a a frequency of light that the glass does not. Interesting... Perhaps one day I shall know what light that is!

And if you say sunlight? I will hold you down and tickle you until you get the hiccups... ;)

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I went out around 9:00 to view the clouds. A single star here and there, and flashes of lightning. Looks like I won't be observing, tonight, eh? Fine by me. Just kick back here in the chair and watch a movie and doze... When I came to around 11:00 and went to let the dogs out, I could only stand in the yard with a look of pure amazement on my face. Overhead the Milky Way was sporting resolvability of jaw dropping proportions! Cygnus was simply incredible! Frequently the curavature of stars that lie to the north are visible - But not these stars!

Buh, buh... buh buh buh buh...

Cassiopeia was almost unrecognizable. Saggitarius was tilting down to the west, but the M8 and M24 smoked out easily unaided! What the... Sheesh! M13, too! And will you just look at Brocchi's Cluster! And the M31, and the Perseus Double, and... and... Take a look at that lightning! For the entire eastern horizon, from five degrees down was electric. Each time a jagged bolt of lightning appeared, you could see a perfect front moving southward. To scope, or not to scope.... That is the question. H says no. (big black coward! that front is a hundred miles away...) But when I can see stars inside the Square of Pegasus that I know to be 6.5?

I'm galaxy hoppin'...

Letting SuperCoward and Ranger the WonderMutt back into the house, I put on some tea, pulled out the dob and turned up the rock and roll. I'm out of practice, but I am willing. First mark? Mr. Wizard's galaxy... The NGC6822 presents itself tonight as fine as I have ever seen it. It has almost the appearance of an open cluster, with tiny stars coming to the front upon aversion. It's mottled... It's broken... It's beautiful! And the sweet little planetary, NGC6818 shines right on with it... Spectacular.

Sliding down the belly of the sky, the next stop is concentrated little globular cluster M75. Nice, clean resolvability around the edges. And the hunt goes on... Next mark? NGC6907. It gave us the runa-around, we'll give it credit for that, but when located, the NGC6907 presents itself as an awesome "S" shaped spiral that makes all that time worthwhile... (yeah? for what it's worth, it was worth all the while. always...) On now to the M30, and what a great little globular! Caught on a hook of stars, this fellow has an unpentrable core area, but the outer perimeters resolve right out with some great doubles and triples to delight the color sense!

Phew... I can't quit looking up here! The words "dumb founded" come to mind, so reach over here and push my jaw back up and let's hop some more! Howdy, "Helix"... The NGC7293 is just rocking tonight. Beautiful form in the 17mm, it's twisted braids and slightly broken structure are as pleasant as the double caught at the edge and the handful of tiny stars caught within. Yessss.... Now for a peek at the map, a hop to an easily recognized configuration, and "Viola"! The NGC7606. A pleasing elongated spiral, nice view at 9mm with a soft concentration at the nucleas.

And here I am... Looking up and thinking again! Thinking that it's been so long since I've hopped through Pegasus, that I'll never find you again! My first thought was for "Stephan's Quintets" - but we've a booking at the Observatory for Wednesday - Let's put that one on hold. And yeah, I've got my mouth open again, and quite probably drooling... Just give me a goose, will ya'? Ouch! OK... I get it... Let's rock!

Going back again to the map, I chose our next marks for ease of finding... Why? Because I have moments of self-doubt, just like anybody else. It's been so long... Do I still remember how? Come on, Alpha. I think I do... Ah... Yep. Come here and look... NGC7448 is a decent spirl galaxy, softly concentrated toward the center, but no real outrageous structure. Can I just be pleased that I found it? Darn right I can. Just like hopping to Lambda and Mu and finding NGC7332.... I'm not real keen on ellipticals, but as we study this one, there appears to be something there that is not marked on the Tirion. Hmmmm... Sure wouldn't be the first mistake in this book!

Confidence returning? Never when I'm around you, kid. I always feel like I'm about 10 years old! Next hop? Gamma... Oh. Oh! There is a smile in the dark here a mile wide! The NGC7814 is edge-on, baby... Mmmmmm... mmmmmmm. Skip the 17 and hand me the good 9mm, ok? Oh, this is for you. Like a minature "Sombrero", the dark dust lane that bissects this slim, intense streak of light is easily picked off with only the slightest of aversion. Yeow! If we're missing any sleep here, who cares? This one is amazing...

Now, I'm hungry. I want. I want a cup of chai and a peanut butter sandwich. I want... Care to join me?

Taking the third cup, (hey, it tastes good, ok?) and the second sandwich (yes, two. i'm hungry!) back out into the field, I stand and stare at Algol. Demon? You rocked my world once, long ago... And I've never been the same since. Let's do this...

And when the "Perseus Galaxy Cluster" came into view? I walked into the House of the Holy. You cannot view this and not be moved. Like the "Field of Dreams", this galaxy cluster reaffirms my faith in astronomy. Wonderment, love, lust, sorrow, joy, passion... A million synapses in the brain fire as each tiny galaxy makes itself known.
Two are always visible - Clean and direct. Then four... Six... Seven? Hehehheeeeeee! Ten? Oh, my... It doesn't really matter does it? For this is Mr. Poe's "well from which passion springs"... And I drink deeply. Moving from eyepiece to eyepiece, happily singing along with the radio one minute and standing mute and humble upon the ladder the next. How much time passed? I don't know. I don't feel it. My hands automatically readjust the scope without thought. The light of other galaxies... other worlds! Caught in my eye...

Microcosm.

After the spirit had passed through me, I find myself tired. I want nothing more than to curl up here on the redwood chair with a blanket and sleep under these incredible stars with you. And so I did. When the time was right, a warm brush across my cheek awoke me. The way remains open, and the heavens await.

Such beauty! Auriga's fine M36, 37 and 38 shine with no scope, and are easy catches. The M42 glows like a fan of fire... the Trapezium. Such steady glory! The M1 a cloud of ribbons... Saturn being pulled across the sky by Iaepetus, trailing Titan behind like a dog on a lease. The inner moons dancing above its' head like jewels in an icy crown. The Cassini so bold... And mighty Juipter! With all your varients in structure, galieans dancing to both sides... And you sit by the Moon! Oh, that fantasy...

Mare Orientale is there. For the first time tonight, I go back to fetch the 4.5 and the camera. I have not even looked at the film, for I know what I saw, and I know it will be there as well. All I want now is to sit upon the edge of the chair, blanket wrapped around my shoulders...

And watch the Sun rise.

"Throwing dice now, rolling loaded... I see sixes all the way. In a black hole, and I'm spinning... As my wings get shot away. No breaks on the inside. Paper cats and burning barns... There's a fox among the chickens. And a killer in the hounds. Questions are a burden... And answers are a prison for oneself. Shellshock in the kitchen.... Tables start to burn.

But still we walk into the valley ... And others try to kill the inner flame. We're burning brighter than before.... I don't have a number, I'M A NAME!"


September 2, 2002 - Back in the Village...

Comments: Woke to a hazy day. I knew it was coming - my string of luck was about to run out... And speaking of run out? Best fire up that V-twin and stay ahead of the rain!

Curtains were twitching everywhere when I made it back, and I hadn't even turned into the driveway yet when you could hear H screaming from inside the house. Remember "The Flintstones"? Well, H would have done Dino proud for I got mauled when I opened the door! Even ol' Ranger got into the spirit of things... Barking and howling like a true sport. So, we just kept outdoors for awhile. I've no real desire to see my antiques stomped by an exuberant dog. I just let H play Tony Hawk for awhile as we cleaned out the pool... You should see this leaping fool!

No sooner than I had things back in order than the rains came. Fresh and hard, and enough lightning and thunder to snap off the electricity and couple of times and make the now cowering H run under the sofa. (noble, fearless german shepherd, my eye! do you know how silly you look crashing coffee tables to hide?) Hey, hey... What did I tell you, Cor? It's fate.

But not to worry, for as things are in Ohio, the rain swept itself away long before sunset and left me with some mighty fine sucker holes to chase. Saggitarius was taking a dip west by that time, so I just pulled the dob out into the center of the south field, and headed for the outer planets. Residing on either side of Capricorn's awesome smile, tiny greenish Uranus it just breathing distance to the east of Mu, (got me panting again, don't you? ;) and the purply/blue orb of Neptune is just a breath to the east of Upsilon. Keep track on 'em, eh? For the time will come very soon when we can view all the planets in one night!

Ready to rock? Or listen to some different tunes? How about the "Saturn Nebula"? You know, the NGC7009 is an awesome blues singer, don't you? I think with the exception of the Hubble Variable Nebula, there is no other that sports that rich a color. Even modest aperature telescopes can reveal that, and it's stretched appearance bearing out its' namesake is just grand! And while we're there... Let's latch onto one of the better globulars in the sky, and say "howdy" to the highly concentrated, and hard to resolve completely, M2! It's been awhile, kid. I'll be back for you...

Watching the skies shift, and craving for some intensity, the NGC6940 comes next. There is something I find intensely pleasing about this particular open cluster, and it delivers tonight. Just sparkingly resolvability... And here I stand, with my mouth open, and looking like a fool. Ah, well. It's my favourite. What else can I say?

Looking round for an open patch of sky I haven't walked all over in the last couple of days, my attention is caught by Perseus. Oh, why not? Drop that big old 32mm in there, slide the counter balance, and get blown away. The NGCs
869 and 884 can be tremendous when given a chance! We could pick them totally apart with magnification, but there is something definately inspiring about the view with lowest power. The stars just curl and twist everywhere at once, making the "Double Cluster" one of the finest celestial displays in the northern sky!

Since I'm feeling a bit dreamy... Let's mosey on over to the "Andromeda Galaxy", ok? Again, lowest power does this one justice. Even at this modest magnification, we cannot drink it all in at once. (but i'm willing to try!) And that's the beauty part of it.... Nudging the scope this way to pick out the M32 curled to one side, and the M110 stretched out on the other. So nice....

Those clouds are pushing over again, but the night is still very warm and very pleasant. What say we just cover the dob, put it away, turn on some rock and roll...

And go for a swim?

"Turn the spotlights on the people... Switch the dial and eat the worm. Take your chances, kill the engine... Drop your bombs and let it burn. White flags shot to ribbons, the truce is black and burned. Shellshock in the kitchen... Tables overturned.

Back in the village again.. In the village. I'm back in the village again... "