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September 28, 2006 - Lunar Club II Studies...

Comments: Tonight I am a bundle of energy and unable to focus on writing. I feel guilty because I should be finishing up the 2008 manuscript, but what the heck... I'm already through into October! As I sit here and try to concentrate, I get a some messages from Terry Mann and I'm simply too psyched up about participating in the Sally Ride Science festivals in Michigan this weekend to sit still. Besides...

I can see the Moon from my office window.


Lunar Club II
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
09/28/06 8:30 pm ESDT
Skies: 4.0 9/10
Scope: 4.5 reflector 25mm

Vallis Rheita - OK. I was worried that I wouldn't get this one until next month because it would have been far better last night when it was cloudy than it is tonight. Hey! Guess what? It shows just fine! The Rheita Valley is a series of confluent craters that run along the southwest edge of crater Rheita for a distance of 500 kilometers ending in crater Young. While there's not a whole lot of contrast to go by, they look fairly shallow and it would be extremely interesting to know how they formed. As my opinion only, it looks like a multiple-strike.

Ritter - This is not particularly an easy crater at minimum power, but shows only as a shallow ring.

Sabine - South of Ritter, Sabine has a little brighter edge making it more noticable.

Statio Tranquillitatis - "Houston? This is Tranquility Base... The Eagle has landed." What can I say about Statio Tranquillitatus that I haven't said hundreds of times before? I get a real thrill every time I look at this area, because I was there. I was watching when Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the Moon. I was there when Neil Armstrong stepped down that ladder on July 20, 1969 and went into the history books. The names Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins are forever embedded in my mind! Even though the 4.5 doesn't provide sufficent resolving power to see the three craters named for them, I have seen them. Truly this is always a pleasure!

Surveyor 5 - Launched on September 8, 1967, Surveyor 5 was a total triumph for exploration. Landing on September 11 (how ironic is that?) not far from where Apollo 11 would follow, the amazing little probe sent back more than 1800 high quality television images on its first day. Soon to be plunged into lunar darkness the brave little instrument survived 2 weeks of freeze and immediately responded to its turn-on command and went on to add more than 1000 additional pictures and nearly another day's worth of data. Pretty cool, huh?!

Ranger 8 - Ranger 8 was a kamikaze mission launched on February 17, 1965. Before smacking into the lunar surface on Feburary 20, 1965, the gallant little probe took over 7000 images from its six on-board cameras that resolved the surface right down to 1.5 meters. All this happened in its last 23 minutes of flight!

Sinus Asperatis - Located just northwest of the trio of Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catherina, Sinus Asperatis is just a dark intrustion which looks like an area of seismic activity, or places where the lava flow piled up from the formation of Mare Tranquilitatis.

Sinus Amoris - Well, it's kinda' hard to be descriptive over something that doesn't have a lot of details! Sinus Amoris is just one of those weird transitional places that edge huge mares - in the case, the northern edge of Tranquillitatis.

Luna 21 - Of course, I'd much rather be playing around in crater le Monnier which is actually a lot more light that the photo depicts. It's an open crater, but what's cool is that is the final resting place of the Luna 21 mission. Launched into an Earth orbit on January 8, 1973, the Luna 21 mission blasted towards the Moon on the 12 and was orbiting by late on the 13th. After 40 tours from around 60 miles above the surface, they hit the brakes and the mission went into freefall on the 15th. Around a half-mile above the surface, the braking thrusters fired, slowing it down until it was less than 10 feet above the regolith and there it dropped. On board was the second successful Soviet lunar rover - Lunokhod 2. Hours later, on the 16th, the little tracker took off on the surface and by the end of its first day it had scooted along further than the first mission had it its entire operational time! Months later, on May 9, 1973, little Lunokhod 2 slipped and fell into a crater and rolled over. Unfortunately, it couldn't respond with its solar panels covered in dust, and by June 3 the mission was terminated. However, it was a huge success, taking more than 80,000 pictures and 86 panoramas - along with performing hundreds of experiments. Spaseba, commrades!.

Apollo 17 - Launched on December 7, 1972, Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to this day to land on the Moon. It's mission was a geological one, and one of the last two men to set foot on the Moon was also the first scientist-astronaut, geologist Harrison Schmitt While many wonderful stories and legends remain from this last mission, let the words of Eugene Cernan speak: "As I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come - but we believe not too long into the future. I'd like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."


And that, as they say, is that. Even though the skies were still beautiful and I chased that low southern Moon all over the place, I had best go get myself ready to travel.

I hope you enjoyed our journey...

"Show me how to live..."

September 26, 2006 - Moon Walk...

Comments: Dance? Not tonight, thanks. I'm a tired cookie, but I would like to look at the Moon!


Lunar Club II
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
08/26/06 7:45 pm ESDT
Sky: 4.5 Stability 6/10
4.5 reflector 25mm

Sinus Concordiae - Well, not really a whole lot to tell except for it's a dark intrusion into what looks like some low lying hills. West of Mare Crisium.

Tauruntis - Usually a much nicer crater than this, but the skies are unstable at the moment. Easy to see that it has a central peak and high, light colored walls. Bordered on the north by tiny Cameron.

(personal note: i like da vinci just to the north. it's nothing more than a little wedge cut into the hills, but it's cool!)


After that? Aw... I just kicked back and watched the sky for awhile. Took it easy, you know? It's just one of those nights that I'm just enjoying looking at the stars and thinking my strange thoughts.

And you know how strange I am...

"Show me how to live..."

September 26, 2006 - It's Early In the Morning...

Comments: "Early in the mornin'... Early in the mornin'... Early in the mornin' and I ain't got nothin' but, I ain't got nothin' but the blue ooo oooos..." Hey, how ya' doin'? I know you didn't want to get up, but I like the early hours. Been doing it for years and it's just part of me. It's been a very long time since I took a morning walk. Used to do it all the time when Sagittarius was around. Right now, good ol' Orion is creeping up towards the high south and Gemini is starting to right itself in the sky. Sirius is up blazing!

Grab a cup of coffee and meet me out front...


Urban Observing Club
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
08/26/06 4:45 am ESDT
Sky 4.0 9/10
4.5 reflector 25mm

NGC 1647 - Well, now! I see what I missed with the binoculars. This open cluster is very well resolved and quite bright. Various magnitudes, but perhaps 30 or so stars stand out very well with many apparent doubles. This looks like it should be an asterism of some kind.

NGC 1807 - Again, with the restricted field of view I can see what I was missing. This really is a lovely little cluster. Not very rich, but bright with a double handful of bright stars.

NGC 1817 - Slightly more concentrated, but also a dandy bright little cluster. It's well concentrated but not very populous.

NGC 1981 - Rocks in the telescope! Very bright, very large and very well stocked. Many magnitudes to delight and confuse the eye!

NGC 1976 - The good old Orion nebula. Always a true pleasure and makes me long for aperture. Still, it's a wonderful green fan of light and a few crystal stars inside.

Trapezium - At low power all four primary stars are easily visible.

NGC 2169 - A very bright and pretty little cluster. Well resolved and also has some apparent doubles in there. Bright, white stars and stands up very well to high light.

NGC 1912 - M38, dude! Hey, it's rich beautiful and concentrated. An easy find!

NGC 1960 - M36 - This one is more openish and a little brighter. Maybe 50 or so stars the clump more together in the center of the mass.

NGC 2099 - M37 - Very, very rich. Like a Chinese temple built of stars. So many stars I can't even begin to count them! It's very geometrical looking. Nice in even high light.

NGC 2168 - M35 - Rock, on! Man, it's been a long time since I've seen this cluster. Multiple magnitudes, very rich and has a notably yellow star and some blues. A little more difficult to find, but not that hard. Very nice!


By now the early dawn is moving right along and I stop to watch Saturn for awhile. Carrying the 4.5 back out the the backyard to get away from the neighbor's security light, I couldn't help but notice that I picked up at least another magnitude and a half on the sky. Then I got to thinking... And that can be a dangerous thing for me.

Although I am no longer working on my comet hunter's certificate, that doesn't mean I'm going to quit looking at comets. There's a new one in town and it's name is C/2006 SWAN M4. You know what? You can find it, too. Right now it's just south of 62 Ursa Majoris and it looks like a little unresolved globular cluster. My guess is no more than magnitude 8, but that might be because the skies are beginning to lighten up as well.

Comets rock...

"Nail in my hand... From my Creator. You gave me a life. Now show me how to live."

September 25, 2006 - A Marvelous Night For A Moondance...

Comments: Ah! Clear skies again tonight! While I am tired, I am also restless. Since I can't seem to focus myself towards anything, why not see if I can focus on that bright crescent Moon?

Let's dance...


Lunar Club II
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
08/25/06 7:45 pm EST
Skies: 3.0 8/10
12.5" reflector

Mare Marginis - East of Mare Crisium, Mare Marginis is a fairly featureless grey elipse bordered on the west by Alhazen, Hansen and Condorcet. It appears to have virtually no wall structure.

Mare Undarum - Southeast of Mare Crisium, Mare Undarum gives the impression of a heart-shaped area, much like Mare Humorum. Apparently there's some lowland areas around it. Crater Firmicus to the west is also featureless and Apollonius is a little brighter.

Mare Spumans - "The Foaming Sea"... Now why did they name it that? It doesn't look foamy. It just looks like it's cut around by a lot of smaller craters making the edges look jagged. Barely separated from Sinus Successus by a "sandbar" looking feature.

Mare Smythii - Just barely visible almost central on the lunar east limb. Mare Smythii is also a long, featureless elipse. Craters Jenkins and Noblett show well as a double crater on its west shore.


Now, let's grab some of those ripe pears off yon tree and go nap for awhile. The clear sky clock shows that's it's going to be nice through dawn and I don't have to go to work in the morning.

Unless you'd rather stay out here and dance awhile longer?

"And in your final hour I will stand... Ready to begin. Ready to begin... Ready to begin."

September 25, 2006 - Field Work With The Vampyre...

Comments: At last. Clear skies. Is there a Moon around somewhere? I think so, but I have not seen it. The only thing I've seen is clouds. It's been about a week or so now since there has been skies... and it has been a long week. Again, steroids have worked wonders and if I can quit chasing the deer around with a knife and a salt shaker I might even get some star gazing done!

Besides... The grapes are ripe. Grab a handful of them and we'll spit seeds while we tour the front yard.


Urban Observing Club
09/25/06 12:30 am EST
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
Sky: 4.0 9/10
4.5" reflector 25mm

NGC 129 - A fairy rich, but very loose collection. Well resolved with much brighter star on the southern edge. Creates small chains.

NGC 221 - M32. Requires aversion to be seen not because of the light, but because of aperture. Shows as an egg-shaped fuzzy.

NGC 224 - The Andromeda Galaxy. Always superb and light simply does not matter. I don't know if it was wishful thinking or just knowing where it is at, but I can just barely see it unaided. I don't think that would be possible if I were not standing in a shadowed place.

NGC 457 - The E.T. cluster! Well resolved. Nice asterism that I had always referred to as the "angel". Does well in high light conditions.

NGC 663 - Multiple magntiudes surround a very rich, concentrated cluster in a V-shape. It looks like a tiny tornado of stars with the vortex to the south. Very, very nice cluster!


So, let's go back out to where the grape arbor is at, kick back on the redwood chair and do a little binoculars, ok?


Binocular Deep Sky
09/25/06 1:15 am EST
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
Sky: 5.5 9/10

NGC 1647 - Northeast of Aldebaran. A faint, hazy, not quite resolved patch of stars that are oriented to the north/south. Looks like it might be slightly concentrated.

NGC 1746 - Halfway between Aldebaran and Beta Auriga. Very large and bright like widely scattered starlight. Several members easily come forward resolved and many more on the edge.

NGC 1807 - Due east of Aldebaran. Nice field! A few faint stars in a loose collection. Pairs with NGC 1817 to northeast.

NGC 1817 - Pairs with NGC 1807 to southwest. Also a few faint stars in a hazy collection. Small and not particularly exciting.

NGC 1981 - Argh! I looked at the Trap, Ray! NGC 1981 is the cluster around the top star in Orion's sword. This is a very nice, bright grouping that is loose, multi-magnitude and well resolved. Nice in binoculars.

NGC 2169 - Triangulates with Xi and Nu Orionis which look very nice in the same field. There's like a bridge of stars between them and the cluster is rich and clumpy looking. A few brighter prickles of light show with aversion. Also a very nice cluster!


And that does it for me tonight. Time to walk the Celestron back to the garage, grab another cup of coffee and head in on the Vampyre shift. It is really awesome to see Orion again and it looks so odd to see it laying on its side like that! No matter. I know, (because I've seen it) that it will be standing upright in just a matter of hours.

Catch ya' on break, kid....

"And in your waiting hands I will land... And roll out of my skin."

September 17/18, 2006 - Continuing Study...

Comments: What happened to Sunday? Got news for ya'. I slept. I slept almost the entire day and almost all the early evening. I got up to eat, use the sandbox, speak to family and back out again... And around 10:30?

Searing blue pain.

I don't mean to dump by troubles on you, but I hope by writing things down that one day I can understand what's happening and how to combat it. Being active doesn't apparently have anything to do with it, but I've got a strong feeling that lifting heavy weight does. I knew I was swelling by the time I got off work on Saturday and by late Sunday night I can't even sleep it hurts so bad. Nothing like bringing your bottles of pills to a family member and crying to have them open them, is there? Take two of these...

And call me in the morning.

About 40 minutes later, I was back in control. Alone again and coffee mug with me, I decided that since I was up and couldn't sleep that I was by-gosh going to enjoy the night. I've got a few hours before I'm expected into work and all I need is a scope and a star to steer it by...

Binocular Deep Sky
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
09/17/06 - 09/18/06 11:30 pm - 2:15 am ESDT
Sky: 5.5 LM 8/10

NGC 752 - Slight resolution. A few bright stars come forward over this well compressed area.

NGC 253 - South of Beta Cetus. Splinter Galaxy? Definate galactic binocular signature. Required slight aversion and shows as a thin scratch of light.

Melotte 20 - Beautiful open cluster known as the Alpha Perseii Assocation. Very well resolved and very large!

NGC 1342 - Southeast of Algol. Bright, loose and with some resolution.

NGC 1528 - Northeast of Lambda. Compressed area with nice field of stars to the east.

NGC 1582 - Very loose and faint. Slight compression. Looks like trails of stars with a handful resolving more around a slight compression in the center.

Melotte 25 - a.k.a. The "Hyades" - This is one open cluster that is best suited to binoculars since it is so large! Many magnitudes. A true pleasure.

Urban Observing Club
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
09/17/06 - 09/18/06 11:30 pm - 2:15 am ESDT
4.5 Celestron reflector - 25mm 10 mm
Sky: 4.0 LM 8/10

NGC 752 - Fully resolved. Several colors are noticable. 30 or so cluster members of mixed magnitudes.

NGC 1342 - Fully resolved. Very nice cluster! Mixed magnitudes of two dozen to maybe 40 stars all told. Very loose construction.

NGC 864/869 - a.k.a. the "Double Cluster". Perfect at low power! Well resolved image of two very stellar groups!

M45 - The Plieades. Cool, blue and superior. Nice resolution and a faint hint of nebulosity even under higher light conditons.

Melotte 25 - The Hyades. Low power only. Lots of double pairings here that lie at precise angles to each other. Like a scatter field of dominoes! Many magnitudes and encompasses severval fields of view.

NGC 1068 - a.k.a. M77. An incredibly difficult find. The area was easy enough to find, but it shows only as a round contrast change at low power requiring wide aversion. Difficult under bright skies.

Collinder 463 - Rich and very large. Many stars are beyond the point of resolution at low power. It's bright and anywhere from 30 to 50 can be resolved at higher power.

Stock 2 - Low power only. Loose, fairly faint and large. Similar magnitude stars collect in an X pattern. Perhaps 50 members.

Stock 23 - Mixed magnitudes. Stars form a Lyra-like asterism. Bright and well resolved.

Trumpler 2 - Cassiopeia-like configuration of stars. A dozen or so well resolved members.

Trumpler 3 - Very tight and bright! Definate cluster full of mixed magnitudes clustered around a bright central star. Very nice!

Melotte 20 - Very, very rich. Well compressed. Bright. 75 or so members and many doubles. This one is also very nice!


And now it is time for me to put my things away and head into work on the Vampyre shift. I'm a tough old bird and I did make it through work that day. Did you see Saturn and the crescent Moon just before sunrise? They were beautiful.

By the end of my day, I was back at the Doc again. I couldn't pick up my left arm and the hand itself was useless. My feet were unrecognizable. My knees unable to bend. Driving a standard shift was a challenge. Anything was a challenge! But, here I am. Back again. Steroids and ice have brought me back. In a couple of weeks I will go yet again to another specialist and see if we can't start some more drugs to help fight this off.

I ain't giving up without a fight.

"Nail in my hand... From my Creator. You gave me a life. Now show me how to live..."

September 16/17, 2006 - At the Observatory... Studies at Home...

Comments: Oh, yeah! A promise of more clear skies ahead (even though it doesn't look it right now) and the Ohio Jr. Naturalists coming to the Observatory for a program! After a nap, I was hurting - but who cares? Pop a couple of pain pills and head out...

When I arrived, Bruce and Becky had already gotten things open and were checking out how nicely the ClubHouse is coming along. I visit for awhile, but also know I am running right down to the wire on time to get my program set up and running. Needless to say, my group made it before I was done! No matter... They're great!

We welcome Jan Ferrell and 36 members of the Ohio Junior Naturalists. The group is widely varied in age from adults to perhaps 6th graders and I am ready to take them on a ride. Starting the program at 7:30, I pulled out every stop and gave them a taste of every program I've done over the last couple of years. We explored sizes and distances, light speed and the cosmos, meteors, comet, radio astronomy, the world of the Hubble, black holes, cosmology, map work, lunar features, constellations, ecliptic plane, sky movements, gravity and much, much more... Why not? We're waiting on the skies to clear! Let's explore what makes a telescope work, what you can see, what you are looking at!!

When the clearing comes at last, it's time to introduce them to dark adaption and let Bruce and Becky take over the interior show with the 31". Outside, Dan takes them on a sky tour with the green laser while Joe and I set up a scope to allow them some hands-on star hopping. It's a glorious night and the Milky Way sings! Too bad the dew point came along so fast... We really had a wonderful time and the program lasted for 4 hours!! Just awesome...

Jan? I truly appreciate you contacting us and bringing your group. I look forward to presenting more in the future!

Afterwards, it was time to fold things up. I had my comet hunter notes with me and I was anxious to show them to somebody who cared. Joe has always kept track of my reports, but I'm quite proud of the way I've organized this and prepared my field sketches. I hope someday they return and I can get them scanned in somehow so I can add them to my pages.

When I got back home, it was around 12:30 and here the skies were very clear. Although I am beginning to hurt rather strongly again, I have a decision to make. Who controls the pain? I do.

Let's set out a scope and grab those binoculars!

Urban Observing Club
Tammy Plotner 40.6 82.9
09/17/06 12:45 - 2:30 am ESDT
Sky: 5 LM 8/10
Scope: 4.5 reflector 25mm 10mm

NGC 6709 - Located southwest of Zeta Aquarii. Comprised of several doubles, some chains and a strong underlying sense of unresolved stars.

NGC 6720 - a.k.a. the M57! Who doesn't know the "Ring" and can't find it blind, eh? It shows very well even in a high light situation and a nice, dark center with low power.

Collinder 399 - Brocchi's Cluster. Low power is a must, because it fills the field of view. Nice asterism and definate reddening in the stars.

NGC 6826 - "The Blinking Planetary". Best at high power. Look directly at it, you see the central star. Avert and you see it is a planetary. Stands up well to light.

NGC 6910 - Off Gamma Cygni. Easy to find, bright, beautiful and a gem like collection of 30 or so stars. Very well resolved. Mixed magnitudes.

NGC 6934 - South of Epsilon Delphinus. It is a small, round fuzzy, recongizable as a globular cluster. Some resolution, or appears to be, at high power.

NGC 7078 - a.k.a. M15. Again, an easy find! Bright, highly compressed and shows extrememly well at low power.

NGC 7009 - a.k.a. the "Saturn Nebula". Difficult to find in high light. Even at high power with a small scope, it only shows a vague elongation at the edges.

NGC 7089 - a.k.a. M2 - Also a little difficult to find, but well worth the hunt. Outstanding globular cluster!

NGC 7160 - Found by triangulating with Alpha and Zeta. Small, bright, well resolved. The brighter stars are haloed by fainter ones.

NGC 7209 - Required binoculars to locate since Lacerta is not readily apparent under bright skies. Difficult find. A field of fine chains on equal magnitude.

NGC 7243 - Also required binoculars first. Large collection of about 50 stars. Mixed magnitudes, well resolved and loosely constructed.

NGC 7662 - a.k.a. the "Blue Snowball". Notably blue at low power. Definately plantary signature at high with a wink of a central in a shell structure.

And now? I am drained. It's 2:30 and all I can thing about is ice. Thankfully I have the day off tomorrow so I can sleep in! Just please...

Make me quit thinking about staying up for Orion!

"You gave me a life... Now show me how to live."

September 16, 2006 - Lunar Club II Study

Comments: Up with the early dawn and moving right along? You betcha'. Despite being out late last night, I still have to work this morning. I wasn't delighted when the alarm went off at 4:30, but I am obediant. While my coffee brewed, I showered and got ready and took my first cup outside with me... Cuz' you know what?

The skies are still clear!

Although I long to trapise around through Orion, journey through Gemini, and just generally pick up a lot more studies, my focus is the big, beautiful Moon. My hands are not happy, but I am a willing soul and so I set the 4.5 Celestron right outside the garage door, grab my video camera and go have a look!

Lunar Club II
Activity 92: Sketch or photograph Rupes Recta at lunar sunset
09/16/06 5:15 a.m. ESDT
Skies: 5 LM 9/10

As you can see, the clarity and stability was great! If I had the opportunity yesterday morning, I'm sure I could have done my Thebit studies as well, but it is too far shadowed now. Anyway, this is my favourite time to view the Straight Wall because it is light instead of dark! Sliding along 110 kilometers of surface and raising at about a 45 degree angle to a height of around 300 meters, this is really a superior feature and worth going out early for!

And now? Time to work. There will be a price to pay... I can feel it coming on.

"Nail in my hand... From my Creator."

September 15, 2006 - Working On Studies...

Comments: A clear night at last! Although there was still some cloud around the lower horizons that would sometimes invade where clear skies had been... What was clear was very clear.

Wanna' dance?

Binocular Deep Sky
Tammy Plotner
Sky: 5.5 LM 8/10 clarity
Time In: 10:00 pm ESDT
40.2 86.9

NGC 6819 - South of Delta Cygnii, this very small cluster is unresolved except for a brighter star on its eastern edge. It is difficult to pick out from the surrounding starfield, but it is a compressed area.

NGC 6910 - Is as easy as knowing Gamma. Gamma is, or appears to be, part of this small compression of stars which resides to it's. In binoculars, it is an indistinct patch haloed by a handful of brighter stars.

NGC 7063 - Southeast of Deneb and just north of the area of the Veil. Again, a small hazy compression of stars with prominent star on the northeast edge.

NGC 6823 - A larger area of on the edge of resolution stars right on the galactic equator north of Brocchi's cluster. Four stars easily come forward from the rest.

NGC 6934 - Due south of Epsilon Delphinus, I had to repeatedly go back and back to the same area to make sure I was identifying this very, very small globular cluster correctly. Absolutely no resolution whatsoever and it is so daggone small that you have to avert and look for a round area that looks like an out of focus star.

NGC 7160 - North of Nu Cephii. A mid-sized compression of stellar points.set off from a bright and beautiful collection to the east.

NGC 7235 - Part of the Epsilon collection in Cepheus. In a field of brighter, more prominent stars, it takes steady hands and patience to make out a very small area which is more compressed and in the north of this bold collection of stars. A very nice object!

NGC 7209 - Southwest of M39 in Lacerta. This is also a small compression of stars with a very notable and easy stand out member on its northeastern edge.

NGC 7243 - To find this little beast, you have to repeatedly move east from Alpha Lacerta. Again, it is a small compression of stars, but the field is what makes it! Although the outliers are obviously not true members of the cluster, the halo the area to the west in a very beautiful way!

Now, don't you think it's time to get the scope out and have a look, too?? Then let's go out in the front yard, curse the light, and try again...

Urban Observing Club
Tammy Plotner
4.5 Celestron reflector
25mm - 10mm
Sky: 4 LM 8/10
Time in: 10:45 pm ESDT
40.2 86.9

NGC 6210 - Northeast of Beta Hercules, this small planetary nebula looks like nothing more than hairy star at low power and not any better (except a confirmed planetary) at high.

NGC 6218 - aka M12. Loosely structured and shows beginnings of resolution at low power. Although getting low to the west, this one is still nice.

NGC 6254 - aka M10. Big, bright and beautiful. This is an underrated gobular with a rich core and nice hints of resolution at the outer edges. Holds up very well to high light.

NGC 6266 - A difficult find without my normal marker stars and getting low. Much smaller than first pair, but far more compressed and great structure.

IC 4665 - Now this is one very easy and very, very nice collection of stars! Visible as a hazy patch in the finder northeast of Beta Ophiuchi, it is well resolved, contains many bright and forward members and would do well under even more light!

NGC 6520 - Can be found by heading directly north from Gamma Sagittarius. A nice, fairly well resolved compression of stars with a bright star on the northern edge. Could use better sky position.

NGC 6818 - aka M17. Found by using the drift north method from Kaus Borealis. Although the light does interfere, it is still possible to make out the "2" signature of this great nebula.

NGC 6633 - East/northeast of Beta Ophiuchus and a finderscope star on the southern edge. A nice little grouping of stars.

IC 4756 - Southeast of NGC 6633. Very large open cluster. Well resolved with several brighter members. Low power is a must. This one is huge!

Time out: 11:45 pm EST

And I am done for tonight. This has been a far more ambitious starhop than I have done in a very long time! I would chase some more, but it gives me a headache trying to manuever my head around so that the light doesn't drive me crazy trying to aim... Or to find a spot out here where what I'm looking at isn't going into a tree or the roof of a house! About the only good part about observing in the front yard is a very open southwest and western skyline. Normally if I need that I'll walk out into the bean field about an acre or more south... But then, that's not the point, is it?

Ah, well... I had fun!

"You thought I was a man... You better think again! Before my role defies you..."

September 9-11, 2006 - Lunar Club II...

Comments: More work? You betcha'. Clear skies are very, very hard to come by right now and my only shots on the sky have been in the early morning before I go to work. A problem? Not hardly. What I want is the waning Moon...

Activity: Lunar Club II
Date: (supplied on photos)
Scope: 4.5 reflector
Sky: 6/10
Time: 4:00 am on 09/09 and 09/10... 12:15 a.m on 09/11

Activities 89 and 90 require that you observer crater Proclus and image over a period of days while the terminator approaches. Are you ready?

I think the one single most important thing I observed from this exercise is simply watching Proclus' ray system disappear. It is a well-studied crater from my standpoint, for I watch it at every opportunity for Lunar Transient Phenomena. So far, the only thing I have ever seen is a block-like shadow as the Moon is waxing, but this is a documented feature. No matter. Even though it took me awhile to get these together and I had to work as some pretty odd hours?

It was fun!

"And in the afterbirth... On a quiet Earth. Let these things remind you..."

September 7, 2006 - Dancing With The Moon... Lunar Club II Sketchng...

Comments: Despite a nice show of lightning last night, the skies were clear this morning and I couldn't keep my eyes off the Moon as I drove into work. I don't know how to explain this - but it looked wrong. Maybe I'm not getting enough sleep or something, but I swear by all that's holy that it looked like the northeastern edge was flattened out. Weird shadow tricks...

Am I going crazy?

Later that night, the skies were clear again and I decided to have a look again. Now it looks OK. What's up with that? Oh, well... It looks like a good time as it rises all creamy and ivory looking to bring out the dob, that wonderful old 32mm Televue, and have myself a real sit down. The Lunar Club II challenges are far more advanced than the first and I'm having a really good time collecting my things together. There's really a lot I haven't done! And one thing is sketching the Full Moon just as you see it in the eyepiece...

Project: Lunar Club II - Full Moon Sketch
Date: 09-07-06
Time: 10:00 pm EST
Seeing: 7/10
Scope: 12.5 reflector
Location: Martel, OH
Eyepiece: 32mm

1) Tycho 2) Tycho rays 3) Mare Fecunditatis 4) Mare Nectaris 5) Langrenus 6) Mare Tranquillitatus 7) Proclus and rays 8) Mare Crisium 9) Mare Serenetatis 10) Mare Frigoris 11) Plato 12) Sinus Iridum 13) Caucasus Mountains 14) Appenine Mountains 15) Aristarus 16) Mare Imbrium 17) Copernicus 18) Oceanus Procellarum 19) Grimaldi 20) Mare Cognitum 21) Euclides 22) Mare Humorum 23) Mare Nubium 24) Ptlomaeus 25) Albategnius

For over an hour I chased it higher and higer with my sketchbook on my lap. It has been such a very, very long time since I have put my work on paper and I suppose I look rather silly with crayons and contruction paper. I tried with white paper and pencil, too... Are they pretty? Yeah. I guess. My hands certainly aren't all they once were and they definately aren't happy about what I'm doing... But who cares?

I did it!

"Nail in my hand... From my Creator. You gave me a life. Now show me how to live..."

September 6, 2006 - Lunar Club II...

Comments: Chasing between holes tonight and, of course, behind in getting things processed and put together. There isn't enough hours in the day sometimes!

Tonight's lunar study:

Lunar Club II - The Cordillera Mountains
Scope: 4.5 Celestron
Eyepiece: 25mm
(ridiculously high magnification added with use of video camera)
Time: 10:45
Seeing: 5/10

The Cordillera Mountains are an usual feature located just south on the limb behind the great Grimaldi. They are very difficult to catch on camera because the Moon is so bright that it wants to overexpose. I was very pleased that I managed to catch the soft while rille that annouces their presence. The Lacus Autumni behind it really helps to bring the feature forward a bit more.

And that'll be it for me tonight, folks. I fight my own body and sometimes?

It wins.

"Nail in my hand... From my Creator. You gave me a life. Now show me how to live."

September 5, 2006 - Lunar Club II Activity...

Comments: Ah, yes. The "Vampyre". Thanks to the Monday holiday, my hours have also changed and I had one heck of a time trying to sleep last night. Maybe it was because the skies were clear?

Once I got up and got some coffee and a shower, I was ready to at least pull the dob out into the driveway and have a go at my next Lunar Club II activity... And the moment I see the deep well of Marian?

I'm there...

09/05/06 - Lunar Club II
Activity: Lunar Domes
Scope: 12.5 Meade reflector
Eyepiece: 10mm Meade Series IV
Filter: polarizing
Time: 1:00 a.m.
Location: Martel, OH
Skies: clear and steady, cap'n...

Tonight my lunar observation was of the Mons Gruithuisen Gamma and Mons Gruithuisen Delta region. Both of these a very unique lava domes in the northwestern quadrant of the Moon. The edge on a lighter peninsula-like feature highlighted by the crisp crater, Marian. Crater Sharp is also well defined. Towards the Mare Imbrium side, Gamma is the more difficult of the pair, just barely discernable as a low hill thanks to just a slight shadow. It would appear that it has a small craterlet at the summit! Delta, however, is more noticable because of the small crater on it's southeastern flank and the fact that shadow falls between the pair.

Of course, this has taken me a good half hour or so and my time is short. I know if I putter around any longer that I will stand a chance of being late for work and although I don't really care - I really care. Putting things away, I smile at how much the skies are changing and how the summer season has almost ended. Gosh, I hope I have a few more clear nights to finish up some of these studies or I'll be standing out in a snowbank to catch them again!

Aloha for now... Duty calls.

"Is this a cure? Or is this the disease?"

September 3, 2006 - Lunar Club II, Urban Observing Club Studies...

Comments: Well, now! A really nice night out and I'm ready to do a little telescoping. First off, I need my big scope to do a little lunar sketching, so let's log that report first:

09/03/06 - Lunar Club II
Activity: Sketch Juras Mountain Range
Scope: 12.5 Meade
Eyepiece: 12.5mm ED Epic Widefield
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Martel, OH

And that say's that!!

Afterwards, I decided this would also be a great time to take out the Celestron 4.5 and have a go at some of the Urban Observing Club studies as well. When I do these, I always use one of my smaller scopes and go out to the (gasp!) front yard where I have to deal with a streetlight, an extremely annoying security light, and the sky glow from Pillsbury. Tonight? Heck, I've got nearly a full Moon to contend with, so that oughta' be a handicap enough!

09/03/06 - Urban Observing Club
Scope: 4.5 Celestron reflector
Eyepiece: 25mm Celestron SMA
Location: Martel, OH
Time: 10:30 p.m.
Skies: 4.0 LM (near full moon)
Stability: 9/10

Gamma Andromeda - Ah, the lovely gold and green Almach! Even though most folks prefer to split double stars at higher power, I have no problem making out both stars at minimum. Stability is excellent tonight!

Eta Cassiopeia - Nice disparate. Also easily separated at lower power. Both components show as white.

NGC 7789 - A long-standing favourite and particularly beautiful in a small scope at low power. Very grainy in texture, this tremendous open cluster is on the verge of total resolution and is an extremely rich cloud of stars.

NGC 6618 - Totally washed out. Just the brighter portion of the bar in the "2" shape shows from the M17 nebula. Still nice, but far less grand that what is seen under dark skies.

M22 - Also totally washed out. It is recognizable as a globular cluster, but certainly lacks the beauty that dark skies bring. This lighting makes it look very even and no hints of resolution.

NGC 6705 - The M11 is a real bear to find because my normal marker stars aren't present. Once located, this rich open cluster still stands up very well to added light conditions and is a premier object.

NGC 6853 - Holy, moly... It took me forever to find the M27! Just visible as a glowing patch that seems slightly more concentrated in the center. If it weren't for Albireo, this one would be almost impossible to find under high light conditions.

NGC 6940 - Also difficult to find. Shows very much like the NGC 7789 under these condtions. A very rich field of similar magnitude stars that are highly concentrated and just on the edge of resolution.

NGC 7092 - a.k.a. M39. Now this one rocks! Bright, beautiful and well scattered, this is also an open cluster which holds up extremely well to high light situations.

And that will be enough for this evening, thanks. Observing under such lighted condtions is certainly not a cakewalk for even an experienced starhopper. It certainly is a great teacher, though! Now it's time for me to put away my things before I am sorry I was out so long. Thanks to the "Grasshopper", the big scope is quite easy to move in and out despite my rotten paws and the 4.5?

Ah, heck... That scope walks on it's own.

"I'm built with stolen parts... A telephone in my heart. Someone get me a priest... To put my mind to bed. This ringing in my head..."

September 2, 2006 - At the Observatory: Public Night...

Comments: Late on reports as usual? Yeah. This day started very, very early for me and it's a working one. It's grey. It's rainy. Thing hurt... And although I know what's going on tonight, there simply seems to be no hope of catching it, so why dwell?

After I got home, I enjoyed a two-fold treat. I am still a prisoner of the ice, so make it pleasurable ice. I can hold a pint of Ben and Jerry's instead and after a few bites I've noticed that I'm melting the entire carton. Ah, well. Put it away, grab the frozen blue and take a nap. Tonight is Public Night at the Observatory and we do have a bit more to plan for before Hidden Hollow begins.

When I arrive, I am blown away to see Dan sitting at the picnic table. How great to have him back and feeling better! Terry is here as well as Joe and Keith and it is my great honour to present Terry with his Contellation Hunter Award. He takes the art of map drawing way beyond my own mediocre skills. As I look around, I begin to notice other things, too... Like the building had been painted. Holy cow! What else? And then I go down to see the ClubHouse is nearly complete, handrails sanded and painted, window frames, cracks fixed in the mortar between the stones... And whose reponsible? Why Sean, of course! And it's equally good to see him here and congratulate him on all the very fine work.

By now a handful of folks had turned up, which wasn't unexpected. We have several scout troops that will be visiting in the months ahead and although the weather isn't cooperating tonight, I had still invited them to attend for a tour. As we wind up our own business and head to up the Dome, the most wonderful thing happened...

The skies began to clear!

It doesn't take long before a scope is set out, the dome opened up and our informal program is on a roll. Personally, I itch to look at the Moon because SMART 1 is going to impact tonight, but all we're going to be able to do is shoot through a few holes. And it's a nice shoot, thanks. Jupiter, the Moon, M13, M31, M32, Albireo, M57... These are the things that can be done on what seems like a totally wasted night. Thanks to the curiousity of the Scouts, their parents encouragement, and our own groups love of sharing, we had a terrific Public Night and we've just scored another one for the 2006 year that we didn't get shut down!

One the way back home, I kept watching the clouds. There's only a bright patch in the clouds every once in a while to remind me of Selene's presence... and a very welcome ice pack at the end of the ride to soothe my hands. Wouldn't it be something to see one of our own spacecraft impact the Moon? Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to follow along virtually, but still longed to have seen it at the eyepiece. It ended up being just a little "poof", but the really cool part?

I was around to see it!

"In with the early dawn... Moving right along. I couldn't buy an eyeful of sleep. And in the aching night... Under the satellites. Well, I found relief..."