Went out to the Dino partial gathering of the TACo tribe on Jan 28.
Well worth the trip for the skies and several TACos i had not seen for a very long time.
All friendly faces including Joe Bob and Jamie as gatekeepers (I belive) and David C, Peter N, George F, Tony H and myself and I hope I have not forgotten any other but all were well known TACos.
Skies were very fair Dino Winter skies and with both my SQM meters of no value anymore I will just say that the skies were just dark enough to detect mag 15.5 to 16.0 small galaxies in Persius cluster in my 18" which is rather good basically. Seeing in the later hours after 11pm was extremely good so extinction was the only issue and a mild one at that.
I was on 'casual mode' with a few tricky objects thrown in to keep it interesting but mostly I was there for the great binding of TACo astro-buddies.
Started the night due to a prior OR from 3-4 of these same folk for the prior Thursday night who discussed Hind's Crimson Star. This star I have found is best found with telrad as the 4th star in a rather dim line of stars that goes direct N to S on the 5 hour Right A line and starts with 'top' star at dec -6 or so. Keep going south and bingo the deep red Crimsom star is unmistakable in an 18" scope (need a bit of photons to get colors).
Next George brought to my attention Ngc2022 which was a donut PN with faint center dropout for a ring ratio of 1/3 so the donut width was 1/3 of diameter. Non distinct but clear where the PN dropped off. Best view was my NPB at near 278x.
As i was then taking my first meridian view of Orion for this hear assorted voices rose around me to voice a great Horsehead Nebula, B33, view that Tony had pulled up in 18" F4.2 with 24mm. So I used 17.4 delos with H-Beta for a fine view and it still was present but not as distinct in 11mm with NPB. The horsehead is nicely found by dropping south 2.4 degrees from the trailing Orion belt star to find 2 rather bright stars and one trailing which sports Ngc2023 reflection nebula (a dim grey glow). So on the leading 2 stars imagine you can drop south to a 3rd point of an equilateral triangle and that is where horsehead resides. A difficult object but can be had in as low as 10 scope with care and always H-Beta filter and not too narrow of a field.
A quick view of flame nebula, Ngc2024, was caught while in the area of Horsehead but with no filter.
So after more inspection of M42 where I like to view it using NPB and no filter but also an r' filter to better detect the very faint stars behind the nebula I was happy with Orion Nebula ... for now. There was an easy 6 stars later in the night and with the r' I sort of felt I 'may' have seen more but it was not conclusive so not claiming more.
I viewed many 'classics' here such as the M38, M36, M37 brought to attention as I like them, especially the more yellow star or jewel at the center of M37 which makes M37 rate very high in 'monster clusters' in my book. Jamie first started the Auriga Cluster Fest by the way. (NOTE: I did say 'fest' here ...). The smaller clusters close to these giants such as Ngc1907 by M38 and Ngc1931 semi-close to M36 were also noted.
It was then off to M33 as it will be going bye-bye soon so a brief view and the ultra bright active region of Ngc604 was as always so very bright. I did not spend time to track down the several other bright active areas here but have done that in the past as a project I recommend for fair sized scopes of 11" or better range.
Somewhere around this time the classic Ngc7789 (Caroline's Cluster) which I always visit in CAS was viewed as was M35 with its find older cluster of Ngc2158 of course had to be visited.
And speaking of 'pups' we had some great views through Peter N. scope with the rather large separation these days of 'the pup' which is a white dwarf near our northern brightest star of Serious (intentional misspelling there for Sirius)
I heard Jamie discussing 'the reggae star', Beta Mon, but did not view this time. It is a fun winter object ... 'mon'.
So we are off to a more serious target now and went for the 4 main galaxy asterisms in the Perseus cluster where Ngc1275 rules as 'king' on the SW point of the main 4 galaxies that form the distinctive parallelogram. Then I like to look for the 'perseus cluster keystone' which is made up of Ngc 1277, Ngc1274 and then Ic 1907 and the most difficult PGC12430 at mag 15.5 so just visible in my 18" using 241 or 282x. After that which is a 'standard candle' for transparency by the way, move west to a sort of E-W elongated cross with Ngc1270 at the far east. There are some other easy ones near the core of what we TACos sometimes call 'Albert's Birthday Cluster' and so you may look for PGC12448 SE of monster Ngc1275. I like to look for 3 rather broad spaced galaxies that cap off the main core where Ngc1264 is at north then CGCG 540-85 south and then hook to SE to close the chevron at CGCG 540-87. There are boatload more but for quick views I stop here.
Next or somewhere along the line later in the night a view of M47 and trailing sister cluster of M46 are generally viewed in winter and check out that darling donut planetary of Ngc2438 that is apparently within M46 from our point in space.
Another challenge object was the 'peanut nebula' in GEM or better known as Ngc2371/2372. This object is small but with enough aperture and generally NPB filter with 8mm for 243x it is possible to detect at least one of the 'wings' of this object but they are very faint. There are two 'wings' and in excellent skies with 24" or sometimes 18" scope you can see them both. This night I felt I only saw the stronger wing for sure but 'imagined' i saw the weaker one (does not 'count').
Around this time George was taking a peek at Hickson 44, one of the brightest ones, which has some interesting galaxies with Ngc3190 as a centerpiece flanked by Ngc3193 and Ngc3185. The tough one in this quad group is Ngc3187 that is near Ngc3190 and in a similar elongation.
it was then off to another Messier-Shoulda-Been, Ngc2903 which is an enjoyable and large object for a non Messier. Too bad he did not nix M40 and sort dup numbers use Ngc2903 or Ngc7789 instead for Messier 40 and Messier 102 but so be it, cannot re-write history. Anyway, Ngc2903 is a wonderful galaxy in my book.
Late in the night I could not resist a quick view of the Leo Triplet with Messier pair M66 and M65 joined by the dimmer but more interesting Ngc3628.
Closed out the night with a big fat cigar, M82 and then we all packed it in about 12:30
Major fun night and the company could not be better!
Thanks to GateKeepers Jamie and Joe-Bob!