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TAC Visual / Lake Sonoma OR from Saturday May 20th
« Last post by sgottlieb on May 21, 2017, 01:52:49 PM »
I decided to go to head to Lake Sonoma yesterday afternoon (Saturday) as the predicted conditions were excellent.   Only two others showed up -- Matt Marcus and Shneor Sherman, which was surprising as this was the best weather in terms of temperature/humidity/wind, etc. that we've had in awhile.  It turned out to be a dark night with pretty good seeing.  I made a SQM reading of 21.45, which beats most locations close to the bay area, though the Milky Way wasn't that impressive, so the transparency wasn't ideal.

Unfortunately, we were interrupted for at least an hour and a half by a parade of cars/pick-up trucks that drove into the large Lone Rock lot every few minutes, apparently looking for the rowdy party that took place in the equestrian area just below Lone Rock.  There was also an unusually high amount of road traffic on Rockpile Road, so not a very relaxing evening.  Around 12:30 it finally quieted down and fortunately stayed that way.

One highlight was the type IIP supernova SN 2017eaw in NGC 6946 -- the appropriately named Fireworks Galaxy, which was discovered a week ago on May 14th.  It was easily visible (close to mag 12.5) in the halo of the galaxy, 1.0' west and 2.4' north of the center, and formed a wide pair with a fainter star.  This is the 10th supernova in the past century in the NGC 6946 (I believe I've viewed 4 of these) and it holds the record for the most prolific SN producer: SN 1917A, SN 1939C, SN 1948B, SN 1968D, SN 1969P, SN 1980K, SN 2002hh, SN 2004et, SN 2008S, and now SN 2017eaw.  It may still be on the rise -- in any case it was easy to see in Matt's C-8 and certainly a 6" (or smaller) will do the trick.  Check it out if you view in the next week!!

I also viewed Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) in Bootes, which was a bright 7th magnitude (visible in binoculars) and displayed a faint but obvious tail that extended through much of the 13mm Ethos eypeiece field.  It displayed a large coma and an intensely bright nucleus.  This is easy to find and well placed mid-evening, so another one not to miss.

As far as deep-sky objects, I took notes on about 3 dozen galaxies -- mostly working on two projects.  One is to pick up very faint companions to NGC galaxies.  The companions are sometimes in the IC, but often just carry a PGC designation.  The other project is galaxy mergers -- where two nuclei can be resolved within a single common halo.  A good example is NGC 5259, a faint galaxy in Canes Venatici, which I viewed around 1:30.  The second nuclei, labeled in this image as Holmberg 533B (Eric Holmberg studied double galaxies as part of his doctoral thesis in Sweden in the 1930's), was tough at 375x but definitely visible most of the time.
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TAC Visual / Re: Montebello OR For Thursday, May 18
« Last post by DDK on May 21, 2017, 11:27:40 AM »
Fun to read from here, Casey. I'm right now doing a Philly to DC trip to hang out with old friends (old in various senses). Haven't seen a star since Tuesday night in Salinas. Am gonna do a Pinnacles jaunt on Thursday night.

Thanks for the reassurance that 4565 and friends are still there. Also to have the image of that jolly gang, yeah perilously close to double figures. Allllloha!
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Observing Intents / OI - Lake Sonoma Saturday 5/20
« Last post by sgottlieb on May 20, 2017, 05:24:20 PM »
I'll be at Lake Sonoma's Lone Rock tonight at sunset for perhaps the last good look at Spring galaxies as they start to slip into the western sky and become less convenient to view.
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Observing Intents / OI Fremont Peek Sunday 21 May 2017
« Last post by SeanMcCauliff on May 20, 2017, 11:48:10 AM »
Not sure where exactly.  Will probably stay until midnight.
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TAC Visual / Montebello OR For Thursday, May 18
« Last post by Casey Fukuda on May 20, 2017, 09:23:27 AM »
Thursday night was certainly a good one to kick off the summer observing season.  Even though it is not summer yet, the conditions: weather and temperature, were 'summer-like' as was the observing.  In attendance: Stephen M, David K, Dan W, Rogelio B A, Puneet K, Marek C, Martin S. Marko J. and yours truly.  The observing population for Montebello Open Space Preserve almost hit double digits.  Numbers like that have not been seen since the "Golden Age of Bay Area Amateur Astronomy."  Some of us Montebello (MB) old timers remember the days when the scope count at MB was counted by the dozen.  Far more gravel filled the parking lot road bed.  Famous Bay Area Amateur Astronomers graced the lot back then.  People like Larson, Terzian, Tramiel, Highe, Schwartz, Crisp, Santangeli, Steele, Freeman, Wagner, Felice, Crilly, McKone, Jardine, and the like would show up regularly.  And we had to walk up hill in the snow to get there....No wait, not that last part.  Anyway, to me, the other night had that feel to it and I just like saying the "Golden Age."

The night started out with a double shadow transit on Jupiter.  The rest of the night included Omega Cen, M3, the Black Eye galaxy, Sombrero, NGC4565, M81, M82, M51, M101, the Leo Triplet, and more.  It was a galaxy night at MB.  A galaxy night at MB you might ask?  Yes, for some atmospheric reason (not "black cloud" conditions) the transparency kept the scattering of light to the east minimal.  The regular SF Bay light dome that usually diminishes the swath of the sky from east north east to east south east was much tamer Thursday night. Conditions were well above average for MB.  Maybe it was just the excitement of getting out after a lengthy lay off of ancient photons.  Or maybe conditions were better last night.  In any case, it was wonderful to get out and see old friends again, both human and celestial.

That's my OR and I'm sticking to it.  Casey
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Observing Intents / Re: Observing This Week and Weekend?
« Last post by DDK on May 19, 2017, 06:39:11 PM »
That's a malfunction of those strobe lights, they're supposed to have masks drop at sundown. You can see them from Salinas when this happens. Doesn't usually last long. I'm pretty sure there's nothing we can do about it, though it does suck.
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Observing Intents / Re: Observing This Week and Weekend?
« Last post by pnatscher on May 19, 2017, 02:24:26 PM »
Thursday night At FP was enjoyable -- sketched galaxy groups and Hicksons of magnitude 14-15 in a NELM 6.2 clear sky, calm, 50% RH, 48-50°F, 1.2 arc-sec seeing.  I'm observing and sketching the Astronomical League's Galaxy Groups & Cluster list.  It's sure taking me longer to see and sketch these fainter objects with my 16" Dob. than it was with my past 24".  I'm getting aperture fever again   ;)  Higher power (350X) does help a lot if the seeing is good!

A new issue has cropped up -- there were bright flashing strobes (3 strobes) all night long from the KSBW transmitter tower high above, even casting a shadow around me.   >:(  I wonder how long this has been --  this wasn't happening a couple of months ago.
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TAC Visual / Re: Jupiter Double Shadow Transit Tonight, May 18, 2017
« Last post by Davids on May 19, 2017, 09:48:37 AM »
Seeing was pretty bad last night, but I did get one shot that shows the two shadows pretty clearly.
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TAC Visual / Re: Jupiter Double Shadow Transit Tonight, May 18, 2017
« Last post by Davids on May 18, 2017, 09:55:06 PM »
Pretty cool, just wish the seeing was better tonight here in Santa Rosa.
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TAC Imaging / Re: California Nebula NGC1499 in Perseus
« Last post by jeffweiss9 on May 18, 2017, 08:40:35 PM »
Looks real good, Rob, and nice write-up.  NB is really best for these emission nebula.  I'm just an LRGB person. I use Ha for these guys but they're often pretty monotone.  I do have two spare slots in my filter wheel, however, so some day.
Cheers,
Jeff
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