Becky Coretti

Winter Star Party - Feb.23-29, 2009

Big Cypress National Preserve (“Area 51”) 3-26-08

Dark Site April 7th

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park 5

You Know You’re a Deep Sky Observer When….

Winter Star Party - Feb.23-29, 2009

Feb 23rd – 24th

Partly cloudy skies and windy with some gusts that blew my scope around. Observing session was cut short due to clouds and the fatigue associated with traveling down.

  • R Leporis – Quite bright and orange; it appears to be smack-dab in the middle of it’s cycle.
  • Comet Lulin – visible naked-eye and quite lovely in binoculars. Telescopically it was impressive. The comet was moving fairly rapidly and viewing it every 15 minutes gave a sense of it’s motion relative to us.
  • Saturn - I was blown away by Saturn’s appearance and tilt of rings!
  • IC 418 – Raspberry Nebula – bright and a gorgeous shade of lavender
  • M81
  • M82

Feb 24th – 25th

Again, variable clouds and high, gusty winds. Sometimes changing and eyepiece was all the time it took for a cloud to materialize in front of the object I was trying to observe……

  • Saturn
  • R Leporis
  • IC 418
  • M81
  • M82 (just can’t get enough)
  • M51 when the wind calmed, the Whirlpool was AMAZING!
  • M101
  • NGC 2392
  • NGC 2376
  • NGC 2339 – This was a fun find as Gemini isn’t known for it’s plethora of galaxies. Low surface brightness, with a 9mm Nagler (190.5 x) there is a hint of elongation seen with averted vision. Detail could not be seen
  • Rosette
  • M46 and the PNe NGC 2438
  • M92
  • Comet Lulin
  • NGC 4361
  • Omega Centauri
  • NGC 6210
  • NGC 6207
  • NGC 5523
  • NGC 5466
  • NGC 5375
  • M104
  • M42
  • Centaurus A

Feb 25th – 26th

Once again, variable and sometimes thick clouds. High, gusty winds. My observing session cut short due to making a trip back to Ft Lauderdale the following morning to pick up my daughter and return with her to the site before nightfall. I tackled a few objects from Stephen O’Meara’s Hidden Treasures book, many for the first time.

  • NGC 1528 – OC in Per. Rich with dazzling stars.
  • NGC 1545 – OC in Per. Just a little south of NGC 1528, along the galactic equator.
  • NGC 1647 –OC in Tau – Large, loose cluster of stars. This cluster was best viewed at very low power (49x with 35mm) due to amount of real estate covered.
  • NGC 1981
  • NGC 1977
  • Collinder 69 – AKA Lambda Orionis
  • Collinder 72 – OC embedded in NGC 1980 in Ori. Stephen has dubbed this the “Lost Jewel of Orion” due to a lack of it being plotted on any popular star atlas.
  • Comet Lulin – My how you have traveled!
  • M64 – The Black Eye Galaxy – easily in my top 5 favorite galaxies
  • M53
  • NGC 5053

Feb 26th – 27th

It’s still windy. And variable clouds that just materialize until I find something interesting to look at in a clear spot. Then the clouds move to where I am just getting interested in a new object. It’s like a game….

  • M52
  • NGC 7789
  • NGC 457 “ET Cluster”
  • NGC 663
  • NGC 659
  • NGC 637
  • M34
  • M81
  • M82 (Still can’t get enough…..)
  • NGC 2976
  • M51
  • NGC 5198
  • NGC 5485
  • NGC 5473
  • NGC 5422
  • M101
  • NGC 5660
  • NGC 5676
  • NGC 5673
  • NGC 5689
  • NGC 5687
  • M93
  • NGC 2452 PNe – An unexpectedly lovely planetary, seen easily without a filter. With an OIII filter, it looked reminded me of the Owl. I could not discern a central star
  • NGC 2482
  • NGC 2453
  • NGC 4033
  • NGC 4024
  • NGC 4038, 39
  • NGC 4027
  • NGC 3981
  • NGC 3957

Feb 27th – 28th

Alas, the winds persist. Scott Roberts and Russ Tanton from Explore Scientific dropped by and shared their pre-production 14mm 100_FOV eyepiece. All observations noted with an asterisk (*) are with that eyepiece. The eyepiece was amazing and the FOV is extraordinary! Crisp stars right to the edge of the field, I likey……

  • Comet Lulin
  • M81, 82 (Yeah, I’m addicted)
  • Double Cluster
  • NGC 2452
  • NGC 3445
  • M108
  • M97
  • NGC 3549
  • NGC 3631
  • NGC 3733
  • NGC 3738
  • NGC 3756
  • M109
  • NGC 4038, 39 *
  • NGC 3981 *
  • NGC 3957 *
  • NGC 3956 *
  • NGC 2359 *
  • M65 *
  • M66 *
  • NGC 3628 *
  • Coma Berenices Galaxy Cluster *
  • IC 4406 PNe *
  • NGC 5408
  • NGC 5102
  • NGC 4945
  • NGC 4976
  • T Lyra

Feb 28th – Feb 29th

On this final night of the WSP, the sky was unbelievably steady and spectacular! The wind had died down, and the leading edge of a powerful cold front was forecast to sweep in clouds around midnight. Sure enough, at 12:30 am, we terminally lost the sky. Which was okay, as departure by 10 am is mandatory and it sure is difficult to leave when the sky is clear.

Nicole and I made it to the field before sunset and she actually did a little hunting with my scope. I will list the objects she located first, they are noted with a “Í” You go girl!

Í Crescent moon

Í Venus

Í Saturn

Í M42

Í Beehive

  • Comet Lulin
  • NGC 2477
  • NGC 2547
  • PK 264 – 8.1 PNe in Vela
  • NGC 2292, 93
  • E 490-37
  • NGC 2263
  • NGC 2280
  • NGC 2272
  • NGC 2325
  • IC 456
  • NGC 3242 “Ghost of Jupiter”
  • NGC 3200
  • NGC 2362
  • NGC 2818, 2818A
  • NGC 3115
  • NGC 2440
  • NGC 5061

Big Cypress National Preserve (“Area 51”) 3-26-08

My good friend; Bill and I observed from nightfall until just about midnight, when clouds moved in and our sky went away. Up until then it was a great night for observing, the weather was perfect and the seeing was great!

I created of list of target from Stephen O’Meara’s book, “Hidden Treasures” as well as our usual favorites.

NGC 1535
“Ghost of Neptune” or “Cleopatra’s Eye”

PNe mag. 9.1
Found in 17mm – Small, with a dense core; very bright! I could not detect a central star; it more like a “central core”.Looked awesome in 9mm. This object has been added to my “favorite” list!

NGC 2440
“Albino Butterfly” or “Kiss Nebula”

PNe mag 9.1
Small, very bright and elongated. 9 mm eyepiece revealed detail - the “lower” section was quite bright and looked stellar, almost like a star out of focus. Wide-field view resembled a papaya cut in half. No central star was detected.

NGC 2683
“UFO Galaxy”

SB mag 9.7
Very large and bright, elongated. Breathtaking! A hint of dust lanes was seen in 17mm.

NGC 2841
“Tiger’s Eye Galaxy”

SB mag 9.0
Core very bright, easily located. The galaxy appeared “lop-sided” with the eastern edge appearing longer. Looked best in 17mm. 9mm did not reveal any further detail.

NGC 3184
“Little Pinwheel”

SB mag 9.4
Heartbreakingly dim, hardly any detail seen. While the 9mm resolved the core, it did nothing to reveal the arm structure.

NGC 3344
“Sliced Onion Galaxy”

SB mag 9.3
Quite bright core, looks as through the core “smears out” to be arms. The are two, possible three stars in the “arms”. In my 17mm, M105 is just on the edge of the same field.

NGC 4216
“Silver Streak Galaxy”

SB mag 10
Bright, edge-on appearing galaxy. It looked quite similar to NGC 2683, except oriented in the opposite direction. Detail was not visualized due to failing skies.

NGC 2903

Beautiful galaxy, a hint of a deep dust lane on the eastern edge. Did not take 9mm well.

NGC 2916

Very dim in 17mm, 9 mm greatly improves overall “shape” of object, but does not reveal detail. In the same field (17mm) as NGC 2903 (edge to edge)

54 Leonis
Double Star

Bright double! One appeared to be a hot; blue-white while the other star appeared bluish.

SB gal

Bright; edge-on appearance. The core is quite bright; almost stellar.

NGC 4212
Sc gal

Bright “blob”. Absolutely no detail or even a hint of spiral arm structure is seen.

NGC 4206
Edge-on Galaxy

Edge-on, dim. No detail in structure can be detected. Oriented similarly to NGC 4216

NGC 4193
Sp Gal

Dim “blob” in 17mm. Higher power does not reveal any detail in shape or structure of arms; however appears to be rounded or even oval.

M 99
Sp Gal

Bright, almost rounded appearance. Unable to “fish out” any detail with higher power, despite it’s brightness.

Dark Site April 7th ,2007

The day after a cold front had passed through our area, I convinced my husband to join Nicole and I for an observing session at the local dark site (Area 51). My daughters' best friend and best friends brother tagged along. We took Nicole's scope and my intention was to teach her to just explore, and perhaps introduce her to the star charts.

We arrived just after sunset and set up quickly. While we waited for it to get really dark, the kids discovered and instantly fell in love with fireflies.

The sky was very clear and appeared steady. However, there was no contrast in the sky. I showed my husband everything exciting I could think of, but it all lacked punch. Saturn was incredible, of course! But, M81 and M82 were "blah".

We observed all the usual suspects: R Leporis, M51 (bridge was not visible), the Owl, Leo Trio, M104, etc. The only object that wasn't disappointing was M42. Just for fun, I dropped the OIII filter in, and it was an incredible sight! My husband walked away even more confused as to why we do what we do.......

Nicole did get to play with her scope and got to "discover" many things up there. She really seemed to enjoy it, and I look forward to helping her grow and learn.

All in all, a bad night observing is better than...... well, anything else. But, I sure was hoping to knock my husbands' sock off!
Doesn't it always seem to go that way?

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park 5.11.07

This was a family outing, my husband and daughter joined me and we camped in a tent (I usually just sleep in the back of my Tahoe) We met Margie and her husband as well as her friends, Raoul and John at this site. This was Raoul's first time coming here. Severe thunderstorms had moved through the region in the hours before nightfall, and in fact my family had driven through them on our way to the Preserve. Upon nightfall, there were plenty of clouds in the sky and the storm was still going on to our southeast. The skies were lacking in contrast and after a couple of hours we all agreed that "this was not a galaxy night". However, we stuck it out and the skies certainly improved.

The sky to the south and southeast was milky. Omega Centauri was never found. The southern tip of Corvus was really all we could get. I called it a night around 2am.

Leo Trio - Fairly low in the sky and somewhat lacking in contrast, this was one of the first objects I observed. They lacked a certain "punch", yet were still quite pretty to look at. They all held up to the 9mm, but were not at their best.

R Leporis - A subtle change in magnitude, however poor skies cannot be ruled out as the cause. It is still one of the most beautiful carbon stars out there! It was low in the sky and seeing was not very good.

Saturn - Not a very good night to observe the planets, but Saturn has yet to disappoint me. The skies simply weren't steady enough, but some detail on the surface was seen.

NGC 4038,39 in Corvus - Dim and diffuse, did not hold up for the 9mm. Very little structure detail could be seen.

NGC 4102 in UMa - It has been a while since I have observed this galaxy. It held up well in my 9mm, and in moments of excellent seeing, a faint "ring" could be made out.

M109 (NGC3992) in Uma - This galaxy suprised me tonight. While it did not hold up so well in the 9mm, it was beautiful in my 17mm. The detail in the spiral arms was readily apparent, though not particularly bright.

M68 in Hydra - Beautiful in my 9mm, the outer stars formed a "pinwheel" shape almost as if there were large, airy spiral arms.

Y CVN - No change in this carbon stars' magnitude; it continues to glow a bright yellow.

The skies clouded over on Saturday evening and never cleared. I got up several times through the night, but no openings available! Satellite images showed that the clouds were developing over us and "training" off to the northeast.

Special thanks to Raoul for sharing his observing logs and spectacular drawings with me!

On a positive note, bugs were at a minimum Friday night.

Unfortunately, on Saturday, the love bugs swarmed in and the high temperature hit somewhere near 92! Night temperatures were a comfortable 65.

The Preserve is beautiful and is Florida at its' purest. We went on a few hikes and Nicole found a barred owls' feather and then we saw the owl itself. We will be back................when it cools off and the weather is stable.