Monday, June 14, 2004

I went to my club's observatory Friday night in Niagara, Ontario. Around 11:30 or so I got it pointed into the Virgo cluster, and then the fun began. I observed about 50 galaxies in the next 1.5 hours. which is a personal record. Obviously I wasn't going for detailed observations, but maximum number of objects. I won't bore you with the list, but if you glance at your own maps, the westernmost one I saw was M98, the southernmost was NGC 4694, the easternmost NGC 4762 and the northernmost NGC 4293, which is just a bit northwest of M85. I was using the cluster map in my Advanced Skywatching book, and with the big aperture was finding NGCs that aren't marked on that map. I had an excellent time.

After that I hunted for Pluto, using S&T's chart. Pluto is by far the most difficult to find of the planets. I think I found it, probably for the first time. Or at least, I definitely had it narrowed to two closely packed stars and the planet. Coincidentally, it was opposition night.

My normal scope is an 8" Dob, so using a 16" on an EQ pier always takes a little getting used to. To finish the night I pointed it into Sagittarius, near the top of the teapot. While orienting myself I came across NGC 6638, a globular cluster near Kaus Borealis/Lambda Sagittarius, that is only a rough mote in my 8". In the 16" I mistook it for M28. After I looked at M22 I was blown away by the huge difference.