My Observing Log: May/June 2004

12:15 a.m. 7 May 2004 PST (2004–05–07–0715 UT)

First target tonight was Jupiter. I still have the focal reducer installed on Opus, so the 6 mm Radian still yields 130x (rather than the 210x or so it gets without the reducer in place). In any event, the seeing wouldn't support more than about 130x anyway tonight. And this time, I was quite sure the collimation was not to blame; I checked it with nearby Arcturus. I was able to see the two main belts reasonably well defined, but little other detail was visible. The gradual shading into the polar regions was detectable, but without anything like a distinct boundary.

Another look at Izar showed the seeing didn't prevent double splitting. Izar showed its distinctive snowman shape, with the blue head sitting neatly atop the yellow body. So I tried a much harder double, the sub-arcsecond zeta Bootis. I think the separation here is in the neighborhood of 0.7 arcsecond. I could not get a clean split here—the seeing wasn't that good—but there was some sign of elongation.

It was getting a bit late, so I only took a look at one more target before tearing down: M81/M82, the Ursa Major galaxies. I'm getting much better at finding these quickly, as I can now recognize (some of the time, anyway!) 24 UMa in the finder. That makes sliding over to M81/M82 (which are invisible in the finder under my skies) much easier than trying to draw a line from gamma through alpha UMa to the pair of galaxies. The problem there is that the line isn't quite straight; you have to make a bit of a left turn at alpha.

Anyway, the view of these galaxies is always rewarding, even with this relatively small scope under these relatively bright skies. M81 is large and has a pleasing oval shape, and M82 of course is M82—edge on, with hints of irregularity even at low power, though I couldn't quite make out the shape of the interrupting gas clouds that I've seen on better nights.

Copyright (c) 2004 Brian Tung