Observing 2017-12-10 From my backyard

Last night was clear and cold here in Meadows Place Texas. It was a great night for observing. The light pollution is quite bad here. Meadows Place is within literal walking distance of both Houston and Sugar Land. So this is urban observing. I managed to get a good image of my green laser pointing at Capella. It is a Laser 303 and it very powerful indeed.

The seeing wasn’t great for my area but there was no cloud cover and it was cold! After 9 pm some lights had clearly been turned off and the light pollution was better. Some dew settled on the Telrad but other than that, the equipment did really well. No fogging up. I initially attempted to use the school’s 8″ Celestron C8 go-to scope but gave up after having alignment issues. Also the thing NEEDS a Telrad. I will work on that. The mount is also shaky and the pointing stinks too. It needs a wedge with a sturdy mount! My 10″ Orion Skyquest Dobsonian reflector worked like a champ though. I used my Orion Expanse 15mm and 9mm plus a Shorty barlow lens and my  2″ wide-field 40mm. The images were taken with the 9mm eyepiece and my iPhone 7.

The best thing of the night was finding the planet Uranus. It took many tries, but I finally found it. It’s currently located in Pisces in the middle of the “V” and not really near any bright stars. This took a LONG time. Patience and perseverance paid off though! The disk was very pale indeed but clearly visible.

I also found my favorite carbon star V* WZ Cassiopeia. It was less coppery red than the last time I saw it. I also picked out the 3 open clusters in Auriga. All were in the glow of Houston to the northeast, but I like the challenge of finding them anyway. They looked a lot better as they climbed higher in the sky.

My list:

  • Albireo
  • V* WZ Cassiopeia
  • M 36
  • M 37
  • M 38
  • M 42
  • Uranus (very hard to find and took most of the my time)

Green laser

V* WZ Cassiopeia

M 36

M 36


M 42 Orion Nebula

Observing at the George Observatory 2017-11-25

Saturday, November 25, 2017, I volunteered with my 10” Dobsonian telescope at the George Observatory inside Brazos Bend State Park south of Sugar Land, Texas. The night was party cloudy, but 9 PM we had mostly clear skies. There were around 150 there from dusk to 9:30. The other volunteers help me find some first-time targets and I went through a lot of other well-loved targets. I also did a short 1-mile hike around the observatory along the Creekfield Lake trail. It’s short but usually empty. It’s a nice walk through the woods.

Here is my list:

  • Mirach’s Ghost (elliptical galaxy NGC 404)
  • Albireo (double star appearing green and white or blue and yellow)
  • The moon including Purbach’s Cross or the Lunar X (this view changed throughout the night)
  • Variable star grouping (appearing red, white, and blue) V* 695 Cygni
  • M57 – The Ring Nebula (planetary nebula)
  • M42 – Orion Nebula including the Trapezium cluster
  • NGC 663 – faint open cluster in Cassiopeia
  • M38 – Open cluster in Auriga
  • M36 – Open cluster in Auriga
  • Uranus (through 20″ Dob)
  • Neptune (through 20″ Dob)
  • Dumbbell Nebula with OIII filter (through neighbor’s 10″ Dob)

View of the observatory from the Creekfield Lake trail

Along the Creekfield Lake trail

Along the Creekfield Lake trail

Along the Creekfield Lake trail

I guess this is Creekfield Lake

I could have smiled. I promise I was happy to be there.

My 10″ Orion Dobsonian reflector

The Lunar X or Purbach’s Cross is clearly visible on the terminator.