Out of the four nights that I camped with my wife at the New River State Park in the mountains of NC I had one great night with high humidity (76%). There was another real good evening but it clouded up about 10:30pm. Then there was the night that was a little disappointing, it was hazy and the seeing and transparency varied between good to poor and of course there was the first night that was cloudy. There have been way to many of those cloudy nights this year it seems. Still I had fun and would say that the trip was worth it even though I would have liked more clear skies during a new moon.
I think the most fun was watching comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) as it passed through the constellation Sagitta. Although I had seen a very faint tail on the comet Monday, August 22, 2011 There was none to be seen on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday August 27, 28, or 29, 2011. I had missed seeing its close approach to the globular cluster M71 on the 26th due to clouds, but it was fun to follow it for the next three nights.
Have you ever tried to find and observe a supernova without a finer chart? Well that is exactly what I was doing Sunday night. Before leaving on the trip, I became aware of the supernova last week but did not have a finder chart for locating it within the galaxy. Even so I had to look and see if it was visible yet. Little did I know that it had brightened from about 17th magnitude to a little brighter than 12th magnitude. Did I see this new supernova? Well yes I did, having looked at this galaxy a few times this year, trying to find those NGC objects within the galaxy, I was somewhat aware of what I was seeing and there was a new bright star on the south side of the galaxy. This new star was opposite to the faint star just north of the galaxies nucleus and about 3 to 4 times further away from the nucleus. After getting home and looking at the photographs and charts of the nova location, I was happy to know that I had indeed seen the supernova, and surprised that it had become so bright so fast.
I had so wanted to sketch two objects on this trip but did not. One was the Pacman Nebula, NGC 281, in Cassiopeia. After looking at this nebula with the 4 inch refractor and a OIII filter, I decided not to sketch it because the view through my 10 inch dob last week was so superior to what I was seeing with the 4 inch. I could see the Pacman shape fairly easily in the 10 inch but only a circular glow with the 4 inch refractor.
The second object I had hoped to sketch was the Wizard Nebula, NGC 7380, in Cepheus. Although this nebula had been discovered by Karoline Herschel in 1787 with a 4.2 inch reflector, in the 4 inch refractor it was surprisingly faint. I could see some of the brighter patches both with and without a filter but it was really faint. So once again I decided to wait and make my sketch with my 10 inch dob.
I will not bore you with a list of objects seen. The list would be so long and then there were still objects that I wonted to see that I completely forgot to look for.
EDIT: Well what do you know, I did forget to mention one of my biggest finds. I found NGC 6992, 6995, The eastern portion of the Veil Nebula, in my 10×50 binoculars. Although it was an averted vision object, it was also a very easy object to see with my binoculars. Finding this so easy from this dark site makes me wonder how easy it may be to see with my binoculars closer to home.