A Short Night of Observing

Last night, still recovering from the flu, I sat up my ETX 125 PE telescope for a short nights viewing. I just could not stand another clear night and not getting a scope out, so over a two hour period I observed 16 objects and made one sketch. As you know my home is located in town in a heavely lighted polluted area that is in a white zone on the light pollution map. Therefore I pretty much selected objects that are fairly bright but I did attempt to observe some not so bright objects too.

The most surprising view of the night was the open cluster NGC 2244 and the associated Rosette Nebula NGC 2237. Using a 24mm eyepiece for a magnification of 79x with a true field-of-view of 52 arc minutes or 0.87 degrees, the open cluster is obviously located in the hole of a very faint nebula that is almost twice the size of my field-of-view east to west and about one and a half times the size of the field-of-view in a north-south direction. With a OIII filter the nebula was easier to see but still very faint. I would have never dreamed that this object would be visible with all the light pollution. I only regret that I did not use a telescope with a larger field-of-view.

For my sketch I chose the March object for the Las Vegas Astronomy Clubs Observers Challenge, NGC 2362, the Tau Canis Major cluster. This cluster use to be called the Mexican Jumping Bean Cluster and is often described as a jewel surrounded by diamond dust. This cluster is known as the Mexican Jumping Bean Cluster due to an interesting effect that occurs if the telescope is tapped. The clusters fainter stars will appear to stop moving while the bright central star Tau CMa continues to move. This happens due to a phenomenon known as persistence of vision and is a very neat effect to watch. Here is my sketch of this cluster;

There were two double stars that I also looked at last night, I really enjoy colorful doubles. The first was Almaak, gamma Andromeda. which is a beautiful lemon yellow with a light blue companion separated by 9.8 arc seconds. This double star is almost an Albireo look a like. The second is actually called the Winter Albireo, h3945 in Canis Major, which is located just north of NGC 2362. This colorful double is a golden orange with a blue companion separated by 26 arc seconds. Although I do not think it is as pretty as Albireo, the colors are very striking and well worth a look.

Another surprise for the night was viewing the galaxy NGC 3115 with the  ETX 125 using a 13mm eyepiece for a magnification of 146x and a true field-of-view of 34 arc minutes. With all the light pollution the galaxy appeared to be only half its size, approximately 4 to 5 minutes long by 1 minute wide and oriented in a north-east to south-west position. Even though this is a bright galaxy it is unusual to be able to see galaxies in such light pollution.

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