I was at Area 51 (our Dark Site) tonight with my Celestron 6″ goto refractor. I observed for about 6-hours (from 6:15PM to 12:15AM). Tonight was clear at times and hazy at others. The transparency was very good when the haze would disappear and would get poor when the haze would return. The sky was very clear after about 10PM. In addition the seeing was good about a 7.
The Milky Way was arching through the sky and was showing some structure. M31 and the Double Cluster were easy naked eye objects.
Fred with his 14″ LX200GPS
Ron with his 18″ Starmaster
Paul with his 4.5″ Nexstar
As well as some other astronomers with scopes such as 5.1″ Meade reflector
a Meade ETX-105
a small homemade 6″ reflector
and an Orion 8″ Dob.
I started off with M31, M32, and M110 and they looked very nice in the refractor which framed all three within the FOV of my 41mm Panoptic at 29x as well as a little higher at 60x with my 20mm Nagler. Next, I turned to the Double Cluster and the Ring Nebula (M57) and they looked quite bright and very nice under a dark sky. After the Ring, I took a peek at M56, M13, and M92. M13 and M92 were very low in the western sky but the scope still started to resolve them near their edges.
I saw that Sagittarius was still up and took a look at M16 (Swan) and M17 (Eagle). The Swan Nebula has become one of my favorites as it truly looks like it’s name.
I looked at the following additional Messier objects tonight:
M1, M2, M27, M29, M33, M34, M35 (and NGC 2158), M36, M37, M38, M39, M41, M42 (5-stars in the Trapezium were visible in my scope, all 6 were visible in the 8″ and larger scopes), M43, M52, M72, M73, and M103.
I also viewed the following Caldwell Objects tonight:
C15 (Blinking Nebula – which I could see blinking in and out!)
C20 (the North America Nebula – using Fred’s OIII filter, I saw this nebula for the first time and it was very impressive and I could trace part of the outline of North America).
C33 & C34 ( the Veil Nebula – again viewed using Fred’s OIII filter – the Veil was beautiful arching through the eyepiece).
NGC 253 (Sculptor Galaxy) looked pretty impressive as a long, thin haze in the eyepiece
NGC 7009 (Saturn Nebula -it looked nice but I could not see the Saturn shape).
Lastly, I split Eta Cass, Alnitak in Orion, and Beta Mon – the triple star in Monoceros).
I finished the night with a quick look at Saturn and could see Cassini’s Division on the edges of the rings even though Saturn was pretty low in the eastern sky.