2008 Observing Log

Please submit observing reports to Paul R., Observing Chair for inclusion on this page. Thank you!

Fri 1 Aug: SHNOBS at MAC-Durieux
Early Friday morning conditions predicted a very clear Friday evening but clouds forming for Saturday's Primary at MAC-Hunter. Later in the afternoon, satellite views showed the clear line was going to be a few miles further south and the dry area showing on the water vapor loop would reach far enough south to cover the MAC-Durieux site. Jim W and I left Columbia after sunset and could see from I-77 some cloud tops to the west and south. It had been 7 weeks since I had been to the hay field and the rain since then allowed quite a lot of growth. The combination of sand spurs and tall growth drove Jim and I to Jane's driveway. While starting to set the scope up I received a few ant bites. I don't think they were fire ants as I did not get any welts. We found a spot with not as many foraging ants and continued to set up. With the long time between setups I forgot to put on the shroud, left my camping chair and observing stool at home. Setting up without the shroud affected collimation and it was off. I also left my screw driver. Jim had his chair and stool and tools. After a quick look at Jupiter I put the shroud on and then found the collimation off and readjusted it. It started out warm but a breeze made the conditions bearable. We spent quite a while on Jupiter at 254x which was supplied by Jim's 6 mm Radian. Several white ovals were in the southern equatorial band along with some very small dark spots. The 4 Jovian moons were all disks.
B86 the ink spot near the spout of the teapot was one of the targets. The Veil was a target but required a filter. At 170x, M57 and M27 looked best without any filter. IC 5146 The Cocoon Nebula was another target but require waiting on some thin clouds to clear. By 11:30 pm the temperature dropped enough that Jim was thinking about putting on a long sleeve shirt. It was very clear when we packed up at 1:30 am. [PGR]

Tue 15 Apr: Outreach C.A. Taylor Elementary School
The forecast conditions were for clearing by noon and clear for the evening. When Charles H. and I met at the school around 5:45pm it was clear and breezy. Checking the sun with the PST showed one very faint prominence. The moon and Saturn were targets using a red filter to increase contrast. We had quite a few that viewed the sun and most could make out the prominence. Once the sun neared the horizon the red filter was no longer needed. After sunset, Saturn and the moon provided good views. Once it was dark enough for Mars to be spotted, it was added to the list. We packed up about 8:30 pm. [PGR]

Fri 28 Mar: Outreach Scouts East Ga.
Because of some work contacts, was asked to help with a scout advancement clinic held at East Georgia College in Swainsboro. The forecasted conditions were for some weather moving in but with a higher chance of somewhat clear conditions in East Ga. When I arrived at the College before sunset it was overcast but some areas were starting to clear. The boy scouts and scouts were working on the astronomy merit badge items. About 9 pm 2 vans were used to take the boy scouts to the observing area located about 14 miles to the east south east. By this time the skies were starting to clear and when we arrived at the site away from most light pollution the remaining cirrus was not much of a problem. One 12" scope and at least 20 boy scouts kept me busy. Saturn and Mars were the first targets followed by M42 very low to the west and open cluster M35 and M44. After about 45 minutes or so the boy scouts were wondering when the vans would come back to pick them up. It was a short while before the older scouts arrived and the younger ones were picked up. Conditions were getting a little clearer and temperatures were getting a little chilly. The planets and star clusters and a few galaxies were on the list an as with the younger scouts after a while some of them were ready for the vans to pick them up. The report from the chaperons was that on the trip back with the boy scouts were talking about all they had seen. I left the site after midnight and arrive in Columbia a little after 3 am. [PGR]

Mon 17 Mar: Outreach Saluda River Academy for the Arts
Conditions were overcast most of the afternoon but cirrus was thinning as it got dark. The Moon, Saturn, Mars were the primary targets. Seeing was very stable and Saturn was very good with a 4mm in both the 12" f/5 for a power of 381x and 8" f/10 for a power of 508x. The Cassini division even with the low tilt angle was visible along with many bands on the surface. M45, M42, M41 and M38 were viewed by few that stayed. We also had the local police check out a few of the objects when they stopped by to check out the gathering in the school yard. [PGR]

Thu 13 Mar: Outreach Conder Elementary School
Conditions were overcast all day but as it got dark the skies cleared. The Moon, Mars and Saturn were the main targets. The last to leave were able to see M42. [PGR]

Sat 08 Mar: Marathon session MAC-Durieux
A frontal passage was predicted by sunset on Saturday. As it turned out it was early with clouds over Columbia clearing by 1 pm. The forecast showed windy and clear condition's expected for the next 36 hours. When I arrived before sunset James S. was on site working on setting up his C11. Jim W. and Julie W. were also setup before it got dark. It was cold and windy most of the evening. The wind died to an occasional breeze by about 1 am. We were a little unprepared for the evening's marathon. As it got dark the first few Messier objects to the west were easy to locate by all. I used the telrad and progressed until I reached the Virgo Custer and at that point too may galaxies were in the field and I just could not keep up with a go-to scope in the Virgo area so I watched and called out the next object from the go-to ordered list for James until he ran into the eastern horizon blocking the objects. During the wait for more object to rise the Jim W. spotted a fuzzy patch in the southern tree line which after a few minutes rose high enough to see it was Omega Centauri. Seeing was very stable most of the night. Later when they were at transit Omega Centauri resolved in to many stars and Centaurus A had a very dark dust lane splitting the spherical body of the Galaxy. Everybody except James and I had left by about 1 am. I left James at about 3:30 am and hope he did not miss the last 30 of so objects on the list. [PGR]

Sat 01 Mar: SHNOBS session MAC-Durieux
It was to be a clear and windy evening and several guests and members were ready to brave the night. On site this night were Doyle W., Jim W., Julie W., Dai P., Charles H, James H., Jim M., Michael A. and wife. and Paul R. Transparency was not real good most of the night and cirrus arrived a little earlier then the Clear Sky Clock predicted about 8 and stayed around until I left at about 11:30. some clearing seemed to be heading our way from the west as I left and report from Jim W. was that after everybody left is cleared up and he and Julie viewed Omega Centauri as it rose of the southern tree line. They headed out about 2:30 am. [PGR]

Thr 21 Feb: StarQuest Blaney Elementary School
It was rained out Charles H and I setup scopes in side and answered questions and showed pictures. [PGR]

Wed 20 Feb: Total Lunar Eclipse MAC-Durieux site
Conditions looked marginal but as the evening progressed the skies over the MAC-Durieux site did open up. We had 2 guest that met me at the site before the moon showed any sign of the impending eclipse. Conditions were breezy but mild for February. Jane did come out to view the eclipse as the umbra started its march across the face of the moon. Cirrus was present some of the time but it was very clear. Thanks to Hap's heads up viewing the umbra at high power and using the field stop of the eyepiece to block the brighter penumbra the blueish shading near the boundary was very visible. During the total phase the Winter Milky Way was very visible and this was the first time one of the guest had seen the Milky Way. Also not to pass a nice dark sky several DSO's were viewed. As the total phase was about to end thicker cirrus was covering the moon and we packed up. [PGR]

Wed 20 Feb: Total Lunar Eclipse Sugarloaf Observatory site.
Oh what a beautiful night! Last night was around 50 degrees?, only scattered bits of gauze like clouds moving across the sky in tattered strips. Sat in my living room watching the Moon rise over the pine trees across the street. Had to get up and look out the front door to see the first small bite taken out of the edge of the Moon.
Called my son in NY, talked with his wife, Arlene, she report seeing just a small bite also but that clouds were getting in the way. Told her to keep checking. Even called Sam, but had to leave him a message at home.
Set up the 14x70 Fuji's with the tripod on the patio and between the living room and the patio watched the Moon slip into the Earths' shadow. Shadow was copper in color with leading edge more of an ash color. At 10:23 PM (cell phone time) watched a small star disappear behind the Moon, right at the 7 o'clock edge, very nice touch don't ya' think. Sam called back, after class, also reporting copper color and clouds.
Meet a fellow observer, who was out to finally meet the Lady with all the telescopes. He had been told about my observatory and spent a day going up and down Colin King Rd. looking for a dome structure. He said like a cloud lifting he realized that the square building in the field has a frame that the roof rolls onto!! Nice guy, good sense of humor and he needs help with a yard sale telescope.
On the scientific scale this report is a 0 ? but on the enjoyable scale, I give it an 11 !!
Clear Skies, [KG]

Sat 9 Feb: Alternate Session MAC-Durieux
It was clear and windy on Saturday afternoon. Jim W and I planned on arriving before sunset to use the PST. The sunsets at MAC-Durieux are impressive and this one was. Jane with her two grandchildren were out for a while in the evening. I parked my car as a wind break and setup down wind. The breeze was steady most of the evening. Later in the evening I received a call from Jim's brother checking to see if we were still out. About 1 hour later Skip and two of his friends son's showed up. It was still cool and they and were not prepared for the night. With this being a clear night then Friday the hydrogen beta filter showed the California nebula along with Sh2-240 which is a large supernova remnant in Taurus very near Mars. Using other filters these objects were undetectable. [PGR]

Fri 8 Feb: SHNOBS session MAC-Durieux
On the way down to the site before sunset some haze was seen. The hay field on the west side had just been fertilized so we used the yard northeast of the house. The evening started with a nice sunset followed by the thin moon with earth shine Mark M. and I were the only ones on site for just before Moon set Jim W. arrived. After viewing quite a few Messier object a car drove by looking lost and I got a call from Jim H and talked him to the driveway. About this time Jim W. suggested we try B33 (Horse head nebula) as we have tried on previous nights once Orion was nearing the meridian. This time things looked different. The bright nebula that horse head is in front of was very easy to see and had the shape that matched photographs of the region. Using averted vision a dark spot was "plain as day". About this time Jim W. showed me the box of his new 2" orion hydrogen beta filter. The dark region was confirmed by both Jim's and Mark. Jim H had to leave first then about 11 some clouds were seen heading in from the west and we packed up for the night. [PGR]

Thr 7 Feb: After meeting session
Conditions were cool and clear. Mars, Saturn and the trapezium in M42 were observed with the 12" Lightbridge. [PGR]

Sat 2 Feb: Primary session MAC-Hunter
The long range showed Saturday to be a good night. But as the weekend got closer it looked like Friday would be the best night. Seven of the BOG group were on hand for what turned out to be about an average night. Cirrus was present most of the time but also were some large reasonable clear spots. Four MAC members were also present for the evening. Mars and Saturn were at times very good. The evening was cold and frost formed before midnight. [PGR]

Fri 1 Feb: SHNOBS session MAC-Durieux
The long range forecast showed that it would clear sometime late Friday or early Saturday. Thursday evening the CSC (Clear Sky Clock) showed clearing by noon Friday and by noon Friday it showed clouds for Saturday's primary session at MAC-Hunter. It seemed that nobody could attend this session which turned out to be a very good evening. It was clear and breezy at sunset and required dressing for wind chill. With rain ending less then 12 hours from sunset the expected dew and moisture was not a problem and did not form until around 11 pm and shortly after frost was on the car roof top and OTA.
I had scouted the north tree line of the field looking for a low spot on the south tree line the last time I was on site so this time I set up very close to second power pole west of the fence corner and was able to see Canopus for quite a while while sitting down. I was informed that organic based fertilizer is going to be applied in the next week to the hay field which is west of the fenced yard so the east side of the yard will be used for a while. I did check all of the drive way and found that the north east side near the mailbox had a better southern horizon.
This was a clear and transparent night with very little sky glow. Outstanding views of M81, M82, M97 Eight Burst Nebula. Eskimo Nebula, Comets 8P Tuttle and 46P Wirtanen.
After finding the Eight Burst Nebula which was one of the last Caldwell's on my to find list I packed up at about 12:30 am [PGR]

Sat 12 Jan: Alternate at MAC-Durieux site
It was clear all of Saturday over Columbia but cloudy to the southeast and northwest. A stationary front just off of the coast. The air flow was from the southwest and it looked clear except for some stuff that formed off of the panhandle of Florida. This slight bit of cirrus was estimated to arrive around sunset. When leaving Columbia at 4:15 pm the cirrus was to the southwest. Doyle W. and I arrived just before sunset. The sun was in the little clearing to the west but the clouds covered most of the sky. After the sun set almost all of the bottoms of the clouds were lit various shaded of orange with a nice blue patch to the west. The moon peeked out a few times and as it was getting darker a thin line of blue sky showed up to the southwest.. I had talked to Jim W. before I left Columbia and he was going to be about 1 hour behind us. Shortly after arriving I had a call from John C. A while later my phone range but did not connect then Doyle's rang and it was John trying to find the driveway. Doyle did a run out to the road and met Jim coming in and thought it was John but one or two calls later John found the driveway and was to the site. He did bring a guest. It was still mostly cloudy but the clear was getting closer. About 2 fingers above the western horizon what looked like a new cell tower light was flickering. It was Mercury. Some moderate sized holes came by and targets were selected. A mag -2 iridium flare occurred at 7:31 pm to the SSW only 29 degrees in elevation. Even with some thin clouds in the area it was spotted about a minute before peak brightness. Shortly after that it finally cleared but the moon was still high to the west..About this time John and guest left and a little while later Jane P. with a guest walked down to take a look at some things. It id not take too long for the cool clear conditions and a little breeze to send gain and here guest back to the warm indoors.
Dew was heavy and a problem on the Light bridge secondary but was cleared using a catalytic propane heater. Objects viewed were Several carbon stars, Double cluster, Mars, M42, Running man nebula, M45, M81, M82, M97, M65, M66, M35, M47, M48, Rosette nebula, Christmas tree cluster, ghost of Jupiter, Saturn. Attempted was made to see B33 the horse head without a filter and with the wrong filter but only a hint of the glow was imagined . The flame nebula was very bright and detailed. Doyle left next and then Jim. Looking at the charts the eight burst nebula about to rise and it one of the Caldwell's I am missing so I hung around waiting for it to rise above some low clouds to the southeast.. As it got higher so did the clouds so at 1:15 am I started to pack up.[PGR]

Fri 4 Jan: MAC-Durieux SHNOBS session
Midweek the forecast was for clear on Friday with clouds moving in on Saturday. That forecast was true. Clear and cold conditions started midweek with highs in the mid 30's F.
On the drive some cirrus was visible to the west but was not thick enough to hide the Sun. This was a car pooling trip and Peter W and I arrived just after sunset. It took only a minute or so after arriving to determine it was time to putting on few more layers.
Mars was the very bright and was visible shortly after we arrived. Before the end of astronomical twilight we had an arrival. Craig and is daughter attended the January meeting and they were also accompanied by Craig's son. P17/ Holmes is big and dim but still a naked eye object once it climbed higher in the sky. P8/Tuttle required optical aid to be detected but had a nice distinct shape with bright core. Other telescopic objects targeted with the 12" Lightbridge were M35, M42, M1, M78, M31, M32, M33, M110, M45 and Merope nebula, M36, M38, Alnitak and R Leporis. Mars was getting higher but seeing was marginal but a few dark regions were evident.
By about 8 pm some thin cirrus was evident over the light domes of Orangeburg and Aiken and the guest had decided to go to a warmer location. By 9:30 Peter and I had finished capturing a mosaic of the site and sky and we started to pack up leaving the site at 10:15 pm. [PGR]