Helping you through the Binocular Doubles List

When considering challenges in our hobby, one place we turn is to the Astronomical League’s lists because they are both varied and comprehensive in nature. If you enjoy telescopes over binoculars, planetary nebulae over solar viewing, or constellations over Messier objects, or conversely, the opposite of any of those choices, the AL has a list for you. However, those lists are not always clear and sometimes, you have to do some of the ground work to sort out what they put in front of you.

The Binocular Doubles list is one challenge I have almost completed. I have eleven more double stars to split and sketch. The list itself contains standard nomenclature, but also throws in the two flavors of Struve objects, Herschel doubles, Dunlop, South & Herschel, Knott, and South by way of Greek symbols. If you use star charts, seldom are these double stars listed by these Greek names.

That’s why I have chosen to write this post. Think of it as a reference post rather than an article. I have taken the time to look up the oddly named stars in SkySafari Pro and considered position angles in determining those primary and companion stars. If you can search for HD, SAO, or HIP items in your star atlas of choice, then my work will probably help you complete this list.

Let’s go alphabetically using the Binocular Doubles List. I will include the AL designation from the list, the constellation the pair is located in, and the naming scheme(s) to search in SkySafari. I have bracketed pairs in the nonstandard catalogs for convenience. What few I have not figured out yet are noted with question marks and clarification is needed. The list below isn’t perfect, but it’s close to being complete and is most certainly useful if you plan on tackling this challenge.

The easiest way to verify the correct companion at the eyepiece or in a star chart is to use the position angle listed in the AL list. Draw a 360 degree circle around the primary star. Label North as 0/360, East as 90, South as 180, and West as 270. Eyeball estimate the angle at which a possible companion sits and then compare that to the number quoted on the AL list. If you guessed correctly, you should have the correct pair of stars.

If you spot any errors, please let me know.

56 Andromeda, HR 556.

59 Andromeda (Same)

15 Aquilae (h Aql), HD 177442.

O∑∑ 178 in Aquila. O. Struve 178. STTA 178 in SkySafari. [HR 7300, HD 180243]

28 Aquilae, SAO 104723.

57 Aquilae. (Same)

14 Aries, HD 13152.

33 Aries. BD +26 443 (STF 289).

35 Cam in Auriga. [HIP 28765 (HR 2123 or HD 40873), SAO 25549.]

Iota Bootes, HD 234121.

∑ 1850 Bootes. Struve 1850. STFA 1850. [HR 5415, HR 5414.]

Delta Bootes, SAO 64591.

Mu 1 & 2 Bootes.

Beta Camelopardalis, HD 31911.

11 & 12 Camelopardalis.

32 Camelopardalis. Struve 1694. STFA 1694. [HR 4893, HR 4892.]

Iota Cancri. (Same)

h 3945 Canis Major. Herschel 3945. [HR 2764, HD 56578.]

Eta Canis Major, HD 58324? (Clarification needed)

∆47 Canis Major. Dunlop 47. [HR 2834, HD 58534.]

14 Canis Major, SAO 116185? (Clarification needed)

Alpha 1 & 2 Capricornus.

Beta 1 & 2 Capricornus.

Rho Capricornus, HD 194960.

Omicron Capricornus. (Same)

Alpha Cassiopeia, HD 236494? (Clarification needed)

Phi Cassiopeia, HD 7902? (Clarification needed)

O∑∑ 1 Cepheus. Struve 1. STTA 1. [HD 919, HD 947]

Delta Cepheus, HD 213307

37 Cetus, HD 7438.

Chi Cetus, EZ Cetus.

12 Coma Berenices, SAO 82274.

17 Coma Berenices, HR 4751.

Nu 1 & 2 Corona Borealis.

Beta Cygnus. (Albireo). Beta 1, 2 Cyg.

16 Cygnus, HR 7504.

Omicron 1 & 2 Cygnus. 30 & 31 Cyg.

29 Cygnus. b3 Cyg, HD 192661.

48 Cygnus, HR 7887.

61 Cygnus. (Same)

79 Cygnus, HD 206807.

Mu Cygnus. Mu 1 Cyg, Mu 2 Cyg.

S 752 Cygnus. South 752. [HD 195358, HD 195341.]

Kappa (5) and 6 Draconis.

16 & 17 Draconis.

Nu 1 & 2 Draconis.

Psi 1 (31) & 2 (34) Draconis.

∑ 2273 Draconis. STFA 2273. Struve 2273. [HD 164984, HD 164983.]

41, 40 Draconis.

39 Draconis. b Draconis, HD 238865.

75 Draconis, HD 196565.

Gamma (5) & 6 Equuleus.

62 Eridanus. b Eri, SAO 131617.

Nu Geminorum, HD 257937.

20 Geminorum, SAO 95794.

Zeta Geminorum, HD 268518.

65, 64 Geminorum.

Kappa Herculis. (7 Her)

36, 37 Herculis.

∑I33 Herculis. STFA 33. Struve 33. [HR 6341, HR6342/HD154238.]

F Hydrae, HD 74394.

27 Hydrae, HD 80550.

Tau Hydrae. Tau 1,2 Hydrae.

∑ 1474. Struve 1474. STFA 1474. [HR 4218, HD 93524] [HR 4218, HD93525] (Source)

Zeta (36), 35 Leonis.

Delta Leonis. STT 573. (Reference link to CN thread) Possibly TYC-1439-1307-1.

83 Leonis, HD 99492.

Tau Leonis, HD 99649.

93 Leonis, BD +21 2357.

42 Leo Minor, SAO 62237.

Gamma Lepus, HR 1982.

Alpha Librae 1, 2 Librae.

5 Lynx, HD 44647.

19 Lynx. (Same)

Epsilon 1 & 2 Lyrae.

Zeta 1 & 2 Lyrae.

Beta Lyrae, HD 174664.

Delta 2 & 1 Lyrae.

Rho Ophiuchus, HD 147888, HD 147932.

36 Ophiuchus. (Same)

53 Ophiuchus, TYC 0996-2303-1.

Sh 251 Ophiuchus. SHJ 251. South & Herschel 251. [HR 6575, HD 160314.]

67 Ophiuchus, SAO 123014.

Delta Orionis, (34 Ori). [HR 1852, HR 1851.]

42, 45 Orionis.

Theta 2 Orionis, HD 37042.

Epsilon Pegasus, SAO 127027.

Pi 2 & 1 Pegasus.

33 Pegasus, SAO 90461.

35 Pegasus, Possibly TYC 0563-0630-1 (Clarification needed)

57 Persei (m Persei), HD 28693.

Psi 1 Pisces. (Same)

Rho (93) & 94 Pisces.

Knt 4. Knott 4. [QY Puppis, HR 3027]

Epsilon Sagittae, HD 232029.

15 Sagittae, HD 190338.

Theta Sagittae, HD 191571.

54 Sagittarius (e1 Sgr), HD 185673.

Omega 1 & 2 Scorpius.

Nu Scorpius (14 Sco). [HR 6026, HR 6027]

Mu 1 & 2 Scorpius.

Zeta 2 & 1 Scorpius.

Theta Serpens. Theta 1, 2 Ser.

21, 22 Taurus (Double in Pleiades – Asterope, Sterope).

Eta Taurus (Double in Pleiades – Alcyone).

Phi Taurus, HD 283576.

62 Taurus, SAO 76590.

Kappa 1, 2 Taurus.

Theta 2, 1 Taurus.

88 Taurus (d Tau), HD 286909.

Sigma 2, 1 Taurus.

Tau Taurus, HD 284659.

15 Triangulum, HD 16070.

Alpha Ursa Major (Dubhe), HD 95638.

65 Ursa Major. (Same)

67 Ursa Major, HD104556, HD 104526, HX UMa (HD 104425).

Zeta (79) & 80 Ursa Major. (Mizar/Alcor)

∑ 1740 Virgo. Struve 1740. STFA 1740. [HD 116442, HD 116443.]

70 Virginis, SAO 100586.

Alpha (6) & 8 Vulpecula.

Last night was fantastic for stargazing

Last night, I set up the 8″ Meade, my 4.5″ Orion Autotracker, and my 15×70 Orion binoculars for an all night observing session. I was only staying up until dawn to catch two Iridium flares at 6:17am, but I’m glad I decided to set up because I was able to observe things I hadn’t seen under my home skies. I ended up only seeing one of the two flares, but the observations leading up to dawn made up for that shortcoming.

I don’t even really know where to begin. Maybe I should simply list the targets and observations I made (in no particular order).

NELM, (Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude) was an impressive 5.5 to 6. The star I identified was magnitude +5.8 according to SkySafari Pro. Transparency was outstanding. Seeing was great, but not perfect.

As a testament to the issues with Seeing, Uranus was not easy to bring into focus, however I think the 8″ Meade LX200 doesn’t focus sharply at higher magnifications to begin with. I’m going to miss having the Meade in my immediate possession. When the Worley Observatory is finished, that scope is going into the storage room with other club scopes.

Neptune was eventually visible once it cleared an oak tree. I believe I saw Triton, one of its moons with averted vision.

M31 was okay, but I wanted to have a wide field view in the 4.5. M110 was easily visible in the Meade and showed up slightly larger than I’m accustomed to. The outer edges of M31 faded more than expected in the 4.5.

Cygnus was full of good observations. I was able to see the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888/Caldwell 27) using UHC and OIII filters in the 8″ Meade. I was able to observe the North American Nebula in the 4.5 using my H-Beta filter. The Veil looked nice in both scopes, but detail wasn’t popping out in either the Eastern or Western portions.

The Double Cluster was bursting with stars. The Smiling Cyclops was easy to spot. Normally, its smile has five visible stars, but the fainter half takes patience to see. Last night, the faint half of the smile took no effort at all and each star had a pinpoint appearance.

The nearby Heart & Soul Nebula were both visible using H-Beta. They were only faintly visible with a UHC filter. I have only observed these two nebulae at Okie Tex and never here at home. Again, conditions were outstanding.

Mirach’s Ghost was also visible in both scopes as a smudge. In the Meade, it was obvious. In the 4.5, I could see it at medium power, but I had to use my 8mm eyepiece to better distinguish it against Mirach’s bright glare.

The 4.5 was also able to pull out sections of the California Nebula with the H-Beta filter.

M33 was visible in binoculars, the 4.5, and the Meade. Later on in the night, M33′s core was apparent as a brighter smudge inside a fainter ball. Between 3am and 5am, I was able to see spiral arms in M33 in the 8″ Meade. That made my night. Spiral arms in M33!

I also split Polaris with the 4.5 using a 13mm eyepiece. I had to verify the location of its companion star with SkySafari (up & to the left). Looking at the star chart, the companion appears to line up with the point star, Errai, in Cepheus relative to Polaris. Draw a line from Polaris to Errai and you have the rough direction of its companion.

M1 was bright enough to observe, but no detail came out. I had the same problem with M27.

M42, however, was fan-freakin-tastic in the Meade. I could see M43. The structure within the center of M42 had some detail and appeared extremely clear. Unfortunately, I could only resolve the four main stars of the Trapezium.

I also observed a comet, C/2012 K1 Panstarrs. I had light pollution to observe through, but it was straight down from Procyon between a triangle and square of stars. It was only visible as a slightly rectangular faint smudge without any sign of a tail.

In terms of sketching, I knocked out six binocular doubles. I went after Albireo first, knocked out two pairs in the Pleiades in the same field of view, pegged two other pairs in the same field (Beta Cam and 11/12 Cam), and finished with 35 Cam (HIP 28765). For whatever reason, SkySafari Pro does not list 35 Cam in its database, but it does list HIP 28765.

Targets for the week of 9/21/2014

Last week, I wrote a post covering specific targets one can find during evening hours this time of year. While those same objects should be on your short list this week, I wanted to extend the scope, pardon the pun, of this week’s targets by shifting your observing time to the early morning hours. After all, Okie Tex is going on this week and if you observe like I do, staying out until 5 or 6am can be quite rewarding, especially under dark skies.

The moon is on its way out this week, switching over to New. This means your night sky should be great for viewing as long as the weather holds. That said, beware of dew formation during the hours I’m focusing on in this post. By 6am, there is a good chance you will be damp in many parts of the US.


(Note: All times CST)

At 2am, Uranus and Neptune should still be in good parts of the sky for some observing, so refer to my previous post to get some idea as to what to expect. Closer to dawn, Jupiter will rise and be viewing at around 20-30 degrees altitude. Watch for an Io transit on the 22nd around 4am, the GRS around 4am on the morning of the 24th, a Europa transit on the morning of the 25th around 6am, a Ganymede transit and the GRS around 5:30am on the 26th, and Europa popping out from behind Jupiter on the 27th at 5:17am. The moon will be near Venus on the morning of the 23rd.

Naked eye observations worth noting include the Double Cluster as a fuzzy ball below Cassiopeia, the Andromeda Galaxy out to the left of Mirach overhead (Try to spot it near Zenith around 2am), and the Hyades, a triangular shaped open cluster in Taurus. The Hyades are actually a Caldwell object, Caldwell 41, so if you sketch it, consider yourself already working on the Caldwell Astronomical League challenge list.



Binocular objects are all over the place this time of year, but at 4am, point your binos toward the sword of Orion to view M42, the Orion Nebula. By 5am, try to put M81/M82 (Bode & Cigar galaxies) into view off of Dubhe in Ursa Major. Phecda and Dubhe will make a line toward these galaxies and aid in finding them with ease. Lastly, find Alzirr at the foot of Gemini and pan downward until you locate the Christmas Tree Cluster.




In a telescope, challenge yourself in Gemini by chasing down a few targets there. M35 is quite easy and possibly a naked eye object if you are dark adapted. It is located off of the opposite foot, Tejat Posterior (a red giant star). From M35, attempt to locate another open cluster more distant than M35, NGC 2158. It will appear as a concentrated cluster to the side of M35, quite possibly in the same field of view when seen in wide fields. This one is a personal favorite of mine. Also in Gemini, find the star Wasat. Below Wasat lurks the Eskimo Nebula and I have a post already written to help in finding that planetary nebula.

Lastly, find the arm of Orion off of the reddish orange star Betelgeuse. Two stars close together, Xi and Nu Orionis hold the key to locating the next telescopic target, the 37 cluster, NGC 2169. Put your scope in between those two stars and move toward Betelgeuse to put the 37 cluster into view.


That should be enough to keep you entertained this week, or at least for one or two early mornings this week. If you finish finding all of these objects, try throwing an OIII filter at the Eskimo. Shoot for viewing the Rosette Nebula with either an OIII or UHC. Attempt to find M32 and M110 next to the Andromeda Galaxy. Look for Mirach’s Ghost, a galaxy adjacent to the star, Mirach. Spend the rest of your morning viewing M42, the Orion Nebula. You have from now until March of next year to take it all in.

If none of that appeals to you, point your scope toward Comet C/2012 K1 PANSTARRS. SkySafari says it is around Mag 7. I could be wrong. Let me know if it is visible and in what apertures.


Targets for the week of 9/14/2014

This post is hopefully going to be the first of many, assuming I can keep up. I honestly don’t know how people like David Fuller have the energy to do what they do online. I’m running on coffee right now and nothing else. This may end up being a once every two weeks deal or even once a month.

I won’t go through the steps of starhopping to each object. I will show you where it is in the sky. It is up to you to find the target after that. If demand is expressed to include starhopping details, I will add extra media to cover that.

So…here goes.

This time of year is great for stargazing because the summer heat begins to trail off and the days begin to get shorter. We are left with ample time to set up the telescope for some observing. The constellations in our skies this time of year offer a plethora of deep sky objects every amateur astronomer should view.

This week is especially nice because the moon rises late and does not interfere.

Let’s start with some naked eye targets.

If your sky is dark enough, look overhead at Cygnus and look for the Milky Way spanning across the sky through Deneb and Sadr, over Altair, and down into Sagittarius.

Once in Sagittarius, try to spot the fuzzy regions of the Lagoon/Trifid nebulae, Butterfly Cluster, and Ptolemy Cluster. If you have dark skies and a keen eye, you might be able to spot the Eagle and Swan nebulae as small fuzzy smudges, too.

Now let’s try some binocular targets.

M27 is the Dumbbell Nebula and although nice in a telescope, it can be seen in binoculars as well. Find Sagitta, the arrow, and hop from there.

In the same patch of sky, the Coathanger cluster looks good in binoculars, too. This open cluster gets its name because it has a hook and a line of stars arranged much like a coathanger. From Sagitta, hop to the opposite side as M27.

A third target worth viewing over in that patch of sky is Albireo, although you may enjoy splitting that star with a telescope instead.

Let’s switch to some telescopic targets.

Stay near Cygnus and hit up the Double Double in Lyra. Split the first pair of double stars at low power and then, if conditions permit, boost the power to about 250x and attempt to split each of those stars into their respective pairs. One pair will be horizontally arranged and the other, vertical.

dbl split

M11, the Wild Duck Cluster, can resolve nicely this time of year if you have good conditions. M11 is located at the bottom of Aquilae near Scutum. It is visible in a finder or binoculars.

In Cygnus, now find 52 Cygnus and center that star in your field of view. On one side of that star, you may see the nebulosity that is the broom handle of the Western Veil. A UHC or OIII filter may aid in visualizing this nebula. Follow the handle down the broom and see how far you can go.

Then hit the Eastern Veil, which, to me, always seems easier to visualize than the Western Veil. You’ll note it arches around and under dark skies and good conditions, one end hooks around on itself. With especially dark skies and aperture, you may note the fibrous nature of this nebula.

If you have a wide field scope, dark skies, and either a UHC or Hydrogen Beta filter, center the field of view on Deneb in Cygnus. Now pan down to view the nebulosity in the North American Nebula. Track your way down from the US portion into Mexico. You may also see parts of the Pelican Nebula while bouncing around.
veil na

Finally, Neptune and Uranus are gracing our early night skies this time of year. Begin with a wide field view and locate the correct star field. Neptune is currently in Aquarius near Sigma Aquarii and Uranus is along Pisces near Epsilon and Delta Piscium. At medium power, Neptune may not appear like a disc as much as Uranus right now, but you may notice it does not have the star-like spikes or flicker and there may be a hint of blue-green color. Uranus is a brighter object this time around and so very little oomph is required to visualize the planet’s disc.

Neptune at ~150x

Uranus at ~150x

There are so many objects to keep us entertained right now and I left out some big ones, including M31, but if you want to have a quick observing session, these are nice targets to keep on your list.

June 2014 Orion Deep Sky Challenge: NGC5907

After noticing a tweet from @oriontelescopes on Twitter about their June Deep Sky Challenge, I looked up NGC5907 on Wikipedia first because it resembled the Needle Galaxy. I soon discovered via SkySafari Pro that it was just below M102, the Spindle Galaxy, located in the constellation Draco.

Around 11pm, I got the scope out and let it briefly adjust to the outside air, allowing time for my eyes to also acquire some dark adaptation. I saw Vega right away and panned over to the head of Draco. I then followed Draco’s body around to Iota Draconis, Edasich. That was my jump point for star hopping.

With my 35mm 2″ AstroTech Titan Type II, I centered Edasich, navigating left to a pair of vertically oriented stars. Moving the scope left again and up slightly, I came across an arch of about four stars. NGC5907 was supposedly to the side of that arch. It took me a moment, but averted vision revealed a thin faint galaxy, but it was too small and thin for that eyepiece.

I switched to a 17mm 1.25″ Plossl. The galaxy was much easier to make out, but still difficult. Moving the galaxy to the edges of the field improved the view, as did averted vision and nudges of the end of the scope.

NGC5907 appeared as a thin galaxy, diagonally oriented, quite dim, with no discernible core or detail. Only with averted vision and nudges of the scope could I visualize a core and any brighter views. The areas on either side of the core became slightly more white with averted vision and the ends were more noticeable. Dark adaptation is absolutely necessary to observe this one, at least for me.




Upcoming Occultation 1/3/2013

In astronomy, there are several kinds of observations to be made. A fellow club member has a particular fascination with asteroid occultations, for example. He sends out email notifications for upcoming occultations, but as of yet, either my schedule has not allowed for my chance to observe one or the weather has clouded me out. On the 3rd of January at 7:25pm CST, I have another shot at observing one of these events.

For about five seconds, magnitude 10.8 star TYC 1285-00016-1 (HD 286142 in Sky Safari) will become eclipsed by magnitude 15.2 asteroid (834) Burnhamia. Essentially, the star blinks.

To find this star ahead of time, use the charts on the aforementioned page at On that page, there are links to star charts to assist in finding the star in question. SkySafari Pro lists the star has having a location of RA 04h57m 23.11s/Dec +17° 34′ 34.7″.

Starting from Aldebaran, I moved down to Omicron Orionis 1 & 2. They form a triangle with another star. To their left on the chart, there is another triangle of stars. From the top left star, move up to a bucket shaped cluster of stars. From the top left star, find the faint double, another faint star, and then two stars spaced apart (the bottom or right star is a faint double). These final steps form a Y shape and the star in question is at the top of that Y.

See arrows below and refer to charts from



Observation log: 8/29-8/30 2013

In the late hours of Thursday night until about 2AM Friday morning, I put my two scopes to work in tandem. I had one main goal of finding two planetary nebulas in Cygnus and a secondary goal of viewing the Veil, both Eastern and Western. Beyond that, it was up to me to decide whether or not to chase down other targets.

In a previous outing I chose not to blog about, I hunted down NGC7026, triggered in part by a photo posted on Instagram of NGC7027. My eyes were not functioning as intended and instead of a 7, I read 6. I found NGC7026 in my new 4.5″ Orion Autotracker, but soon realized I made the mistake of confusing the two. I suspect I am not the first to make this mistake, however.

The first pass on NGC7026 was interesting. I used the opportunity to learn to starhop with the new scope using a 13mm eyepiece that gave approximately one degree field of view. Using the degree circle in SkySafari, I was able to starhop my way down from Deneb to NGC7026. In that observation, the planetary was a faint fuzzy with some less than circular borders surrounded by an arc of stars, the first of which shined orange in color. I could easily discern an adjacent star to the small planetary, but I knew that in order to really get a good look at the thing, I would have to use the 8″ scope.

That brought me to this night. The Clear Sky Chart was decent. Seeing and Transparency values were very good for this kind of hunt. Mag 4.5 to 4.7 stars were my faintest Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude and M31 was visible to the naked eye. I set out around 9pm to find NGC7027 first, making use of the grab-n-go nature of the 4.5″ Autotracker. After about 20 minutes of dark adaptation and casual Veil Nebula watching, I spent a fair amount of time bouncing off of Nu Cygni in the approximate direction of NGC7027. I thought I had the right area, but I couldn’t quite line things up with the star chart in front of me. I found a pair of stars with a triangle next to them, but the chart said 7027 was within a degree of that and a planetary nebula, I did not see. I decided to starhop from Xi Cygni instead. That put me in roughly the same area, but this time, for whatever reason, I picked up on a fuzzy looking star.

I must take a moment to emphasize the value in learning to spot a planetary nebula like this. Once you see one at low power, you’ll never again lack confidence in hunting down small objects like this, even in a small aperture scope at low power. You want to train your eyes to see that halo. It won’t be as obvious as the Eskimo Nebula, for example, but once you learn to spot the halo, you won’t have much trouble spotting a planetary as long as you are searching in the right spot in the sky.

The fuzzy star I saw had a bluish tint and a subtle flicker at around 38x and slightly more of a bluish tone at double that magnification (13mm/2x barlow). I declared the object found, but that also meant I had to add this one to the list of things to see in the XT8.

Fast forward about two hours.

I set up the XT8 without my leveling board, put my 4.5 on the tripod, and set up my iPhone in a cradle mounted on another tripod. The Thermacell was turned on and the stargazing commenced.

I went for NGC7027 first since I had only viewed it hours prior to that moment, starhopping down from Nu Cygni, landing on the planetary nebula at medium power (17mm/70x). I centered the object and applied more oomph (17mm/3x barlow = 211x). The first glimpse was interesting. Instead of a fuzzy ball, I saw a fuzzy nebula with a diagonal line across it from 7 o’clock up to 2 o’clock, an appearance akin to the astrophotography of this X shaped object. The halo was nondistinct and no central star was visible, although with averted vision, something popped out a couple times for me. Couldn’t verify that was a central star, though. At 8mm/2x (300x), I could see a second line across the planetary, this time with a vertical appearance, forming the X I had seen in the photos online. That line was not as long as the first, only extending out from end to end about half the length of the other line. UHC/OIII filters made no difference in the view. In fact, they blurred the image too much. Urban Skyglow filter made the view slightly more crisp, but not by much. The filter made it easier to visualize the second line across the nebula.

Here’s a vague digital sketch of the planetary nebula from memory:


I decided to go ahead and swing around to NGC7026 again. I oriented myself to Cygnus, which was still upside down relative to the mental picture of the constellation, situated at the Zenith, which made starhopping a little cumbersome with the XT8. I decided to make a pass over the area once to refamiliarize myself with the star field before doing any serious starhopping. I assumed I could find the arc of stars the planetary is located in just by panning over the right spot, but I was wrong. I had to starhop from Deneb again, down to 55 Cygni and then to f1 Cygni, the same orange star I had seen the other night. NGC7026 was in the same view as f1Cygni, although it helped to push its brightness out of view to better see the PN.

I switched to my 8mm TMB, refocused, and centered NGC7026. The PN was obvious. Instead of an unimpressive faint fuzzy, the clarity improved and it was distinctly separate from the adjacent star I commented on previously. The surrounding halo was an obvious gray patch. At 8mm/2x (300x), I made a new discovery. There was a central notch and two bright symmetrical spots on either side, almost like a butterfly or a moth. The angle of the planetary respective to those two spots made a line almost tangentially below the neighboring star to the left. OIII/UHC made the view worse, however, likely because I was pushing too much on power.

Here’s a very basic digital sketch of the 300x view.

After that, I decided to look at the Veil. It wasn’t spectacular, but I spent some time learning what I could get at different magnifications. In the XT8, I started with the 32mm and fit most of the Eastern Veil in view using an OIII filter to bring out the nebulosity. I upped the magnification with a 17mm and the OIII and the intensity of the nebulosity shot up. I couldn’t pull out much detail, but the improvement in nebulosity gave me hope that in more ideal conditions, I could use the 17 to view structure. I didn’t try a 13mm eyepiece, but it might be worth using in better conditions (like at Okie Tex).

The Western Veil was crap. I couldn’t see much of it at all. It has been notoriously difficult for me to view the Western Veil lately and this bothers me. I saw it plain as day in someone’s 10″ Astro Tech a while back using my eyepiece and my OIII filter.

I quickly viewed M31 and was able to see M32 and 110 without difficulty. Since I was in the area, I tried hunting down two Caldwell objects, both galaxies, NGC185 and NGC147. After lots of painful eyepiece switching and star chart references, I pulled out the 38mm eyepiece. I thought I saw both of them at low magnification, but zooming in showed one fuzzy area to be a cluster of stars and the other, nothing at all.

I won’t call these found just yet. I know how small galaxies like this appear in my scope, so a nice dark sky should give me the view I need.

After that, I waited for Perseus to get some altitude before zeroing in on the California Nebula with the 4.5. I was able to see a very faint section of it in the 32 with my HBeta filter. I’ve seen it before, so I know that time is on my side. It just needs some altitude to clear the atmospheric muck, but then again, dark skies would be quite helpful too.

Oh yeah. I’m ready for Okie Tex.

Observing Report 7/20/2013 – 7/21/2013

The SBAS held our monthly meeting last night at LSU-S, during which we discussed a multitude of business-related topics, mostly about our budget, but the highlight of the meeting was a presentation given by one of our members and one of my good friends, Joey Matheson. He had been waiting for the opportunity to purchase an Observa-Dome dome in Natchitoches located at the high school. It went to auction recently and he snagged it at a heck of a bargain. There has been a 14″ scope inside of this thing and now, it’s his…and ours.


Courtesy of Bing Maps

We are planning on transporting it (somehow) to our main observing site and while Joey will still own the dome, it’ll be there for club use. I can’t wait to give it a try.

We also discussed the possibility of fixing a C14 that has some focus issues, but they want to buy an expensive Hotech collimating device to get it back up and running. From what I understand, it was giving us a double image, in addition to other focusing issues. Imagine having a C14 at our disposal. The SBAS is on an up swing, assuming we can raise some much needed cash to keep us afloat.

After the meeting ended, I drove on out to the Worley under an almost full moon to do some observing. After setting up, I discovered I had placed my tarp near some rabbit droppings, so I had to remember that for the rest of the night so as to not step in it in the dark. I also had an armadillo pay me a quick visit before I packed up and left.


I leveled the scope, got aligned with Deneb, checked my alignment with Polaris and a few other objects, and set out to mess around with whatever the sky could offer. I also set up my binoculars on the tripod for some quick viewing. Not long after that, our club president and another member showed up to do some observing too.

Observing log:

Saturn: 150x and 300x (8mm/2x). Really crisp. Cassini was easy. Additional A/B ring detail (gradient). Surface detail. Three moons. I should’ve recorded video for stacking.

Cat’s Eye Nebula: Fleeting view of central star with direct vision. Slight slanting of its edges. 150x and 300x. Found with setting circles.

Moon: Aristarchus. Schroter’s Valley. Reiner Crater & Gamma. 25mm and 8mm with variable polarizer.

Doubles: Split Mizar and Albireo with binos. Split Izar at 150x in 8mm TMB.

Dumbbell: Viewed for fun to see how bad moonlight could kill it. Big smudge. No arching. No filter required. Didn’t try with a filter. Surprising, but not unexpected.

I could barely see the Eastern Veil with an OIII filter when it was closer to the Zenith. Prior to that, it was not visible at all.

I found two Caldwell open clusters (see below). Hunted for a couple Caldwell Cassiopeia galaxies (NGC147, NGC185), but couldn’t visualize them. Identified the location. Couldn’t overcome the moonlight. Same with a Caldwell nebula in Corona Australis. Right location. No visual confirmation.I also tried searching for NGC40 again, but I still could not see any signs of a planetary nebula anywhere in that field of view.

Found M31 in binos, then in 8×40 finder, then in 32mm eyepiece. M31/M32 were easy. M110 was barely visible with my skyglow LP filter.

Caldwell Objects:
NGC7243/Caldwell 16: Open cluster in Lacerta
12:35am. 48.6° az, 52.8° alt
Found by starhopping straight up from 4 Lacerta. Obvious cluster, despite being located in a very rich field. Cluster itself was narrow at top and widened out with a noticeable gap between two patches of stars within the cluster. The smaller patch had six or seven prominent stars shaped in a pentagon-like formation. The bottom larger half had 10-12 prominent stars with many more faint stars scattered in between. When viewed together, the cluster resembled a snail. Observed in a fairly moonlit sky. Viewed in 32mm ep (37.5x).

I will revisit this cluster because Struve 2890, a 9th mag double star, sits in the middle of the cluster. (It pays to review the SkySafari description ahead of time. Obviously, I did not do this prior to observing tonight.)

NGC6885/Caldwell 37: Open cluster in Vulpecula.
12:52am. 122.8° az, 79.6° alt
Difficult to hone in on because it was near the Zenith. Used Albireo as a jump point and navigated down. Obvious open cluster in 32mm ep against background stars. Located next to another cluster, NGC6882. There was a clear gap between the two clusters, a very apparent dark patch. 6882 was essentially three visible stars with the brightest one in the middle. C37 was above it in the eyepiece. C37 resembled a broad X without a star in the center. Imagine the Under Armour clothing X logo. The brightest of the six visible stars was on the right side of the field (20 Vulpecula). There were four stars on the left and three on the right. The other stars around it were apparently also part of the cluster, so all of C37 resembled a W or an M, depending on how you view it.

I hope to knock out NGC40 soon, but I’m mainly gunning for a better view of IC342/C5.