Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Star Hopping Through The Teapot
Finally! A break in the weather and a trip to the dam. Barry and another fellow set up scopes as well, and we had a long visit by a fellow who just bought a 10" dob, but didn't bring it out. I was trying out a "lazy susan" bearing upgrade to the 6-inch dob, and set up the little ETX-90 just for fun. The bearings work well, but it's a little too loose. I think I can tighten up the center bolt and slow it down. It's definitely easier to use than when it was sticking on the nylon pads though.
So anyway, I was going old school with my red flashlight and sky chart, finding my way around Sagittarius. You're looking right into the heart of the Milky Way, so it's chock full of goodies. M8, the Lagoon Nebula, is still one of my favorite summertime sights. With the nebula and open cluster together, it's two treats in one. It's a short hop from there up to the Trifid, M20, and the open cluster M21. Head northeast and pick up M24, the Sagittarius Star Cloud. I can't tell where its boundaries are, so I just pick the densest portion of star field and say that's it. Keep swinging over the top of the lid and get another open cluster, M25. Not terribly exciting, so drop toward the ground, and just off the top of the lid is M28, a nice little globular cluster. East from there is another glob, M22, the Sagittarius Cluster. Spend a little time there, that's the nicest cluster you're looking at tonight.
Now for three dim ones. Working right to left across the base of the teapot, get M69 first. You'll appreciate why Chuck thought these might have been comets. Then, almost centered on the line across the base is M70. It might as well be identical to M69. As long as you're there, NGC 6652 makes a triangle with the 2 Messiers. Then head east and up a smidge and catch M54. It's not much to look at until you remember that it's an exogalactic cluster outside the Milky Way.
Finish up with two nice open clusters, M7, Ptolemy's Cluster, and the appropriately-named Butterfly Cluster, M6. Not a bad night; beats watching it rain!