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Observing Report - Thursday Evening August 24th, 2023

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As some of y'all know, I bought a used Zhumell Z10 for $300 on May 20th. As is expected, getting this kind of deal on that size scope leads to clouds. I didn't know just how many cloudy nights this would usher in, as we all know how horrible the skies have been for the last three month which hasn't allowed me to really put it to work. It admittedly has provided me with some nice views of Jupiter a few times when I've woken up early to observe from my Bortle 7 house, but the summer Milky Way targets remained unobserved... until last night!

I drove out to my in-law's house in south Ponte Vedra where their house sits on the Guana River since it has a really good western sightline over the marsh which would allow me to observe the lunar occultation of Antares. When I first got my 130mm scope, this was my primary observing spot before I started going to the SJC Fairgrounds as it is pretty dark, particularly in the east over the ocean. I intended to just observe the occultation and then go home. Skies were clear and Seeing was good and Transparency was decent, and the whole event took about 13 minutes as Antares suddenly disappeared behind the dark side of the moon around 23:17 and reappeared around 23:30. Before packing up I decided to try to check some brighter targets since the half moon was washing out the sky and it didn't seem worth the effort to do any serious observing. Well, the moon was close to setting and one thing led to another and next thing I knew it was 01:30 when I was packing up! I added 13 Messier objects to my list which gets me over the halfway mark as I now sit at 56 objects observed after starting in late February.

The most impressive targets I observed were Lagoon Nebula, Sagittarius Star Cloud, Swan Nebula, and the Wild Duck Cluster. That last one in particular was incredibly cool, as it looked like a Globular in my Finder and Binoculars but is actually a fully resolved open cluster at higher power. Speaking of binoculars, they were incredibly fun to use in the heart of the Milky Way as it was easy to zip around between targets and appreciate how many stars there are in the wider FOV and lower power than what you can achieve in a scope. It was also my first time really used the Baader Hyperion Zoom to observe and I found it to be an absolute pleasure to use. Being able to easily swap between magnifications to find the sweet spot without needing to change eyepieces was incredibly convenient. I used either my finderscope or my 2" 30mm eyepiece to get to the right spot and then would use the BHZ to observe.


Seeing: 4/5

Transparency: 3/5

Moon: 58% illuminated (set at 00:30)

Equipment: Zhumell Z10, Bushnell 10x50 Binoculars


Observed lunar occultation of Antares

  • Moon was roughly 15° up at the time
  • Antares passed behind the dark part of the moon around 11:17p
  • Reappeared around 11:30p

M7 - Ptolemy’s Cluster - 30mm (42x)

  • Impressive open cluster even with moon washing out the sky
  • Tight core of dozens of stars with dozens more spread out from the core
  • Nice binocular target

M22 - Globular Cluster in Sagittarius - 8mm (156x)

  • Shape of the glob almost looked like a palmetto with averted vision

M8 - Lagoon Nebula - 8mm (156x)

  • Open cluster with dozens of bright stars adjacent to a faint line of stars with an apparent but dim haze around them
  • Also observed with binoculars and could make out the haze

M21 - Open Cluster in Sagittarius - 12mm (104x)

  • Small open cluster with 5-6 brighter stars at its core

M20 - Trifid Nebula - 16mm (78x)

  • Just off M21 with a bright Star surround by a faint haze that could barely be made out with averted vision (only 20° up)

M24 - Sagittarius Star Cloud - 30mm (42x)

  • Vast open star cluster unable to fit in the entire FOV
  • Awesome binocular target

M17 - Omega/Swan Nebula - 16mm (78x)

  • Appeared as an oblong shape almost like a galaxy, but with a “head” sticking from one end. I discovered while scanning past M24 and immediately assumed it was the Swan Nebula based on its shape.
  • Also observed in binoculars with the swan shape not quite apparent; would have assumed it was a galaxy otherwise

M16 - Eagle Nebula - 30mm (42x)

  • Medium size open cluster with barely a hint of haziness around the brightest stars with averted vision

M25 - Open Cluster in Sagittarius - 8mm (156x)

  • incredibly compact but impressive cluster just to the left of the main part of the Sagittarius Star cloud

M11 - Wild Duck Cluster - 8mm (156x)

  • Spectacular open cluster that appeared as a Globular in binoculars but can resolve hundreds or thousands of stars in the Z10 

M26 - Open Cluster in Scutum - 12mm (104x)

  • unimpressive open cluster of faint stars

M71 - Globular Cluster in Sagitta - 8mm (156x)

  • Faint and loose globular

M27 - Dumbbell Nebula - 16mm (78x)

  • appeared almost as a globular cluster until zooming in. Hourglass shape was apparent with averted vision
  • Showed as a faint haze almost as a glob in binoculars

Saturn - maxed out around 250x. Transparency was starting to degrade more

This topic was modified 3 months ago by Zach Williams