Monday, August 13, 2007


Just got back from watching the Perseids with some of my roommates. Wasn't the best show this year, but we did see about 3 really good ones in ~2 hours. I took my telescope along, so of course, I had to be looking for something in that when the first of the three came along.

The second one, however, wasn't a Perseid at all. Instead of coming from the northeast, it came from the west, leaving a long smoke tail as it streaked all the way across the sky and fragmented. The last one was one of the Perseids and was very bright, with a thin smoke trail.

Aside from meteors, I was able to find a few objects in my telescope despite not having my glasses with me, which made it difficult to get my bearings. Easiest for me to find is always M57, a planetary nebula known as the "Ring Nebula". I also found another planetary nebula, the Dumbell, which is M27.

I also managed to find M13 and M15, which are both globular clusters. The Andromeda galaxy was on my list, but unfortunately the leg of Pegasus in which it's located stayed below the treeline for quite awhile and was then obscured by clouds once it would have been up far enough to see.


Stephen said...

I spent very little time Saturday night looking for meteors. I saw three. Only one was a Persied.

Most of the time, i spent distracting other people from meteor watching by offering views of other objects. For galaxies, it's hard to beat M31. M57 is a ring - very odd. Alberio shows star colors in a double star. M13 is a very bright globular cluster. NGC 457 is a very bright and distinctive open cluster - ET phone home! Jupiter has moons. One 9 year old girl must have spent 15 minutes trying to see the shadow of IO on the cloud decks. Neptune and Uranus showed up later. Mars cleared the trees just after i put the scope in the car.

But i don't need glasses to find these things. My push-to computer gets me real close without it. In fact, i only used the finder twice all night. Once for the alignment, and once for some really big object - like the coat hanger or the Pliedes.

Dew made me go home around 3 am. I'd have stayed all night if my dew heater was working. It's fixed now...

Unknown said...

Hmmm, I didn't even think about direction. The brightest thing I saw was travelling south to north, and was bright enough to be seen past the stadium lighting at the drag strip. After the strip closed the lights down, I sat in my convertible and watched for a while. Nothing incredible, but I haven't sat out and watched the sky in a while, so it was still good fun.

Jon Voisey said...

Stephen: Thanks for sharing your evening. I always forget to look at Alberio. It's my favourite double star to look at due to the distinct colors, but I never remember the name of it for some reason, so it rarely makes it on my list. Instead, I always hit Mizar/Alcor. But that wasn't visible last night due to clouds.

I've never looked at NGC 457 either. I've always considered Cassiopeia as the home of a few faint Messier galaxies that I can rarely find and not much more. I'll have to keep that in mind next time.

Sadly, my SCT doesn't have any nifty go-to capability. It doesn't even have a battery operated tracking motor. So if I'm out in the middle of nowhere, it's all being done manually. Occasionally I'll try to use my setting circles real quickly, but they don't work all that well.

Anonymous said...


I was quite disappointed with the Perseids despite all the hype. I prepared to watch the meteor trails from Chicago, but only saw a small handful - although I did catch a good fireball.

I have a narrative and images at the Chicago Astronomer and can be found here:

A fellow astronomer in Utah tells me that Friday was the night to catch them in abundance.

Although I did not successfully capture any meteors on camera, but it was a nice evening regardless.

Perhaps the Leonids will be better.


Chicago Astronomer Joe

mollishka said...

Was the non-Perseid object similar to the ones on today's APoD?

Jon Voisey said...

Millishka: no. The fragments breaking off from the main part stayed directly behind it in its path instead of dropping to a lower altitude.

However my first thoughts were the same thing when I saw the APOD.