Globulars off the Starboard Bow

Observing notes from Tuesday, October 11, 1994

"Do you want to borrow a filter?", Peter Serafin (co-worker) smugly asks. Well, I do plan on purchasing a light pollution filter sometime, but for now I'm just using raw, unfiltered light (kind of like smoking Lucky Strikes without the worry of lung cancer).

After cruising around in my EZCosmos astronomy program yesterday, I printed out a chart and decided to see if I could locate a few items. Let me emphasize that I'm new to the deep sky area (my astronomy has been mostly reading and observing the bright planets). Since Saturn is well placed in the evening sky (and my balcony happens to face that way), I decided that would be a good jumping off point. Also, the Pegasus square is easy to see from my light polluted apartment, so it helped as a guide.

My first target was the globular cluster, M15. Since it wasn't too far from the star Enif, I thought it would be easy. It was! Using my 80mm refractor, I easily found M15 with my low power eyepiece. It was a pretty little ball of stars.

Next, since the globular cluster M2 is not too far from the star Sadalsuud, I went for it. Another easy find. And, another pretty ball of stars. Then I went for the globular cluster M30. This one proved more difficult. It was fainter, lower in the murk near the horizon, and I only had the faint stars of Capricornus to guide me. I also had to move my scope around since part of my building was getting in the way. After about three attempts, I found it! It was a dim little smattering of stars. It all three cases, I really wanted more aperture and DARKER skies. But I was too lazy to drag out the 8" and didn't want to drive anywhere.

Satisfied at finding the globulars, I observed Saturn for a while. Beautiful as always (I could see two moons). The rings were clear, well defined, and definitely getting thin. If you want to see them you better look now. Next year they will be edge on. I finished out the night with a look at the Pleides cluster. I even used high power to zoom in on interesting little groupings of stars within the cluster. A good night of observing. I believe I've observed more from my new apartment balcony (just moved there the first of this month), than I've done my entire time here in Seattle, the astronomical armpit of the world. I've done a lot just with binoculars (i.e. bright clusters, Andromeda galaxy, tracing the constellations, etc.).

Jeff Polston

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