Observing notes from the evening of Tuesday, September 18, 2001

With a taste of starlight from my last observing session, and a growing hunger for more, clear skies beckoned to me once again. I've got a list of Herschel 400 objects that I'm slowly working my way through. Some people sweep the heavens with binoculars or wide field telescopes. Like fishermen casting their nets, they take in many celestial objects at once.

But for those of us using observing lists, we're more akin to a sniper. We go after each target as an individual. Once we've "finished off" one, we go to the next. And this night I set my sights on some objects that will soon slip below the horizon as the celestial sky wheel keeps turning. As the glow from a red sunset was slowing dying away, I could tell that it was going to be a pretty nice night. A fingernail moon hung above the treetops to the west southwest. For those of you scratching your head, my daughter use to say that a thin crescent moon looks just like a fingernail (i.e. a fingernail clipping). Whenever I see a crescent moon, I think of it as a fingernail moon. In fact, that's what I'm planning on naming my observatory should I ever build it.

After setting up my equipment, and blasting away the hungry 'skeeters with a shot of repellent, I was ready for an enjoyable night of observing. And I must say that this particular sniper had a pretty successful hunt.

Here's a list of objects I observed, using my 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope at the Big Woods, Lake Jordan site:

NGC6645. Open cluster in Sagittarius. Pretty large. Rich. Nice and pretty. More stars in east-west direction. Spread out. Fills eyepiece nicely.

NGC6118. Galaxy in Serpens. Very, very, extremely, extremely faint. Had to use averted "imagination"! Kind of popped in and out. East-west elongation.

NGC6235. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Pretty large. Dim. Had a galaxy kind of glow to it. Can't really resolve. More like a glowing patch.

NGC6284. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Relatively bright. Round. More compact or compressed. Middle is really tight. Hints at resolving.

NGC6287. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Yet another faint one. Kind of glows in the background. Relatively large. Center is brighter. Hints at resolving.

NGC6293. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Shows up much better. Bright, round. Starts to resolve. Bright center.

NGC6304. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Relatively bright and round. Large in comparison to others in area. Like others, starting to resolve and bright in the middle.

NGC6316. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Relatively bright but a little smaller than others. Seems to have a star or something involved in southeastern section. Don't know if this is part of the cluster or a foreground star.

NGC6342. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Hints at resolving, but not much. Very faint. Galaxy like in appearance. Some extension in the north-south direction.

NGC6355. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Needed averted vision to see it. Just a glow in the background. If it wasn't for a star in the field of view to use as a beacon, I probably wouldn't have noticed it.

NGC6356. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Relatively bright (compared to others). Starts to resolve. Brighter in the center.

NGC6401. Globular cluster in Ophiuchus. Shows up pretty good. Can't resolve it. Shows up as a faint glow. Seems to be star involved toward the southeast side.

NGC6756. Open cluster in Aquila. Took me a while to find it. Small cluster. Relatively faint. Almost similar to appearance of globulars in Ophiuchus except that you see the individual stars. Kind of compressed.

I finished out the night with some views of the globular cluster M22 in Sagittarius, the globular cluster M13 in Hercules, and the planetary nebula M27 in Vulpecula.  Sometimes when going after the dim objects it's nice to finish the night with some bright, eye-candy objects.  I was really impressed with M27.  I haven't observed it in a while.  It was very bright and detailed.  It was a perfect end to a good night of observing.

Jeffrey L. Polston

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