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65-1158 Mamalahoa Hwy.
Kamuela, HI 96743

An electronic publication of The West Hawaii Astronomy Club

Club Officers:

   Craig Combes,
   Craig Nance,
   Doug Summers

       Laura Kinoshita

With Support From:
Canada-France Hawaii Telescope and
W. M. Keck Observatory

This website is currently maintained by
Doug Summers

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Observing Report for Saturday, July 15, 2006
Craig Nance

I thought WHAC members might like a report of this past Saturday night observing session. There was quite a large crowd at the 9,300-ft site "across the street" from Hale Pohaku. Attendees included both Craig's, Bob (Keck's interim Public Affairs wizard), Dr. Mark and his young'uns, Kyle, Carlton, and Donn. I think I'm forgetting someone? We had quite a collection of telescopes on-hand to go with the crowd. Sunset was just after 7pm and it was dark by a bit after 8pm. We had an impromptu hotdog cookout before sunset… dinner for the early arrivals! For me, it was a memorable evening as it was "First Light" for the 10" telescope I've been working on the past ~6 months. Recall that I spoke about this telescope, and traveling to Delaware to make the mirror, in our June club meeting. The write-up below will be primarily of the 10", as I didn't pay attention to much of anything else. Perhaps others can report on what they saw.

The night was very dark and the winds were light to nonexistent. The temperatures were quite seasonable, even for 9,300- ft. It was yet another one of those Mauna Kea nights --- the Milky Way has that "reach out and touch it" view we are spoiled with on a regular basis up there. Yawn!...just another day in paradise...

First Light for the telescope was an observation of Omega Centauri, the largest globular cluster in the Milky Way. You have to see it to believe it. This was followed by a view of the galaxy Centaurus A. Its broad dust band was obvious. Next, M-51, the Whirlpool Galaxy was observed; the spiral arms visible as well as the "false supernova". But, there was an even grander galaxy to explore….

The remainder of the evening was spent looking at Milky Way treasures. This was pure, shameless sky tourism! The Lagoon and Trifid Nebulas were observed early and often. We saw the dark rift across the Lagoon, the adjoining star cluster NGC-6530, and the works. The Trifid revealed its four dust lanes ("Quadfid"?) and the double star near the center. Craig Combes had a 2" nebular filter. I had brought a 2"/36mm Panoptic. We joined the two and had some outstanding views of…well, every nebula thereafter. I had thought that my 2" eyepiece was too big for a 10" telescope. I had intended to observe with my 1.25" TV eyepieces. But, the views with the 2" were so stunning that we kept the 2" on the telescope for most of the night. We saw the Omega Nebula, the Veil Nebula, the Dumbbell planetary, the Ring Nebula, M22 globular, and more that I'm forgetting. For grins I began to aim the telescope at bright patches of Milky Way between Cygnus and Ara and sweep around to see what was there through the telescope. We came across all sorts of interesting star fields, clusters, nebulas, and the like. Along the way we happened across a fascinating, jet-back blob appearing to be suspended in front of a rich Milky Way star field in Sagittarius. I think others who saw it would agree that the object was amazing; I was spellbound by it. Next day I found out that the object is Barnard 86, a notorious dark nebula. By 11pm the Moon rose to claim the night.

I was delighted with the performance of the 10". It seemed like a much bigger upgrade than I expected compared to my trusty (but, alas, now retired) 8" f/6. I apologize to those that had to stretch tippy-toes to get to the eyepiece to see objects that were high in the sky. I plan to reduce the rocker box slightly as a result. For me, I enjoyed being flat footed on the ground (no kneeling and no ladder) for most every object.

Can't wait for this coming Saturday night!


Craig N.

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