We started a few minutes after 8:00 p.m.
Several were attending. Since the sky was clear the only order of business was to observe. Peter brought his 75mm Unitron refractor and we adjourned to the orchard to see what we could.
We started out observing Jupiter and Saturn. All four of Jupiter's moons were on one side of the planet making for a rather interesting view. In addition, there was a bright star nearby (on the other side of the planet). The equatorial belts were visable as were a couple of the temperate belts. The red spot did not appear to be out. Saturn gave a nice view. Titan was visible. We observed the planets both at 48x and 96x.
We then looked at several deep sky objects
M31 (the galaxy in Andromeda). Very bright. Peter pointed the object out so that everyone was able to see it with the naked eye. At 2.2 million light years, this is the most distant object visible without optical aid. Most people also located M32 in the binoculars.
M32 and NGC-205: two companion galaxies to M31. These objects are normally quite apparent on photographs of the M31 galaxy. In the 'scope M32 was a round, slightly fuzzy ball and NGC-205 was a dusky patch.
M34. An open cluster in Perseus. Fred located this object in the binoculars. In the 'scope it looked like a "lot of street lights as seen from above."
The double cluster in Perseus (NGC-884 and NGC-869). Very nice view in the 'scope. Also visible in binoculars and to the naked eye.
M15. A globular cluster in Pegasus. Peter was impressed by how concentrated it appeared.
M2. A globular cluster in Aquarius. Relatively isolated. This object stands by itself very nicely.
M45. The Pleiades cluster in Taurus. Very nice in the binoculars. We did not bother to put the 'scope on this object due to its large extent. By the end of the evening (when our eyes were dark adapted) we were able to see between six and seven stars in this cluster. Counting stars in the Pleiades is a good way to measure sky darkness and clarity. Under exceptional skies people have seen as many as 14 stars in the cluster.
M33. The face-on spiral galaxy in Triangulum. This object is large and diffuse. In addition to looking at it in the 'scope, Fred located it in the binoculars.
We also looked at a couple of doubles.
Fred noticed that Nu Draco (in the head of Draco) was a double. It was split in the binoculars and in the finder 'scope. In Peter's 'scope at 48x it was wide and easy. I looked this star up in my Norton's Star Atlas as I prepared these minutes. The atlas shows it as double with both components at magnitude 4.9 and with a separation of 61.9 arcseconds.
Several people also looked at Epsilon Lyra in the binoculars. We did not put the 'scope on that double, however.
Albeiro (Beta Cygnus). Despite Cygnus's proximity to the western horizon we still got a nice view of this famous double. The stars have contrasting colors that make it very beautiful.
All in all, we were outside for about one hour. It was a nice night!
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