General Session - June 28-29, 2022 (Dyer's Top "10")
Day 1 (June 27): We arrived on a warm sunny day with light to moderate winds across Kejimkujik Lake - until we turned towards our site on Big Muise Island. The wind had certainly picked up and continued to increase over the afternoon and evening. Rain!! Most of the afternoon into the evening, heavy bouts throughout the night. Observing out of the question!
Day 2 (June 28): Gentle rain for half the morning. Then the wind died, skies cleared and a beautiful day ahead. Yes, it was an amazing night under the stars! Jerry and I sat on the beach and watched as the golden glow of the sun in the west and the changing purple-pink in the east. The sound of small waves on the shore and the last sounds of the song birds were enjoyed. Did I mention mosquitos?
The Kejimkujik observing gods were with us for night 2 at this idyllic location.
We enjoyed one of the darkest nights I've ever experienced there. New Moon, clear sky, no breeze (perfect for mosquitos, not us), and no haze. SQM was higher than any I hope to obtain at home. With a clear horizon lower than ever seen in the past few years, Dave discovered Mankent in Centauri whereas I found objects in the lower part of Scorpius never before viewed (or so I thought), not to mention seeing all the stars in the tail.
In the recent RASC-produced SkyNews (July/August 2022) was Alan Dyer’s top 10 list of summer Milky Way targets that we decided to try finding. Because Dave needed to select 15 objects to make an observing list in SkySafari, the list was renamed “Alan Dyer’s 15 top 10 Targets in the Summer Milky Way.” These objects were found between my searches for the familiar, for those not seen for a long time, and for those new to me.
Dave referred to distractions that seemingly prolonged our observing session. One was my so-called "little binoculars" - 2.1 x 42, FOV 26º. Dave, Jerry and I had fun sharing them throughout the session and we chuckled with each handover because eyepiece adjustments had to be made each time.
Mother Nature also gave us reason to pause throughout the night. We saw an owl, perhaps the Barred Owl we saw earlier, swoop silently to the reeds on our shore, hover, then silently fly to the opposite island. Fireflies in the shrubbery were a lighting surprise. Peepers and bullfrogs croaked occasionally. The anticipated soulful call of loons interrupted the quiet of the Kejimkujik night at least 3 times, beginning at sunset and continuing well into the night.
All in all, it was a highly successful and memorable night under the stars with great company!
Nebulas: Funnel Cloud Nebula, Pipe Nebula, North America Nebula, Veil Nebula
Not Observed or Located: Barnard 92, M4, M25, NGC 6940, Northern Coalsack
Location: Site 15 on Big Muise Island, Kejimkujik National Park, NS Date: 2022-06-28/29 Time: 9:00 PM - 2:15 AM ADT Equipment: Visual + Binoculars, 10x42 IS (6.5º FOV) Transparency: Excellent (5) Seeing: Excellent (5)
Temp (º C)
Stars of Böotes Time: 9:44 PM Equipment: Visual + Binoculars S&T Chart Reference: 42, 44, 53, 55 Arcturus was the first star I noticed naked eye in the darkening skies. Wanting to locate and identify the stars below Arcturus, I used the binoculars hoping to find them. Success! Muphrid/η Boo, τ Boo, υ Boo, ζ Boo and 31 Boo were found.
Observations: 1. The distance from Arcturus to ζ Boo was about x1.5 the distance of that between Arcturus and Muphrid. 2. 31 Boo was slightly fainter than ζ Boo. 3. τ Boo and υ Boo appeared similar in magnitude and were dimmer than Muphrid.
Research Notes: 1. Arcturus is mag -0.05 2. ζ Boo is a triple star - physical binary (mag 4.5 & 4.6) plus optical companion (mag 10.9). 3. 31 Boo is mag 4.86. 4. τ Boo was mag 4.5, υ Boo was mag 4.06, and Muphrid was mag 2.68.
First thing noticed about the constellation was that it was ALL above the horizon! Antares was a definite red and what amazed me was the ω1 Sco and ω2 Sco location was visible naked eye. Binoculars showed the separation and their proximity at 7 o'clock to Graffias. I attempted to find M4 in this area but was not successful.
The Teapot was on the opposite side of the Milky Way from Scorpius and very easily identified as were numerous Messier objects in its vicinity.
M7 (Ptolemy's Cluster), west of Kaus Australis, shone brightly just above the horizon. Another of my favourite open clusters that almost fills my FOV. It reflected so beautifully on the surface of the mirror-like Lake.
M22/NGC 6656 was readily found east of Kaus Borealis (Teapot lid star). I went east from the star to find what looks like a group of stars forming a "Y" and just past that was the small round fuzzy.
M28/NGC 6626 was seen as a small fuzzy adjacent to Kaus Borealis.
M8 (Lagoon Nebula), above the spout, showed its characteristic line of stars in a nebulous oval-shaped border. The stars were particularly bright this evening.
M20 (Trifid Nebula) was found above M8, and appeared as a small round, centrally bright object. Same FOV as M8.
M21/NGC 6531 formed the 3rd side of a triangle with M8 and M20. Not as dense looking as the Trifid but a beautiful small open cluster nonetheless.
M24 (Small Sagittarius Star Cloud) was easily found and viewed with binoculars. However, I did not identify Barnard 92 nor did I search for M25 as suggested by Alan Dyer.
In addition, I used the length of Kaus Australis to Kaus Media and went up x3 that length in binoculars to locate the small open cluster M18/NGC 6613 and M17 (Omega Nebula) above it with its larger size and nebulosity.
Ophiuchus is never hard to find above Scorpius and adjacent to Hercules. Its main stars were easily located from Rasalhague down to Sabik. I knew that two Messier objects were in the interior lower 1/3 of the constellation. I visually located Marfik/λ Oph, put my binoculars up and looked east of there to find both M10 and M12 well within my FOV. Both appeared as small greyish fuzzy objects.
Dyer's #1 We initially looked for the Dark Horse Nebula because the Pipe Nebula and the large bowl of the Pipe - Barnard 78 - were part of it. In essence, the rear end of the horse comprises the Pipe Nebula. Area surrounding the nebula was quite bright by comparison. Also learned following this trip that the nebula also has the designation of LDN 1773 - (Lynds Catalog of Dark Nebulae).
Dyer's #5 With Alya of Serpens at 9 o'clock in my binocular FOV, I found IC 4756 just a little above and to the right of the centre. By moving my binoculars just 1/2 FOV further west, I had it and NGC 6633 in view. Both beautiful and big! Stars dispersed in both clusters with the NGC a little smaller in size, a bit more compact, and perhaps a bit brighter as well.
Scorpius + NGC 6231 + Collinder 316 - New to me! Time: 11:40 PM Equipment: Visual + Binoculars S&T Chart Reference: 58, J
Using binoculars, I noticed 3 very bright stars I thought were below Scorpius. Turns out they were actually in the tail - ζ1 Sco, ζ2 Sco and HR 6266.
In the same FOV and above them was a beautiful little cluster with quite a bright core that I identified as NGC 6231; not really sure if I could make out any individual stars.
Looking above NGC 6231 was a scattering of stars with about 9 bright stars among thousands less bright distributed throughout a broad nebulosity - Collinder 316 - and it was quite a large open cluster! Come to find out when I returned home that NGC 6231 was observed in San Pedro de Atacama (2018) when shown the "false comet" that was formed by it and Trumpler 24.
As long as these features remained above the horizon, I kept returning to look at them. Beautiful. An 'oh wow' moment on the beach that I wanted to etch into memory.
With such a clear sky, I sought the Keystone of Hercules to locate M13 (Hercules Globular Cluster). Looked for the Big Dipper, moved easterly to Corona Borealis then further east for the Keystone quite high in the sky. With binoculars, I looked 2/3 of the way north from ζ Herculis to η Herculis. Success! There was the familiar small grey fuzzy.
Scutum Star Cloud (Dyer's #4) Time: 12:00 AM Equipment: Visual + Binoculars S&T Chart Reference: 67, 69
Scutum Star Cloud is one of my favourite sites to find as it contains M11 (Wild Duck Cluster). Always able to find this object because of its rather square-ish nebulous appearance with a bright object in each of the uppermost 2 "corners" (M11 and β Sct). In my binocs, M11 looks like a small, bright, round fuzzy golf ball beside the golf club formed by stars in the star cloud.
M55 / NGC 6809 (Summer Rose Star) Time: 12:10 AM Equipment: Binoculars S&T Chart Reference: 66, 68
M55 is located between the Teapot in Sagittarius and Capricornus. I used the Teapot as the start point to find it, placing Nunki at about 2 o'clock in the FOV. I then moved down 1 FOV where the globular cluster was just off-centre.
It can also be found by going from Ascella to τ Sgr in the lower handle of the Teapot then following the arch of stars from there - ψ Sgr to ξ Sgr to 52 Sgr. The cluster can then be seen "below" 52 Sgr.
Delphinus, Equuleus, Sagitta + Dyer's #7 Time: 12:38 AM Equipment: Binoculars S&T Chart Reference: 62, 64, 75 SQM: 22.20 (the highest ever at this site to my recollection) Temperature 15º C
Dyer's #7, theCoathanger / Collinder 399 / Brocchi's Cluster, is one of my favourite asterisms to view in the night skies. Easily found 1/3-1/2 of the line from Albireo (in Cygnus) and Altair (in Aquila). In our Northern Hemisphere, the hanger is upside-down and at an angle. All 10 stars in this asterism were easily seen and identified.
While in the Coathanger neighbourhood, I visually located three familiar friends:
Sagitta is a very small 4-star constellation. On this night, it took a few seconds to locate this relatively faint star formation near the Coathanger.
Delphinus is below Sagitta and near Altair. Its 5-star formation was easily found.
Equuleus is a 3-star constellation first pointed out to me by a friend at a Nova East Star Party. It is located a bit below and to the east of Delphinus.
M53 / NGC 5024 Time: 12:49 AM Equipment: Binoculars S&T Chart Reference: 62, 64, 75
I used Arcturus as the start point, then travelled down to Muphrid. From there, I went 1.5 FOVs and M53 was pretty much centred in my view above Diadem (α Comae Berenices). It was small, dense, faint grey, and circular.
M3 / NGC 5272 Time: 1:11 AM Equipment: Binoculars S&T Chart Reference: 44
I used Arcturus at the 8 o'clock position in my FOV then moved up 1 FOV. M3 was then seen. There appeared to be distinct formations formed by stars adjacent to M3 that I attempted to identify. Not sure if these are correct.
3 stars in a triangular formation east of M3 - tentatively identified as HD119391, SAO 82955 and TYC 2004-1463-1.
4 stars in an arc-like formation east of the triangle - tentatively identified as HD120049, HD119686, HD119477 and SAO 82958
2 stars formed a triangle with the Messier object facing west - tentatively identified as HD199748 and HR5145
Dyer's #8, #9 & #10 Time: 1:45 AM Equipment: Binoculars
Certainly, some objects on his list were new to me and did provide fun and a challenge to find and observe, such as nebulas with 10x42 binocs. It was around this time we heard the bullfrog for the first time and noticed fireflies in the shrubbery between us and the campsite.
Dyer's #8 - New to me! S&T Chart Reference: 62, 73 The Veil Nebula filled my FOV; the circular formation of the east and west arcs could be faintly discerned but details of the arcs' composition and density were not forthcoming. I had seen this object in segments though other RASC members' telescopes but this was first seeing it through binoculars. NGC 6940 was not viewed.
Dyer's #9 S&T Chart Reference: 62, 73, H The North America Nebula/NGC 7000/Caldwell 20 was a nebula that had alluded me until a couple of years ago. Located adjacent to Deneb, I had been searching for a "black" patch of sky instead of the illuminated patch of nebulosity with stars. The Gulf of Mexico with the Yucatan Peninsula are the formations I look for when seeking out this object. I did not note the Northern Coalsack that Alan Dyer mentioned in his article.
Dyer's #10 - New to me! S&T Chart Reference: 62, 73, H The Funnel Cloud Nebula / Le Gentil 3 was fun to find between Cygnus and Cepheus. It took a few moments to locate this dark preserving funnel-shaped object. It wasn't as dark as I had anticipated; it was dark but had a very pale nebulosity. The sky was certainly brighter along its borders. Can't wait to view it in larger binoculars or in one of my telescopes.