Wow! Great night.
First off, I got the iPhone 6, I love it. I am stoked.
The sky had been clear most of the day and the night looked promising. I arrived right at 7pm and set up my XT8 and my tripod/T3i. I dragged the wife with me who, to say has no interest in astronomy is an understatement. I know that the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye and I figured if she saw that, then saw what a long exposure image could capture she would be called to the universe. Well it didn’t. I also noticed my red dot finder battery seemed to be going.
As night fell and the stars began coming out people stopped walking around and the scopes began scanning the sky. My search for the elusive M20 began. I couldn’t find it the last time I set up for imaging. I was set on finding it tonight. While looking for M20 I found M22, M26, M8 and NGC 6530. I kept finding M8 while looking for M20. M8 was visible with the unaided eye. That was pretty cool. This was the first time I was able to correlate a smudge in the sky with a celestial object. I bounced around in this general area looking for M20 and then went to M13. I was disappointed in M13. Partly because my eyepieces were fogging up and the detail was being obscured. I know M13 has more to give than what I could see. But with patience and trying new ways to look through the eyepiece I was able to separate many of the outer stars and the “arms.” After a little work I was able to see quite a bit more than the faint smudge I initially saw. I returned around the Sagittarius area for another run at M20. I quickly found more frustration so I turned my back on Sagittarius and went to Cassiopeia and found the double cluster NGC 884. I found this once from my backyard and was pretty excited by it. This was quite a bit nicer than the view from my backyard. Now, it was time to find, unassisted THE ONE, THE ONLY! M31! After a few minutes I found it. There it was, M31 and M32. M110 was really faint, I am not even sure I actually saw it.
Around this time I was moving back to Sagittarius and made a stop at M13 again. A young man and his girlfriend came near and we began looking at some of the sights. We took a glance at M13. I began telling him some of the stats about it including it’s distance and number of stars. He witnessed me searching for M20 and my continuing frustration. He was made aware of our event in his astronomy class at TCC. We looked at M13, M22, M8 and discussed some things about each. I pointed out the Milky Way, he and his girlfriend were very impressed that it could be seen. Well, the girlfriend said she lived in the sticks and she has seen this before. The young man was pretty thrilled when I showed him an image captured from my camera (right off the LCD). I showed him a picture of M20 I took and posted earlier. He was impressed when he learned I was able to image all of this with consumer, mid-level equipment.
There was a group of a young ladies youth group that came right as I was taking down. M13 and M22 were my goto targets for them. I packed up shortly after as there was a ton of dew on everything including my camera! All in all a good night. M20 eluded me again, but that’s part of the run right?