(IAAC) Obj: M80, NGC6026, NGC6369, NGC6284, NGC6287, IC4634, NGC6235, M19, NGC6293, NGC6355, NGC6316, NGC6304, NGC6335, Harvard 15, M62, NGC6302, NGC6281, Harvard 16, NGC6441, NGC6453, NGC6642, NGC6629

Observing Report: July 5-6, 1996

We had a cold front go through a couple of days ago, and there was absolutely
NO wind -- a pretty good night for stargazing. So I went out at about 9:30
hoping to get in a couple of hours before moonrise. It's been drier the last
couple of weeks and the mosquitoes weren't so bad this time around.

I started with M4, just west of Antares. It was clearly better than on 6/12,
but it was still early and the sky needed to darken a little yet for the
best view. I could just barely see NGC6144 if I nudged the 'scope a little,
a faint haze around a concentrated nucleus. M80 was very impressive and
bright, showing hints of resolution that became obvious using averted vision
at 118x. I normally find objects using a 20mm Erfle which gives about 75x,
and switch to higher powers after finding them.

I failed to find NGC6026 in Lupus (not Lepus), but in Ophiuchus I did manage
to spot a different planetary nebula, NGC6369. It was about 30" in diameter,
pretty faint but not too difficult once found. Higher magnifications did not
help the view. 

Suddenly, the observing field was bathed in white light! My neighbors to the
north have a motion-sensor "security" light, and someone was getting into 
their car to go somewhere. I retreated into the back of the observatory for
about three minutes to wait it out, much annoyed. Fortunately, it only took
about 3-4 minutes to wink out again, but I'm sure it helped me fail to find
the globular cluster NGC6325.

Eventually my night vision returned and I found NGC6284 easily. One of many
fine globulars in Ophiuchus, this object was not really resolved but did
show hints of mottling at 118x. NGC6287 about 2 degrees north was similar
in appearance but slightly larger at maybe 3' in diameter. I couldn't find
the tiny planetary nebula IC4634 in the rich starfield, but I did get the
globular cluster NGC6235 (not 6325 which I missed earlier). This object was
a little fainter but otherwise similar to the other globular clusters. M19
was much more impressive; in goes the Klee barlow lens, and resolution can
easily be held with direct vision at 185x. Slightly elongated as globulars
go -- a very nice object -- visible in an 8x50 finder. NGC6293 nearby in
contrast was just a small, very condensed hazy spot that would now and then 
flash into clarity at the same magnification.

Well, whoever left my neighbor's house came back. I retreated inside to
shield my eyes and pick up a couple of pints of hard cider. Oh, the 
hardships I endure for my hobby!  ;^)

Having weathered than, I found NGC6355 as a faint and somewhat difficult
object. Yet another globular cluster in Ophiuchus, I could just barely see
it with direct vision once I knew where to look...with averted vision, not
to much trouble. NGC6316 was round and about the same overall brightness, 
but is smaller and more condensed and therefore easier to spot. Ophiuchus
is globular heaven! NGC6304 is larger and brighter but still didn't show
any resolution tonight. I tried for the nebulosity NGC6335 -- it looked
like there might be some reflection nebulosity around a 8-9th magnitude
star in the field, but I couldn't "hold" it. I'll have to check my catalogs
to see what it should look like, but I can't fairly count it as "seen."

The open cluster Harvard 15 is the only object I viewed tonight that I
hadn't seen before. It was large and bright but sparse and fairly 
unimpressive. I'm not all that fond of open clusters and don't really try 
to seek them out very often, although some objects like M11 or M46 catch
my attention. Back to globulars, M62 was much better; but so condensed as
to show no resolution whatsoever. I guess there is am optimal, middle
ground! Back into Scorpius, NGC6302 is a very easy and large planetary
nebula. The "Bug Nebula" is about 1' in size, elongated and clearly
nonstellar; a find object. The open cluster NGC6281 nearby is a nice group
of about 30 stars of even brightness in an area about 15-20' in diameter.

I'm getting very near the southern horizon and still seeing objects fairly
well. I'm happy with the transparency but the seeing is still pretty 
shaky...10 years ago I could see at least a magnitude deeper from this 

Harvard 16 is nestled between the stars of the "stinger" of Scorpius. If
it's a star cluster, I sure didn't see it that way! The globular cluster
NGC6380 also eluded me, so I switched over to an entirely different part
of the sky -- Canes Venatici.

M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, was easily seen in the finder but not all that
impressive in the telescope. No hint of spiral structure tonight, it was
bright yet a little disappointing. M92, the Owl Nebula, was impressive for
its size only -- no details or "eyes" could be seen. M108 was barely seen.
The sky must be worse to the northwest. I retreated back to the comfortable
confines of Scorpius...

...where I found an old friend, NGC6441. This object is right next to the
5th-magnitude start g Scorpii, making it a cinch to find. Very bright and
condensed, it is another nice globular cluster to observe. M7 came out 
from behind some trees and was quite impressive as open clusters go. In 
the same field is the globular cluster NGC6453, which was VERY difficult
to find. However, it could definitely be held with averted vision as a
small condensed haze.

I got some showpieces before packing in:

  M22 (awesome at 185x!)
  M57 (very nice!)
  M13 (Hoo, boy!)
  M8 & M20 (Some other old friends)

I also picked up M28 and NGC6638 as a couple of nice globular clusters near
the top of the teapot of Sagittarius. I never have been able to pick out
the planetary nebula NGC6644, though. Maybe next time. The globular cluster
NGC6642 was pretty small, slightly elongated, and not too difficult. I
failed to get NGC6629, another small planetary nebula in the area. The 
same result for NGC6620, NGC6565 and NGC6578...all planetary nebulae in 
Sagittarius. The Moon is up big-time now! I was barely able to view a pair
of globulars NGC6522 and NGC6528 near the spout of the teapot. After a
glance at M17 (Omega Nebula), I was ready to pack it up. I got inside
shortly before 12:30.

Let's see...33 objects in about 3 hours. Not too bad for an old star-hopper
with a Dob!

Bruce Bowman