Thursday, December 06, 2012

Fire in the sky

Image of NGC 7331 and companions
My viewing session for Tuesday 12/4 started off with some fireworks. Really. I'd just gotten set-up and and viewed a couple of objects and was entering the observations when, at about 9:30pm,  there was a meteor so bright that I saw it while facing the opposite direction. I was looking at the computer screen facing east and suddenly everything around me was lit up as if by a full moon. It was so bright it actually spooked me. Looked up behind me and there it was... I caught the last 40% of the burn (it was pretty slow moving). The lingering trail was in the sky for about 40 seconds and was the most substantial trail I've ever seen.  You can see the reports here. What a fantastic way to start off the night!

As far as viewed objects, a few open clusters that were not all that impressive (in part due to the poor atmospheric conditions) as well as three galaxies that were viewed first and were much better thanks to better conditions earlier  on. It is amazing how quickly the viewing can change based on humidity, light clouds not often obvious as clouds but there nonetheless.

The best view of the night was NGC 7331. While I was not able to see the small companion galaxies  NGC 7331 was very nice.

Also, a note about the images I use. They're not mine and are almost aways taken from Wikipedia. Though they often seem unreal, like paintings, they are not. They are actual images though in almost all cases there is a good amount of processing as is required by astrophotography. Multiple exposures are sometimes layered, color is added, enhanced or balanced, etc.

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