June 2013 Dark Sky Star Party Report

Double Cluster - NGC 884 and NGC 869 by Bill Longo

We had a great time last night at the Long Sault Conservation Area. Twilight lingered but was followed by an amazing pass of the International Space Station. We followed it, some of us in our scopes, sort of, almost to the horizon. Very long pass.  We pretty much spent the evening cherry picking our way through the skies. Saturn at the beginning and end, for the sake of our night vision, then nebulae, star clusters and galaxies galore. As always, half of the fun was comparing views among the scopes and eyepieces assembled.

John McDowell had an 8” Dobsonian, Steve McKinney had his 102mm premium refractor, Thierry Jaume had a 10” Schmidt-Cassegrain on a fork mount, Guy Nason had his, ummm, 8” (I’m guessing now) reflector on an equatorial mount, I had my 12.5” Dobsonian, and Nick Pierre impressed us with views through his 130mm table-top reflector (SkyWatcher Heritage?) with an eyepiece borrowed from Guy. Radcliffe Robinson joined in the fun as well.

Some of the wow objects were M13 (Great Cluster in Hercules), M92 (very tight and bright), M81 and 82 (surprisingly bright), M57 (Ring Nebula, central star and all), NGC 6543 (Cat’s Eye Nebula), and fainter views of the Veil Nebula (NGC 6960-6995-6992). Perhaps it was the Double Double (epsilon Lyrae) or perhaps it was the long June evening but it was after 12:30 when the last of us rolled out of the parking lot.

It was a little cool for June, but there was no wind, no dew, and a great evening under the stars. SQM 20.9.