Advanced Telescope Observations (Evening Observation)

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1 Chapter 14 Advanced Telescope Observations (Evening Observation) Carefully align your telescope before you begin to reduce drift in your observations. Although the Telrad finder charts are helpful, they cannot always be used for precise pointing due to the brightness of the sky, a lack of bright stars in the Telrad field, and/or the faintness of the object. It may also be the case that more stars are visible on the finder charts than can be seen with the naked eye. Unfortunately, due to the pitch of the deck, large changes in the pointing of the telescope may lead to significant inaccuracies in the readings on the setting circles. If you cannot manage to locate the object using the Telrad and finder chart, try realigning the setting circles on the coordinates of a bright star near the object and then slew to the position using the setting circles as your guide. In any case, the setting circles may be used to get you in the neighborhood of the object you are trying to observe. In this lab, you are encouraged to choose objects on your own. However, your TA may have specific suggestions to get you going or assign particular objects for you to observe depending on the time of year. The main guide you will be using for this lab is the Telrad Finder Chart of Bright Objects. These objects should be bright enough so that they can be seen in Williamsburg, even under less-than-ideal conditions. Remember to sufficiently acclimate your eyes to the dark. For many faint objects, such as star clusters, it is sometimes helpful to use averted vision. Diffuse objects, such as nebulae or galaxies, require a dark, clear moonless sky to be seen well. Please choose different types of objects to observe. Also, try using the filters whenever appropriate. A list of the filters and what they are useful for follows later in the lab. Since our night vision is not sensitive to color, eyepiece filters are generally used to block certain wavebands so other characteristics of the object can be more easily seen. The angular size of observed objects can be estimated using the approximate field of view (FOV) of the different eyepieces. For our telescopes, the FOV is about 36 arcminutes for the 26 mm eyepiece, 20 arcminutes for the 15 mm, and 12.5 arcminutes for the 9.7 mm. Try esti- 113

2 mating the angular size of the objects you observe and record it on your observation sheets. The guidebook also includes the angular size of each object. Compare the listed size versus what you observe and comment on the cause of any differences between your observation and the fiducial value. Note that some objects may be larger than your FOV. The objects in the Telrad Chart Book are listed below. Some of the objects are classified as to how difficult they are to observe. Please start with the easy objects until you get the hang of it and a feel for the observing conditions. Of course, you can only observe objects that are visible at the time of your observations. The planisphere supplied with an earlier lab comes in very handy in planning your observations. The guidebook lists the constellation in which each object can be found and by using your planisphere, it should be easy to figure out which objects can be observed. It is generally easier to view objects in order of RA, so take this into consideration when planning your observations. Additionally, a list of objects along with only their RA and Dec coordinates are given below (i.e., no finder chart). If you feel ambitious enough, try to locate one or more of these objects using the setting circles. Remember, it is good idea to first align the setting circles on a bright star or other object near to the one you are trying to observe. Please remember to turn off the telescope drive and the Telrad when you are finished! Happy Hunting! 114

3 14.1 Objects with RA and Dec Coordinates Only Key: MS = Multiple Star G = Galaxy DN = Diffuse Nebula PN = Planetary Nebula OC = Open Cluster GC = Globular Cluster Object Type Difficulty RA (h m) Dec (deg m) M1, Crab Nebula DN Difficult M2 GC Moderate M6 OC Moderate M16 DN Moderate M35 OC Easy M63 G Moderate M68 GC Moderate M77 G Moderate NGC 2244, Rosette Neb 1 DN Moderate NGC 6826, Blinking Neb PN Moderate NGC 7009, Saturn Neb PN Difficult NGC 7662 PN Moderate α Canum Venat, Cor Caroli MS Easy ǫ Bootes, Izar MS Moderate η Cassiopeiae MS Easy Bright Stars Star Name RA (h m) Dec (deg m) α And Alpheratz α Tau Aldebaran α CMa Sirius α Leo Regulus α Boo Arcturus α Lyr Vega α Aql Altair

4 14.3 Objects in Guidebook of Bright Objects for Telrad 1 M15 GC Moderate 2 M31 Andromeda Easy 3 M37 Cluster Moderate 4 NGC253 Sculptor Galaxy 5 NGC869,884 Perseus DC Easy 6 Gamma Andromedae Almach Double Star Easy 7 Zeta Aqurii Double Star Easy 8 M41 Cluster Moderate 9 M42 Orion Nebula Easy 10 M44 Beehive Cluster Easy 11 M45 Pleiades Cluster Easy 12 M46 Cluster, PN Moderate 13 Beta Orionis Double Star 14 Iota Cancri Double Star 15 M3 GC Moderate 16 M5 GC Moderate 17 M13 Hercules Cluster 18 M51 Whirlpool Galaxy Moderate 19 M64 Black Eye Galaxy Moderate 20 M81 and 82 Exploding Galaxy Moderate 21 M84 and 86 Elliptical Gal The Eyes 22 M97 Owl Nebula PN 23 M104 Sombrero Galaxy Moderate 24 NGC4565 Needle Galaxy 25 Epsilon Lyrae Double Star 26 Alpha Ursae Minoris Double Star Polaris Easy 27 Zeta Ursae Majoris Double Star Alcor, Mizar 28 M4 GC 29 M7 GC 30 M8 Lagoon Nebula Moderate 31 M11 Wild Duck Cluster 32 M17 Swan Nebula Moderate 33 M20 Trifed Nebula Moderate 34 M22 GC 35 M27 Dumbell Nebulae Moderate 36 M57 Ring Nebulae Moderate 37 Beta Cygni Double Star Albireo Easy 116

5 14.4 Filter Guide The telescope kit contains a number of filters useful for observing different types of objects. You have probably already used the Neutral Density filter in the Moon Lab. As you know, this filter is used to observe the Moon, which is too bright to observe directly through a telescope of this size. The other filters are a Nebular Filter, a Medium Blue, Green, Red, and Deep Yellow. As a start, try using the red and blue filters with your naked to observe Rigel and Betelgeuse if they are visible. One of these stars is red supergiant and the other is a blue supergiant. Which is which? The Albireo (β Cyg) double is also good for blue and red filters. Try using the Nebular filter for the Ring and other nebulae. Remember to record any differences in your observations using the filters. A description of each filter follows: Nebular filter: This is an interference filter whose main purpose is to block unwanted light from Sodium and Mercury vapor lamps. It also rejects natural airglow and auroral emissions, while allowing through the strong nebular emission lines in the visible region of the spectrum such as Hydrogen-beta and Oxygen-III. Medium Blue: This is used primarily for studying the structures of planetary features in the upper atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. Recommended for Jupiter s Great Spot or the festoons in Jupiter s belt. Reduces red, green, and yellow wavelengths. Green: Reduces red and blue wavelengths. Good for the low-constrast blue and red Jovian features and for Venus and the Moon. Red: Darkens blue wavelengths. Also good for the bluer clouds of Jupiter and Saturn. Deep Yellow: Reduces blue wavelengths. Mainly used for lunar viewing. Improves the contrast and reduces the irradiation between features of varying brightness. Also good for the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. 117

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