This page updated 16 Nov 2002

Amateur Astronomer's Notebook

Joe Roberts' Observation Log

This page contains astronomical observations by Joe Roberts. Since I have books of observations dating back to 1975, it will take me some time to transcribe all of my "old" observations and post them on the Web. I'll add as many of the old observation notes as time allows. And, I'll try to post all new observations. Note that observations on Hale-Bopp appear in a page dedicated to that topic (follow the link).

My Equipment

My astronomical observations were made with various telescopes that I have owned over the years. In case you want to compare observations, it is helpful to know what equipment was used to make an observation. A list of the telescopes used for my observations follows:

Other instruments used for some observations inlcude 8x50 binoculars, 7x35 binoculars, and also a Unitron 3" F16 refractor (belongs to my friend Pete Chapin).

I have many eyepieces. Some are "high end" and some are more "common" (but still of high quality). I tend to use certain eyepieces with certain telescopes. Below is a table which contains details of the eyepieces I own:

Barrel Dia.
55mm Televue Plossl
Excellent quality eyepiece, but large and heavy!
40mm Orion Megavista
Excellent quality; my favorite for "low power" in CG-11
40mm Meade EWF
Was my favorite for low power in the 6" reflector - nice!
36mm Celestron Plossl
Very good quality 1985 vintage eyepiece.
32mm Televue Plossl
Excellent quality "all around" eyepiece
30mm Celestron Ultima
Came "stock" w/ CG-11. Excellent eyepiece.
28mm Edmund RKE
"Stock" eyepiece for Astroscan 2001
25mm Meade MA
"Stock" eyepiece w/ Meade 4500
21mm Televue Plossl
Excellent quality "planetary" eyepiece for CG-11
15.5mm Meade Erfle
1985 vintage Meade wide angle, one of my favorites
10mm Celestron Plossl
Very good quality eyepiece, won it at STARCON!
9mm Televue Nagler
Excellent quality super wide field eyepiece, but heavy!
8mm Televue Plossl
Use this mostly in Meade 4500
6.7mm Meade EWA
Excellent quality high power eyepiece
6mm Meade MA
"entry level" high power eyepiece, use it w/ Meade 4500

The table below lists the magnification and true fields of view (FOV) that the eyepieces produce for the two telescopes I use most often today. The "bold blue" entries represent my favorite and/or most often used combinations for the two scopes.

App. FOV
Mag. in CG-11 @F10
True FOV in CG-11 @F10
Mag. in Meade 4500
True FOV in Meade 4500
55mm Televue Plossl
1 Deg.
40mm Orion Megavista
40mm Meade EWF
1.54 Deg.
36mm Celestron Plossl
32mm Televue Plossl
30mm Celestron Ultima
28mm Edmund RKE
25mm Meade MA
21mm Televue Plossl
15.5mm Meade Erfle
10mm Celestron Plossl
9mm Televue Nagler
8mm Televue Plossl
6.7mm Meade EWA
6mm Meade MA

NOTE: As of March 1998, I realize this page is starting to become quite large, so I plan to soon break it into subpages to make download times reasonable!


Observation sessions are listed by date, however the vast majority of my "old" observations have not yet been posted. Some of my earliest observations make use of rather unscientific terms (such as "bezerk", "fits", "stupid", etc.). Also, some of the earliest observations are overly enthusiastic ("resolving" M81 in binoculars?). As I look back at some of the "early" sessions, the descriptions of what I saw remind me of the enthusiasm I then had for astronomy despite the "department store" telescope I had. In any event, the "early" observing sessions are some of my most memorable, and they are part of the reason why I am still active in astronomy some 25 years later.

To view observations for a particular date, just click on the date. Choose from the table below:

Telescope used
Observing Site / notes
18-20 Sep 1998Celestron CG-11 Colebrook, CT (Connecticut Star Party 8)
1 Aug 1998Meade 4500 Wilbraham, MA
24 July 1998Meade 4500 Wilbraham, MA
03 July 1998Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
23 May 1998Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
4 Mar 19987x35 binocs Newport, RI (Aldebaran Occ. by Moon)
27 Feb 1998Meade 4500 Wilbraham, MA
26 Feb 1998naked eye Newport, RI (partial Solar eclipse)
21 Feb 1998Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
31 Jan 1998Meade 4500 Wilbraham, MA
26-28 Sep 1997Celestron CG-11 Colebrook, CT (CSP 7)
5-6 Sep 1997Celestron CG-11 Blanford, MA
31 Aug 1997Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
11 July 1997Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
26 May 1997Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
24 May 1997Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
23 Mar 1997Tasco 2.4" Oakdale, CT (partial Lunar eclipse)
15/16 Mar 1997Celestron CG-11 Blanford, MA
7 Mar 1997Celestron CG-11 Wilbraham, MA
26 Oct 1995Meade 4500 Oakdale, CT
17 Oct 1995Celestron CG-11 Oakdale, CT
28 Sep 1995Celestron CG-11 Oakdale, CT
27 Sep 1995Celestron CG-11 Oakdale, CT
30 Aug 1995Meade 4500 Oakdale, CT
14 May 1986Astroscan 2001 Wilbraham, MA
11 May 19867x35 binocs Norwich, CT
14 April 1986Astroscan 2001 Mt. Palomar, CA (Comet Halley)
3 Dec 1985Astroscan 2001 Salem, CT
2 Dec 19856" Newtonian Groton, CT
18 Nov 19856" Newtonian Groton, CT
17 Nov 1985Astroscan 2001 Groton, CT
15 Nov 1985Astroscan 2001 Wilbraham, MA
14 Nov 1985Astroscan 2001 Groton, CT
22 Oct 19856" Newtonian Groton, CT
12 Oct 19856" Newtonian Groton, CT
11 Oct 19856" Newtonian Groton, CT
8 Oct 19856" Newtonian Groton, CT
14 Sep 19856" Newtonian Groton, CT
22 Apr 1975Tasco 2.4" Wilbraham, MA
17 Apr 1975Tasco 2.4" Wilbraham, MA
4 Mar 1975Tasco 2.4" Wilbraham, MA
1 Mar 1975Tasco 2.4" Wilbraham, MA
27 Feb 1975Tasco 2.4" Wilbraham, MA (my oldest surviving observation)

18-20 Sep 1998 (Fri - Sun), Connecticut Star Party 8

This entry covers my experience at Connecticut Star Party 8 (CSP8). The CSP is an event I look forward to attending each year. CSP is a great family oriented star party... not too big and not too small (roughly 200 people). The skies are nice and dark compared to what most people in southern New England are used to, and the people are freindly. Scopes range in size from 60mm refractors to the 25" reflector. The most common size is probably in the 8" range.

I arrived on Friday at about 6:20 pm, located a spot and set up my scope. The weather was predicted to be clear, and the skies did indeed look good (nice and blue). As darkness set in attendees prepared their telescopes for a night of excellent viewing (or so we thought at the time!). I polar aligned my scope fairly accurately because I planned to do astrophotography with a 500mm lens. I looked at a few token objects prior to starting photos. I loaded up a Canon camera with Kodak Royal Gold 1000 film, mounted the 500mm lens, and attached the unit to the CG-11 which provided tracking. For guiding, I used a crosshair eyepiece and a barlow (yielding a guiding magnification of 747x). I took the following exposures:

To the great dismay of everyone, a fog bank enveloped the site of CSP8 and within 3 or 4 minutes the entire sky went from excellent viewing to completely cloudy. Long story short: it did not clear up until around 11am the next morning! To the disbelief of attendees, we learned the it was clear everywhere around southern New England except for the northwestern corner of CT (where CSP is held). How typical!!! The forecast was for clear skies, and for most of southern New England it was indeed clear. But at the site of CSP8? No, of course not. I took 4 shots of the CSP site at night (under the clouds) just to see what I would get.

During the day on Saturday it did clear off, but the sky conditions were marginal. The visibility was not the greatest and there was some high haze in the air. It looked like it would be an "acceptable" night at best, but not good enough for serious astrophotography. To my disbelief, all of the "junk" in the sky cleared off as darkness fell, and it turned out to be a great night! I continued photographs:

Note: Items marked with a "?" are unknown (tape recorder failure). In general, the shots came out pretty well. Guiding was right on, stars are nice points (except those that trailed suddenly due to a bad power supply connection to the telescope). The emmision nebula really do need considerably more exposure. The shots of the Double Cluster and M11 came out great. The shots of M31 are acceptable but still could use more exposure. Selected shots can be viewed in the Photo Gallery.

I also shot an entire roll of Kodak Royal Gold 400 film, but all of the shots came out rather unexposed. Lesson learned: 5 and 10 minute exposures on "famous" deep sky objects is not sufficient with an F6.3 lens (500mm) using this film (unhypered).

One item of note: the seeing on Saturday night was very good. Everyone around me was commenting on how good Saturn looked tonight. People were able to use magnifications in the vicinity of 500x with good results. I looked at Saturn (after finishing with photos at about 3:30 am) and it was indeed very nice. I tried magnifications as high as 583x, but I prefered the view at around 280x. The Crepe ring was clearly visible, as were two cloud bands (very close together) on the ball of the planet.

Overall, CSP 8 was very enjoyable (despite the frustrations of Friday night). I met up with peopel I had met in previous CSPs, and met a number of new people. It was also good to see quite a number of younger people making the rounds during the night. This year the temperature was quite a bit warmer than last year, so people stayed active until later in the evening. There was much activity on the observing field until well after midnight. CSP is a great event, I highly recommend attending if you enjoy star parties!

1 August 1998 (Saturday), 9:00pm - 12:30am EDT

Tonight I observed from Wilbraham with the Meade 4500 reflector. I had some film to finish up in a camera, so I decided to finish off the roll (about 12 shots) doing afocal photography of the first quarter Moon. Using a zoom lens at 70mm F3.5, I let the camera light meter determine the exposure (since the Moon filled most of the frame this should work reasonably well). I tried taking a few shots through various color filters I had (yellow and blue).

I had collimated the scope in the days before this observing session. Unlike my last session, the scope's collimation was now quite good (and it showed in the images!).

I remembered reading an article in Sky and Telescope recently about using a video camera to take images of the Moon; I just happened to have my video camera with me tonight (it's a 1989 model full size VHS camcorder). I decided to try some video photography of the Moon using the afocal method. I found that I got the best results by setting the camera's lens to maximum zoom (in this case 8x). The biggest pain was keeping the camera aimed squarely into the telescope's eyepiece; the camera was mounted on a tripod independent of the telescope. Even using a tripod with a number of degrees of freedom this was still somewhat of an akward task at best. Upon playing the tape back, I found that the results were indeed quite good! With a modern camera and a larger scope (for more brightness) I suspect the images could be quite a bit better still. I'll have to try this method of lunar photography using the 11" Celestron sometime. I also tried looking at a bright star (Altair) using the video camera method; I could see the star, but that's about it. As I racked the focuser out (only slightly) the star promtly disappeared from view. I guess this video camera photography method is limited to the Moon!

After tinkering with the video camera, I finally got into some "real" observing (mostly double stars). Observations follow:

The weather was quite clear; due to the Moon the visibility of the Milky Way was diminished considerably. I could see the Milky Way in the heart of Cygnus pretty well, but the southern Milky Way was visible with difficulty at best. I noted that the limiting naked eye magnitude in the vicinity of Hercules was about 4.7 (the star Xi Corona Borealis was visible only upon very close inspection). Almost overhead, the star Mu Draco was visible to the eye without much trouble (about magnitude 5.1). The temperature was down somewhat so bugs (although still present) were not bearly as bad as on some nights. A satisfying observing session.

24 July 1998 (Friday), 10:35pm - 11:30 EDT

Tonight I observed in Wilbraham, MA with the Meade 4500. It was a pretty good night for Wilbraham; the Milky Way was visible from Cygnus to Scutum. I was rather tired due to a long day, so observations were limited. Observations follow:

I became very tired due to a long day at work (the day started at 4:30am). After looking at the sky (naked eye) for about 30 minutes (in a reclining lawn chair), I decided to call it a night.

3 July 1998 (Saturday), 7:00pm - 1:00AM EDT

Tonight was a CCD observing session. Details are located here.

23 May 1998 (Saturday), 10:15pm - 1:20AM EDT

Tonight I observed from Wilbraham, MA USA. For once we (a) had a clear night, (b) I did not have to work, and (c) I had my telescope with me! I had not been able to do any serious observing in a while, among other things due to crappy weather. As it turned out, tonight was very clear for Wilbraham. The air must have been extraordinarily clean and dry. The Milky Way was visible from Cepheus to Sagittarius! It was not as brilliant as back in the mid 1970's, but for the 1990's this was a good night. I'd say one of the "ten best" nights of the year. In the direction of Springfield things were not so good; limiting magnitude (naked eye) was around 4 to 4.5 in the bad areas. I could see M13 with the naked eye in the "good" direction. There was no dew to deal with, but insects (mosquitoes) were quite bad. I wore multiple layers of clothing and a face mask to prevent being attacked by them. I observed the following objects:

4 March 1998 (Wednesday), 7:30pm - 7:45pm EST

Tonight I observed the occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon. I was at work in Newport, RI, and armed only with 7x35 binoculars. Conditions were not the greatest... there were high clouds in and about the area, which at times made Aldebaran seem to disappear to the naked eye. The glare from lights in the parking lot was also a pain. Nonetheless, I did witness the disappearance of Aldebaran... it was instanteneous! Quite a cool sight. I was the only one left in my building, and more or less alone at work. But I knew that astronomers all over the area were watching this event. It was worth standing out in the cold wind with no jacket or gloves!

26 February 1998 (Thursday), 12:30pm - 2:00pm (Solar Eclipse)

I observed the partial (about 20%) solar eclipse from work in Newport, RI this afternoon. The weather was perfectly clear. I did not have any optical aid, just a solar filter (I brought my solar filter that I normally use with the 11"). Even though this was a "minor" eclipse event, it was still interesting. As the eclipse began, I suddenly wished I had booked one of those "eclipse cruises"! Several co-workers came outside to check out the eclipse (looking through my filter of course). Some people also used the "pinhole" method successfully. Solar filters are also excellent mirrors... I used my filter to "project" an image of the partially eclipsed Sun onto the side of a white building a few hundred feet away! Overall, not a major event for us, but skies were clear, so to not observe it would be a "sin" for an amateur astronomer!

27 February 1998 (Friday), 8:30pm - midnight EST

The weather was predicted to be "increasing clouds" tonight, but the sky was totally clear in the early evening. Tonight's observations were made from the backyard in Wilbraham. I used the Meade 4500 4.5" reflector (I didn't bring the big scope up with me because the weather outlook was not good). Tonight the temperature was "mild" compared to typical winter nights... it was about 40 degrees. Nonetheless, I dressed for "cold" weather and used the hand warmer and chemical boot warmers. I also used the propane heater (more as an experiment, it wasn't really needed). I took a break from observing from about 9:45 until 10:30pm. I observed quite a few objects. Observations appear below:

Tonight I used the propane heater to assist in keeping myself warm at the scope. Even though it was a "balmy" 35 degrees later in the evening, standing outside for hours can still lead to feeling very chilly if proper dress is not worn. I found that the propane heater worked well as a supplement. A few things I did learn: don't stand too close to the unit! With thermal underwear and pants on, the radiated heat from the unit is not immediately felt when you stand close to the unit. I smelled something like a burning smell... it was my pants! The fabric had heated to a very high temperature (they were roasting hot when I touched them). Much longer at that distance and they would have probably caught fire. Second: the propane heater can cause hideous seeing conditions if you have it near the front of the scope. As an experiment, I place the unit right near the front of the scope while looking at M41... the image blurred so much that I could hardly see the stars at all! Seeing wasn't an issue when the heater was placed away from the scope. Third: the propane heater element glows a fairly bright red-orange when on; if you look right at it your night vision will be slightly impaired. The unit also throws enough light to be annoying when it is bouncing off the white tube of the telescope. I found that it was best to place the unit on the other side of the scope from where I was standing. Overall, the propane heater worked well as a supplement. It was outstanding for "defogging" eyepieces!!! Took only a second or two to remove fog from eyepieces. The propane heater is probably best used when you are observing solo... at a star party the unit would probably draw complaints (from people it was pointed at).

Overall, tonight's observing session was very rewarding. I looked at quite a few objects I had not seen in many years. The sky conditions were about as good as they can be for Wilbraham in 1998. The Meade 4500 scope performed well.

21 February 1998 (Saturday), 8:30 - 10:30pm EST

The weather today was forecast to be "clearing by afternoon with clear skies by nightfall"; by 8:00pm the sky was almost completely free of clouds, so I set up the 11" scope. However, and very typical, just as I was completing the setup, clouds started increasing. Soon after, there were only occasional breaks in the clouds. The rest of the night basically got worse, until the sky was completely clouded over. I was not happy about this; I figured that based on the forecast, the "clear skies" at around 8pm meant that the weather forecasters were right! Not so. Over the course of 2 hours, I managed to look at about 4 objects in, around and through the clouds:

31 January 1998 (Saturday), 6:30pm EST - 7:15pm and 9:30pm - 11:00pm

Tonight we finally had a clear night when I didn't have to work or be somewhere else. I was in Wilbraham and had the Meade 4500 (4.5" reflector) for observing, so I took it outside. Unfortunately, I discovered that I did not have an atlas with me, so I had to look for objects via memory and by just poking around. I took a look at the this waxing crescent Moon, and it was very nice albeit crappy seeing conditions. Saturn was nearby so I also took a look at it. The rings were certainly visible, but bad seeing made the view "poor to fair" at best. After about 20 minutes or so, the scope had reached reasonable stability (thermally), and the images improved markedly. I looked at M42 at about 57x; the 4.5" showed considerable detail; several "pockmarks" and wisps of nebulosity were visible. I also looked at M35, M36 and M37. In the 4.5" at 57x, M37 looks very similar to a typical globular cluster in the 11" scope at about 150x. M37 is my favorite of the 3 Auriga Messier open clusters. I also took a token look at M1, the Crab Nebula. It was visible quite easily and was oblong in shape. The Pleiades were quite nice (as usual) in the 4.5" at 57x. I went inside for a while to watch some TV. I came back out at about 9:30pm; the sky had shifted considerably so that Canis Major was up out of the trees and readily observable. I looked at M41 with the 4.5"; it was very nice at 57x. The stellar images through the scope were now quite good, the scope having been outside for several hours (the temperature was about 25 degrees). I took another look at M42, and the view was better than the one I had earlier in the evening. While in the area, I looked at the Flame Nebula, it was visible, but just barely. I hopped over to M78 also in Orion, it was visible in the 4.5" quite easily at 57x. I swung the scope over to M46; it was visible easily. The stars are fairly faint. I looked for the planetary nebula that resides within the cluster, NGC 2438. I think I saw it, but it was difficult. I used a 6mm eyepiece to bring the magnification to 150x for this observation. The image was not nearly as good at this power. In any event, this planetary nebula is "difficult" at best with this scope under the conditions of my site. I also looked at M47 at 57x; its stars are much brighter than those of M46, but there are not nearly as many of them. M46 is much richer. The two clusters make a nice contrasting pair, and are located only about 1.5 degrees apart. I took a look at NGC 2244, sometimes called the "Christmas Tree Cluster", and also the cluster that is associated with the Rosette Nebula. I saw no nebulosity, but the cluster is easy (and visible in the 6x30 finder scope). I found M48 after a bit of hunting around; it is a very nice cluster at 57x in the 4.5" scope; nicer than I remember it being. I hadn't looked at this object in quite some time. I took a token look at M44 and also M67. M44 spills out of the field at 57x, while M67 easily fits within the field with generous room around the edges; its stars are on the faint side for this scope (but it is resolved). Over in Leo, I took a look at galaxy NGC 2903. It was easily visible and fairly large in the 4.5" scope at 57x. I looked at Gamma Leo (double star); at 57x is was resolved nicely. While on galaxies, I hopped over to M81 and M82; both were easily visible and bright, and fit nicely into the same field at 57x. Averted vision hinted at some structure being visible in M82. I took a quick look at M31, but the view was pretty poor due to the light pollution of Springfield. The Double Cluster was nice at 57x; both clusters fit in the same field. Tonight was a "good" night for this area... the Milky Way was just barely visible in Auriga, but that's about it. It did not "jump out", you had to look for it. In 1975 the Winter Milky Way was no problem at all to see; the light pollution plague has taken a severe toll (in less than 20 years) on the once dark skies of Wilbraham, MA.

After observing with the scope, I took a walk up to the back part of the property to get a good "open sky" look at things. The view from this location is very nice, being that nearly the entire sky is visible with minimal obstructions. From here, Hydra was visible very nicely and snaked above the horizon. I could also see the western part of Virgo coming up over the eastern horizon. Pyxis was visible skimming the trees in the south. Aries was heading towards the western horizon, however, the light pollution from Springfield is very bad in this direction. I could see the four main stars that make up the constellation Aries, but that's about it. I'd estimate the limiting magnitude is about 4 in this area, maybe a bit more if you do a careful study. It's not a pretty site. With the snow on the ground, I could easily find my way around in the "dark" with no light whatsoever. The ambient light from Springfield is quite severe. The sky darkness is not uniform; the area away from Springfield (to the southeast) is about the darkest, the best point being about 70 degrees up. The greatest illumination from Springfield occurs at about northwest on the compass (however the entire western horizon is lit up pretty bad). In the direction of Springfield, it really does look like "perpetual twilight".

My observations tonight were more or less on the casual side, but it was good to get out and take a look at some old favorites. I was somewhat annoyed at not having any sort of atlas with me; I would have liked to have searched out a few more of winter's open clusters. Even so, it was a decent observing session.

26-28 September 1997, Connecticut Star Party VII (CSP 7), Friday - Sunday

In a word, CSP7 was fantastic this year! The skies were near perfect on both nights! I arrived at about 4pm on Friday afternoon, and set up my equipment. A number of other people were already setup. Many more filed in as the evening went on. I use my van as my "campsite"; it provides quarters for sleeping, eating, and equipment storage. I did not use a tent.

On the first night, I did both casual observing and some astrophotography. I met many interesting people, and showed numerous objects to visitors during the time up to about midnight. I took a number of astrophotos starting after midnight, info on which is listed below. All photos were guided piggyback on a Celestron CG-11 scope. As soon as I can get them scanned in, selected photos below will be in the form of links (clicking on will bring up the picture).

  1. Cassiopeia: 5 min exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 50mm F2 lens
  2. Cygnus: 6 min 30 sec exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 50mm F2 lens
  3. North American Nebula: 7 min 30 sec exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens
  4. North American Nebula: Unknown exposure (lens fogged over), Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens
  5. North American Nebula: 5 min 20 sec exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens
  6. Andromeda Galaxy: 4 min exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens
  7. Veil Nebula: 4 min 30 sec exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens
  8. Double Cluster: 4 min 45 sec exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens
  9. Pleiades: 4 min exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens
  10. Cassiopeia w/ NGC 7789: unknown exposure, Kodak Royal Gold 400, 135mm F2.5 lens

After completing photos, I started regular observations.

I went to bed at about 4:30 am EDT on Saturday morning. Ground fog had rolled in shortly before that, rendering observations useless. It was rather chilly; near freezing. I was dressed for moderate cold, and was holding up pretty well. The only "complaint" about the night's events was the fairly heavy dew situation. Any scope without a heater on the optical elements was out of commission by about midnight. Hair dryers could be heard running all over the observing field. I was one of the "die hard" observers... most observers had turned in between midnight and 1am. By 3am there were probably only a dozen people (out of one hundred or so) still at their scope.

I woke up on Saturday morning at about 9am. Sleeping was not too good, there was a fair amount of activity around the area from all of the campers waking up (those who turned in at a more reasonable hour).

The weather Saturday morning started out cloudy (actually it was low level ground fog), but it quickly burned off. About mid morning, I had decided to look for stars in daylight. I had put a brand new battery in the Orion Sky Wizard the night before, and I left the Wizard turned on when I went to bed. I had also done a decent polar alignment the night before. I put in a low power wide field eyepiece (40mm Orion Megavista, yields 70x with a 1 degree true field) and got a focus on the waning crescent Moon which was high in the sky. The first star to try was Capella. With the help of friends I had met the night before, we looked up the coordinates of Capella. The biggest problem: the red LED readout on the Wizard was extremely difficult to read during the day, even with hands cupped around it! Finally we moved the scope to the proper location. Capella was easily visible in the 11" during broad daylight! By using the same method, we found Castor, Procyon, Betelgeuse, and Denebola. Denebola was only 17 degrees from the Sun, and is 2nd magnitude! It was not easy to see, but it was certainly visible. One other item of note: Castor resolved very cleanly at 70x! During moments of good seeing it was better than at night (probably due to the decrease contrast). Later in the day I also spotted Vega when it came up.

At about 3 in the afternoon, the battery in the Sky Wizard quit (the Sky Wizard reads out "encoder error"). I did some solar observing and saw several sunspots. I took 4 photographs of the Sun; two at 1765mm, and two with eyepiece projection (in an attempt to get the sunspots). I wanted to find Venus during the day, but with the Wizard batteries dead (and no easy way to realign it until dark), I would have to use another method. I got on the Sun, then calculated the position of Venus relative to the Sun. By using the manual setting circles, I was able to locate Venus rather easily. Many observers (even some veterans) that stopped by during the day were absolutely amazed at being able to see stars and planets in broad daylight!

As darkness approached, it was clear that it was going to be another spectacular night for observing. There were more people on Saturday night for observing, including many more "walk ins". As on Friday night, I spent a good amount of time showing visitors showpiece objects. I then helped some new friends from Argentina photograph some of the northern sights. Tonight the dew was more severe than the night before; many observers were caught "off guard" without the ability to remove dew. Some resorted to bringing their optical tubes to their cars and drying them off using the car heater.

After midnight, I photographed a number of objects as the night before. In the excitement of the night, I did not record data on the exposures. Most were 5 minutes or less. I did not have a heater on the camera lens, and it was fogging over after about 5 minutes. Between each photo I had to give the lens a 30 second "blast" of warm air from the 12v "hair dryer". After photographs were complete, I began serious observations (again, well after midnight when the "crowds" had dissipated). Observations follow:

At about 4:30am Sunday morning, the sky abruptly covered over with low level fog. This was not a problem, as twilight would soon end observing anyway. At this point, everything was saturated with dew. I went to move some sheets of my atlas and found that they ware frozen to the table! It was colder tonight than the night before.

To sum up: CSP7 was the best ever for me. I met some very interesting people. I helped two new friends from Argentina photograph the northern sky treasures, and showed them all around the northern sky. There were also some female students and their professor from Baypath college that were fascinated with the objects I showed them... they were so interested to see "for real" the objects they had up till now only read about. The people around me were very friendly and willing to share equipment. I got my first view through the new Televue 5.5 inch refractor (nice!). The only thing I warn against: if you look through the 25" scope, you'll never want to go back to your own scope!

5-6 September 97 (Friday - Saturday), 10:30pm - 12:30am EDT

Tonight I drove to Blanford, MA in search of reasonably dark skies. I arrived at about 9:15pm, and it was very clear; the Milky Way was very bright. I proceeded to set up the equipment. Wouldn't you know it? After driving 74 miles, clouds started coming in. They were the thin wispy type... I had to work in and around them. Unfortunately, the sky quality was reduced considerably, but it was still better than what I am used to at most observing sites. I observed a variety of objects, including Jupiter and Saturn. The seeing was poor; detail on the planets was minimal.

A list of objects observed follows:

In addition to the above objects, I also took token looks at M31, M11, M16, M8, NGC 7789, NGC 404, and the Double Cluster.

The clouds that came in made it a pain to observe dince I had to "jump all over the sky" to find a dark patch. Despite the clouds, I did get to see some new and challenging objects.

31 August 97 (Sunday), 2:30am - 5:00am EDT

This morning I did something I haven't done in a LONG time... get up in the middle of the night and observe until morning twilight. It was an observing session plagued by a number of problems, but nonetheless I did manage to get some nice viewing in. I had set the 11" scope up in the backyard before I went to bed (about 9:30pm) so that the unit would be totally "thermaled down". Unfortunately, the scope was totally saturated with dew when I got outside at 2:15am. Almost as soon as I took the cover off the front of the scope, the corrector plate fogged up. I proceeded to get out the corrector plate heater (had to fumble with it in the dark). I managed to get it on, but to remove the existing dew I had to get out my 12v hair dryer. The eyepiece and finder optics had also similarly fogged up. To speed up the process of removing dew, I finally went in the house and got a 1500w hair dryer (which did remove the dew in short order). Finally, with everything up and running, I was able to do some actual observing.

I started out by looking at Saturn since it was conveniently placed high in the south. My initial impression was that the seeing was pretty good (I later learned it was not too good). I could clearly see two moons close in to the ring system, and Cassini's Division was no problem. I could see a distinct cloud belt on the planet as well. The seeing was good for a few seconds every so often, but then the planet would become so fuzzy that it was as if it was totally unfocused! The best view was at about 93x (with a Celestron 30mm Ultima eyepiece). I had an Orion Skyglow light pollution filter in the path (it does nicely on helping to increase contrast and dimming some of the excess light).

While I was observing Saturn, a cloud bank rolled in. The clouds were a pain at best. There was also a lot of low level ground fog moving in and about the area. For the rest of the night (morning) I had to work around these clouds.

I looked for galaxy NGC 697 which is right next to 1 Aries. I found the galaxy without trouble... it was pretty bright and small, with more or less even light distribution. However, I also spotted two other galaxies (and a possible third suspicious object) south of 1 Aries. Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000 lists no other galaxies in this vicinity. I checked my Star Traveler program later in the morning, and found that I had located NGC 678 and NGC 680. NGC 678 was the brighter of the two, and appeared brighter to me than 697! NGC 680 was smaller and fainter, but nonetheless visible at 93x (in a dark sky these galaxies would have been obvious in this scope). The "suspicious" object I located I still cannot verify... no software I have lists anything in the position I saw the galaxy in. Have to check this out again under better skies.

I changed my target area to Taurus and Gemini. I took a look for NCG 5147 ( a large supernova-like remnant) but saw nothing (conditions were not too great however). I looked at NCG 1647... it is about as big as M35, but not nearly as rich... maybe 1/10th of the stars of M35. Definitely worth the look however. I also looked at NGC 1817 and NGC 1807. Both of these clusters were no problem in the 11" at 70x. I found NGC 1817 to be the more interesting of the pair. Neither cluster is a "showpiece", but both are worth looking at. While in the area I took a token look at the Crab Nebula... it was very bright at 93x. I have seen better views however. M35 was also nice at 70x... it fills the field of view. NGC 2158 was also very nice. Both of them fit (barely however) in the same 70x field of view in the CG-11. NGC 2158's unresolved haze makes a nice contrast with the star studded glitter of M35. I also looked at IC 2157... this cluster was interesting, but not in the same class as M35 and NGC 2158. I looked at NGC 2266. It was an interesting cluster... fairly small, with one noticeably brighter star (perhaps a foreground star?) surrounded by a number of other fainter stars. This cluster would not be a good choice for scope less than 6 inches (in my estimation)... the stars are pretty faint, probably in the 11th magnitude area and fainter. I looked at NGC 2175; it was visible without issue, but not spectacular.

I also took "token" looks at the following objects: M34, M31 and companions, the Pleiades, M37, M36, and M38. The Auriga clusters were very nice, especially M37.

I decided to set the telescope on a star, have it track until the Sun was up, and then look to see if the star was visible. I had done a pretty decent polar alignment on the scope, so tracking the star at 70x should have been no problem. The star I selected was the northern most star in Orion's belt, 2.5 magnitude SAO 132220. I set the scope on the star and went to bed at about 5:00am. When I came back out at 9am, a quick glance at the scope indicated that the tube had moved considerably. However, when I looked in the eyepiece, nothing was visible (the sky had covered over with a this haze). I then noticed the meter on the battery... down to 5 volts; the damn thing had died! Recommendation: don't ever by a Sears Die Hard battery. This is the second one I've had trouble with. Needless to say I was a bit unhappy, not so much that I wasn't able to see the star in daylight, but at the thought of having to think about shelling out another $70 for a new battery. Despite this problem, it was a decent observing session overall (it did have its share of problems however!).

11 July 97 (Friday), 10:45pm - 1:20am EST

Note: This write-up is "informal" in style...

I took the 11" scope out tonight. Even for this area (Wilbraham) it was a great night, I would say one of the "ten best" of the year. After the Moon went down, I could see the Milky Way from all the way to the "spout" of the Teapot, all the way back to Cass. It was not as good as 20 years ago, but nonetheless good considering the current state of light pollution. Anyway...

The observing was great. I spent quite a bit of time "visiting" old favorites like M11, M57, M22 etc. I looked at M17 (swan nebula) for a long time... the swan shape was blatantly obvious. A fair amount of detail could be seen at 133x with the Orion Skyglow light pollution filter in place. The Lagoon was fabulous with the Orion Ultrablock nebula filter. The Trifid nebula could be seen as 3 distinct parts. Actually, that whole area has nebulosity that can be seen by randomly sweeping around. M22 was resolved very nicely. Also looked at M56 and resolved it fairly well. I found two globulars on southern Oph that would have probably been invisible in the scopes we used in 1975 (even with the much better skies of then). One place I spent a lot of time looking was that big "cloud" of Milky Way patch in Sag (typically called M24 I think). In the 11", the cloud is magnificent... it's loaded with stars, and there are several clusters within the cloud. One looks very cool... it's basically a mostly unresolved haze against the background of glittering stars from the main cloud. There are also several other smaller open clusters within the patch. I spent about 15 minutes just poking around this cloud! I imagined that this must be approximately what one of the Magellenic clouds must look like in a scope. A very cool place to sweep around.

I also tried a new accessory. I bought a "straight through" adapter for my 2" eyepieces. Basically, the diagonal is removed from the light path for better images (but overhead viewing is very uncomfortable). The scope is high enough so that sitting in a lawn chair allows a good deal of sky to be easily swept in this manner. I did just that, randomly sweeping up and down the Milky Way. I was amazed at how many objects I ran into. Globulars in Aquila, open clusters, double stars, asterisms, and patches of nebulosity and dark nebulas. I wasn't paying any attention to identifying what I had spotted, was just "fishing". Was a very rewarding chunk of observing... must have spotted a dozen or so cool objects. I by chance came across one of the cool planetaries in Aquila that looks like a soap bubble. Very cool. I looked at M27 for a while with high power (181x). It was extremely cool. The central star (at least I think it was the central star, was very close to the center of the nebula) was visible. Upon careful inspection I counted about a dozen other stars shining through the nebula. At 70x that nebula is B-R-I-G-H-T! A TOTAL beacon! I looked at M57 also, was very cool (but still no central star).

I found that the straight through method yielded very good star images. I had used this procedure to observe Saturn a few years back (the old accessory I have was only for 1 1/4 inch eyepieces), and I had my best views ever of Saturn at that time. One other cool thing I like to do now (even though it is not considered a "normal" thing to observe) is to look at 1st magnitude stars. They are VERY, VERY bright in the scope! Vega is made to look like a streetlight literally. It will project an image onto your hand even 6 inches back from the eyepiece. Tonight the seeing was very good, and the star images were very nice round discs (small discs, but discs, not points). Vega is extremely bright at 70 x in the 11", and it is cool to see how many stars you can see right close to it. To me, Vega seems to have what I would guess is about a 12 or 13th magnitude companion (but I could be off quite a bit since I'm not used to judging stars with a spotlight sitting next to it) at roughly a minute of arc away. I think it would be a cool thing for Sky and Telescope readers to try... draw the star field around Vega with various scopes to see what can be seen. It might be a good way to come up with a "test of contrast" for scopes of equal size.

The big surprise of the night was near the end of my session: Jupiter. The seeing was at times extremely good (for a second or so at a time every few seconds). I have to say that the views of Jupiter at 131x were the best I ever remember seeing through any scope. I had the Orion Skyglow light pollution filter in the path (it has a cool side effect of helping with planetary contrast). The belt structure on Jupiter (during the moments of steady seeing) was extremely cool. There were knotty patches and tendrils of nebulosity visible in the two main belts. There were several other smaller belts visible. They had a "ragged" appearance at their edges. The Moons were small discs! The views were so good that I stayed out another 20 minutes or so just looking at Jupiter. It was a view that I will remember.

26 May 97 (Monday), 10:00pm - 12:00am EST

Tonight I observed from Wilbraham with the 11" scope. It was very clear all day; the air was dry, the dew point low. A decent night even for light pollution affected Wilbraham. Naked Eye limiting magnitude was about 5.5 in the "good" areas. Tonight I concentrated on galaxies. Observation notes follow:

Overall a very good observing session. The weather was chilly, about 40 degrees. Had no major problems with the chill; had on two sweatshirts. The seeing was not great. Izar was easily resolved but not great looking. I took a quick look at Mars but the seeing made the view poor.

24 May 97 (Saturday), 9:30pm - 10:15pm EST

Tonight I observed from Wilbraham, MA. My target was a group of galaxies in Leo that I wanted to check out (previous observations with smaller telescopes left some confusion). The limiting magnitude was about 4.5 in the Leo area... not a great night. My session was cut short by clouds. The fat Moon would have ended the session anyway at about 10:30pm. Observations follow:

NOTE: I made a sketch of the area I concentrated on tonight that can serve as a finder chart for the galaxies I observed tonight.

The weather tonight was very mild, about 55 degrees. A gentle breeze was present at the beginning of my session, but kicked up enough to blow atlas pages all over the place by 10:00pm. Clouds blanketed from the west at about 10:15, ending the session. No bugs were present! The visibility was not too good... in the Leo area the limiting NE magnitude was about 4.5, pretty bad. In the "good" direction it was more like 5+. Wilbraham used to be a decent place for observing (with fairly dark skies) 20 years ago, but now is good only for "general" looking around. Serious deep sky work can no longer be performed from Wilbraham (unfortunately). When the clouds covered the area, I did not require any extra light to break down my scope and pack all accessories away. The reflected light off the cloud bottoms (from Springfield MA) was more than adequate for me to see without major trouble...

23 March 97 (Sunday), 7:00pm - 11:30pm EST

Tonight I photographed Comet Hale-Bopp and observed and photographed the partial Lunar eclipse from my house in Oakdale, CT USA. I took the following photos of Hale-Bopp (on film # 6, Kodak Royal Gold 1000, loaded in Canon SLR):

Hale-Bopp was easily visible despite bright Moonlight.

I also observed the partial Lunar eclipse tonight. I used my Tasco 2.4" refractor (700mm F11.7) for photographing the eclipse. The 700mm focal length of the Tasco scope frames up the Moon nicely. I used a Pentax K1000 camera loaded with Kodak Royal Gold 400 film. Exposures were as follows:

  1. 1/1000 sec, 10:00pm
  2. 1/500 sec, 10:00pm
  3. 1/1000 sec, 10:20pm
  4. 1/500 sec, 10:20pm
  5. 1/1000 sec, 10:35pm
  6. 1/500 sec, 10:35pm
  7. 1/250 sec, 10:35pm
  8. 1/500 sec, 10:50pm (shooting through light clouds)
  9. 1/500 sec, 11:05pm
  10. 1/250 sec, 11:05pm
  11. 1/125 sec, 11:05pm
  12. 1/250 sec, 11:21pm
  13. 1/125 sec, 11:21pm
  14. 1/60 sec, 11:21pm

Despite predictions for clear weather, a "mysterious" cloud bank rolled in as the eclipse was progressing (figures...). I had to shoot through clouds for some of the exposures.

I also had other problems tonight. I left the counterweight for my 2.4" equatorial mount in another state. I tried a counterweight from my Celestron scope, but it was far too heavy. I had to improvise using 3 cans of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. I strapped three cans together with a dozen rubber bands and slid the assembly (friction fit) onto the declination shaft... this worked out quite well! (Good thing no one saw me using this contraption however!).

The eclipse was very interesting to watch. I wasn't too mad about the clouds (even though they cleared off after the eclipse was over) since I have seen a number of lunar eclipses. The clouds "peaked" about the time of maximum eclipse (figures again). They dark sky with a full Moon in it looks quite cool.

15/16 March 1997 (Sat/Sun), 9:00pm - 5:30am

Tonight I drove out to Blanford, MA USA (a dark sky site) for observing and photographing Hale-Bopp and other objects. Hale- Bopp related observations are covered in my Hale-Bopp observations page.

While I was waiting for the 1stQ Moon to set, I gave a tour of the sky to relatives and friends. Despite the moonlight the views were quite good (especially of the Moon itself).

After the Moon went down (about 12:45pm), I began serious observations and photography. The objects I looked at are as follows:

I also took a number of deep sky photographs while waiting for Hale-Bopp to come up (all photos on Kodak Royal Gold 1000 film):

The wind was causing some problems with photography this morning. It was fairly calm most of the time, but every so often a strong burst would come through and wipe out a photo.

Tonight's observing session was very successful and enjoyable. Outstanding views of numerous galaxies was had under the dark skies of Blanford. Hale-Bopp was absolutely beautiful despite its lower and lower altitude in the morning.

Temperature: 10 deg F; Wind: periodic strong bursts; seeing: good.

07 March 1997 (Friday), 9:30pm - 2:00am EST

This evening I observed and photographed objects from Wilbraham, MA USA. The sky was quite clear, limiting magnitude about 5.5 in the "good" parts of the sky. Clouds were predicted for late in the evening; I stayed out until they rolled in (about 2:10am).

Tonight I did mostly photography, however in between shots I looked at a bunch of objects. All photos were taken either through or piggyback guided on a Celestron CG-11. Below is a listing of photography:

I also observed the following objects in between photographs


I was hoping the sky would hold off clouding over until sunrise so I could see Hale Bopp. However, clouds rolled in abruptly at 2:10am. By 2:45 when I was getting into bed, I took one last look out a north facing window. I spotted something (through thin cloud cover) quite bright on the horizon: Hale Bopp.

Temperature: 20 degrees F. Wind: none. Visibility: good for the area; M44 visible to the naked eye, typical 5.5 limiting magnitude away from the light pollution areas (Springfield and Palmer MA, west and northeast).

26 October 1995, 7:00pm - 8:20pm

Tonight I observed from my backyard in Oakdale CT using the Meade 4500. Looked at a variety of objects, the seeing was excellent. Observations follow:

17 October 1995

Observed tonight for the first time using the Orion Ultrablock filter (using the CG-11 scope). Works excellent on Veil Nebula, the Ring Nebula, and Dumbell Nebula. Also nice on North American Nebula. The filter darkens the sky background a lot - not good for stars. Makes an 11" scope about equal to a 6" scope (without a filter) as far as stellar limiting magnitude is concerned. Also found the M31 Globular Cluster (see p68 in November Sky and Telescope)... saw it in the 11" scope with ease. The same object was difficult when the Ultrablock filter was used. Not too hard to find. Cool!

28 September 1995

Tonight I observed from my backyard in Oakdale, CT using the 11" scope. The seeing was fair, and the sky clarity was good. Observations follow:

27 September 1995, 8:30pm

Tonight I observed from Oakdale, CT (front yard) using the Celestron CG-11 scope. While looking at NGC 6703 ( a galaxy in Lyra), I spotted an "uncharted" fuzzy spot nearby... Comet? Just in case I made a sketch of the area. Comet?... no such luck. Later that night I checked the NGC catalog. The object I saw was almost certainly NGC 6702, a 14.0 magnitude "pretty faint" galaxy. The bad news? No comet. The good news? Spotted another object too faint for the charts!

30 August 1995 (Wednesday)

Tonight I observed using the Meade 4500 4.5" reflector from my front yard (at the end of the driveway for a good deep south view). Observations follow:

Overall, this observation session was a decent follow up to the observations with the CG-11 on Monday night. Looked at a lot of the same objects as a comparison with the 11". The Meade 4500 is a nice scope to sweep around with at 58x! isibility was good to excellent; seeing was "OK", and bugs were not a problem.

14 May 86 (Wednesday)

Observed from Wilbraham, MA USA. Saw Haley's Comet in Crater-Hydra with the Astroscan at about 9:00 pm tonight. Was fairly easy to find by random scanning in the general vicinity. I'd say it was mag 7, and, to my surprise, a small tail was visible. The view was much better than through binoculars from Norwich CT a few nights back. There were several 7 - 8 magnitude stars in the field, overall a nice view. No chance of naked eye visibility however. Probably will be the last good view of it I will see, since the Moon is soon to interfere.

I have viewed Haley many times, which are not all documented. One such good sighting was the morning of 22 March 86; Haley hung low in Sagittarius. I took several photos of it, which have yet to be developed. I drove out to South Glendale Rd to see it. Was readily visible in binoculars, and to my recollection, faintly visible to the naked eye. The fat waning crescent Moon was on the western horizon, causing enough skyglow to still affect observing. However, it was worth the trip to see the comet. Must have been quite a view from the southern hemisphere.

11 May 86 (Sunday)

Observed from Norwich, CT USA tonight. Saw Haley's Comet in Northwest Crater with 7x50 binoculars; I'd say about magnitude 7. It is dimming fast, a ghost of what it was in California.

14 April 86 (Monday), from Mt. Palomar

Monday evening. Drove up to Mt. Palomar (from San Diego where I was staying on business) to observe Haley. It was immediately visible to my unadjusted eyes as a blurry patch. 7x35 binoculars instantly verified it as Haley, and also instantly verified omega Centauri, globular cluster (my first sighting of it!). As eyes became adjusted, the comet was very obvious, and showed a faint tail about 3 degrees long, pointing up at about 10:30 when the comet was on meridian. Many people showed up over the course of the evening. None were able to find Haley without assistance (from me). Several had 60x700 scopes. Was able to sight it in them, but the view was unspectacular due to the high power narrow field. The Astroscan 2001 (mine) by far had the best view. I also looked at omega Centauri at 44x in the Astroscan 2001. Shot 2 rolls of film, primarily on Haley, Ektachrome 400 and Tri-X. Mostly 30, 60, 90 and 120 second exposures with 50mm F2.0 and 135mm F2.5 lenses. Most people were quite satisfied with the view in the 2001 and with binoculars. Also showed objects such as M13, M5, Alpha Libra, M44, Omega Centauri, M4 and Mel 111. My view of Haley was by far the best yet (that I have seen); as the night progressed and vision adjusted the tail became fairly obvious. The comet was a decent sight hanging low in the southern sky. Omega Centauri was easily visible to the naked eye also. The weather was predicted to be cloudy, but for the most part it was quite clear. The overall visibility in the northeast was much better than I remember seeing in western Mass. There were a tremendous number of stars visible there (Mt. Palomar). As the Milky Way was rising, it was plainly obvious that it was much better than I've ever seen from home. We left the area at about 1:30am PST, when most people had dissipated. While I was observing Haley, the radio was broadcasting news about the US bombing of Libya earlier that day.

3 Dec 1985, 7:40pm - 8:30pm EST

Drove out to Salem, CT USA tonight to see Haley in a dark sky. The sky out there is far superior to Groton, and is as good or better than Wilbraham in most areas. Haley was plainly visible in binoculars, close to a bright star (mag 6.5 or 7). I think I saw it with the naked eye, but the close star in proximity to the comet made a tricky situation. In the Astroscan, the comet was easily visible and bright, and seems to be slightly oblong - perhaps the start of a tail? Took several shots on Ektachrome 400 with the 135mm F2.5 lens, 50mm F2,and 28mm F2.8. Most were 60 seconds or so; many cars came by, complicating the issue. Overall, the sky out in Salem is very good. The Milky Way through Perseus, Cassiopeia, Cepheus and Cygnus was outstanding. In the 2001, the Andromeda system was stunning. Also, saw NGC 253, 288, M45, Double Cluster, M37 and M33. M33 was as bright as I can remember. It was dimly visible to the naked eye. The comet is not at all obvious to the naked eye... if you didn't know where to look, you wouldn't see it. Takes about a half hour to drive out to Salem, but the sky is so much better than what I'm used to. Temperature 25 degrees (COLD!); wind: moderate; bugs: none; dew: none; cars: 1 every minute or so.

2 Dec 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), starting at 6:30pm EST. Haley's comet is now an easy binocular (7x35's) object in Central Pisces. It was immediately visible. It was also easily visible in a 6x30 finderscope. In the 6" Dynascope, it is very bright, like M13, almost like M31. Has a faint stellar center. A good view was had at 30x (40mm Meade EWF MA) and at 78x(15.5mm Meade Erfle). The comet was close to 58 Psc and provided good contrast. Took 2 photos (unguided) on 400 speed Ektachrome with 135mm F2.5 lens. Exposure time around 1 minute. A large amount of interference was around... two bright spotlights were scanning the sky and ruined opportunity for serious photography. Also, the wind was very heavy in bursts. The comet is approaching naked eye visibility here in Groton, and would be visible (to the naked eye) under a dark country sky I would suspect. It was dramatically brighter than my last observation.

18 Nov 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), from 8:30pm EST to 10:00pm EST. Observed Haley and many other objects tonight. Had the 6" Dynascope, the Astoscan, and 7x35's. Jay and Bob (neighbors in the apartment complex) came over also. Haley was very bright and interesting tonight. Best view was at about 48x (25mm Ramsden) in the 6". It was near a bright star and visual movement of Haley could be detected over the course of the observing session. Good views were also to be had at 78x (15.5mm Meade Erfle) in the 6", and it was OK at 200x (6mm Meade MA). The Astroscan also gave good views. In 7x35's it was "tricky", being so close to a magnitude 6 star. Haley is still a binocular object.

17 Nov 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), starting at 9:15pm. Observed Haley tonight with the Astroscan 2001 and 7x35 binoculars. It is easy to see in 7x35's; not as bright as M31, but a rival for M22 or M13. In the 2001, it appeared to have a stellar center; did not boost the power to investigate further. Haley is now plainly obvious in the Astroscan, and is easy in binoculars. Could not detect it with the naked eye. The visibility (of the sky) tonight is OK, but nothing too great. Took 2 135mm unguided photos; 1 minute and 30 seconds. Clouds then entered the area. Haley is now bright enough so that non- astronomers should be able to see it in 8x50 binoculars. Clouds moved in at 9:30, ending useful observations. In a few more nights there will be Moonless viewing.

15 Nov 1985

Observing from Wilbraham, MA USA (light pollution not too bad), starting at 9:00pm. Viewed Haley through a terrible film of Cirrus clouds... it was visible, but that was all you could say about it. Showed my brother Jim and my friend Alan.

14 Nov 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), starting at 5:30am. Haley's Comet visible in the Astroscan 2001, although a poor view through heavy haze and high clouds. Could not find it in 7x35 binoculars. Not far from the Pleiades.

22 Oct 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), starting at 4:30am. Used the 6" Dynascope this morning. Unquestionably sighted Haley at 77x in the 6" (using Meade 15.5mm Erfle eyepiece). The comet was dramatically brighter than on the morning of the 12th. In fact, I saw something highly suspicious using the 40mm Meade MA EWF (30x) eyepiece while lining up on the general area. Increase of magnification immediately confirmed the sighting. The comet now looks like a typical galaxy, perhaps similar to a smaller dimmer Virgo cluster galaxy. The comet was generally immediately visible when looking in the eyepiece. Much brighter than the previous session, where I was fairly sure I saw it. I still have to go back and check the area for the suspect object I saw (to definitely confirm it was/was not Haley).

12 Oct 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), in the hours before sunup. Drew a diagram of the field where Haley was tonight. Pretty sure I got it, will confirm by checking next time. It is small and dim, generally requires averted vision in the 6" at 136x and 77x (9mm ASP and 15.5mm Meade Erfle). Pretty easy to find the general location of the area.

11 Oct 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution),about 4:00am EDT. Had 15 minutes of dark time with the 6" Dynascope... tried to locate Haley... NO LUCK! Twilight was setting in.

8 October 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), from 4:10am EDT - 4:50am EDT. Looked again for Haley this morning with the 6" Dynascope. Was one day before the "window of opportunity" starts, however the Moon was fairly far out of the way. Despite fairly clear skies, I am still not sure I saw Haley! If this comet is really magnitude 9 or 10, it must be very small or the magnitude estimates are off. I could see all the faintest stars on the chart on page 326 of Oct 85 Sky and Telescope. Can't understand how this comet still eludes me!!!

14 Sep 1985

Observing from Groton CT USA (bad light pollution), from 4:00am EDT - 5:00am EDT. Unquestionably located the exact area where Haley should be. Scrutinized the area at 136x (9mm ASP in a 6" F8 Dynascope); may have glimpsed it, but by no means a confirmed sighting. Had I not known exactly where to look, I wouldn't have seen anything. I can see most of the stars shown on the chart on page 222 of the Sep 85 Sky and Telescope. Tried all powers on the field: 36mm, 25mm, 18mm, 9mm. 9mm Nagler was the best view. Also checked the area with an Astroscan 2001.

22 April 1975, 3:30am - 5:00am EST

This morning I observed from Wilbraham with the Tasco 2.4" scope and 8x50 binoculars. Observations follow:

Seeing conditions - good. Weather - really clear. Very successful star watch.

17 April 1975, 9:30pm - 10:30pm EST

Tonight I observed from Wilbraham with the Tasco 2.4" scope. Observations follow:

All double stars closer than 6 arc sec unresolvable. Seeing conditions: very bad. Weather: Fair.

4 March 1975, 8:30pm - 9:30pm EST

Tonight I observed from Wilbraham with the Tasco 2.4" scope and 8x50 binoculars. Observations follow:

Weather - clear. Seeing conditions - good.

1 March 1975, 9:15pm - 10:00pm EST

Tonight I observed from Wilbraham with the Tasco 2.4" scope and 8x50 binoculars. Observations follow:

Weather: clear. Seeing conditions: good.

27 Feb 1975 (Thursday), 9:00pm - 10:00pm EST

NOTE: Below is my earliest surviving observation record, made when I was 14 years old. Observation location was Wilbraham, MA USA. I used a Tasco 2.4" telescope (with the trash eyepieces that came with it) and decent 8x50 binoculars.

Weather: Clear. Seeing Conditions: Fair.

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