Tonight, I set out to go to a dark site alone at the Long Sault Conservation Area in Clarington, Ontario. I was there scouting the area last night. I brought my gear with me, but it was too cloudy last night. Tonight, was humid with patches of fog, and below average seeing, but the center of the sky was clear enough.
I left 30 minutes after sunset and the site was 20 minutes away, so by the time I was setting up my equipment, it was almost pitch black.
Milky Way Galaxy: I looked up at the sky and found that there was haze near the horizon. And then, what I thought was a strip of haze across the middle of the sky… was actually the Milky Way. Wow! This was the first time I have laid eyes on it! It was spectacular! There were so many stars, I was disoriented at first and didn’t know where the constellations were.
This was my chance to see if I needed to upgrade my telescope! So I aimed my Telrad at the spot where I knew M13 was supposed to be, looked into my eyepiece and… BAM! There it was! I couldn’t believe it! It was a dark circular patch of dim stars!
M13: Out goes my sketching kit and I started sketching away. As the sketching session wore on, my observation skills improved. I started using averted vision and I noticed more fainter stars that ended up in my sketch. I have attached my first sketch of M13.
M31: After that, I aimed at M31 and BAM! There it was: the Andromeda Galaxy and off to the left is what looks like a smaller faint object. But my goal tonight was to sketch M13 only so I just observed it.
So in the end, I really did “upgrade” my telescope just by driving 20 minutes away. This is my most successful outing so far and it wasn’t even a good seeing night. I am really enjoying hunting and sketching. Clear skies!