Observing Report -- December 14, 201415 Dec 2014
Tonight was a clear night -- but first, it was tree-decorating time. (I admit to being tempted to duck out of decorating the tree, but I relented after, I dunno, no more than 20 minutes of thinking about it. I am a bad person.) I decided to head out to Boundary Bay -- it's clear, it's Sunday, it's winter (astro twilight ends at 18:10, y'all) and I'd just flocked the Meade (both the main tube and the drawtube to the first knife-edge baffle -- man, that makes a difference).
I'd planned to hit M31 then the Cassiopeia clusters, but as Douglas Adams said, the best part of making a plan is ignoring it. Got out at about 7.30, was set up by 7.45 and panning around with the binos by 7.50. Saw a Geminid (hurrah!). Took a quick look at easy Messiers, and they were: M35, M36, M37 and M38 all just popped right out. So for shits and giggles I looked up where M33 should be, and holy hell if I didn't find goddamn M33 with binos right away. Wow! I tried to find it in the scope but was unable -- and rather than get bogged down in that, I gave myself a high-five and carried on.
I moved over to M31, and used a printout to find M110 -- only to realize at home (like, ten minutes before I typed this) that I'd already found it last August, apparently. (I'm giving myself the side-eye as I write that.)
So okay, no new Messier there -- but as long as we're really honest-to-god finding faint Messiers, I found M1 without any real difficulty. Still nothing like Jeremy Perez' sketch, but no question about seeing it this time.
New Messier, though: M77! Spiral galaxy I had not seen before, in Cetus. Relatively simple to find; not much to look at, but great to see.
Took a look at M42 -- first good look of the season, and despite being unable to focus (dew heaters were not working at this point; not sure what went wrong), it actually made me gasp. Amazing, just amazing. Even saw M43 w/averted vision this time.
So after all that -- I'm up to 65 Messiers. Hurrah!