Category Archives: Herschel

Second night with the Z12

Little Dumbbell

My planned highlight for Sunday night’s chilly adventure was the Crab Nebula, but, though it was nice, it was not much improved over what is visible with the 8″.  The highlight of the night, as it turned out, was the Little Dumbbell Nebula. While it is less impressive in what it is (when compared to the Crab), it was a bit more interesting to look at! While the Crab presents a fairly large object in the eyepiece it is mostly just a nebulous cloud with no structure. I have read that with scopes of 16″ structure and detail begin to emerge but at 12″ it’s still just a gas cloud. The Little Dumbbell presents a nice object with a very interesting, much more compact and defined shape.

There were several nice open clusters in the constellation Monocerus and a whole slew of galaxies in Leo. 14 objects knocked off my Herschel 400 list plus just for fun looks at Andromeda, Jupiter and the Orion Nebula. Almost 7 hours, 21 degrees when I came inside and started a fire at 2am! A great night!

The Herschel 400

I’ve viewed 100 of 400 Herschel objects! For those that may not know, Herschel was an astronomer who cataloged several thousand objects in the universe. A fun way of learning the night sky is to work through a variety of such lists of objects. This is my second list to work on, the first being the 110 Messier objects. So, I’ve viewed 100 in about 9 days of viewing, I’m thinking I should have most of it done within the next month. What is great about these objects is that many of them are very faint (due to their distance from us, tens of millions of light years) and can be very challenging to find even if you are looking right at them.