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!