I was at Area 51 (our Dark Site) tonight with my C11S-GT. I observed for 4 1/2-hours (from 8:45PM until 1:15AM). Tonight was very clear and the transparency was very good. The seeing was below average, around a 4.
Manuel was imaging with his Meade 12” LX200GPS and Fred also showed up but he did not set-up his scope as it was cloudy when we got there and he was not sure if it would clear up. It did clear up by 8:30 to 9:00PM and the night was terrific. It was in the low 60s and there was no dew!! My scope did not get any dew all night. A rare occurrence for South Florida.
I started off with Saturn which looked okay but nothing great due to the seeing. Jupiter also looked decent but not spectacular. By 11:30PM, the Great Red Spot was right in the center of the SEB. In moments of good seeing, quite a bit of detail in the bands of Jupiter was visible. I also split Castor.
I viewed the following Messier Objects tonight: M1, M3, M4, M5, M6, M7, M13, M35, M36, M37, M38, M41, M42, M43, M46, M47, M48, M50, M51, M57, M65, M66, M80, M81, M82, M93, M95, M96, and M104.
Some of the highlights from tonight were: I saw the spiral arms in M51. They were fairly easy to follow at 100x (28mm Meade Super Wide Angle). I also saw M35 along with NGC 2158 which is a very pretty open cluster within M35. The galaxies M65, M66, and NGC 3628 were all visible in the same FOV of my 41mm Panoptic at 68x as were M81 & M82. The dust lane in M104 (Sombrero galaxy) was easily visible. NGC 4565 is a beautiful, large galaxy. I spent quite a bit of time comparing M3, M5, M13, and M92. As of now, I would rank them as follows in overall impact: M13, M5, M3, and M92. I also spent a lot of time on C80 (Omega Centauri) and this large globular cluster is always a fabulous site filling the FOV of any eyepiece with stars. C77 (Centaurus A galaxy) was split down the middle. I finished the night with naked eye views of 3-stars in the constellation Crux and a view of the star, Alpha Centauri, skirting just above the southern horizon. The summer Milky Way was high in the sky when we called it a night.