Cygnus, Lyra, and Andromeda with the TV-85 (1st Session)
After torrential thundershowers all night Friday and into Saturday afternoon (and miserable hot and humid weather in general most of the week), a cool front moved in this evening. Waywayanda Clear Sky Clock showed some promise so I took the '85 out back. No cloud cover, seeing average but still best it's been all month. Although very humid, the dew heater worked like a charm, letting me stay out until after 0530 (1:30 am local). Waxing Crescent Moon already low and not a factor, Milky Way in Cygnus bright and very apparent, first time in a while I've seen that. M31 also visible naked-eye later in the session.
Got to try out some new gear:
Thousand Oaks Digital Dew Heater - How did I live without this for so long? Bought the control box and heating bands for both the '85 and N8GPS (and also an Astrozap Dew Shield for the 8, not used yet).
Tele Vue StarBeam - Actually had this for a week, tried it out a couple of nights between thunder showers. Getting the hang of it, although it can be difficult to see target object. Best method I've found is to find the dot below target, then keep it in peripheral view while locating target, then slowly move the dot to target. Probably needs a dew band.
...and the new tackle box I bought at Wal-Mart this afternoon, which is nearly perfect - one removable tray fits all my optics except the MaxView 40 and TV barlow, another tray for the dew heater and tools, and a nice upper compartment for bigger stuff like power supply for N8GPS, vibration pads, Telrad, MaxView, etc. The box was supposed to come with one large (tall) tray and two small (short) ones, but I shamelessly swapped the two small trays for a second large one from another box on the shelf. Good thing, because I doubt anything but my color filters would have fit in the short ones. Sorry, Wal-Mart, but I have my needs...
Setup complete around 0200 (10pm local). Linda went to bed so all house lights were off early, and only one neighbor felt it necessary to leave the flood lights on. Stuck with the 8-24 TV zoom and the MaxView 40. Ring Nebula was small but crisp donut at 8mm, but barely distinguishable from a star at 24mm.
Albireo was very sharp @ 8mm. Beta Lyre easily split, stumbled upon while looking for M27. Forgot to try to split the Double-Double in Lyra. Doh!
Could not see any nebulosity around Deneb (N. American, Pelican), even with eyes fully dark adapted.
After midnight local Great Square of Pegasus was in full view with Andromeda and M31 just poking clear of trees. TV Zoom at 24mm and MaxView 40mm both showed good amount of central bulge and neighboring galaxy (unsure which one, probably M32, need to check the charts).
Tried the TV 32mm PlÃ¶ssl at the end of the session, think I like it better than the MaxView. Maybe I will eBay the MaxView and pick up a 55mm wide field ep from Orion. Already have the entire Vixen Super Wide collection in my Astronomics wish list, just waiting for finances to straighten out before pulling the trigger on those and also some Losmandy dovetail and counterweight gear for piggybacking the '85 on the N8GPS.
After breakdown, I went back out for another look naked-eye. Cassiopeia was rising above north tree, and Pleiades moving into view down in the northeast.
All told, an enjoyable night alone with the stars.