Quiet fall skies

I haven't been posting a lot lately, largely because a lot of the really quick updates go on Facebook these days. Despite all this, I've been doing a reasonable amount of observing lately. A few weeks ago I had an especially clear night where I could just see the largest dust lane in M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, in the 12.5" scope from the back yard. That was the first time in quite a while I remember doing that.

Last night was nearly as good. It brought a typical November Front Range sky: dark (at least outside of downtown), clear, and really bad seeing (forget about planets or close doubles). Fortunately, with Jupiter pretty much gone and the late fall sky segueing into the brilliant skies of early winter, there was plenty to see even so. M35 and NGC 2158 were beautiful, as usual: NGC 2158 is dim, but rich, and a real treat in the 12.5" even from a suburban location. (Give it a try even in an 8" or 10" scope; you may be pleasantly surprised!) The Big 3 in Auriga (M36, M37, M38) showed up well, and M1, the Crab Nebula, was distinctly more than just a faint oval, even without a filter. I told people I was going to see a few stars, and maybe a galaxy or two, but I ended up seeing four: M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, its two bright satellite galaxies, and the dim but still distinct arc of the late-fall Milky Way passing nearly overhead.