The Las Vegas Astronomical Society, Death Valley, November 2-3rd 2018 Observing Event, Summary and Photos by Guest Host, Fred Rayworth of Las Vegas

Made the 130 mile (126.5 door to door) trip from my house in Las Vegas to Death Valley, this past Friday and went from ~2600 feet, to -189 feet below sea level.

The humidity is about the same from Las Vegas to Death Valley, somewhere in the single digits. Unfortunately, nobody told the upper atmosphere, so we had to deal with high, thin clouds drifting over most of the day.

However, it finally cleared after dark on Friday. I’ll tell you up front, Saturday was a big bust. Not only did the clouds get worse, but when it finally cleared, the winds picked up and made it impossible to view anything.

The other issue was the golf club house. Since it’s acting as the substitute bar, it was lit up like a beacon until 10. Then when they closed down, they still had white security lights reflecting off white walls, which pretty much ruined the northeastern horizon. Oh well…even the Tamarisk trees, which are pretty thick that way, did little to block them. I thought I’d positioned my telescope to block for the most advantage, but the lights were too spread out. To the south, there were some dimmer lights but they didn’t really bother me much.

About 12-15 scopes showed up out of the 20 that signed up, down from the 30 + that usually sign up, despite lots of pre-publicity. We just couldn’t get the crowd out this time. It’s been two years since our last outing due to construction. A couple of people had good reasons, but others? Who knows?

Friday was killer. Since everyone else was showing the usual tourist objects, I concentrated on the Challenge objects.

October’s, the cluster and nebula popped right into view. The cluster was a nice little clump, not so much looking like a coat hangar this time. The LBN nebula was very prominent amongst the two or three stars. However, the non-existent NGC 7133 or whatever it is, was there. It was a halo, a faint glow that extended well away from the LBN. It’s supposedly made up of three IC objects and I could see it plain as day. I never tried an O-III, but a UHC just blanked it all out and only showed a slight hint of the LBN.  Being a reflection nebula, It looked best unfiltered.

I saw all three plus galaxies and a few UGCs as well. I think NGC 147 was quite difficult at first.  NGC 185 was much brighter.  NGC 278  was very bright and compact. Right next to NGC 185, was a tight little UGC galaxy.

The Decembers challenge object, NGC 1003, was dim and flat, if I remember right. It had a couple of UGC and PGC galaxies nearby as well.

I found a few planetaries, open clusters and a bunch of galaxies between Pegasus, Pisces, and especially Fornax, which is blocked from my regular observing location  back in Las Vegas.

I logged over 60 objects total but won’t know the final count for a few days.

It was my desire to go for some more Herschels but most of them were to the northeast and couldn’t look that way because of the golf course clubhouse.

I did take a quick glance at the Horsehead and Flame. I saw the wall and just a hint of the notch unfiltered.’

Thank you, Fred Rayworth





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