West Hawaii Astronomy Club

Andre April 8, 2021 Observation Report

April 8, 2021 on Mauna Kea

After two months of rain, clouds, wind or moonlight, we decided to chance a small clearing on Mauna Kea for star gazing on Thursday.  It was a last-minute decision and we  asked Maureen if she would join us.    

I brought my Starmaster El 11 and the Unistellar.   We met Maureen on Mauna Kea and she came prepared with her binoculars, camera and mobile app to operate the Unistellar.  Initially we had some clouds.  But, about 30 minutes after dark the sky was totally clear, except for clouds on the Southern horizon. 

The first object observed through the Starmaster was the Orion nebula which we had observed all winter long.  This was my first opportunity to try out the Nebustar filter which John had recommended so highly.  John was right. The fine details of the nebula revealed with this filter were very amazing.    As I stepped back, Maureen also viewed the Orion Nebula, as did Anna.  Although fully vaccinated we all wore masks.

The object I really wanted to see was the Eta Carina Nebula since it is best observed from Hawaii in April and May.   But with the clouds still sitting on to the South I turned my attention to M81 (photo on right) and M82. Once the clouds had cleared sufficiently in the South I pointed the Starmaster at Eta Carina and got it in view.   It looked spectacular even though it was low on the horizon.  

Next I pointed the Unistellar at Eta Carina Nebula.  Maureen, Anna and I each observed the nebula on our respective phone apps as more and more red colorful nebula details were revealed.  Maureen decided to try to live stream the view to Cliff in Waikoloa.  It was successful.  Cliff was able to see the nebula live while sitting at home 25 miles away.  The cell phone reception was not good on the mountain, so the Zoom streaming kept breaking up.  But Maureen proved her point.  Live streaming the Unistellar works. 

Next, I turned the Starmaster to what Nexus DSC calls the Mosquito Larvae Galaxies (NGC 4038 and Caldwell 60).  The Unistellar calls it the Antenna Galaxies.  I had never viewed these merging galaxies before …quite beautiful.  We pointed the Unistellar to it to get a photo of it and more detail.  Viewing the two galaxies merging I wondered with their billions of stars and billions of planets what are the chances that they are not teeming with life.

 

Next, I pointed the Starmaster, and then the Unistellar to Omega Centauri, that larger than life globular cluster (see photo).    Then back to Eta Carina which was a bit higher in the sky…oh so beautiful to look at. 

 

Everyone agreed it was getting cold.  So, I quickly pointed the Unistellar to M51 and got a lovely photo of the merging galaxies.  We packed up all the equipment, but I wanted to get one more photo of the Southern Horizon with my Fuji DSLR.  I took the photo of the horizon showing the Eta Carina Nebula and other Southern objects.   It was 44 degrees, and so we ended another memorable night on Mauna Kea.