Observing Reports

The intent of this page is to encourage observers to go out to hunt these obscure and off the beaten path objects.  I do observe a few bright NGCs from time to time, I purposely leave them out as I wanted to focus on the more obscure objects.  Most of these objects are from my observing guides.  I encourage you to go to my Downloadable Observing Guides link on the left and go for it.    

"So give it a go and let me know!"
  I would love to hear them.

Dates without links are still in progress.  I'll get to them when I have time.  

Consolidated Shakhbazian Group Observing Notes - here

June 15, 2018 - First time doing some "serious" observing in several years.  Working my way back to the observing fold as time allows.  Went to Blue Canyon with about 7 other observers/imagers.  NELM = 6.5.  I was so far out of practice, I forgot many things, but fortunately I brought my paper copy of the VV catalogue.  Good to be out again.

July 22, 2017 - Andromeda's Parachute - newly discovered quad gravitationally lensed quasar

August 23, 2014 - Blue Canyon with average skies.  NELM = 6.5.  Looked at 8 VV objects.

June 29, 2014 - Shot Rock with two observers.  Below average skies, NELM = 6.8.  Observed about two dozen VV objects and several ring galaxies.

June 22, 2014 - Blue Canyon with about 30 other astronomers and observed about two dozen VV objects.  Typlcal skies, about NELM 6.5

May 31, 2014 - Blue Canyon with about 20 others.  Someone passed out and we had emergency vehicles to pick the guy up.  He is fine, just dehydrated.  Observed half dozen galaxy trios.

April 19, 2014 - Blue Canyon with several observing buddies.  Looked at about a dozen flat galaxies then headed back down the hill.

January 25, 2014 - Rare clear winter night at snow free Blue Canyon in the Sierras. 

October 27, 2013 - Blue Canyon with several close observing buddies and about a dozen others on the field.   Hit half dozen VV objects plus 7 small galaxy groups of varying difficulties.

October 5, 2013 - Finally got back out after some health issues.  They are behind me.  Observed at Shot Rock under NELM 6.8 to 7.0 skies.  Some trios and seven VV objects.

July 5 to 7, 2013 - Golden State Star Party

June 8, 2013 - My original plans to observe at Shot Rock was derailed due to some changes at home.  So I headed up to Blue Canyon and didn't arrive until after sunset.  There were about 30 others there.  Observed about 10 objects from my new VV catalogue of interacting galaxies.

June 1, 2013 - Went up to Blue Canyon with three others.  By surprise no one else was there to take advantage of one of the best nights at Blue Canyon in recent history.  Observed about a dozen new galaxy trios.

April 13, 2013 - Many folks showed up at Blue Canyon for an average night of observing, but a short one.  I managed to get four new trios.

February 9, 2013 - About 10 of us met at a site near Nevada City (2512 feet).  The skies are not too bad especially that sites near home during the winder are slim pickings.  I live right on the western slope of the Sierras, so once I head due east...in just 40 minutes I'm already in the snow and the sky glow is still pretty bad.  So this site is NE by 1:15 distance from home.  A neighbor about 200 yards away turned the lights on about 2 hours into the night, pretty much ruined the rest of the night.  Observed 4 new trios and some old favorites.

October 13, 2012 - Five of us met at Shot Rock with telescopes ranging from 10" to 22".  At sunset the skies had a lot of high clouds, but we knew that it was just passing by.  As darkness took full effect, the skies started to open up to a decent NELM 7.0 - 7.1 skies.  It did start to deteriorate a bit down to NELM 6.8 at about 11PM.  Not bad and I went until about 1AM and left as I need to be somewhere the following morning.

October 6, 2012 - Two of us went to Blue Canyon for a short but great night.  NELM was typically at 6.5 at Ursa Minor, but about 6.7 from zenith to about 50
, then it deteriorates to about mag 5.0 at 15 degrees above the horizon, more notably at the south and southeast.  Observed a bunch of galaxy trios.

September 15, 2012 - Two of us went to Shot Rock for some quality observing under NELM 7.0 to 7.2 skies until about 1:30AM.  Observed many trios, several small galaxy groups and the Little Blue Fox for the second time.

September 8, 2012 - Arrived at Blue Canyon for this third quarter moon weekend with my neighbor's friends.  This couple is a young couple, he has an engineering doctorate.  Very quick to pick stuff up from me.  This is his first time in dark skies and first ever time looking through a telescope.  I spent the entire night showing them showpiece objects, then as the evening winded down, challenged him to star hop to M-15 using the Sky Spot Telrad finder charts.  He managed to find it in about 5 minutes.  Then we looked at NGC 383 small galaxy group.  I liked the fact that he was using my laptop with the labelled DSS image of the NGC 383 field and comparing the galaxies with the eyepiece field.  I told him to hopping around and try and fish out as many galaxies in the field as he could.  He saw at last a dozen galaxies.  Pretty good for a first time observer.   There is no OR linked to this date.

August 18, 2012 - Arrived at Blue Canyon for the SVAS Star-B-Que.  There were about 150-200 folks out here.  The skies were not so hot, but decent.  We were all socked in by clouds in less than an hour after darkness.  NELM was about 6.2.  I did manage to observe a couple trios before we lost it.

August 11, 2012 - Arrived at Blue Canyon to about 20 folks.  The skies were average for this site at about 6.5.  Observed 8 trios. 

July 21, 2012 - Nice short observing session at Shot Rock, but I was tired as heck when I arrived.   Observed about six trios, some were pretty tough and definitely obscure.  I was done after these six especially that I fell off the ladder during one of the observation due to fatigue.  The skies were average for this site, NELM is about 7.0 with average seeing.

May 19, 2012 - Observing session at Blue Canyon.  The skies were above average, starting at NELM 6.9 at the beginning of the night, but it dropped to 6.5 starting at about 1AM.  The seeing was incredibly steady early on, but deteriorated to average.  I've observed some flat galaxies and galaxy trios.  Saturn was amazing with my 4mm Zeiss ZAO-II coupled with a TMB 1.8x ED barlow.  Yes, I do look at planets, but with big reflectors, no dinky 6" apos here...yes, I do have one, a Takahashi TOA-150S, but don't use it at all.  In fact, the last time I used it was several years ago.

May 12, 2012 - Observing session under some of the best skies
at Blue Canyon in recent memory.  It started out as 6.5 to 6.8 with very steady seeing.  The skies really opened up at about 11:30 PM to about 7.0 mag.  The Cygnus Milky Way was very sugary.  I've focused on galaxy trios.

April 15-21, 2012 - I've spent a week at my friend's home with his 48" f/4 reflector.  One night was spent on the ranch for the Texas Star Party.  I've also given a short talk on Observing Obscure Objects...which the slides are available here.  Update:  I'm now adding them.
April 16, 2012 - This OR contains some Hickson Compact Galaxy Groups observed with my friend's 48" reflector located at Fort Davis, TX.
April 2012 (Arp Peculiar Galaxies) - This link will cover some Arp Peculiar Galaxies observed with the 48".
April 2012 (Shakhbazian Compact Groups of Galaxies) - This link will cover some Shakhbazian Compact Galaxy groups observed with the 48".
April 2012 - This link will cover a bunch of obscure and faint objects observed with the 48" and 36" reflectors.  This list includes objects like Hanny's Voorwerp, a gravitational arc, two extremely low luminosity globular clusters and more.

December 17, 2011 - Rare opportunity to observe in the Sierra's in the winter.  Shot Rock was plenty snowed in, but this Blue Canyon site was still free of snow...so we capitalized on this shot. 

October 28, 2011 at Shot Rock - Took a shot at observing on a Friday night at Shot Rock.  Good conditions, ot optimal, despite the number of controlled burns in the area.  NELM was about 7.0.  Observed a bunch of galaxy trios.

October 22, 2011 at Shot Rock - New moon weekend on the month.  Observed at Shot Rock with five others under 7.1 - 7.2 skies.  Objects include a mix of trios and flat galaxies.

September 30, 2011 at Blue Canyon - Short observing session at HGO under NELM 6.2 to 6.5 skies

September 2 and 3, 2011 at the Oregon Star Party - The skies were average for OSP at NELM 7.2 and 7.5 respectively.   Didn't observe many objects as I spent much of my time talking with others and sharing views.  But I did observe some Hicksons, those which I missed a component or two in my earlier survey back in the early 2000's.  Took a peek at some Abell Galaxy Clusters and a few planetaries.  Also gave a well received talk on Observing Galaxy Groups and Clusters.

August 27, 2011 at Shot Rock - New moon weekend of the month.  Observed under NELM 7.2 skies at Shot Rock.  Objects include a mix of planetaries and Shakhbazian compact galaxy clusters.

July 23, 2011 at IHOP - Third quarter moon cycle of the month.  I browsed around Paul Alsing's site and found several planetary nebulae that I've never observed, so I decided to hit them and got all but one of them.    The last tough object of the evening was the Sweet Pea.  

July 3, 2011 at IHOP - Observed some flat galaxies and a recently discovered planetary nebula, Ethos 1.  This was my first time observing with my 22" at a dark site since November 2, 2010 due to the weather and snow.

April 30 - May 2nd at Fort Davis - About time I got around to completing this observing report.  I've pulled only the highlights on interesting and tough objects.  Contains fairly raw notes.

April 30 - May 3rd, 2011 at Fort Davis - This link is a short photo journal showing that Fort Davis is alive and well after a catastrophic Rock House fire that burned over 310,000 acres in 24+ days.  Observing Report with the 48" reflector will follow after I'm done writing it.  As of July 8, 2011 - still working on it.

November 2, 2010 at Shot Rock - We decided to take the opportunity of great skies in the middle of the week to make an observing run.  This report includes a mix of objects, including dwarf galaxies, flat galaxies, Shakhbazians, planetary nebulae and a protoplanetary.

October 9, 2010 at Shot Rock - new moon weekend at Shot Rock.  This is a new site that we will start using as it is only 10 to 15 minutes further drive than our regular site at IHOP.  Best thing is it is located in the border of blue and grey on the Bortle Light Pollution Map and it is at 7600 feet.  Elevation helps - a lot.

September 11, 2010 at IHOP - new moon weekend at IHOP (Ice House Observation Plateau) at the Sierras.  This site is at 5100 feet and about 1.5 hours east of Sacramento and 30 minutes west of Lake Tahoe.  The skies were average at NELM 6.5 - 6.8.  Seeing was above average.

September 5, 2010 at IHOP - regular weekend at one of TAC-Sac observing site at the Sierras.  The skies were above average at about NELM 6.8 with great transparency to the horizon.  Could see mag 5.5 stars near the horizon.

August 14, 2010 at IHOP - regular new moon weekend under average skies.  NELM was 6.5.  Observations focused on flat galaxies.

August 07, 2010 at IHOP - Evening started totally cloudy, but as we expected, the clouds disappeared within an hour after sunset, but the transparency took a hit.  Focused on flat galaxies.

July 12 and 13,2010 during the last two nights at the Golden State Star Party.

June 12, 2010 at Blue Canyon.  New moon weekend at one of my old stomping grounds at the SVAS dark sky site in the Sierras.  It is just off I80 at 5200 feet.  NELM was at 6.5.  Observations was focused on flat galaxies.

June 5, 2010 at IHOP during 3rd quarter moon, so this was a short night.  NELM was at 6.5.  I focused on flat galaxies.

May 11 and 13 2010 during the week of the Texas Star Party with Jimi Lowrey's 48" f/4.0 reflector.  I'll update this page with observations of the Sweet Pea.

May 10, 2010 at the Texas Star Party.  This report contains notes during my quest for the TSP AO 2010 Observing Pin.  We did it in one night.

April 9, 2010 at Cronan Ranch - We ran into the group Sierra Star Gazers with about 15-20 observers.  The funny thing is that they all left by 9:30PM!!!  Why the heck do they bother to go out if they leave so early???  Anyhow, the skies were average for this site t NELM 5.8 - 6.0.  Spent the entire time observing flat galaxies in preparation for the TSP.

October 18, 2009 at Blue Canyon  Variable Galaxies, Flat Galaxies, Ring Galaxies and  some selections from Wolfgang Stenieke's book, "Galaxies, How to Observe Them""

May 16, 2009 at IHOP - Rose Compact Galaxy Groups.  This link will take you to my Rose Galaxy Catalogue.

October 26, 2008 at Blue Canyon.  Obscure Planetaries.

September 26 - 27, 2008 at CalStar.  Shakhbazian Compact Galaxy Groups and others.

September 26 - 27, 2008 at CalStar.

August 30, 2008 at Plettstone  Obscure Planetaries.

August 2, 2008 at IHOP.  Tough globular clusters and a couple Shakhbazians

Here is what I use for recording my notes over the years.  I print these out on half sheets on both sides, then I bring them to Kinkos to have them coil bound.  Hope that this can be useful for you. 

Observing Reports under construction 
I'll work on previous observing reports as I have time. When they go live on this site, they will be moved to the active section above. 

Any questions, comments or suggestions - email

All observing reports are copyrighted by Alvin Huey.  You an print/use them for personal use only.