M48 at full moon – – – 28/02/2018

Having posted an image of M46 and M47 recently, the other Messier object nearby that I hadn’t yet imaged was M48. I hadn’t managed to locate this object from the window-sill, probably due to its extended size. So, tonight, I installed the focal reducer on the ST80 and went on an M48 hunt. It is full moon (another “Blue Moon”), so it was hardly ideal for DSO hunting!

Still, this time I found it. So here it is after a bit of processing with GIMP.


Observing – 25/2/18

After a busy weekend and several sessions where I’ve either been trying to take photos or improve my skills at finding objects I thought I’d have a bit of a night off, let the mount do the work, and just enjoy observing a few objects that I’ve been inspired to look at by other reports on this site. The setup for the evening was HEQ5 mount using the Wifi dongle, with the OTA from my 200p Dob (now working well on this mount due to extended counterweight bar- thanks Pete) and mostly with 40, 25 and 7mm EPs.

After a cold day the seeing was pretty good but the moon was bright so I decided to focus mainly on clusters. The objects were:

  • I started off during the alignment trying to see if I could spot Sirius’ companion, but no joy.
  • M35- looked good in the 40mm
  • M46- looked good in the 25mm, spent some time looking for the planetary NGC2437 but couldn’t find it, possibly due to the bright moon which wasn’t too far away in the sky.
  • M47- very pretty in the 25mm.
  • M48 – another new one for me- loved it in the 25mm

I then spotted that Uranus was still just visible from my location so I put the 7mm on and spent a while observing it. I’m still not quite sure if I imagined the green hue or whether it was really visible. Having moved onto solar system objects I thought I’d have a look at Ceres but couldn’t find a way to get to it through the Synscan app on my phone. I was getting a bit cold so I headed in to see if I could work it out and also warm up a little. The way I eventually managed it was by connecting Sky Safari to the Synscan app, however in the hour I was inside, the mount seemed to have moved a little out of alignment and it proved quite fiddly to get to the object- some thoughts on this below. I then returned to clusters:

  • NGC2264 – The Christmas Tree Cluster
  • NGC1502 – Kemble’s Cascade – needed the 40mm for this one, but very pretty and brilliant to see it with my own eyes after failing to star hop to it a couple of weeks ago.
  • M52
  • Eta Cassiopeiae
  • Garnet Star- this was just visible from my location, a stunning red and a great way to finish off the session.

Some thoughts on the WiFi dongle:

This is my fifth/sixth session using it, and whilst I’m still very pleased with it (especially the ease of setup) there are a couple of reservations from the last couple of sessions, primarily based around touchscreen devices in the cold. First point is that the battery level drops much faster in the cold, even when putting the phone in your pocket between adjustments- you really need to make sure there’s a good level of charge before you start. Secondly, the touchscreens seem to become much less responsive in the cold, often needing several “presses” to make them work and on one occasion still seeming to think I had my finger pressed on a button long after I’d let go, resulting in the scope slewing way across the sky away from what I wanted to look at. This is all quite frustrating and can be a bit fiddly. I didn’t experience any of these issues in the first few sessions, where the temperature was 3-6 degrees, but in the last couple where it was zero or below it was really quite frustrating. On the upside, having SkySafari connected to it was brilliant and quite straightforward to do.

Shock!! Face discovered on Sun! – – – 26/02/2018

Remember the “Face on Mars”? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cydonia_(region_of_Mars))

Well, here is one on the Sun!

Didn’t have chance to do anything but the briefest of imaging this morning, so we have ended up with a bit of a mosaic, but at least there is a surface feature!

Maybe I should report it to the “Sun” newspaper! Seems appropriate!

24-25th February 2018 observing report.

Vixen 102, Heq5pro, SkySafari 5pro. Swadlincote.

Cold and very cold, but clear with the bright Moon up. Ending my seventh session this month.

Good time of year to get under Leo to long Hydra. Having enjoyed the spectacular NGC 3242′, “ghost of Jupiter” , decided to have a look of some favourite binaries here. Some lovely colours and treasures to find. ( The “ghost” is very bright , from dark sites it has shown handlebars on each side , with a ghostly green blue colour)

Σ1270 at x100, gave a lovely pair. (SAO 136242)

epslion Hydrae, really lovely yellow and deep blue (SAO 117112)

Σ1290 ,a good 2.8″ split at x200 (SAO 117208)

Σ1347 , nicely wide at 21″

Here’s the double double low power field, with splits to 1.9″, SAO 117661 and 117704

Some spectacular colours to tau 1 Hydrae, yellow with a ” small plum” , yes ,got that .

Just on the borders of Leo, I spotted Subra on the app,( omicron Leonis ) SAO 98709, wide , but stunning colouration. One that I no references to, or noticed before. Plenty targets in this area,under Clear skies !


Solar Light Pillar

Forgot to post these…

From the morning of Wednesday 14th Feb.

Hand held Nikon D3 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

The first at 7.22am

70mm ISO 200 1/125sec f/5.6


and the second at 7.26am

70mm ISO 200 1/160sec f/6.3


A light pillar..?

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

An atmospheric optical phenomenon in the form of a vertical band of light which appears to extend above and/or below a light source. The effect is created by the reflection of light from numerous tiny ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere or clouds. The light can come from the Sun (usually when it is near or even below the horizon) in which case the phenomenon is called a sun pillar or solar pillar. It can also come from the Moon or from terrestrial sources such as streetlights.


See here for more details:





Views from today….

Following on from Andy’s earlier post from today (Darwin Walk and Biolam microscope)….

Lichfield Cathedral in the background…

3 hrs in…looking forward to lunch at Mable’s Cafe… Tweedledee and Tweedledumb taking a short break…(I’m not saying which, is which !)

Andy back at ours checking out my cheek cells ! You can see the photos he has just taken through the eye lens still on his phone…

My picture taken with an iPhone6 held up to the 10x eyepiece and 10x objective (plus 1.5x binoviewer).