The Sun is very quiet as you can see fro the GONG image below – just a couple of small prominences. Nevertheless, just thought we would see what we could do from the window-sill, despite there being lots of high cloud.
Again taking the opportunity of a half-hour imaging session, here is M46 in Puppis from the window-sill. Since it is a wide field view, the included planetary nebula, NGC 2438, (a line-of-sight effect, it isn’t in the cluster) appears pretty small, but after a bit of processing you can see it just above centre and slightly to the left. For those of you trying to see it visually, here is a quote from Stephen James O’Meara’s splendid book “The Messier Objects”:
“There is yet another illusion with M46. It appears to contain a tiny planetary nebula. NGC 2438 – – – But the cluster and nebula are not physically associated because the cluster is 5.300 light years distant, whereas the nebula is 6,250 light years away. Positioned just a few arc minutes north of the cluster’s centre, this 11th magnitude planetary measures only about 1’ in diameter. I suspected it at 23X but 72X shows it clearly as a ghostly mote among the multitude”
(I see from my notes that I observed it visually and sketched it at 01:10 UT on 23/12/2001 with my 8″ SCT at X266)
Since there was no moon, I had another go at M48, showing a few more stars than the last one I posted.
For completeness with the Messiers in that region I have also included the recent wide-field image of M47
Tardigrades are water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented micro-animals. They were first discovered by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773. The name Tardigrada was given three years later by the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani. They have been found everywhere: from mountain tops to the deep sea and mud volcanoes (Wikipedia).
Tardigrades, often called water bears or moss piglets, are near-microscopic animals with long, plump bodies and scrunched-up heads. They have eight legs, and hands with four to eight claws on each. While strangely cute, these tiny animals are almost indestructible and can even survive in outer space. Tardigrade is a phylum, a high-level scientific category of animal. (Humans belong in the Chordate phylum — animals with spinal cords.) There are over 1,000 known species within Tardigrade. Water bears can live just about anywhere. They prefer to live in sediment at the bottom of a lake, on moist pieces of moss or other wet environments. They can survive a wide range of temperatures and situations (https://www.livescience.com/57985-tardigrade-facts.html)
I went looking for tardigrades today in St Michael’s church graveyard in Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK. No success – sadly – so you won’t see tardigrades in the photo and video below. However, the samples I obtained from moss on gravestones, some lichen off trees and a sample from a wood chipping pile, revealed a range of life shown in the video below.
Managed a 10-minute observing session from the window-sill before the clouds rolled in. M47 is quite large so this time, in order to get a good context, I used a focal reducer. Using a reducer on an f/5 refractor is not optically very good – and it was rather hazy, so the image is not brilliant. You can compare it with the one without the reducer at http://roslistonastronomy.uk/m46-and-m47
The following pictures show this problem on an example of a Zeiss Standard Optovar. The lens elements are separating and this leads to the rainbow effect. I have slightly rotated the Optovar on the spot in same lighting between pictures and you can see that the inner edge of the rainbow rotates with the rotation of the whole instrument. This would not occur if it was due to defraction of light from the glass only.