Author Archives: Nick Cox

Cracking tight binaries.

It’s always a pleasure to be out under dark and still skies. Saturn excelled taking x320. Mars showed an ice cap and some dark markings. I was keen to try out the 150 f8 refractor on some super close binary stars. It’s very little use to stare these out . Often averted vision or moving the field of view works. Drawing helps enormously, the eye becomes relaxed as it works to account for the view.

First up a recalled visit to a difficult triple. Struve 2872 in Ophiuchus. The companion split apart , not shy at .8″.

Some stars hold special allure , one being Lambda Cygni. This showed a bright and clean split at .9″.The high magnification holding the splendid view. Still in Cygnus, Otto Struve 410, gave a better .9″ split.

Next a favourite tester , 36 Andromedae, now opening up to an easier 1.2″.

Very pleased to get these fine splits. I had taken the 6″ doublet apart to clean a few fungi on the surface. Fungi can live in the air space. They secrete acid , eating both coatings and glass, a big lump of glass, returning it to the cell, I noticed some markings on the edges. There are 4 linear marks to line up the objectives and a cheerful note of the manufacture date , 31/01/11. It’s somewhat comforting to think that someone took a little care.

A thick rubber ring edges the front of the doublet. Snucking this in evenly gave the correct alignment when the tightening ring was applied. There are push/pull collimation screws / hexbolts on the cell. A quick check with a Cheshire , Barlowed laser and star test showed everything true.

Of particular interest has been the first light reports of the new SW 150 pro ed on Stargazers lounge. This is the next up from the 120pro. However it does not have the same glass bring an ed front element instead of the FPL 53. At £1600 it’s a lot of scope , similar in weight and size to the C6r. However I was happy to pay £300 used and put £100 Crayford on board.

I’ve had many sub 2″ binaries with the 200 f6 Orion Optics Newtonian. However it does benefit from the single straight across secondary vane . This gives good clean stars without spikes, easier for splitting.

Awaiting more clear skies and a continuing look at the bright Vesta , Comet C/21P Giacobini-Zinner and the Perseid meteor shower (12-13th August)


Comet C/21P Giacobini-Zinner.

At the base of Cepheus around midnight. Going back a couple of hours later and it had moved position . It’s fast moving !

Had a shot of a tester star , 36 Andromedae . Lovely to get a clean and bright split of this 1.2″ separation. This equates as the distance from Sol to Pluto. Clear skies ! Nick.

Observing miscellany, 1/7/18.

Swadlincote 1-2/7/18 Orion Optics 200 f6 11mm Nagler 23mm Panoptic.

It’s getting darker out there ! A foray until 1 ,caught some beautiful sights especially in Cygnus. I usually observe with refractors, recently getting down to .9 arc seconds separation using the 150. Secondary vanes produce spikes making binary stars difficult. The more modest size Newtonian from Orion Optics do come with a single vane , producing marble like stars of great clarity.

However , Newts do not give the contrast of refractors and are less indifferent to seeing (atmospheric disturbance) and transparency. Some results from Cygnus , part of a project to note the best views, which will be posted when complete.

The open clusters ,M39, M29 and NGC 2910 came up , but are best with a bit more darkness. I was surprised when Paul ( our long distant visitor ) sent over his observing notes.

A year ago he was trying for nebula and galaxies from the middle of St.Helens. He was getting pretty frustrated until I advised him to get a TAL 100 and Sissy Haas, “Double stars for small telescopes “. As you can tell he loves colour and triple stars.

Both Cepheus and Cygnus are well placed. Jupiter and Saturn giving some lovely views. Mars is more difficult , reports if dust storms possibly mashing surface features for the observer. The “Garnet star” , mu Cephei is essential viewing , spot it by eye at the base of Cepheus.

Here’s my effort at Polaris positional error, not bad,

Better than the wire tangle from two dew heaters and a battery booster !

I found these , worth a look ! At arm’s length , the moon is covered by a fingernail. Yet it looks so huge and glaring when full. Binoculars will give you the “seas” and areas where Apollo missions landed. Under clear skies ! Nick.

Observing the best carbon stars.

Of great interest , some are visible by eye and binoculars. They can present stunning wide field views matched with blue white field stars. This

is of interest . The Purkinje effect giving our eyes an advantage in observing . These individual beauties are quite fascinating .I’ve not included mu Cephei , the “Garnet Star” as this is obvious by eye at the base of Cepheus and one of the gems of the night sky. Smaller apertures usually pick out more colour. It can be very subjective, defocussing the view can help with a blast of colour,