Nick Cox

Actual summer darkness.

9/6/18 Swadlincote C6r refractor, 6.5mm Explore Scientific, 5.5mm Meade UWA , 6mm Circle T, 23mm Panoptic, 11mm 


Set up and the clouds rolled in, went out an hour later and very clear. Caught the GRS transit , the northern belt and the GRS looked incredible at x200. Both very dark, good to catch not only the nice clear pit , but a long thin streamer coming from the GRS. Possibly best views this year of Jupiter.

Looking up and at the zenith , the sky was full of stars. Shapes began to fill in the Summer Triangle and Ophiuchus. Some very surprising views of M57 and the great fluffy M57. Very contrasts with UHC and Oiii filters. Even managed the Eastern Veil , NGC 6695 to NGC 6692 sweep.

For summery open clusters, the “Summer Beehive” and “Graff’s cluster” are little mentioned , but provide stunning entertainment.

Antares ( worth a look for colour and teasing out the close companion) and the claws of Scorpio were low in the south . Have a look at the very bright binary view of the white and blue beta ( Graffias ) and there’s a really beautiful ” double double”, ν Scorpii at 16h12.0m. -19 28′. There’s also another double double here at Xi Scorpii facing Σ 1999 at 16h04m. -11 22′.

Rho Ophiuchi gives an unusual multiple star, lovely at low magnification.

Very unusual to get that amount of darkness and lovely views in June , very clear skies ! Nick.

Find the Apollo landing sites !

A very interesting site , plenty to watch and ideal for those starting out . The guide to galaxies is one of the best .( I did catch a Discovery Channel, “How the Universe works” on the origin of the solar system. Some very absorbing stuff , in particular how Earth , Venus and Mars got water. Oceans up to a mile deep on northern Mars. )


Of great interest are  the Apollo landing sites. Quite easy to find and at higher magnification, I wonder why they chose what appear to be dangerous ventures !

Something to keep you occupied on those endless summer nights and later on when the “devil’s light bulb ” is the only game in town. Great for showing the grandchildren and us older kids ,

under clear skies ! Nick.


Devil’s light bulb vs iPhone.

Not a fan of either , but very surprised to get startling crystal views. Took over x200, some cracking details and fun to observe . This 35 year old Vixen 102 f10 punches above its weight as a classic achromatic.

So good that I put the phone over the eyepiece and took a few snaps. I have a digital cam holder somewhere. Seems strange that small eye relief eyepieces give results ,against bigger and longer eye relief ones, under ,

clear skies ! Nick.

The best of Ophiuchus.

Ophiuchus (” serpent bearer”) is below Hercules, it divides Serpens into two halves, heading for the galactic centre here. A realm of globular clusters, some 22 , most are detailed here. Some surprising other deep sky targets as well.

Globular clusters.
M9 – to the galactic centre, M10, M12, M14,M19,M62,M107, NGC 6273 (+6.7) , NGC 6304 (+8.2),NGC 6316(+8.4),NGC 6333(+7.7),NGC 6356(+8.2),NGC 6355(+9),NGC 6402 (70 variables here)(+7.6),NGC 6401(+9.4),NGC 6325(+10.3),NGC 6293(+8.2).

Open clusters.
IC 4665 (“summer Beehive”), stunning large cluster, unusually this is 15 degrees off the galactic plane.
NGC 6633 .

Planetary nebulae
NGC 6369 (“little ghost” +11.5),NGC 6572 (+8.0) the stunning very blue and bright “blue racquetball”), central star visible as a glow, NGC 6309 (+11.5) “box nebula”, NGC 6366 (+9.2).

Individual stars
Carbon star , V (SAO 159916) from +8-+9.4.
Barnard’s star, second nearest star to us, with an astounding 10.3″ proper motion per annum.

Marfik (λ) 1.6″ separates this bright pair (SAO 121658)
Rho (ρ) a group of companions, nearest at 2.9″(SAO 184381)
Σ 2048 dusky companion at 5.6″ at 16h28.8m. -08 08′
61 Ophiuchi , bright pair at 20.6″ (SAO 122690)
69 Ophiuchi,(τ), challenging 1.5″ (SAO 142050)
Σ 2276 twins at 6.9″ (SAO 103373).

A packed constellation, the most stunning view being the very bright “blue racquetball”, a summer showpiece, under clear skies ! Nick.

Summer blast.

Some ace targets as we look into our galaxy, include the Cygnus clusters. Lucky to get a decent view of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. It seems to have developed a long fine streamer. There is also a noticeable barge to the northern belt.

Plenty of planetary nebulae around. In Cygnus and Delphinus  , two specials. NGC 6826 , the “blinking planetary ” which blinks vividly in and out .All bright planetaries do this trick , but this is the best one ! NCC 6905, the ” blue flash”  catch it right and it is a vivid blue. Not a time for galaxies , but I keep a note for later on as the Summer Triangle is with us into late autumn.Nick.


Great Hercules !

At last , Jupiter settled to give some x150 magnification views, lovely crisp bands and shading. An aperture mask is as good as anything to take off any brightness. Taken to using a large notebook instead of sheets of paper .

Hercules and Serpens are well placed. M5 is a spectacular globular cluster, however the night belonged to “Graff’s Cluster”, IC 4756. A beautiful scattering of stars , filling the eyepiece.

As it didn’t get much darker to midnight , I returned to some of the finest binaries in Hercules. OΣ 341 gives a lovely view of this multiple group , almost like an open cluster. Sarin is probably my favourite here. Expect to use some averted vision to get some of the faintest companions in summer skies. A bit more magnification will darken the field of view, under

clear skies ! Nick.