Nick Cox

Hercules , summer views.

Something different from M13 and M92. The two planetary nebulae are very bright and obvious at low power . They both blink into invisibility and return , great to show everyone. Look for the bright , but fuzzy nebulae, focus on the stars, these won’t focus. Higher magnification shows more of the halo and core, but I like the contrast at low power.

NGC 6210 “Turtle nebula” some great excitement as this was one of the first Hubble images , taken to be a turtle eating a shell ! Discovered by Wilhelm Struve looking for binaries. To the south east there is the binary Σ 2016, separated by 7.4″.

“Webb’s Wreath ” is a magnificent ring like asterism. (SAO 85678)

NGC 6229 is a globular cluster some 99,000 light years on the galactic halo.

Very pleased to get these in bright summer and

clear skies ! Nick.


The Veil.

There are few deep sky objects which get the excitement going , this huge (six times the size of the full moon) supernovae remnant is one of the finest. The whole remnant is the “loop” is 100 light years across . Discovered by William Herschel , this must have been some find .

The forces unleashed in supernovas created by nuclear fusion , heavy elements. Gold is an admirable and readily available element thus formed , so is much of ourselves ! These supernova clouds can be recycled to form stars and planets. These gaseous , particulate and glowing clouds are thrilling to trace and observe. Even M1, the ” Crab” nebula looks quite spectacular in darker skies.

There is just the slimmest indication of the arc from light polluted skies. I’ve had the pleasure of showing it to three observers from home , who were quite pleased and amazed to see this for the first time. It’s an easy find off Cygnus. Dark skies will open this out into full wispiness. Even here , differences in darkness will give more to the view. It is possible to spot this by eye from the darkest of sites , along with the North American Nebula and the Great Cygnus Rift.

It’s easy to follow the arc right round from the bright Eastern Veil to the fainter Western Veil. NGC 6995  and NGC 6992 give the brightest areas. A UHC filter will enhance views, greatly darkening the background. Cygni 52 illuminates the Western Veil, look closely , this is a binary star. Even small scopes will show the bright loop.

Its a delight to sit at the scope and sketch some detail. It’ll be there to observe right through until autumn.

The Veil is always top of the list for dark site adventures, under clear skies ! Nick.

Lyra , summer targets.

Endless twilight and little Astronomical darkness, nil desperandum !

The Summer Triangle, led by the very bright Vega is soon up to observe. This is packed with full star fields with multiple stars and easy binaries. The seeing and transparency recently have been stunning. Both faint companions and close splits have been teased out using 4″ aperture. Drop down to Cygnus and we have lots of planetary nebulae and open clusters to enjoy all summer long.

To my surprise my £30 Helios 102mm f10 punched out results comparable to my Vixen 102. These early long refractors are worth seeking out, quality control is all there ! Here are just a few of the classic views in this area, under clear skies ! Nick.

Synscan handset , entering coordinates.


Always amazed at folk struggling with their handsets to get coordinates. If you’re not using a wi fi adapter, eqmod or hooked up to SkySafari , then a stand alone handset can be customised for your objects.




Now view your object ! To go back , press Esc. It becomes second nature and is an easy way to store favourites.Press “9” for your option of “new” or “recall object” . It is your “user” button.


7/5/18 Stunning Jupiter.

Very challenging viewing, transient views between photographic clarity and a blur. I put the focus on lock and drew as the clarity came.

The transit of Ganymede showed the pure white pea moon and a black shadow right on the northern limb. Then the dark GRS appeared with a dark wide band preceding. The views cleared and settled later , but the sky just got lighter. I had a look at some favourites in Lyra. Aladfar gives colour and wonderful contrast to it’s dim companion, worth finding and teasing out. Sheliak is a multiple star in a lovely field of stars.

Dont give up with Jupiter , start off with x100 and work up to x200. I found x150-x160 gave good results. I used a Moon filter to take off the glare and played around with an aperture shield. Relax, go for a brew , the views will come. Challenging as it’s quite low, bad enough with hot air bubbles and mount air kicking light around.

Opposition on Wednesday , worth a shot and enjoy the Summer Triangle under

Clear skies ! Nick.

Jupiter 6th May 2018.

Swadlincote C6r 150 mm f8 achromatic refractor. 13mm Nagler, 6mm circle T, 7.5mm Ultima, x2 Vixen Triplet Barlow.

Lightish sky , but Jupiter eventually climbed to a useful position. Even at low power I could see the shadow of Europa. As this reached the limb, the small and very bright moon was easy to see beneath the shadow. A few minutes later it popped out clear of the limb. Seeing was not bad , with some belt and polar details seen.

Best thing to do is focus on the surface and just leave the focus and let the views arrive. It’s a waste to keep fiddling. I used an aperture mask , a x2 Barlowed 13mm Nagler (giving x150)and later a polarising filter. Try the non observing eye , it might give you a filtered view (Damien is a convert to the non observing eye church !) Filters will change your view for contrast , but not always enhance it. Given that low down we’re looking through 90 miles of atmosphere , it’s little wonder it can be wobbly. However last night and this morning everything was non twinkly still. Best views were about 2.10 before it entered the blasted blooming big oak tree down the road.

i was briefly joined by a huge owl sitting on the hedge , hope no one’s lost an eagle owl, it was big. Not as big as the very bright Iridium flash , going to miss these guys.

Looking around and the whole Summer Triangle was up, not much joy for deep sky with a bright sky. Checked out the Messier’s and headed for some brighter planetaries. It’s lovely to see these as non stellar in wide field, catching some open clusters. Opposition on the 9th May , spend a little time out there , under clear skies,



Treasure of the Corona Borealis.

May 4th 2018 Swadlincote.

Roaming in the gloaming ! Cloud piled in at 12 just as Jupiter cleared the roof tops . Some cracking views of best of the binaries in Coma Berenices.
2 Cb , dazzling colour here.
Σ1633, lovely twins
12 Cb (SAO 82273) yellow and blue
17 Cb (SAO 82330), wide at low power
24 Cb (SAO 100160), getting orange and blue here
Σ1685 (SAO 100307), getting a triple here.

Just a quick word about the achromatic, my £30 rescue Helios 102 f10. You often find these kicking around as nobody wants them.I really cleaned her up to get back to work , it has never ceased to stun ,picking out close binaries and colour. Very often old school can work in your favour. You don’t need huge aperture and exotica to get class results.

I used old school 10mm Vixen Plossl, 6mm circle T , 9mm circle V , 13mm Nagler and a 23mm Panoptic . These gave super results.
I waited for a little less gloaming before scouring my prime target , the arc of Corona Borealis. The “Blaze star” currently quite faint , but always worth checking out.

Treasures of the Arc !
Σ1932 ( SAO 83756), had a surprise when the 1.6″ split was clean, should have paid more for the scope !
Σ1964 and Zeta Coronae Borealis (SAO 64834), please get this , they look amazing at low power together.
ΟΣ 305 at 5.8″   at low power the “little plough asterism ” being here .
Sigma Coronae Borealis (SAO 65165) at 7.2″, a brilliant pair
H V 38 (SAO 65262), delicately faint companion, wonderful to pick it out , its one of the faintest stars in the field. Very satisfying.

That’s it , chuffed at the views, hope you’ll have a shot under clear skies ! Nick.

Bootes binaries.

Swadlincote 2/5/2018

Lovely to get a clear gap before the Moon rises , after a very mixed weather bag. I had a look at the Methuselah star in Libra , low in the east , one of the oldest stars known and sitting alone .A few globulars, not getting dark enough for anything useful.

Bootes was nicely placed to sit at the scope, Vixen 102, 5.5mm, 13mm and the book of double stars ( Sissy Haas). Bootes is packed full with some lovely colourful binaries,

1 Bootis,a blue white delicate variable at 4.5″ (SAO 82942)
Σ1785 pair of eyes at 2.8″(SAO 83011)
Σ1812 very contrast by averted (SAO 83219)
kappa Bootis a gorgeous 13.8″ (SAO 29046)
iota ( Acsellus secundus) , lovely contrast between the +4.7 and +7.4 primary (SAO 29071)
Σ1825 great contrast at 4.4″
Σ1835 white and blue with contrast at 6.2″
Pi Bootis at 5.4″ (SAO 101138)
Izar , a real gem , yellow and blue,use a bit of mag to tease out the primary at 2.9 “, beauty !
Σ1879 at 1.7″ (SAO 120651)
Σ 1884 a close yellow and blue beauty at 2.1″ (SAO 83535)
Σ1889 about x40 gets it in the heart of the  fov with a delicate companion
39 Bootis again x40 picked this at 2.6″(SAO 45231)
Σ1886 , picked out this with the 13mm
Xi Bootis 5.4″ (SAO 101250) yellow and red colour here.
ΟΣ 288 this is 1.1″ , caught a glimpse using about x250 (SAO 101273)
Σ1910 twins at x100, 3.8″ ( SAO 120851)
delta Bootis , beautifully coloured vivid orange, wide at 106″ (SAO 64589)
Alkalurops, gem of a triple down to 1.5”, well worth finding and teasing out (SAO 64686)
ΟΣ298 a more challenging triple. (SAO 64800)

Superb session, lovely to watch Cygnus climb into those promising summer skies, under clear skies ! Jupiter was just over a roof top, bit wobbly , but huge . Get ready for the 9th of May opposition.

Dob on Skye.

Awoke at 2am, pulled open the curtains and I could see was stars ! Got out and set up. Looking around the sky was the darkest one that I’ve seen.

Could hardly make out Leo for stars, under Leo the sparkling web of the Coma Berenices. Using the Pocket Sky Atlas and Telrad, it was easy to star hop to galaxies.

I love the Canes Venatici galaxies, “The Whale”(NGC 4631) crossed the fov with the “Hockey stick”( NGC 4656/57) just out of view. Had superb views of the old favourites, M94, M106, NGC 4244,4214,4111,4490 with 4485,4449 and 5005. M51 was gorgeous with structure and the “bridge ” to NGC 5195.

Then onto Leo and a happy looking Triplet . Up to Bode’s , both stunningly bright and detailed. M109 and M97 showed up as did many galaxies in a sweep of the UMa and Virgo bowls. A keen Easterly sprung up and it was a bit nippy to draw. To the east , a long torn and very bright Milky Way passed through Cassiopeia. A lovely view of “Caroline’s Rose” caught in a dense starfield. I kept looking around , by eye the view was like a deep blue planetarium gone black ! The globular clusters M13, M53 and M3 ( halfway from Arcturus to Cor Caroli) were like sparkling diamonds on a black velour sofa ( reminds self to be careful with the vacuum ).

Skye is an odd place. Been up every year since 1971 and I can’t remember masses of clear sky. The landscape and Dragon in law and family make up for it. There are accessible places away from any light pollution that will just amaze .

A fantastically dark site under clear skies ! Nick.