Double and Multiple Stars

Observing Report- 17/11/18

Sam and I met up with Neil Wyatt on Saturday night for an excellent night’s observing and imaging at Brankley Pastures near Barton under Needwood.

Neil was already setting up his imaging rig when we arrived at 8pm, and Sam and I got our 8 inch dob out to get started quickly. Unfortunately we quickly found that it was a night of absent mindedness: I’d forgotten the trusses for the larger dob, Sam had left behind 5 of the 6 pages of his lunar observing plan and Neil didn’t have the memory card for his camera. I can see that if I’m going to do more of these trips a checklist is going to be essential…

The moon was high in the sky so we started off with doing planetary and lunar with Sam doing the finding:
– Mars- polar cap just about vsible but couldn’t see other surface features.
– Lunar- Copernicus, Tycho, Altai Scarp, Theophilus, Cyrillus, Catharina, and Clavius (just around the same time Roger was imaging it).

Unfortunately this was as far as the first page of the Lunar 100 log gave us. So next we tried for a few deep sky objects- looking at Vega, the Double double and the Pleiades. Neil also brought up the Pleiades in his ED66 and it definitely looked better it the little frac with wonderful contrast and sharpness. I then ran Sam home, which was a good opportunity to pick up some Hot Chocolate and Dob trusses!

On my return the sky was darkening with the setting moon and we switched to the 14inch for some more deep space stuff with views of M1 (faint), The Auriga Open Clusters M36 & M37, the Ring, Andromeda, M81/82 pair and the highlight of the night: M42. We switched between the dob and the ED66 and used various magnifications, eyepieces and filters. At 205x, without filters in the Dob we both managed to spot the 5th brightest star in the Trapezium. There is a serious risk of my getting stuck on this target all winter…

A really enjoyable evening, and a pleasure to observe in good company!

A note on the site: Brankley Pastures is a Staffs Wildlife Trust site near Barton- so quite convenient for many RAG members and where- at least in winter- it’s possible to observe with minimal risk of being disturbed. It’s not a completely dark site- there’s a significant patch of light pollution to the North (presumably from Tutbury), and another to the North East from Burton. But overhead the skies are much darker than home and there is a great southern horizon. It was brilliant, as the moon set, to see the sky come alive- with Auriga turning from an empty circle to one rich with naked eye detail. Just next time I need to remember all the key parts of my kit!

Observing Report 11/11/18

The forecast was a bit ambiguous, but it was a lovely night out under the stars last night. Set the camera running on M33, got the 14 inch dob out and away we go:

– Double double: I’ve taken to starting on this to check conditions and collimation. It was an easy split at 205x which promised well for the evening.
– Mars: Although it’s diminishing rapidly following the summer, the height in the sky and the lack of a dust storm are providing a much better view- especially with an LP filter to reduce the glare. I was able to see the polar cap reasonably well and some appearance of surface features.
– M15 – Bright core, with individual stars resolvable almost all the way in. At 205x it covered an area almost half the diameter of the FOV.
– Blue Snowball – a first for me- it really is blue! Really pleasing fuzzy blue disk. I wanted to try different filters and found it stood out best with the UHC filter.
– Mirach’s ghost – another first for me. Mirach was very bright, but once you edged it out of the FOV this Galaxy was quite an easy spot.
– NGC7814- I was beginning to feel a bit cocky so I went for a random Mag 10 galaxy in Sky Safari. It was actually quite an easy hop from the bottom left star of Pegasus (it’s in the same view in the finder) so wasn’t too hard, but was really pleased nonetheless.
– Delta Cephei – lovely sharp double, with a blue tinge to the companion. I put it on the list because of its historical importance- but it’s a nice visual target as well.
– Garnet Star – This is such a beautiful vivid red.
– Elephant’s Trunk – Hard to see at first, but the UHC filter really helped and with this and a bit of concentration and letting the eye get in I was able to follow it for most of its length. The section at the top was the most visible.

At this point I went in to put the kids to bed and have some family time. A bit later…

– M1 – Crab Nebula – Took a long time to get back in the groove. It took me ages to find this- I had to get my eyes to adjust back and then spent ages point at the wrong star and generally confusing myself. Even with the UHC filter, and having gotten past my own ineptitude, it was quite difficult to spot.
– M52 – Open Cluster in Cassiopeia – This was a bit easier- and visually more rewarding.
– M45 – Pleiades – Put in the 35mm at 47x. Just stunning.
– Uranus – a faint greenish tinge to a small disk.
– M74 – Spiral Galaxy in Pisces- Despite being quite dim (Mag 9.4) there was a hint of shape visible on this beyond the core (I couldn’t see the arms, more just a fuzz) – it might make an interesting imaging target at some point.
– M77 – Spiral Galaxy in Cetus – A brighter core than M74, but less hint of the outer structure.
– NGC 2024 – Flame Nebula – Now I really should have gone to bed by now, but Orion was sliding in over the rooftops and I have precisely no willpower. Not much doing without a filter, but with the Oiii in, the nebulosity was visible. I was also able to track some of the dark lanes.
– IC434 – Horsehead – Fail! Emboldened by the views of the Flame I spent ages looking for the Horsehead. The bank of nebulosity that it sits in was reasonably straightforward, but I couldn’t find the nag. One for a dark site…
– M42 & 43- Really time to pack up now, but as I sat back from the EP I saw that Orion’s sword was (just) above the rooftops. Re-pointed the scope, leaned forward and shouted ”Wow!”, which is a bit weird when you’re sat all alone in your back garden. I think the surprise was because of the almost solid feel of the area around the trapezium after the wispiness of the HH and Flame. At 205x it’s a fascinating structure- this bit was almost photographic. At 47x, and without filters, the whole area was more gauze like, but vast, and with the dark lanes between M42 & 43 obvious. I then dialled it up to 530x (probably well beyond what my scope can sensibly cope with), but was unable to split the trapezium beyond 4 stars. Being right over the rooftops probably didn’t help.

The night was just getting better, but it was approaching midnight, I’d been out since 6 and it was really time to pack it in. The way it was going I would have happily stayed up all night…  Now where are those M33 subs…

Pegasus stars !

Swadlincote 28/10/18 C6r reduced to 120mm aperture.

Lovely clear forecast , set out the chair , looked at at a huge rainbow and heavy rain. Set up the mount at 5.30, hurrah for dark evenings.

Some chill , but superb seeing before the Moon climbed up. I reduced the aperture to 120mm to get more contrast , certainly worked. Pegasus gave some  stunning binaries.

I had a look at Bu1.  The triple in NGC 281 (“Packman nebula” in Cassiopeia). Very pleased not only to get some tight splits , but some faint companions, clear skies ! Nick.

The “Ram’s eyes” and powdered glass !

Swad. 30/9/18 C6r 22mm and 5mm LVW

Set up after 6, four forecasts promised clear skies , wall to wall. Just a thought and I covered the mount . It then rained very hard !

After the rain, a few hours before the moon. These are ace. The Cygnus clusters were just stunning !

Aries.
Mesartim. What a bright stunning sight at low power. Glaring out of the dark : The “ram’s eyes”!
1 Arietis. (01h53.5 +19 18′ ) a 2.9″ split , giving yellow and blue.
λ Arietis (SAO 75051 ) yellow and blue.
30 Arietis (SAO 75471)

I got 33 Arietis with ΟΣ43 at one side . ΟΣ43 ιs a bit below one arc second. The seeing was ultra stable. I could just about squeeze out a peanut shaped diffraction disc. ( remember that we don’t actually see stars, your Optics squeeze the light into diffraction discs. By slight defocussing you can get very close bright companions to show up) Diffraction discs by defocussing are very handy for testing out refractor Optics.

I’ve marked the best of the little known Cygnus and Vulpecula clusters.They really are most spectacular , powdered glass really hits the mark here in NGC 6819.

I turned to Cygnus high in the south west as it’s opposite the moon glow. The open clusters really showed up. I’ve marked the best ones here with asterisks.There are some favourites here.

The open clusters are temporary . They don’t have the tight centres and gravity of globular clusters to hold them together. Sooner or later they drift apart to leave lonely stars. Be interesting to find out if our own Sun was part of a cluster or constellation !

The targets found are fairly easy and ideal for moonlight and other light polluted skies , Nick.

Theta Persei.

23rd of October and a huge Moon rising . Mars was wobbling , but both Uranus and Neptune gave green and blue coloured discs. Clusters were bleached out , its worth looking at M34 , looking like a skewed NGC 457.

Continuing with the exploration of Perseus, I revisited Theta Persei. A straight on view of the very delicate and delightful companion, just away from the main star. Then out to just under four times distant and the third star of this multiple magic.

I continued with Perseus , the sky was super stable and amazingly transparent. There was no difficulty picking out the shape of M76. There’s plenty action even in a low and full moon.Dew set in with falling temperature , time to click on dew heaters well before observing.

Looking out this morning , Capella was right overhead, Gemini high in the north and the welcome sight of Procyon swinging towards a very bright Sirius and Orion. Just a stunning winter view .

I’d venture that Σ162 is the finest triple here. Being on the boundary , it also appears in details for Andromeda.

Theta is easily spotted by eye, just follow up from M34 on this chart ,

Observing 17-18 th October.

Swadlincote 17-18/9/18 Vixen 102 on heq5pro pro mount.

What 4″ of aperture in light pollution can do.

It is a constant source of amazement and pleasure to observe targets from here. We are surrounded by some nine streetlights , neighbours with security lights and no curtains. Using poles and dark throws has quartered off an observing area. It’s also on the hedgehog highway, they have been known to trundle past through the tripod legs.

The night started very favourably with Saturn below a low yellowish Moon. Mars was still wobbling. It was great to set up about eight and finish about two. Some beautiful targets. I haven’t done the research on their stories yet.

It’s often enjoyable just to look at them. I turned to Cygnus as it passed the zenith and again caught NGC 6811 , ” the hole in the cluster” . There was good dark sky action with M27, the blue snowball, Eastern Veil and even a core to NGC 7331.

Here’s a few targets off the beaten track.

Lacerta gives the most stunning background , set in the stream of the Milky Way. Of the open clusters , NGC 7209 is an old favourite. There are some pretty delicate pairs in NGC 7394 and NGC 7245.

Onto a few binaries here , the inline h ( Herschel)1735 being triple. I was very surprised to catch a tiny field star next to the pair of 8 Lacertae. 13 Lacertae is a ticklish challenge.

Then a Star Trek to the northern constellations. NGC 7510 in Cepheus is a wondrous cluster. There is a dusty triangle at low power, like fairy dust ! NGC 7686 gave a beautiful bright shape in Andromeda. I started on the Perseus binaries . Straight away theta Persei gave the most challenging tiny spec of a companion. ΟΣ 81 and DOO 7 I caught in the same view.

No great aperture here (4″), no great magnification , going from x42 to x77 with one at x182. Next time out it’ll be trying out the Baader astrometric eyepiece, to verify some separations and ensure the capture of those elusive faint multiples, under ,

clear skies ! Nick.

M34 multiple stars.

when you look at M34 it’s most appealing feature is the mass of multiple stars on view. I have details of those in M44. Open clusters are mainly young stars .

New stars are formed in the gas and debris loaded arms of spiral galaxies, you can observe new stars in the Trapezium of the Orion Nebula.In the early universe star formation gave a ratio of binaries to triples of 60:40. Later this evolved into a ratio of 65 binary : 25 triple : 35 singles. Gravitation pulls apart open clusters , one of the biggest we can see is Ursa Major . The whole of the plough is a moving cluster apart from the first and last star.

I got the whole wide view , but found a more detailed drawing showing the main multiple stars. Just using a 4″ scope , these are very accessible.

Next time I”lol use some more magnification to get these stars and increase the contrast. I also had look at Sigma Cassiopeiae, a lovely delicate view, under clear skies ! Nick.