Observing

Observing Report 15th July – 12:30-3am

Had a fun evening with family and friends at an outdoor concert, but on returning home and seeing the sky looking absolutely pristine the temptation to slip out into to the garden was too much to resist… Having spent the evening with a choice of 3 bars to try out I decided I was a bit too “relaxed” to get the imaging gear out so I made it a purely visual session with 14 inch dob and Baader 8-24 zoom.

Mars- really large and bright, but still no detail visible except for the polar cap.
M13 – It’s nice to start with a familiar target to get a feel for the skies, and although it wasn’t properly dark and the sky was a bit wobbly from the hot day, it was a fine view.
M51 – The 2 cores were easily visible but I was initially unable to see any spiral structure. I put a Neodymium filter in and it helped a bit, but altogether it just wasn’t dark enough.
At this point I became distracted by a bat that spent a while flapping about directly over my head.
M31 – bright core, again with the filter I was able to spot some dark lanes, but I really want to have a go at this target at a darker site.
M32 – really bright & easily seen.
M110 – very faint and quite a challenge; I needed a couple of goes and some help from SkySafari to look in exactly the right place.
Vega – Blue and bright and beautiful in the eyepiece. Realised that when these photons started their journey I was sitting my finals…
Double-double – despite the evenings refreshments no more than 4 stars were visible here. An easy split at 200x.
M57 – wonderful crisp views. I did spent some time looking for the central star but was unable to find it.
M56 – a slightly tricky find and more of a smudge after the beauty of M13
Albireo – Gorgeous.
M27 – the dumbbell. A month ago I picked up a second hand Oiii filter from Astro Buy&Sell. The improvement in the contrast was terrific, but more than that, I was able to see the shape very easily. Obviously there was no colour, but otherwise it was almost photographic- a brilliant view.
North America nebula (ngc 7000). Spent quite a long time trying to pick this up in the scope, with & without filters, but no joy. However, I could see it (just) in the finder. This felt somewhat unlikely, but I went back and forth between the finder, the EP and Sky Safari and there was a very faint nebulosity in the right place and of the right shape, so I’m pretty sure I had it. Would be good to validate with someone else…
The Veil – I’ve never seen this before, but the Oiii filter seemed to help a lot. The eastern portion was very faint, but definitely visible. The western side was a wonderful sinuous strand much bigger than my field of view and I spent ages sweeping back and forth trying to pick out individual filaments. A real highlight.
NGC6826 – Blinking planetary nebula – a managed to miss this a couple of times before realising the clue is in the name. A gorgeous green, despite the now lightening sky.
NGC884/869 – Double cluster – lovely way to finish the session, it’s amazing just how many stars are visible in this section of sky, with lots of colour- especially the oranges!

From my log it’s been the best part of 2 months since I was able to look at something other than planets, it was great to get back to it! Lets hope the great weather continues as the nights draw in a little.

 

Observing in Lichfield 6-7/7/2018

This entry is more a statement to say we are both still active and interested than a detailed account as we only went outside to observe for about an hour 23:45 on 6/7/2918 to 00:45 on 7/7/2018.

Damian and I observed from my garden in Lichfield using my Orion ten inch Dobsinian with 14 mm Explote Scjrntific eyepiece.

We had good views of: Ring Nebula, Dumbell Nebula, M13, and Saturn, the latter enhanced using my 6mm Ethis eyepiece to give higher magnification.

On a Saturn we could see hints of bands, a shadow of the ring on the planet and the Cassini Division.

Andy and Damian

Prepare for Mars!

Mars’s rotation period is about 24 hours 40 minutes.

This means that if you observe at the same time each day, the surface moves around 10 degrees (backwards). So to see a complete rotation, it takes around 36 days.

If you observe continuously the surface moves around 15 degrees per hour forwards.

Telescopically, the most prominent feature on Mars is Syrtis Major. In previous apparitions, timing and the weather contrived to prevent me seeing it.

At about 01:30AM NOW, it is almost facing us!

Get out there!

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. Thishttps://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/carbon-stars-will-make-see-red1203201401/

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,

Nick.