Observing

Observing Mars

Since the Martian dust-storm sees to be dying down, I wondered what the best time might be to observe Mars’s dominant feature – Syrtis Major.

A bit of research with Stellarium suggests around midnight on 11th August would be good. Syrtis Major is then near the meridian, Mars is due south at an elevation of 11 degrees and its diameter is still reasonable at  23.9 seconds.

Doubtless it will be cloudy!

Comet C/21P Giacobini-Zinner.

https://www.heavens-above.com/comet.aspx?cid=21P&lat=0&lng=0&loc=Unspecified&alt=0&tz=UCT

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 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