Steve on Skye.

My wife was born and raised about half a mile from Trumpan church . It’s quite remote on north Skye. I know the skies very well there , having seen auroras many times . I was pleased to see this reported , occurring on Saturday 18th of November, Nick.


Observing Log 17/11/17 @ 21:30 – 18/11/17 @ 03:00, LRO, Lichfield, Andy, Damian & Rhys

Observing Log 17/11/17 @ 21:30 – 18/11/17 @ 03:00

LRO, Lichfield

Andy, Damian & Rhys


Damian came around to my house in Lichfield for a great observing session. We both used our Orion ten-inch Dobsonian telescopes. Rhys joined us for an hour and then we continued for another 4 and a half hours.

We must really enjoy this astronomy lark! 5 and a half hours shot past as though only minutes – and this was after a long day at work and school for all of us.

Tonight’s session rates in amongst one of our best – with a number of unusual targets and the very successful use of our home-made image-intensified eyepieces – we made these years ago and had moved away from using them in favour of more “modern” equipment (video cameras) but tonight, on the Dobsonian telescopes, in a head-to-head with my Watec video camera the image-intensified eyepieces won for shear ease of use, fun and “at the eyepiece” experience – and boy were they good at helping us to observe galaxies!

I will add a post in a few minutes after this one with photographs taken through the image intensified eyepiece.


Photos below of Damian and Andy and telescopes tonight – Andy looks like he is falling asleep!





  • Orion Dobsonian 10 Telescopes x2
  • Vixen SG 2.1×42 Widefield Binoculars (Damian and I both made use of a discount at the International Astronomy Show this year to buy ourselves a pair of these amazing devices)
  • Explore Scientific and Televue Ethos eyepieces & Televue Paracorr coma correctors on both scopes.
  • Homemade image intensified eyepieces.
  • Watec 120N video camera




All objects tonight found by star-hopping, with the help of Sky Safari Pro 5 on my iPad and Damian’s Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas.


Pleiades – Messier 45, Open Cluster in Taurus,17 Nov 2017, 21:30:12, Whilst Damian aligned his laser pointer to his red dot finder on Capella in Auriga, I took the opportunity to use my new Vixen SG binoculars to observe the Pleiades – with my slight short sightedness I only see a blur with the naked eye but with these binoculars I was able to see 15 stars. Wonderful! My slight short sightedness (only about 0.75 dioptres) means I am usually reluctant to wear glasses (especially outside where I would be taking them on and off to look through an eyepiece) but it is sufficient to blur detail during naked eye observing. The Vixen SG binoculars give me back the ability to see the sky in focus and their individually focusable eyepieces allow me to compensate for the slight difference between my eyes.

Messier 37, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:33:28, Visible with Vixen SG binoculars with averted vision – I hope that will improve as I dark adapt. 21:36:14, Update to previous comment – I have just been able to observe M37 with direct vision through Vixen binoculars. Damian took a look himself and saw a meteor go through the field of view of the binoculars – always a spectacular sight in the Vixen SG. We then used 21mm Ethos with Paracorr to observe M37. Beautiful!


Pinwheel Cluster – Messier 36, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:43:27, Comparing the view in my Explore Scientific 20mm vs Damian’s Ethos 21mm the view is very similar.


Starfish Cluster – Messier 38, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:45:25, Another nice view of an easily seen open cluster in the Orion Dobsonian telescopes.


NGC 1907, Open Cluster in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 21:46:02, However we preferred of this cluster to that of M38 close by. Faint but we readily saw it. Not really challenging…now this would be a good one to spot in the Vixen binoculars! Not that we saw it with these binoculars tonight!


North America Nebula – NGC 7000, Bright Nebula in Cygnus,17 Nov 2017, 21:53:03, I read the other day that nothing is brighter than the naked eye view and that magnification does not increase contrast contrary to the popular view – instead it increases the number of retinal sensory cells covered by the image and hence increases visibility. Therefore, for extended large faint objects, they are easier to observe at low magnification, as long as sufficient retinal receptors are covered. Therefore, there is an optimal magnification for each object which is the best compromise between the benefits and negative effects of magnification. For many larger objects, this optimal magnification is a lot less than many of us usually think.

I decided to put this information to the test tonight by trying to observe my nemesis – NGC 7000 – I can never see it in Lichfield. I used the Vixen SG binoculars on NGC 7000 to see if they would break my run of bad luck with this object….


22:04:47…..Success with the Vixen binoculars! NGC 7000 was elusive but definitely visible with averted vision. It popped in and out of view – lasting only a moment each time but then my eye would automatically wonder towards it and it disappeared immediately. Another wow for tonight!


IC 2149, Planetary Nebula in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 22:06:28, Well done to Damian for finding this! Drop down from Capella to Menkalinan – slightly NE from there. Clearly blurred with 8mm Ethos, but must have been a nightmare for him to find by star-hopping tonight with his lower power eyepieces. UHC filter made it slightly clearer. We did not have access to an OIII filter tonight to compare, which is supposed to work better.


NGC 7814, Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus,17 Nov 2017, 22:20:24, Found by myself and successfully observed – a great success! Wow! Very faint in these Lichfield skies. Slight darkening. I think this is the brighter of the Pegasus cluster galaxies. I have been reading about observing this Sky and Telescope. Perhaps something really for darker skies than ours but nice to have made a foray into this group.


Crab Nebula – Messier 1, Bright Nebula in Taurus,17 Nov 2017, 22:27:27, Big! Even in 17mm Ethos.


The ‘Leaping Minnow’ asterism and the ‘Cheshire Cat’ Asterism in Auriga,17 Nov 2017, 22:40:34. Damian showed me the Leaping Minnow asterism and the Cheshire Cat Asterism in Auriga, both of which are in his presentation for RAG next week after he found references to them in previous magazine articles I’d sent him. Both of these required considerable imagination on my part to see the things they are meant to look like(!) It’ll be interesting to see what other RAG members think come the November RAG meeting!


Andromeda Galaxy – Messier 31, Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda,17 Nov 2017, 23:16:39, I tried observing this galaxy with my Watec 120 video camera and seven-inch screen. This was a failure in the Dob. I had to ask Damian for his help to track the scope on Capella whilst we tried to attain focus. Too much magnification and not enough in-focus when I tried to make use a focal reducer. Stars were shooting past the screen. Not practical.


However, the image intensified eyepieces we made years ago did well. M31 was crisp and bright (but perhaps not as impressive as we’d expected considering it relative ‘brightness’…? In fairness though, Damian pointed out the dust lanes in the ‘green’ image we were viewing which was not something easily seen through our eyepieces.


‘Mirach’s ghost’ NGC 404 a Mag 10.2 elliptical galaxy showed up better in the image intensified eyepiece than in the normal eyepiece! Damian found this fairly easily in this 17mm Ethos, even with the star in the same field of view, thankfully it was just out of the range of secondary mirror’s diffraction spikes.


NGC 752 in Triangulum – this is a big open cluster found easily with whatever we used. Damian tells me he often heads to this after all the unsuccessful attempts he has had to view M33 !


Damian found M33 using the image intensified eyepiece after trying with his 21mm Ethos and heated laser pointer. Then, averted vision with 17mm Ethos allowed us to identify its enormous size and Damian claimed he could see a part-spiral structure – he did not require Lord Rosse’s enormous scope to see it! (William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse (17 June 1800 – 31 October 1867) was an Anglo-Irish astronomer who had several telescopes built. His 72-inch telescope, built in 1845 and colloquially known as the “Leviathan of Parsonstown” was famously used to observe spiral structure in M51. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Parsons,_3rd_Earl_of_Rosse)


Almach – Gamma1 Andromedae, Double Star in Andromeda,17 Nov 2017, 23:43:32, Beautiful open pairing – a main yellow/orange with a smaller sapphire blue – Nick will be proud of us looking at double stars!


NGC 2158, Open Cluster in Gemini,17 Nov 2017, 23:46:15, ‘the more difficult ‘companion’ to M35 easily seen in both scopes. I used a little higher mag than Damian, preferring 14mm Explore Scientific to his 21mm Ethos.


IC 443, Bright Nebula in Gemini,17 Nov 2017, 23:48:10, Had a look – couldn’t see – ridiculous attempt really at mag 12 – far too faint an object for these skies. I always live in hope though that we can push the boundaries!


Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion,17 Nov 2017, 23:49:55, First view through branches of tree. Poor view will be better later but worth recording – at 23.45.


Little Dumbbell Nebula – Messier 76, Planetary Nebula in Perseus,18 Nov 2017, 00:00:50, Damian also found this. Really does look like a miniature version of the Dumbbell nebula M27. Bright in eyepiece. Also shows up with structure in the image intensified eyepiece.


BREAK TIME – Seasonal mulled wine (Nick would not be impressed with our consumption of alcohol… perhaps less so with the warm muffin!) After Damian had warmed his toes on the kitchen radiator, we headed back out…


Little Dumbbell Nebula – Messier 76, Planetary Nebula in Perseus,18 Nov 2017, 00:35:10, Appearing larger in the 8mm Ethos, significant structure visible.


Back to the Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion,18 Nov 2017, 00:36:13 how sitting between an opening in the garden trees, Very long ‘wings’ in 14mm Explore Scientific 100 degree eyepiece. Unfortunately, collimation problems showed up in my scope when I used 6mm Explore Scientific – I could only see four stars. Too much of a seagull of the stars from coma. Damian could still only see four stars with 10mm Ethos in his better collimated scope, so sky conditions had part to play here. Plenty of detail though to be had including M43 brighter region around the ‘fish mouth’.


Double Cluster – NGC 869, Open Cluster in Perseus,18 Nov 2017, 01:05:46, Do you prefer the view of the Double Cluster in 17mm Ethos or 9mm Explore Scientific? Tonight, we could see that the former resulted in a view showing more of the context of the surrounding stars, the latter left a view of spectacular diamonds (the stars) on velvet (black background). Tonight, I preferred the latter but accept it is a matter of taste. Damian went to hunt for the ‘Muscle Man Cluster’ (also in the November talk), but had forgotten just how big this asterism is so couldn’t identify him – basically the majority of Stock 2 Open Cluster!


Uranus, Planet in Pisces,18 Nov 2017, 01:16:24, Too late! By time we thought of looking at this it was behind the house.

Messier 81 & Messier 82, Galaxies in Ursa Major,18 Nov 2017, 01:21:22, Excellent view with 17mm Ethos and amazing view with image intensified eyepiece, showing detail and dust lanes in the Cigar Galaxy. Incredible!



We also had a go at the RAG November ‘Christmas Night Sky Challenge’ (regurgitated Damian tells me from his 2015 talk!)….


Messier 108, Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major,18 Nov 2017, 01:23:00, Also showed up nicely in image intensified eyepiece. In the Ethos eyepiece, it was a much fainter slash – significantly more difficult to find using normal eyepiece than with the image intensified eyepiece. Conversely, the close-by Owl Nebula M97) was much more obvious with the Ethos eyepiece and significantly fainter in the image intensified eyepiece – interesting how different objects respond differently to different modalities of observation.


Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392, Planetary Nebula in Gemini,18 Nov 2017, 01:38:38, Suddenly expanded in size when we looked away from it (averted vision) then shrank down again when we looked directly at it (direct vision) in 17mm Ethos – this was quite a profound effect. With the 8mm Ethos, it was very fuzzy and Damian noted two shells around this planetary nebula, and some hints of detail within these shells. The 10mm Ethos showed a slightly different appearance emphasising the two layers at the expense of loss other detail. I am quite excited that I found this object first – although the truth is that I was helped by having seen it in the past with Nick using GOTO scopes, so I was aware of what it looked like and recognised it as I panned past it with a lower power finder eyepiece. This was perhaps the biggest and brightest of the ‘fuzzy stellar-like planetary nebulae’ that we observed this session.


The festive… Christmas Tree Cluster – NGC 2264, Open Cluster in Monoceros,18 Nov 2017, 01:53:41, First time seen this upright just like its name! Seeing this tonight makes me feel that Christmas is coming soon. Big object, fills a good portion of a 17mm Ethos.


Damian informed me of another addition to his November presentation build, Hubble’s Variable Nebula – NGC 2261, Bright Nebula in Monoceros,18 Nov 2017, 01:59:13, I am proud! I found this using the 17mm Ethos when Damian had more difficulty! It is usually the other way around (Damian is significantly better at star-hopping that I am) so hence my excitement. I did use his scope though, after I had tripped over his power pack and injured my shin – Damian would say, “Only you, Andrew!” (it looked pretty bad to be honest after we had finished for the night – taken a lump of skin off, ouch! – Damian).


Damian notes here: he was in the correct vicinity and just needed the more detailed SkySafari map to find the nebula (which was also his suggestion!). He’s also ‘not great’ at star hopping, but a nice low magnification/wide-field eyepiece, sky map/red head lamp  and heated laser pointer all flatter his supposed ‘skills’!


We also looked at Hubble’s Variable Nebula in the image intensified eyepiece and found that it was visible there but the view was better in the Ethos eyepiece. With the 10mm Ethos, the nebula is clearly triangular. Similarly, in 17mm, the triangular shape is obvious – like a fat tailed comet.


Beehive Cluster – Messier 44, Open Cluster in Cancer, 18 Nov 2017, 02:31:50, Vixen SG binoculars made it a breeze to find this. Large ‘smudge’ in Cancer.


Messier 101, Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major,18 Nov 2017, 02:36:26, Amazingly I think I could just see this with Vixen 2.1x binoculars by averted vision – although very faint and the view in this direction was where light pollution was maximal, so I am not 100% sure of this observation.


NGC 2903, Spiral Galaxy in Leo,18 Nov 2017, 02:37:26, Just to the SW of the

inverted questionmark that forms the head of Leo . Good view in eyepiece and image intensified eyepiece. Lesson from tonight: image intensifiers work well on galaxies, and provide an alternative to filters which do not work well on galaxies but better on nebulae.


Whirlpool Galaxy – Messier 51, Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici,18 Nov 2017, 02:40:54,

02:46. Damian asked me to find it then in the scope, still fitted with the image intensified eyepiece. For the first time I used this device to actually locate and then view the galaxy – just two faint cores, no ‘bridge’ visible linking them.


I saw a fantastic bright meteor coming out of Gemini with a persistent trail.


03:00. Called the session to a halt as a large bank of cloud rolled in and covered the sky.



Sensible winter observing.

Following hours in observing and too much time fishing in winter ,here’s a few ideas.

Some advice for this time of year . Wrap up ! Most body heat leaves at your neck. A buff or scarf are ideal.Thick socks are essential, a thin inner and thick outer are ideal, cardboard insoles hold heat and are free.Thin gloves are useful. A thick down jacket is lovely ( I use a Trespass Igloo jacket), matched with base layers, top and bottom. Don’t struggle on , a few hours will leave you pleased ,instead of fed up.

Be aware that bringing in refractors from severe cold to central heating can in extreme conditions , crack the objective. This is particularly the case with fluorite . Similarly don’t overtighten fixing bolts , metal contracts in the cold. A chap a few years ago managed this and his mount slid off the mount. The cheap grease often found in focusers can gel at lower temperatures. It’s an easy job for Lee to strip them and change to a light Lithium grease. Be aware that cold will zap battery power, an insulated box or an old blanket will keep voltage up. Very often GOTO will suffer when voltage drops, you might be surprised to check the voltage on your handset reading the ubiquitous 11.3v. I use a trickle charger connected up to the battery .

Although the best viewing is after midnight , when the air settles, it’s coldest just before dawn. Often you’ll find the deep frost creeps in then. Watch for air currents that you generate yourself , these can come from hugging a Dobsonian for example. Dew is not much of a problem, until spring and autumn ,there will be a greater heat difference between ground and air on a hard surface than from grass.This will add to heat currents and dew through temperature difference. The coldest month is probably February, you’ll find snow to be a nuisance, throwing light upwards.

A hot drink is always welcome , beware of opening the fridge door for milk. Your dark adapted eyes will lose night vision, it’s that fridge light that stays on all the time ! I avoid coffee, it has an adverse effect on vision and although you’ll get a caffeine high , you’ll soon be back to below par !

Beware of 4am . Your body is at its lowest , its equivalent to being over the drink drive limit. It’s when you do silly things ! Appreciate that your body needs at least 7 hours sleep, too little can seriously affect your health and even affect your DNA. This might lead to a different species , Homo astronomensis ! Sleep is a restorative process for your body and mind.

There are no medals for suffering out there ! Make your list of objectives and enjoy these long , dark and clear nights ( whenever), Nick.

Highly transparent sky , winter treasures.

Swadlincote 12/11/17 Celestron C6r Heq5pro mount.

Dark early and Auriga rising , it’s always a surprise to catch the whole Summer Triangle in November . Time to sweep up the Messier’s , even M33 showed a fuzzy cloud at x50. Even M1 looked good.Transparency was superb, but especially lower down , the seeing was hard to cope with. I suppose those indoors had stoked up the heating , hot air making it’s presence known. Tegmine didn’t split out into a triple , something I’d been waiting for. I thought something was wrong , either with the scope or the eyes. Seeing to the north was exceptionally poor. Mind you , that’s in the direction of Darbados !

A stunning M57, M27 and keeping the Oiii filter in , a lovely sweep around the Eastern Veil, NGC 6995-2. Up to the Blue Snowball, NGC 7662, a lovely sight . Back to the planetaries and NGC 6543 ,”The Cat’s Eye “nebula in Draco and the challenging blink of the “Bow Tie Nebula”, NGC 40. Catch the open cluster NGC 752 at the end of Andromeda, this is a stunning open cluster , another Caroline Herschel discovery.

A bright colourful Uranus and a dimmer Neptune followed. Waiting for Gemini, I went back to some favourite binaries , the close Zeta Aquarii, split at 1.7″ and the colourful showcase iota Trianguli at 3.8″, a yellow and red here.


Draco gives a mass of binaries.

39 Draconis (SAO 30012) is a seven star system,a lovely bright primary with a +8.1 secondary here.

16-17 Draconis shows a lovely delicate triple (SAO 30012)catch the close 3.0″ companion to the wide 90.0″ secondary.

μ Draconis ( “Arrakis”of Dune ! ) twins at 2.3″.(SAO 30239)

Psi Draconis (SAO 8891)lovely at 30″.

40-41 Draconis (SAO 8994) near twins at 18.6”.

Σ 2348 at 18h33.9m +52 21′ , beautiful.

ο Draconis (SAO 31218) an orange giant with a faint +8.3 companion.Draco is a very rich hunting ground.

Gemini and the massive M35 with the two billion year old cluster NGC 2158. Wasat was challenging ,but gave the delightful companion. The “Eskimo Nebula” NGC 2392 gave it’s very best , transparency showing details of the hood and easy central star at x200.Orion was well up , but seeing bothered the Trapezium, NGC 1981 and the “37” cluster , NGC 2169 looked magnificent .

Over to Monoceros and that huge “Hagrid’s Dragon” , NGC 2301 filling the ep at x100. Both NGC 2264 (“Christmas tree”) and NGC 2244 gave good views.

Sleep called at 1.00, waking early there was the magnificent sight of a high Leo in the south , Spica and Virgo to the east and Mars above the roof tops.

Going to be a later start next time under clear skies ! Nick

November 2017 Night Sky.

We have both Neptune and Uranus up at 3.7″ discs. Then there’s the peak of the Leonids meteor shower. Gemini will give the blue snowball , the smaller bilobed NGC 2371-2 planetary nebula and M35. To the top will be Lynx and NGC 2419, the intergalactic wanderer. Taurus will be up earlier with M1 and clusters. Auriga will give the clusters. Cassiopeia will be high with Perseus and Pegasus to the south.

Should be prime time to spot the Pinwheel galaxy (M33). Some good clusters to Andromeda and binaries to Triangulum. Orion will soon be up , don’t forget NGC 2169 ( the “37” cluster ) and the binary to the end of the “3”.

To the north will be Monoceros ,beta ( best triple) , NGC 2301 ( Hagrid’s dragon), Xmas tree cluster and nebulae here. Leo rises later. Look for Procyon and to the north , the faint stars of Cancer. Here is M44. The huge impressive Praesepe and the lovely compact M67.
I’ve detailed some targets here which are worth observing for drama , colour and their stories,

Perseus. Double cluster NGC884 and 869.
Cassiopeia. NGC 7789 ( “Carolines rose”)
NGC 663
M33 Triangulum Galaxy
NGC 752 And. Open cluster discovered by Herschel.
NGC 404 (g) ghost of Mirach.
NGC 7662 blue snowball.
NGC 6790 (+10.5) planetary nebula
NGC 6709 open cluster , NGC 6760 globular cluster.
Aries NGC 772 (+10.) spiral galaxy.
Auriga , M38 ( background cluster NGC 2158) 36,37. NGC 2281 open cluster. IC 2149 planetary nebula (+10.6)
Cancer , M44 ( Praesepe), M67 compact open cluster.
Draco, NGC 6543 ( Cats eye nebula) , NGC 4125 galaxy +9.8, NGC 4236 galaxy +9.7.
Gemini , M35 , large open cluster .
The “Eskimo nebula “NGC 2393, look for the hood and the central star.
NGC 2419, the “intergalactic wanderer ” Look for the glimmer of this most distant object ( globular cluster) at the end of a fish hook of stars.

NGC 2301 open cluster ( “Hagrid’s Dragon) very dragon like .
NGC 2237 Rosette nebula , surrounds the cluster NGC 2244.
NGC 2264 cone nebula with the Xmas tree cluster.
NGC 2361 Hind’s variable nebula. Illuminated by R Mon.
M50 fine open cluster.

NGC 2169 the “37” cluster, note the binary in the top of the 3.
NGC 1981 open cluster.

Other notables November
Plasketts star , V640 Mono. Massive spectroscopic binary. 06h37.4m. + 06 08′.x100 mass of Sun

November 2017
Planets , Neptune in Aquarius and Uranus in Pisces.
Meteor shower.
17th is the peak of the Leonids.

Comet. ASSASN is faintly around the pole, about +12 and dimming.



Binary stars, I have includedthe six figure SAO numbers and separations in arc seconds, where available, colour , difficulty and beautiful views abound here !

Almach , colourful in Andromeda 9.7″
Alpheratz 89.3″ 073765
36 Andromedae 1.2″. 074359
56 Andromedae. 202″. 055107
Σ 3004 13.5″. 052927
κ And. Triple 053264
Ho 197 triple 23h11.4m. +38 13′

Zeta 1 Aquarii. 2.3″. 146107 22h 28.8m. -00 01′
94 Aquarii 12.2″. 165625

15 Aquilae 39.3″. 142996
57 Aquilae 35.7″. 143898

Mesartim (γ Αrietis) Rams eyes 7.5″ 096280
Epsilon Arietis 1.3″. 075673
Lambda Arietis 37.3″. 075051
1 Arietis 2.8″. 01h 50.1m. +22 17′
14 Arietis triple 075171

59 Aurigae 22.2″ 059571
41 Aurigae 7.6″ 040924
Σ644 1.6″ 057704 Αuriga.
14 Aurigae faint triple element 057799
Theta Aurigae 4.0″. 058636, triple Bogardus.

Tegmine ( triple) Zeta cancri 097645
Iota Cancri 30.7″ ( winter Albireo) 30.7″ 08h46.7m. +28 46′
Phi 2 Cancri 5.2″ 080188

h 3945 CaMa. 26.8″ 173349 ( another winter Albireo)


1 Camelop 10.3″ 024672
HR 4893 21.4″

11 Camelop 178″ 025001
Σ400 1.4″ 024111
Σ485 17.7″ 013031 in NGC 1502
HR 4893 21.4″ 002102 (Camelop)

“Tegmine” ( triple) Zeta cancri 097645
Iota Cancri 30.7″ ( winter Albireo) 30.7″ 08h46.7m. +28 46′
Phi 2 Cancri 5.2″ 08h26.8m +26 56′

Canis Major
h3945 CaMa. 26.8″ 173353 (another winter Albireo)

Delta Gemini , Wasat 5.8″ 079294
Pi Gem. 060340 Multiple.
Propos , eta Gem.triple 1.8″
Kappa Gem.7.2″ 079653
63 Gem. 43″ 079403
Castor 4.2″ 060198

Monoceros .
Beta . Finest triple , bright. 133317
15 Mon. Multiple 114258
Σ1029 mini Castor . 134234.
Sigma, multiple with Σ 761 to the northwest ( triple), 132406
Meissa (λ) multiple 112922
Trapezium, theta , E &F stars.
Betelgeuse, 176″ wide companion.
Rigel (β) 9.5″ 131907
Mintaka ,52.8″ 132220
Alnitak, wide triple.
33 Orionis 1.9″ 112861
32 Orionis 1.2″ 112849.
Hind’s crimson star (R Leporis) 150058.


From this small total , I would select the following favourites , “Tegmine” ,beta Monocerotis and sigma Orionis. I look forward to “Tegmine” in particular,happy hunting , under ,

clear skies ! Nick.




Swadlincote 1/11/17

Vixen 102 Eq5 goto.

Huge Moon , but so calm out there . Still trying to stretch the 102, cooled and dew heater on the go. Tester in Cassiopeia , Σ65 very clean at 3.3″ and a few more binaries in the fov.
Andromeda and ΟΣ 21,this is 1.2″ , but widening enough for a clear split showing the difference in magnitudes at a stable x222. Very very good seeing . A few more wider doubles in the fov here.

Over to my challenging , 36 Andromedae , (SAO 74359) twins and widening at 1.2″, a lovely split at x222. Being bright I picked it up at with both a 6mm circle T and the 5.5mm UWA.

Some clustiferous stars in Cassiopeia, great views here of these multiples,https://bestdoubles.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/a-cluster-of-clus-tiferous-stars-σ-3037-eng-88-oσ-496shj-355-and-σ-3022/

Clear skies !Nick.

Pushing a 4″ refractor to it’s limits.


Swadlincote 29/10/17 Vixen 102 SP.

After months of barging through faint clusters , deep sky and sub 1.5″ separations , I thought of going with the 102 f10. Finding out what it can do gave a session full of surprise and little wonders. At max I got up to x218 , but usually kicked around x44-x100.

4″ long ota gives colour , contrast , easy focussing and sharp views . It’s the most of efficient optical systemS. If you like your diffraction discs like marbles , it’s all going here ! Against the 150 frac,it’s more interesting to open sub 2″separations and get those dim contrasting companions. A bright moon and a fair amount of light glow , but a wonderfully chill still night and it’s all go !

Kicking off with an old favourite , Miriam,η Persei (SAO 23655) and a lovely orange and blue.
Σ162 ( also in Andromeda) SAO 37536 and this lovely triangular triple showed up at x150.
θ ,theta Persei split at x100 (SAO 38288), a delicate +10companion here.
Σ425 gave a clean 2″ separation at x180 (SAO 56613), a lovely pair of twins.
ΟΣ59, a slightly uneven , but wider 2.7″ split here. (SAO 39031). Really chuffed to see what 4″ can do.

Now a few old favourites,
ζ ,Zeta Persei (SAO 56799), yellow and blue , a mini Rigel. Challenging as the intrusive primary glare focussed in an out and I wasn’t certain. Returning with my sketch board ,I looked again. A clean marble of the primary with a clear speck (+2.9
and +9.2). Same thing with primary glare happened with the nearby
ε Persei, (SAO 56840) narrower , with a +2.9 and +8.9, lovely lemon and blue colours here. Wait for them to appear , revisit , these things come with a big of care !
Σ483 gave a wonderfully open split at 1.6″,the separation here is increasing from the often quoted 1.3″. Clean separation shows good seeing and super 30 + year old Vixen optics.

Over to Andromeda. Just a touch of peanuts with 36 Andromedae. Ho 197 showed a right angled triple here at x50.
Es 2725 showed up in a lovely field with the obviously orange 8 Andromedae and the white 11 Andromedae.
Σ3004 gave a wide pair. The +6.3 primary and the delicate +10.1 make a lovely view.
I tried kappa , but the Moon had bleached out the lovely multiple view. Colour and the delights of Almach and Alpheratz before moving on.

Up to Cassiopeia and the best view of iota yet , open up just three lovely marbly points. Not as bright as β Monocerotis, but lovelier.
Inside and to the top (frac view) of the cluster IC1848, a few doubles here, but it was a surprise to open up Σ306 at 2″(SAO 12470) there is a third fainter component here.
γ Cassiopiaea and a no show, such a violent star !
ψ (Psi) was full of colour and a delightful show (SAO 11751).

Very pleased to have pushed the scope, the 23mm Panoptic gave tremendous wide views. In most cases ,it was easy to pick out binaries. The 5.5mm Meade uwa swept up the finest of splits.

Well aided by a huge brass focussing wheel crafted by a good friend. This greatly eased fine r&p focussing , I am loathe to change anything much on older gear !
Time to get out there and pick up some wonderful colour and detail of multiples,under clear skies ! Nick.

Observing Log Friday 27/10/2017 7-9:30 pm

The forecast was correct, clear skies, a chance to used the skywatcher ST102 bought earlier in year and only used for solar work so far. ( see pic.1)

I started under the carport ,as moon was not visible from back garden, not quite first quarter, used it to complete lining up red dot finder, took some getting use to smaller image after the 8″ Newtonian or the 9.25″ SCT. When at IAS I bought a smartphone adapter to take afocal images using the wifes’ new smartphone, now was on opportunity to try it out, pic.2 shows adapter and phone, pic.3  image of moon, notice the chromatic aberration, however visually it was not noticeable. The image was taken with a 30mm plossl eyepiece with this 500mm focal length refractor this gives a mag of x17. The crater marked with a red dot in the centre is Ptolemaeus, at slightly higher magnifications the centre of crater appeared to have horizontal bands across it, is this an artefact, blemish on objective/ diagonal?? at a mag of x83 (6mm plossl) all was revealed there were shadow bands from the peaks on the Eastern crater wall, the wall reaches heights of 3000m (9000+ ft) and with the sun relatively low on the moons horizon the peaks cast some long shadows, it was fascinating watching the shadows shorten even over a relatively short period of time , Liz had taken her phone back, so I have attempted a sketch of the shadows cast over the crater floor ( see pic.4),  the floor is relatively smooth, having been flooded with lava, some very minor impact craters formed since, the darker shading on the west is due to floor slumping towards crater wall. This was the first time I have seen such marked shadows on a crater floor formed by the crater walls, shadows from central  peaks are usually observed and just blanket shadow from the wall, the continual changing of relative positions of sun and moon makes the terminator a dynamic visual environment, there is always something new to see, even in one evening.

I then relocated to the back garden, starting in the SW with Albireo in Cygnus, the 10mm plossl  ( x50) clearly showed B1 cyg ( Alberio) as a orange red K class star and B2 cyg B class blue star. Taking a line down to zeta Aq from Albireo, bisecting the line from Vega to Altair, just slightly left the Coat hanger asterism fell neatly into the field of view using a 40mm plossl ( x12.5) , normally I would use binoculars for this target, but the wider field of view afforded by this small refractor enables it to be seen in its entirety. Up into Lyra,aiming between Sulafat and Shellak to locate the Ring Nebula ( M57), fuzzy ring but no hint of central white dwarf in this planetary nebula. Continuing west into Hercules M13 and then up to M92, even with 6mm plossl ( x 83) not a lot of detail. Better with the double cluster in Perseus and as I headed to M31, Andromeda galaxy the cloud had rolled in bring the session to a close at around 9:30.

It was nice to get out with some clear skies and I found the AZ3 mount that came with the ST102 easy to use and manoeuvre and although the refractor shows some chromatic abberation as shown by the photograph of moon , visually it was not noticeable enough to be a problem.

here’s to more clear skies!!!

Pete H