Observing Log 29/3/2019 @ 20:40 @ 30/3/2019 @ 01:30, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Swadlincote.
Last night was AGM night at RAG and, after the AGM, we experienced one of those incredible nights – a clear sky that had been predicted all week so that many of us came prepared with telescopes, coats and hats, the latter two probably being the more important as the temperature dropped as the evening wore on!
Those RAG members who went outside to observe included Lee, Rob Leonard (with Sam and James), Nick Rufo/ Bob Williams, Angella and Alan, Ed/ Dave/ Chris Howe/ Chris Ford/ David Dugmore/ Adam/ Roger/Jon Pendleton/ Geoff/ Paul B / Paul Simkins /Pete Simkin /two new Members – Darren and new member Martin (Martin stayed right till the end), Heather, Neil Wyatt and myself.
Neil had bought along a whole imaging setup which was taking subs all night of a variety of targets and provided quite a talking point for astrophotographers and non astrophotographers alike. It still left him plenty of time to observe with the rest of us.
For me, observing started with an ISS pass over the forestry centre, observed from the car park behind the seminar room where we held the AGM. I wish I had bought along my hand held amateur radio to see if we could hear any of the astronomers on the ISS – sometimes they will speak to schools and other groups by ham radio.
I bought along my trusty Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm scope, as it is difficult for me to fit anything bigger in the car on Fridays these days – now that I cart two six foot lads and their kit to school daily and my car boot is full of medical examination equipment. Sadly, there was no time for me to go home and collect a scope after work before RAG started. Although this scope is a trusted workhorse, and I had a great view of the Beehive Cluster through it, last night was not the night of small scopes but a time for the big Dobsonian light buckets. I could not see any galaxies in the Virgo cluster with my small scope last night – contrast this with Rob’s scopes below….
Rob Leonard bought along his 8 inch Sky Watcher Dob, in my view the best value telescope available new in the UK today, and we observed M51, M65 and M66, and M81 and M82, in that telescope. Rob also found clusters in Auriga, amongst others. I was quite proud to have found the Owl Nebula using this scope and my OIII filter. At this time of the night, this object was very faint.
The evening was initially partially cloudy but it cleared around midnight and for those of us that stayed the fun then really began. Rob erected his USA Orion 14 inch Dob and this scope was simply fantastic. It became a galaxy feist – I found nine galaxies within two fields of view around M86/Markarian’s Chain within a few seconds and the issue became identifying which was which. I could see the third NGC galaxy in the M65/M66 trio, Rob found the Sombero Galaxy, the Needle Galaxy and the Black Eye Galaxy. He even showed us the core of M101 – a very difficult object indeed to find.
I really just congratulate Rob on his excellent scopes and on his impressive star hopping abilities. This particular Orion USA Dob is an intelliscope version that he purchased second hand without intelliscope digital setting circle so he does rely currently on his abilities and as the above list shows it does not stop him at all!
I had to leave at 01:30 am due to commitments the following day but I left Rob and Neil with their scopes, continuing to observe and image the night sky. I wonder what great sights they saw after I left?