Observing log 26/8/2017, Andy Thornett and Nick Cox, Swadlincote

Observing log 26/8/2017, Andy Thornett and Nick Cox, Swadlincote

I went around to Nick Cox’s house tonight in Swadlincote. We used his six-inch C6R Celestron telescope on HEQ5 Pro in his back-garden observatory (shed) with the sounds of hedgehogs snuffling about outside – reminds me of observing at Damian’s house!

Nick is a highly skilled observer and it was a true pleasure to spend an evening in his company. Apart from excellent observing, witty remarks, a great smile that kept popping out and a true sense of comradeship helped me to really enjoy myself tonight. Damian and I share a similar relationship and it is these evenings which encourage me to keep getting the telescope out, even if it is cold and I am tired and there is a good film on the TV!

We observed over 50 objects between 9pm and 1.30am and I dropped into bed around 2am a very contented fellow!

The highlight of the evening without doubt were the magnification views of the Eastern Veil Nebula – I was actually quite shocked at how easily we saw it – no peering for slight nebulosity here – it was in your face and very obvious by direct vision with a vast amount of detail along the edge of the C-shaped curve which I could easily follow up into the field of view above and down into the field of view below.

What a night!


Saturn, Planet in Ophiuchus,26 Aug 2017, 21:16:24, We started the evening in a gorgeous clear night with Saturn. Transparency poor but seeing good – Saturn low over tree so quality poor.

Iota Cassiopeiae, Variable Double Star in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 21:20:49, Lovely triple. Both Nick and I thought that one of the three is green. Lot of debate regarding whether there are green stars but this looked green to me.

Elephant Trunk – IC 1396, Bright Nebula in Cepheus,26 Aug 2017, 21:25:20, Could not see nebula but within it is Struve 2816 – this is another triple. Tonight, it looked like white, blue and green star. Nick felt blue star was violet. Close to it the Garnet Star looked very red. Defocusing the telescope revealed a large ring of colour – I have not tried that technique before.

HD 223070, Double Star in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 21:30:04, Listed as double star in Sky Safari, we could only just make out the companion star tonight. Both white in colour to me.

HD 223070, Double Star in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 21:33:06, Nick has fantastic view from his garden. Little light pollution evident with no pink colour near horizon. Tonight, has very little cloud. What a night! And it is on a bank holiday weekend too!

Garnet Star – Mu Cephei, Variable Star in Cepheus,26 Aug 2017, 21:40:11, Otto Struve 461 – a beautiful group of five stars looking like a small cluster but in fact they are gravitationally bound so in fact are a multiple star system. Never seen this before – got to show Damian!

Xi Cephei, Double Star in Cepheus,26 Aug 2017, 21:43:18, This is another double, which I also thought included a green secondary. However, here Nick disagreed with me!

IC 4756, Open Cluster in Serpens,26 Aug 2017, 21:44:55,

IC 4756, Open Cluster in Serpens,26 Aug 2017, 21:49:33, Also called Graff’s cluster it is enormous two x two fields of view in Panoptic 23mm. How come Messier missed this one?

NGC 6709, Open Cluster in Aquila,26 Aug 2017, 21:50:47, Compared to last one much more compact and fainter open cluster than previous one – I cam forgive Messier for missing this one!

NGC 6781, Planetary Nebula in Aquila,26 Aug 2017, 21:51:48, Ghost of the Moon planetary nebula. Just popped out by averted vision.

Eastern Veil Nebula – NGC 6992, Bright Nebula in Cygnus,26 Aug 2017, 21:55:44, OIII filter. The Eastern Veil. I have never seen it as good as this. Obvious curve over two fields of view in BST 25mm. You could not miss it! Wow! It was not even that dark. Milky Way only just visible. I previously had expected to need very dark skies to see the Veil Nebula like this.

Dumbbell Nebula – Messier 27, Planetary Nebula in Vulpecula,26 Aug 2017, 21:57:58, Very bright. Obvious non-circular shape with pale ends top and bottom. Another wow!

Messier 15, Globular Cluster in Pegasus,26 Aug 2017, 22:01:00, With Meade ultrawide 8.8mm, this was another very bright condensed cluster.

Caroline’s Rose – NGC 7789, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 22:04:27, Easily misses at moment. Interesting that the contrast difference here with background poor whereas Eastern Veil good but Nick was using OIII filter for Eastern Veil – really males difference.

Messier 103, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 22:06:13, The A asterism. This is an open cluster and the stars of the cluster can be seen as fuzz around main stars of the A.

Almach – Gamma1 Andromedae, Double Star in Andromeda,26 Aug 2017, 22:07:48, Usually used as an alignment star for GOTO mounts, it has tonight bright white primary and blue/green secondary.

NGC 7331, Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus,26 Aug 2017, 22:12:15, This galaxy is believed to be like the Milky Way. A grey smudge better seen by averted vision tonight.

Ring Nebula – Messier 57, Planetary Nebula in Lyra,26 Aug 2017, 22:13:46, Bright grey ring in Nagler 13mm without filter. When we added in an OIII filter, it did not do a great deal to enhance the Ring Nebula but did remove all the stars!

NGC 663, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 22:20:30, Quite a bit of cloud has come over. Cluster popped in and out as cloud passed across. An interesting observing experience as result!

North America Nebula – NGC 7000, Bright Nebula in Cygnus,26 Aug 2017, 23:28:01, Clear again now. Unable to see this. Probably too big. Not visible naked eye either.

Eastern Veil Nebula again – NGC 6992, Bright Nebula in Cygnus,26 Aug 2017, 23:29:36, Brighter now,

Blue Snowball Nebula – NGC 7662, Planetary Nebula in Andromeda,26 Aug 2017, 23:30:01, Bright round condensed blue,

Heart Nebula – IC 1805, Bright Nebula in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 23:31:03, Cluster visible and some faint nebulosity surrounding the stars – first time I have ever seen nebula. We were using OIII filter.

Caroline’s Rose – NGC 7789, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 23:32:16, Caroline’s Rose. Earlier poor view. Now much more obvious with dust lanes.

Pinwheel Galaxy – Messier 33, Spiral Galaxy in Triangulum,26 Aug 2017, 23:34:55, Central core visible no detail tonight. However, seen with direct vision.

61 Cygni, Double Star in Cygnus,26 Aug 2017, 23:36:52, Also called Piazzi’s flying double stars. Hoping to see those in a minute.

Bode’s Nebulae – Messier 81, Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major,26 Aug 2017, 23:38:01, M81 and M82 seen in same field of view. Detail minimal but then magnification low.

61 Cygni, Double Star in Cygnus,26 Aug 2017, 23:39:20, Milky Way now obvious band overhead. Sky getting quite dark. These two stars have fastest proper motion and high orbital motion too. Two very bright points of light in a very nice star cloud, brighter than some nebulae we have seen tonight.

52 Cygni, Double Star in Cygnus,26 Aug 2017, 23:43:16, Sits in middle Eastern Veil. This star is also a binary. At 216x magnification, the 4.2 mag primary and 8.7 mag secondary were visible, the latter quite faint in comparison to former.

36 Andromedae, Double Star in Andromeda,26 Aug 2017, 23:46:10, At 1.1 arcsecond between stars only, Nick wanted to give me a challenge. Again, 216x magnification. Good test of seeing. Could I see them both? I could do so! Clear split between the stars visible.

Psi Cassiopeiae, Double Star in Cassiopeia,26 Aug 2017, 23:49:25, Another testing double. Classic triple. I could see primary and secondary but difficulty splitting secondary although Nick could see the split.

NGC 6781, Planetary Nebula in Aquila,26 Aug 2017, 23:55:15, View not as good as earlier probably die to increased moisture content in sky as it cools reflecting light pollution from Swadlincote back down to earth.

Double Double stars – Epsilon1 Lyrae, Double Star in Lyra,26 Aug 2017, 23:58:17, The famous Double Double star. Both doubles in field of view – pairings are at ninety degrees to each other. Not a challenge but worth seeing!

HD 178849, Double Star in Lyra,27 Aug 2017, 00:02:45, The other double double in Lyra – these parallel to each other.

NGC 147, Elliptical Galaxy in Cassiopeia,27 Aug 2017, 00:06:31, Not obvious,

NGC 185, Elliptical Galaxy in Cassiopeia,27 Aug 2017, 00:11:13, Difficult to observe but we could see it – would pop into view for a moment then disappear like a rabbit sticking its head up out of hole. Oval shaped not a simple slash.

NGC 1023, Elliptical Galaxy in Perseus,27 Aug 2017, 00:13:38, Non-stellar fuzz just a little bigger than the stars. Mot particularly impressive for the brightest star in Pegasus.

NGC 7331, Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus,27 Aug 2017, 00:16:19, Core visible. Transparency deteriorating but seeing still steady. Pleiades now up.

Mesarthim – Gamma Arietis, Variable Double Star in Aries,27 Aug 2017, 00:19:05, Bright pairing of white/pink star and blue/white star to me.

Pi Arietis, Variable Double Star in Aries,27 Aug 2017, 00:21:33, I can split the double bit not the triple,

California Nebula – NGC 1499, Bright Nebula in Perseus,27 Aug 2017, 00:30:10, Not able to see any part of this nebula even with OIII filter.

Double Cluster – NGC 869, Open Cluster in Perseus,27 Aug 2017, 00:31:27, Double Cluster. Beautiful! Diamond points on velvet,

Pacman Nebula – NGC 281, Bright Nebula in Cassiopeia,27 Aug 2017, 00:33:24, Small amount nebulosity visible around cluster. Not a lot but some is there.

NGC 188, Open Cluster in Cepheus,27 Aug 2017, 00:37:05, Unable to observe this 6-billion-year-old globular cluster 1600 light years from the galactic plane using either Nagler 15mm or Meade ultrawide 8.8mm eyepiece. However, just visible with Hyperion eyepiece only just visible. Click on link below to view a PDF scanned page from Webb deep sky book that discusses NGC 188 (thanks Nick for that PDF).

Webb deep sky info accessed 270817 (PDF)

Iris Nebula – NGC 7023, Bright Nebula in Cepheus,27 Aug 2017, 00:48:15, The nebulosity is visible here. Again, it is very faint and large.

Elephant Trunk – IC 1396, Bright Nebula in Cepheus,27 Aug 2017, 00:49:20, Previously tonight we looked at the triple star here but we have come back now to look at the nebulosity. The problem turned out to be star clouds. They are quite bright and so it was difficult to decide what was nebulosity and what was star cloud.

Messier 15, Globular Cluster in Pegasus,27 Aug 2017, 00:57:20,

Andromeda Galaxy – Messier 31, Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda,27 Aug 2017, 01:04:02, M31, M32 and M110 visible but detail poor now that moisture content going up in sky.

NGC 1664, Open Cluster in Auriga,27 Aug 2017, 01:07:05, Faint and quite bleached now. Sky lot brighter now.


From Nick:

Hi Andy,

Many thanks for your time, it was wonderful to share so many sights.

It was a super trawl, the mount was getting them central, that was two-star alignment. After you left, the sky improved for half an hour and I revisited some targets. NGC 188 sparkled at me! I put in x150, the wee devil. It’s very much like the hunting down of NGC 2419, you know it’s there! The hedgehog was busy drinking later.

Also saw the “fireworks galaxy” NGC 6946, M34 (always overlooked), M76, M17 (“Swan Nebula”) , very clear from here and M2 (below M15). Constantly amazed that not only can we observe these, but there’s so much known about them.

I think seeing the Veil, even without true astronomical darkness was ace! Here’s to many more sessions like this,


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