Nick Cox

The difference that dark sky makes.

Dark skies rule !

Star-hopping with a chart is easy . Constellations can melt into the background. Very often the sky can look almost brown and granular with stars. The Milky Way becomes a huge , torn and twisted ribbon across the sky. In Galloway , I could only find Cepheus by the Milky arm leading to it. In addition , even a small scope will pick up sights impossible from light polluted sites.

Through binoculars for instance , the spiral arms and knots of M33 can be picked out. Another example is the galaxy NGC 4449 in Canes Venatici. It’s an irregular star burst active galaxy, with a high rate of star formation. A halo of hydrogen indicates it’s reactions with other galaxies. From here , at the edge of town , it appears just as a smudge . By averted vision it does appear irregular. However , dark sky and a bit of aperture and it’s possible to resolve its stars . A stunning glistening sight !

What really pained me on return home was NGC 891 . I had found and observed this in a 10″ Dobsonian. Not only was the central dust lane there , but the pronounced halo. From home , I couldn’t find the pointer star ρ Persei. Goto with an 8″ Newtonian and there was just nothing there !

Its worth persevering with faint fuzzies , there are good bright targets , like Bode’s and M94. I was surprised to get the whole Leo triplet a few nights ago. Otherwise   It’s back to those inexhaustible binary stars , clusters, planets and brighter nebulae.

As for aperture , it makes little difference in town , but opens up to give more detail depending on the viewing conditions. Good indicators are M33 and Searching for those familiar constellations , under ,

clear skies ! Nick.

Faint fuzzies and the comet.

Swadlincote 17/12/18 C6r on Eq6 pro.

Up at 4 , lovely dark sky , no neighbouring lights . Firstly , find that elusive comet 46/P. Just over the roof and very bright with a green tinge.UMa overhead leading down to Arcturus and a full Bootes. Spotted the “ghost of Jupiter ” bright planetary nebula and the “Spindle galaxy” in Sextans , a long bright NGC 3115.

Up to Leo and a surprise to catch all three galaxies of the triplet at x90. Then some views of the Canes Venatici galaxies. M94 being the brightest easiest catch between Cor Caroli  and Chara.

Down to a very bright M3 before returning to the galaxies. I had always very much enjoyed their shapes from darker skies . Views here are mainly by averted vision, any sort of light pollution will make big aperture ineffective. From dark sky sites for instance , NGC 4449 is really resolvable.

Finished on the gorgeous crescent of Venus . Some decent skies around ! Clear skies ! Nick.

Our small Moon !

It looks so huge  in the sky, yet a small fingernail at arm’s length covers it. It’s also the same size as the Sun in the sky.

I found this rather clear map and an indication of the 6 Apollo landing sites . There’s also an indication of it’s surprising size , with the rest if the cast thrown in ! Nick.