Recent targets , January 2019.

A decent kick off to the year.i had read so much about variable nebulae and was very surprised to see for the first time , from home , NGC 2261 in Monoceros.This is “Hubble’s variable Nebula” around and illuminated by the star R Monocerotis. Although not directly visible , the Nebula is produced by the star’s birth pangs . Quite obvious at x50 and it took up to x100.The brightest part even looks stellar .

The seeing looked ace , I had not caught a 1″ binary separation for some time. Σ1338 proved astonished easy using a 5mm Vixen LVW eyepiece. I moved the pair around the field of view to check that it wasn’t imagination !

Seeing as Taurus is well placed as darkness falls , a further exploration gave great views of some of the many binaries here ,

Some details for searchers ,

Σ7 and Σ401 appear closed towards each other . SAO 75970
H 1V 98, a bright pair of eyes , facing another pair. SAO 111698
Σ559, a nice close even pair . SAO 94002
Σ749 , close at 1.2″. At 05h37.1m. +26 55′
β87 , close with a faint companion,1.9″. SAO 76571
Σ517, close with a lovely delicate companion. SAO 111705
88 Tauri, a wide view , yellow and red. At 04h35.7m. +10 10′
Σ479, a fine triple with differing magnitudes , lovely view at 04h00.9m. +23 12′.Again , the seeing gave a delightfully open 1.2″ clean split.

Clear skies ! Nick.

Tegmine and views to Cancer.

Here’s an easy to find and glorious sight. Having finished exploring the overlooked M44 (Praesepe) cluster , scan over to Tegmine (Zeta Cancri) SAO 97645. It’s halfway between Pollux and beta Cancri.

Classically described as a multiple , it’ll open out to give a great triple star. It’s closed down to 1.1″ separation , but the brightness of these lemon yellows gives smaller apertures a chance of opening it up. Comparable to beta Monocerotis, it’s always fun to point out a bright star , then increase magnification to open it up.

Exploring Cancer for similar challenges, I’d check out 57 Cancri , a light orange pair , splitting open 1.5″.

Σ1187 , another orange pair opens up at 3.0″. I can’t leave Cancer without looking at iota Cancri . This wide pair is so colourful that it is a contender for “winter Albireo”. The colours were stunning last trip , better than the other “Albireo” in Canis Major ( h3945) SAO 173349. Although I was seriously diverted by “Hind’s Crimson star ” in Lepus and “La Superba” in Canes Venatici.

A closer look at M44 will show you a few binaries in the buzz of this cluster, these include SLe337,336,332, Σ1249 and Σ1254. My skies can be poor , but most clear nights the buzz of M44 is spottable by eye from the top of Gemini.

As we’re heading off there , don’t forget our most distant Milky Way target , way out of our halo. The faint globular ” intergalactic wanderer” , NGC 2419. It’ll appear as a faint fuzz without easily resolvable stars. It is 300,000 light years from here and the galactic centre, twice the distance of the large Magellenic clouds . I think this is a thrilling sight , quite bright , look for the fish hook of bright stars and head off eastwards. This was with a 4″ Vixen refractor .

Hoping for clear skies ! Nick.

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.

Observing Report 12/12/18

Slightly strange conditions last night- the sky south and east was distinctly murky with very ropey seeing. This isn’t unusual as I live north and west of Burton, but it seemed to be especially exaggerated. List below was all in 14” dob:

Aldeberan and the Hyades– whilst checking the Finder and the Rigel were lined up properly I put Aldeberan in the EP. It’s too easy to forget the simple pleasure of putting a big fat red star with whopping diffraction spikes (yeah, I know- not everyone’s cup of tea) in the middle of your field of view. Spent a while wandering round the neighbouring star field. A lovely start and almost forgot I had a list to go through.

Comet 46p – A nice little hop from Epsilon Taurus, but still took a couple of attempts. The head was really clear; I spent ages trying to see the tail. Eventually, with the 35mm in, a bit of averted vision and wiggling the scope I could see some elongation of the head and a hint of the tail.

Pleiades – Because if you’re in the area with a low power eyepiece it’s rude not to.

Mars – shrinking after the summer, but some detail still visible at 206x including polar cap.

Neptune – very small, but the blue colour is so striking. Given the seeing so low in the sky I didn’t try to go past 206x

NGC 6543 – Cat’s eye nebula – lovely pleasing green, and decent disk at 206x

NGC 7023 – Iris Cluster and Nebula – I got to the cluster OK, and I think I found some nebulosity but it was very faint. Not really sure.

NGC6946 – Fireworks Galaxy – Very faint and averted vision only.

NGC7331 and Stephan’s Quintet (NGC7320) – I’ve wanted to have a go at this one for a while, and with it high in a good part of the sky it seemed like a good chance. NGC7331 was straightforward- with an elongated shape clearly visible with direct vision. At low power (47x) it was easy to put it in same the FOV as Stephan’s Quintet. The four stars that they sit within were a distinctive shape and easily picked out. I think when you know what something is supposed to look like it’s easy to imagine it right there. There could possibly, maybe, have been a sort of mottling in the right area with averted vision??? I don’t think I can really claim that.

M42 – Again- rude not to and wonderful as always. The seeing was bad around there, although there was a hint of the ‘E’ star in the trapezium. Spent a while playing with Oiii and UHC filters. The Oiii filter just gives a brilliant view of the cloud with so much texture.

Rosette Nebula – My first observation of this object. The central cluster was easily picked out and I could find some faint nebulosity, especially beneath and to the right of the cluster.

Really enjoyable evening, and hopefully have some subs of 46p to play with soon…