Swadlincote 26th & 27th December 2016. C6r 150mm refractor.
An early star as it darkened, our eldest inquiring granddaughter (8) was eager to see some sights, what eyes ! Counted seven stars in Pleiades and spotted Mizar Alcor. Then onto M31 after explaining what it was , ” there’s another one there “, M110. Then some doubles in Aries, M34, M35 and the Auriga clusters. We made some resolution in M15, but mainly it was high targets to get the ep down to her height. We had a look at the bright cut out of Venus, very impressive .Ended up “Daddy’s going to buy me a small scope next birthday “, “err tell him to see me first !”
A sturdy objective dew heater and a Telrad heater are quite essential. Temperatures suddenly dropped at about 3.30. Eyepieces need some warmth to avoid fogging up. A light pair of cycling gloves provided comfort, but stuck to anything with Velcro or frost on. It is possible to continue at minus 4, just takes more keenness than discomfort !
A scoot around including Draco, before early to bed…. to wake uptake 1.30 and find the skies dark and still. The incredible yowling ,all moaning whinging cat kept me awake from a few gardens away. Leo draws the eye straight to NGC 2903 high in the head. Very nice comparison to bright Bode’s . Onto the Leo groups and Coma Berenices up to Canes Venatici and Ursa Major. Back down into the bowl of Virgo.
No great sights here, most of the Messier’s were amorphous blobs with little sky contrast. Best here being NGC 4725, NGC 4565, M64, M85, M100, M88 through to M60. Algieba and Regulus providing some sights. M3, the dim NGC 5466, M53 (resolved) and the dim NGC 5053 provided some good views. Spent some little time on the binaries and triples in Leo and Leo Minor. Jupiter climbed over the roof tops, quite a sizeable disc with a good array of moons. No transits, but some lovely belt details.A sizeble disc is more ping pong ball than pea, but not the orange size at a good opposition.
Some very strange seeing, one moment I gave up with even wide separations , then Tegmine at 1.1″ snapped into shape. It’s not optics, just atmosphere. After midnight is just ace.
Sight of the morning was the keystone of Hercules in the north east , just line up between Arcturus and Vega, hurrah ! It’s still amazes me that in the midst of winter , the Summer Triangle is still on early evening show ,
clear skies and all the best for 2017 !