Observing after RAG meeting 26/5/2017 @ 22:45 – 27/5/2017 @ 03:15.

Rosliston Forestry Centre – observing session after month RAG meeting.

Various telescopes and binoculars.

Clear sky had been predicted all week on BBC Weather website. Clear skies are unusual for our meetings!

I had the pleasure of delivering a marvellous talk Damian had prepared on observatories – following the theme of Ed Mann’s observatory build which he gave a talk about as part of the evening – so we were all hyped up as we went outside to see the night sky. In fact, it started with a call to get outside quick and see the ISS as it passed overhead (International Space Station). This turned out to be the first of no less than FOUR passes of the ISS this night. Wow!

At the start of the night the whole group went outside to observe together. We observed the Great Red Spot on Jupiter – pale with red line around it – and there were many oohs and abs, especially from some folks who had never looked through a telescope before. Later we saw Saturn low down with a variation red / blue across planetary disc due to atmospheric dispersion. We saw two passes of the ISS as large group and this resulted in more excitement in those new to the hobby. I was also excited myself to (with Damian’s help) to be able to follow the ISS with the telescope allowing me to observe its solar panels and shape for the first time.

Later on Damian, Rob and I continued to observe into the early hours.

A brilliant night – and one of those rare predictable clear evenings so we were able to come prepared with our telescopes.


Early session with whole group:

The group enjoyed the view of the ISS and Jupiter:

Ed Mann demonstrates his All Sky Camera:


The group enjoys the evening show – apart from ISS there was Jupiter, Saturn, Ring Nebula, Open and Globular Clusters:

Later observing session – Rob, Damian, Andrew:

After the rest of the group left, Damian, Rob and I continued observing. Observing highlights from our later session included:

We spent some considerable time in Hercules. We observed the inverted 5 asterism and Napolean’s Hat (Pico 1).

We spent a long time finding the faint NGC 6229 Globular cluster in Hercules in both mine and Rob’s scopes (magnitude 9+). We had never seen this before. Quite faint compared to the very bright M13 and M92 globular clusters. Rob’s 8 inch Skywatcher Dobsonian performed very well compared to the 10 inch Dobsonian – the latter was brighter but at expense much more expensive and larger instrument.

We got brilliant views of comet C/2015 V2 Johnson near the star Izar. This is the first time I have seen this comet and it turned out to be quite easy to find. This was because it was quite bright and also conveniently close to Izar tonight. Again the 10 inch gave a brighter more contrast view. Magnifying the comet using the 9mm Explore Scientific eyepiece led to tail being seen. Compared to globular clusters where magnification resulted in more detail as stars became resolved, this was not the case with the comet, other than bringing out the more condenser central nucleus surrounded by the corona.

Rob’s 8 inch split Albireo well with lovely sapphire blue and yellow stars.

The Ring Nebula was great in both scopes but particularly impressive with 6mm and 9mm WE in Orion ten inch.

Rob found the Dumbell Nebula with 25mm eyepiece in 8 inch – definite non curvulsr shape easily seen. The 8 inch is amazing value for money and a great lifetime scope – highly recommended – it gave fantastic views of this and many other objects tonight and on a £/excitement and view basis it could not be beat. The Dumbell Nebulla was very bright and big with 6mm Ethos on 10 inch – a better view as you would expect from a bigger more expensive scope but comparing the views you do need to ask is it worth going from £300 (Skywatcher 8 inch) to £900 (Orion 10″ Dobsonian) for the difference in views?

Two policemen visited the site and took time to look at the Ring Nebula, Saturn, and the comet with us.

The Coathanger Asterisk only just fitted in the field of view of the 42mm eyepiece on the 10 inch – easier to observe in binoculars.

Several meteors seen during the evening.

Rob found the Rocking Horse Cluster and the Cooling Tower in his scope.

I am confident that I found the Bridal Veil (eastern part) of the Veil Nebula (this is the type of object where the Orion with Explore Scientific eyepieces came into its own). I started by star hopping to 52 Cygni and confirming the star relative to the location on open cluster NGC 6940, which looks like a rugby ball occupying the whole field of view. I could then see the VERY faint curve of the nebula to the eastern side of this star. I could not see the Witches Broom. Damian denied being able to see it – but I don’t trust that observation!

Damian found the Owl Cluster in Rob’s Skywatcher and that pretty little open cluster generated although “Wow!” of the evening – in fact Rob got himself really quite excited with everything he was seeing. I wasn’t doing too badly myself!…..and Damian had meant to leave earlier but never quite got around to getting to his car.

I found the globular cluster M56 in the 42mm in the Orion near Albireo. Going straight to 9mm revealed a mini starfish shape, a bit off centre – not quite round. Grew in size when using averted vision.

I showed Rob M81 and M82 in the Orion. I gave myself a pat on the back for dropping straight on it, although in truth it was probably more luck than judgement.

The final ISS pass occurred as we were packing up just after 03:00.

It has been fantastic to get back outside observing after so long – and to go home again with birds singing and the dawn breaking……just like old times!


Rob with his Skywatcher 8 inch Dobsonian telescope (below):

The two policeman who got quite excited seeing Saturn and a comet through a telescope for the first time (below):
The Summer Triangle where a lot of our effort tonight was based (screenshot from Sky Safari Pro 5):

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