Observing Log 20-21/1/2017, Lichfield, Andy and Damian

Observing Log 20-21/1/2017



Andy and Damian


After a long period due to heavy workloads, the duo is back!! Our last major observing session together was one year ago 16/1/2016 (rather than brief observing sessions) – result of ridiculously high workloads for both of us. It is good to be back doing what we love!

Damian has bought his ten inch Orion Dobsonian with Tele Vue Ethos eyepieces and is star-hopping tonight using an old-fashioned star atlas whereas I opted for my Skywatcher Equinox Pro 120mm refractor on EQ6 with Synscan GOTO.

Orion Nebula – Messier 42, Bright Nebula in Orion, 20 Jan 2017, 21:11:00, naked eye observation. Although somewhat murky, stars in Orion were bright and the sword clearly visible as a streak.

Weather prediction is clearer around midnight.

Orion Nebula – Messier 42,Bright Nebula in Orion,19 Jan 2017, 20:20:14, Orion 10 plus Paracorr corrector and 21mm Ethos. Lovely, lots of detail although Orion Dobsonian perhaps not quite collimated… is this because not yet cooled down?

Alioth – Epsilon Ursae Majoris, Variable Double Star in Ursa Major, 20 Jan 2017, 21:29:43, needed to find this for star alignment EQ6. Difficult to remember all those names!

Bode’s Nebulae – Messier 81, Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major, 20 Jan 2017, 21:36:08, M81 and M82 in Equinox demonstrated how misty it is tonight – visible but fainter than we expected. On the other side of the sky the star Sirius to the naked eye flashed alternating white/cyan – can’t say either of us have seen that before and again suggests seeing poor. Weather forecast sites variously predicted clear for tonight or cloudy and i think again this reflects level of moisture content in air.

NGC 2022,Planetary Nebula in Orion,20 Jan 2017, 22:00:57,Very faint – we just about found it as small circle not much bigger than a star and much fainter than other stars in field of view in Orion ten inch. Not visible in Equinox – observations hampered by EQ6’s insistence on going the full circle on the mount axis to get from Gemini to adjacent Orion – a ‘meridian flip’ as it is known!

Pleiades – Messier 45,Open Cluster in Taurus,20 Jan 2017, 22:03:04,Silly view – high magnification with 9mm ES in Equinox – but magnification and very bright stars however you look at it! I was hoping to see hint of nebulosity but couldn’t see any.

NGC 2022,Planetary Nebula in Orion,20 Jan 2017, 22:07:28,Damian has just put 8mm Ethos in 10 inch and got excellent view of this magnitude 11 object easily seen now by direct vision. Happily it is same object that we thought was the planetary nebula above.

Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392, Planetary Nebula in Gemini, 20 Jan 2017, 22:13:50, In Equinox much brighter than previous one. This is magnitude 9 as opposed to magnitude 11 and the difference is quite profound. I now have iPad connected to Synscan handset and it makes it so much easier to use.

Messier 35, Open Cluster in Gemini, 20 Jan 2017, 22:16:40, Sky starting to clear. Gorgeous sight in 10

NGC 2158, Open Cluster in Gemini, 20 Jan 2017, 22:17:27, the real object of Damian’s search with ten inch. Next to M35. Fainter needs indirect vision. Damian comments seeing something like this is as much about managing expectations as anything else. I agree with him.

NGC 2129,Open Cluster in Gemini,20 Jan 2017, 22:38:17,21mm Ethos in 10 and also 9mm ES in Equinox – latter better view for showing this object – magnification and contrast more important than aperture.

Crab Nebula – Messier 1,Bright Nebula in Taurus,20 Jan 2017, 22:40:36,In 10 definitely not round in 21mm Ethos with subtle mottling but less bright than we are used to, showing this object is affected significantly by air moisture content.

Even fainter in Equinox and disappeared completely with 9mm even though contrast increased significantly – no help!

NGC 1467, Spiral Galaxy in Eridanus, 20 Jan 2017, 22:46:17, not visible – not surprising in Equinox -magnitude 15! An accidental attempt looking to find something else….

NGC 1750, Open Cluster in Taurus, 20 Jan 2017, 22:48:26, large sparse open cluster bigger than FOV of either of 20mm ES in Equinox or 21mm Ethos in 10.

NGC 1647, Open Cluster in Taurus, 20 Jan 2017, 22:50:02, another large sparse open cluster near Hyades. Not as big as NGC 1750 or as bright. Easily seen with long focal length, (20/21mm) eyepieces in both scopes.

NGC 1807, Open Cluster in Taurus, 20 Jan 2017, 22:52:20, only word to describe this is unexciting, like its neighbour that we saw next. Seem in Equinox. If you didn’t know it was there you would miss it, not because it is too faint, but because it isn’t really much different from the background stars in the rest of the Milky Way.

NGC 1817, Open Cluster in Taurus, 20 Jan 2017, 22:54:22, See previous entry -no different!

NGC 1664, Open Cluster in Auriga, 20 Jan 2017, 23:06:52, this lovely open cluster was seen in both scopes. An ideal target for GOTO and for star hopping – it should be on your observing list. It is close to ‘The Kids’ asterism near Capella.

Berkeley 68, Open Cluster in Perseus, 20 Jan 2017, 23:10:21, Banana shape stars to me that took 30 secs to see even after careful GOTO so very faint.

NGC 1907,Open Cluster in Auriga,20 Jan 2017, 23:18:02,We often go looking for M36/37/38 but tonight Damian found something different using 10 and 21mm Ethos – faint open cluster near M38, very reminiscent of NGC2158 next to M35 but easier to observe! Easily seen with direct vision in both scopes. A treat!

Pinwheel Cluster – Messier 36,Open Cluster in Auriga,20 Jan 2017, 23:31:10,After a battery stop to find spare 12V battery to run Damian’s dew heater straps especially for his laser pointer, we went to M36.

Messier 37,Open Cluster in Auriga,20 Jan 2017, 23:33:38,In Damian’s view the most beautiful of the famous three of M36/37/38 tonight and certainly presented a vista of tight packed stars of mostly equal brightness that was pleasing to the eye. The larger aperture of the 10 inch certainly made a difference on the brightness of the view with these three bright Messier clusters. You can’t beat inches!

King 8, Open Cluster in Auriga, 20 Jan 2017, 23:36:54, Magnitude 11. Very small very faint, I couldn’t see a thing! I have been using 14mm ES in Equinox for last 30 mins. Ground now icy.

Castor – Alpha Geminorum, Double Star in Gemini, 20 Jan 2017, 23:39:49, Split by 10 inch into its 2 component stars. Even cleaner split in Equinox without diffraction spikes. This is where refractor comes into its own.

NGC 2372, Planetary Nebula in Gemini, 20 Jan 2017, 23:50:53, extremely faint planetary nebula magnitude 11+. Seen in Equinox but not in 10 inch….interesting….is this a contrast issue?

Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392, Planetary Nebula in Gemini, 21 Jan 2017, 00:25:21, back to the Eskimo with 6mm on Equinox still very bright core and periphery condensed.

NGC 2420, Open Cluster in Gemini, 21 Jan 2017, 00:27:16, Seen in 10 inch, another nice open cluster, although tendency to get lost as sky haze increases at this time of night. You can feel the moisture in the air! One other thing you can also hear – how loud A38 road is – never used to be this noisy this late at night…

Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392, Planetary Nebula in Gemini, 21 Jan 2017, 00:30:26, In 10 inch, great blinking effect with 21mm Ethos as you look at and away from and back to nebula.

Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392,Planetary Nebula in Gemini,21 Jan 2017, 00:36:21,Equinox 6mm Ethos+2x Barlow. Still easily bright enough to take the magnification although no further detail resolved. Just a bigger fuzzy blob with bright concentrated core.

NGC 2420, Open Cluster in Gemini, 21 Jan 2017, 00:38:06, Better view in 10, now that sky has cleared a bit.

Medusa Nebula – Abell 21,Planetary Nebula in Gemini,21 Jan 2017, 00:42:30,Unable to see this in Equinox, magnitude 10+, i think now too misty.

Beehive Cluster – Messier 44, Open Cluster in Cancer, 21 Jan 2017, 00:43:29, in 10 inch, beautiful!

Christmas Tree Cluster – NGC 2264, Open Cluster in Monoceros, 21 Jan 2017, 00:44:35, a quick look in the Equinox to remind me of Christmas just gone.

Hind’s Variable Nebula – NGC 1555, Bright Nebula in Taurus, 21 Jan 2017, 00:45:24, No success in either scope finding this, even with careful GOTO to adjacent star.

NGC 2683, Spiral Galaxy in Lynx, 21 Jan 2017, 00:47:56, well done to Damian for his star hop to the UFO galaxy.Very bright in 10 inch although small. In Equinox very difficult to observe but suddenly became obvious when i moved scope and used indirect vision at same time. The 10 inch vastly out-performed the Equinox on observing this object – lovely clear direct vision views with no effort required by observer.

Messier 67, Open Cluster in Cancer, 21 Jan 2017, 00:54:47, In 10 inch, another beautiful large open cluster very bright.

At 1:18:51, we packed up and finished at 01:20 – it is literately freezing and sky very misty although very still. Would be perfect planetary conditions….if any planets were visible!

Andy and Damian

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