Observing Log 25/1/2019 @ 23:30 – 00:30, Lichfield, Andrew Thornett

Observing Log 25/1/2019 @ 23:30 – 00:30


Andrew Thornett


Just came back a half hour ago from the first end of month meeting at RAG. Thanks to the kind folks who congratulated me on my talk tonight. Really Ed is owed a lot of the praise for writing it – I just presented it!


It was cloudy all evening, but on the way home I noticed that the sky was clearing so in arriving back to my house I pulled out my trusty Orion ten-inch Dobsonian telescope and started with a 20mm Explore Scientific 100-degree apparent field of view eyepiece. Tonight, I am using a Telrad as a finder – I love Telrads- always reliable, batteries never seem to go flat, copes with almost all weather, unlike a laser….


The sky had an obvious high moisture content so I doubted that I would see much more than showpieces tonight but still it will be a great getting out observing again after so long (however see my entry on M108 later – a surprise finding given the skies). Work pressure has kept me away from the eyepiece and I miss it greatly.


Orion Nebula, M42, NGC 1976, LBN 974. I started with the showpiece Orion Nebula, M42.

M42 lacked the size and detail of clearer nights but was still a fruitful sight tonight. The trapezium star group was clearly visible in the fish mouth area – I saw four stars here tonight rather than five as seen on clearer nights.


NGC 1975. Difficult to observe this tonight which is interesting as it is usually easily seen. I guess this reflects the high atmospheric humidity.


NGC 1981, Bright and easily seen.


NGC 1999, LBN 979, Definitely not seen tonight! At tenth magnitude far too faint in these skies.


IC 434,LBN 953. Difficult to know if I could see a bit of this or just the reflection of the bright star off moist atmosphere as the other two bright stars of Orion’s Belt also appeared to have nebulosity around them which is not easily visible in my scope at this location…..Therefore, I suspect it was a halo effect from the water in Earth’s atmosphere.


Pleiades,Seven Sisters,Subaru Cluster,M 45,Mel 22. Very bright widely dispersed stars. I love the way that visually the contrast between star and background is really vivid – photos just don’t seem to bring this out quite so well. This effect is also seen in the next two objects I observed (Double Cluster).


Double Cluster, NGC 869, C 14, The Double Cluster is probably my favourite deep sky object and with Saturn one of my two (well three really as the Double Cluster is of course a double cluster) night sky objects – both had the biggest impact on me when I started observing.


Bode’s Nebulae, M81, NGC 3031, UGC 5318, PGC 28630, MCG 12-10-10, CGCG 333-7, IRAS 09514+6918,2MASS 09553318+6903549 & Bode’s Nebulae, Bode’s Nebulae, Cigar Galaxy, Ursa Major A, M 82, NGC 3034, UGC 5322, PGC 28655, MCG 12-10-11, CGCG 333-8, Arp 337, IRAS 09517+6954. I thought perhaps I would not see the two galaxies M81 and M82 tonight. They seem to be easily washed out in my experience. However, I easily found them with 20mm eyepiece and then studied them in detail with my 6mm Ethos eyepiece.

The art of finding them is to extend the two corner stars of the saucepan’s pan through by the same length again and then a little bit more (about 15% more) and then tweak the scope a little bit west (90 degrees to line you just followed) – just a slight tweak and then I found I virtually dropped on to the galaxy pair. With the 6mm Ethos eyepiece, M82 does not show a great deal of detail tonight apart from a condensed brighter core and surrounding near circular (but not quite) peripheral regions – a lot rounder than M31. In contrast the 6mm eyepiece works wonders on M82, leading to hints of the central bisecting dark lane and two clear brighter knots wither side of it within the galaxy, one brighter than the other, as seen in photographs. The galaxy is long and thin consistent with its common name of the Cigar Galaxy.


M108, NGC 3556, UGC 6225, PGC 34030, MCG 9-18-98, CGCG 267-48, CGCG 268-1, IRAS 11085+5556. Amazingly, given its magnitude of +9.96, meaning that I doubted I would be able to observe this object, in practice I definitely saw this today. Very faint by direct vision but more easily seen with indirect vision, long and thin, central core. Earlier I would not have expected to see it but sky becoming more transparent…in the clear areas – unfortunately there is cloud coming in too now.


Hoping next to see the Owl Nebula close by M108……However, in the time it took me to write this note, the sky has now become almost completely covered with cloud, such is the speed that the clouds are moving tonight!


So, the only object visible for me to look at now is the Moon in which part of the sky it is still relatively clear of clouds. Wonderful views of craters along the terminator including a spectacular view of the crater Theophilus with high central peak.


Sky now completely clouded over so packed away at 12:31.


Just goes to show that in our area of the UK it is important to make use of any period of clear sky if you want to observe as they are often fleeting but views can be really enjoyable in those moments! I find my Dobsonian telescope is perfect for this, allowing me to nip out and in.

A brief but very enjoyable session – I am excited to be back at the scope under the night sky!



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.