Observing Log 29/12/16, Andrew & Hannah Thornett, LRO


  • Lichfield
  • 10″ Orion UK Dobsonian
  • 14mm Explore Scientific 100 degree FOV eyepiece
  • 6mm Televue Ethos eyepiece 100 degree FOV


Orion Nebula – Messier 42. Bright Nebula in Orion, 29 Dec 2016, 20:56:18. My daughter Hannah and I took out the ten inch Orion Dob into our garden. There was ice on ground, clearly below freezing, clear sky, very humidity according to detector in log cabin. Usually my son cones with me so quite a treat to have some quality star-time with Hannah!

First treat was to show her the Great Orion Nebula, Orion’s belt and sword and discuss how stars are made. We also looked at Betel juice and Sirius and discussed star brightness and colour and what could be interpreted from this information.

Andromeda Galaxy – Messier 31, Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda, 29 Dec 2016, 21:02:03. We looked at our closest galactic companion and Hannah was amazed to realise light took 2.5 million years to get to us from the Andromeda Galaxy. We then looked at M81 and M82 and discussed how these are ten million light years away. Led to a discussion on scale in the universe. Over Christmas, Hannah watched with me the programme on the universe with Eric Idle and Brian Cox and that programme concentrated a lot on scale.

Starfish Cluster – Messier 38, Open Cluster in Auriga, 29 Dec 2016, 21:06:15We discussed open star clusters and star birth.

Pinwheel Cluster – Messier 36, Open Cluster in Auriga, 29 Dec 2016, 21:06:50, Compared these two to Pleiades

Pleiades – Messier 45, Open Cluster in Taurus, 29 Dec 2016, 21:07:57

29 Dec 2016, 21:19:03, Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392 Planetary Nebula in Gemini. Hannah has now gone back inside. In the past i have this object difficult to find when i have tried to star hop to it. Tonight I had success at last! I discovered that it is very bright and easy to pick out as fuzzy blob, clearly not a star, once it is in the field of view. The problem in the past appears to be that I have not been going far enough east of Wasat to find it – i.e. far enough away from the bottom line of the Gemini astronomical figure. Tonight, I went further and this led to my success. Once i did do that i found the star 63 Gem and that star was obviously brighter than the other stars between it and Wasat and I knew I was on right track. The 6mm Ethos eyepiece i purchased second hand at the International Astronomy Show is really proving to be useful. Its wide field meant objects stay longer in field of view of eyepiece and it is a great choice on objects such as this. With the 6mm, the Eskimo Nebula took on a miniature galaxy-like appearance with very bright central core and fuzzy periphery, perfectly round. As i say it is very bright, belying its magnitude of 9+. I guess this is due to its compact nature.

Collinder 89 Open Cluster in Gemini, 29 Dec 2016, 21:46:37. Initially I thought this was M35 but then realised it was too big and sparse for M35.

Messier 35 Open Cluster in Gemini, 29 Dec 2016, 21:47:20. More accurate star hopping led me to this. Once found it was obvious I was on the right thing. Beautiful bright open cluster occupying central 50% field of view of 14mm ES eyepiece.

NGC 2158 Open Cluster in Gemini29 Dec 2016, 21:48:23. Took a bit of toing and froing to find the football but got it in the end – it is like M110 to M31 by which I mean it is quite faint!

29 Dec 2016, 22:21:59. I went inside the house for cup of tea and scrambled egg on toast. Back outside @ 22:21, decided to have a last look at the Double Cluster but could not see anything, even stars! Looks like the secondary mirror has frozen over! I have a secondary heater but have never needed to turn it on. If clear over weekend and weather as equally cold i will need to make use of it.

Great news tonight is Hannah found my missing piece of Teflon from the Orion Dob. It was in the grass from two weeks ago when I lost it!

Two bits of great kit really helped tonight:

(I) heated eyepiece case – I was able to change over eyepieces and put them back to demist. This way avoided need for individual heating straps on each eyepiece. I made the case by using a reptile cage heating mat into my Peli 1550 case. Brilliant! The only issue is that it requires 240V. Does anyone know of good source of 12V heating mats?

(Ii) Damian bought me a Gillet for my birthday. Under a coat this did fantastic job of keeping me warm in sub-zero conditions. To accompany it I used the brilliant RAG beanie hat – it is really warm and worth the £10 price – highly recommended!

Andy (& Hannah)

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