Observing Report 15th July – 12:30-3am

Had a fun evening with family and friends at an outdoor concert, but on returning home and seeing the sky looking absolutely pristine the temptation to slip out into to the garden was too much to resist… Having spent the evening with a choice of 3 bars to try out I decided I was a bit too “relaxed” to get the imaging gear out so I made it a purely visual session with 14 inch dob and Baader 8-24 zoom.

Mars- really large and bright, but still no detail visible except for the polar cap.
M13 – It’s nice to start with a familiar target to get a feel for the skies, and although it wasn’t properly dark and the sky was a bit wobbly from the hot day, it was a fine view.
M51 – The 2 cores were easily visible but I was initially unable to see any spiral structure. I put a Neodymium filter in and it helped a bit, but altogether it just wasn’t dark enough.
At this point I became distracted by a bat that spent a while flapping about directly over my head.
M31 – bright core, again with the filter I was able to spot some dark lanes, but I really want to have a go at this target at a darker site.
M32 – really bright & easily seen.
M110 – very faint and quite a challenge; I needed a couple of goes and some help from SkySafari to look in exactly the right place.
Vega – Blue and bright and beautiful in the eyepiece. Realised that when these photons started their journey I was sitting my finals…
Double-double – despite the evenings refreshments no more than 4 stars were visible here. An easy split at 200x.
M57 – wonderful crisp views. I did spent some time looking for the central star but was unable to find it.
M56 – a slightly tricky find and more of a smudge after the beauty of M13
Albireo – Gorgeous.
M27 – the dumbbell. A month ago I picked up a second hand Oiii filter from Astro Buy&Sell. The improvement in the contrast was terrific, but more than that, I was able to see the shape very easily. Obviously there was no colour, but otherwise it was almost photographic- a brilliant view.
North America nebula (ngc 7000). Spent quite a long time trying to pick this up in the scope, with & without filters, but no joy. However, I could see it (just) in the finder. This felt somewhat unlikely, but I went back and forth between the finder, the EP and Sky Safari and there was a very faint nebulosity in the right place and of the right shape, so I’m pretty sure I had it. Would be good to validate with someone else…
The Veil – I’ve never seen this before, but the Oiii filter seemed to help a lot. The eastern portion was very faint, but definitely visible. The western side was a wonderful sinuous strand much bigger than my field of view and I spent ages sweeping back and forth trying to pick out individual filaments. A real highlight.
NGC6826 – Blinking planetary nebula – a managed to miss this a couple of times before realising the clue is in the name. A gorgeous green, despite the now lightening sky.
NGC884/869 – Double cluster – lovely way to finish the session, it’s amazing just how many stars are visible in this section of sky, with lots of colour- especially the oranges!

From my log it’s been the best part of 2 months since I was able to look at something other than planets, it was great to get back to it! Lets hope the great weather continues as the nights draw in a little.

 

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