Observing report 19/1/18

Swadlincote. Celestron C6r 

A chilly morning with some surprises. First was a very bright fireball just before 2.25am falling from the area of Bootes in the east . It left a long bright orange trail, one of the best I’ve seen. Quite amazing to see the sudden white flare out of nowhere.

A tour around the Messier’s , including the Virgo, Coma Berenice’s , Leo and Canes Venatici galaxies. Sky was slightly Milky with contrast suffering , but it did improve very much later on ,enough to catch the lovely open cluster NGC 2281, really stunning for brightness and colour. Managed to split “Tegmine” at x216, always a favourite.

Canes Venatici the long “Whale” , NGC 4631, the resolvable NGC 4449, M63 (“Sunflower “) and a bright M3. I put on an aperture mask to catch the dark orange of “La Superba” ( Y CnV), what a sight ! Coma Berenices , M53 and the “Blackeye galaxy” M64.

A real surprise was finding Porrima in ( Gamma Virginis) so very wide open at x150, a very bright and beautiful pair, quite unachievable when it closed down to as little as .4″. Now appears just below 3″. Much easier than even last year at lower magnifications . I did manage previously with an 8″ Newt at x200, but this is something else , a beautiful bright open binary , at least 2.7″. A star which was not considered as an observable binary .Really worth finding as you dip into the bowl of galaxies.

I caught the shape of M104 ( “Sombrero galaxy”) in the same view as the quadruple group of Σ 1664. It looks like a little cluster , called “little Sagitta”, does resemble the constellation. Another good view is the red star 35 Virginis . Again a bit of aperture reduction brought out the best colour. A tour of Bootes showed some of the very best binaries including Izar and the wonderful triple Alkalurops.

Finished with a wobbly Jupiter, nice big disc at x150 and a small Mars, both over the heat of town.
I haven’t done much research on the above , but plenty to look up and find out. The fireball was thrilling , but finding an open Porrima topped that under clear skies,

Nick.

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