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About this blog

Just me learning and exploring the night sky. Currently using a Startravel 80 on EQ1 and a Nexstar 8SE on kit Celestron Goto / NEQ6 SynTrek.

Entries in this blog

 

What is this blog of which you speak?

When SGL changed to a new server / forum system several years ago I could no longer find my blog, all those entries just seemed to be gone, so I gave up on it rather disappointed.  I don't know whether it was just due to the dramatic change in user interface or that the blog system was genuinely not up and running for a while, either way I just (rather bitterly) put it out of my mind and got on with observing and using the forum.  Until today... Just now I was thinking about how there used

jonathan

jonathan

 

First decent session for an eternity!

Feels like an age since I last went out for a proper look (not just out of the window). After recent snow, thaw, and now very strong winds and rain today, I wasn't expecting to be going out tonight but as the skies cleared just as the sun was setting I had a feeling it might be worth my while, and it was. I went out with the binoculars and SkyScout as there was still a breeze and a few gusts. Very cold, and the wind, although not bitterly cold, just made it that bit colder. I went through T

jonathan

jonathan

 

New scope, new eyepiece

I have been waiting patiently for a good clear night to take my new Skywatcher 150P out to perform final collimation, the star test, having already checked as much as I can indoors. This would also be the first time out with a 5mm eyepiece for me, my 8SE apparently too slow to use one. I mounted the 150P on my Omni CG-4 mount and tripod, the large and small weights were required to balance the scope. The star test seemed to be correct, a perfect circle surrounding a black dot in the centre as

jonathan

jonathan

 

And for my next scope...

After eyeing up an expensive refractor, one of the Equinox range, I have had a sudden interest in the Skywatcher 150P OTA, as it should sit nicely on my CG-4 Omni mount and come complete with everything required (except a collimating eyepiece, easily acquired though). I'm quite excited about it actually, as it is far cheaper and will be a good experience for me to own a reflector, should give excellent viewing opportunities, and may even be suitable for a bit of photography.

jonathan

jonathan

 

Astro-fast is over!

I finally got my act together, and so did the weather, and tonight I went outside with my 8SE / NEQ6. The skies were relatively clear, just some threatening cloud to the East over the sea but I don't think it ever made land, then just the occasional patch of cloud which came and went fairly quickly. Having not really done anything other than binoculars and one session with my ST80, I had to go back to Turn Left At Orion as I had little idea of what to aim for. I flicked to the Autumn section

jonathan

jonathan

 

A beautiful sight

Amazing what can be seen in just 30 minutes with a pair of binoculars. Tonight I just decided to pop outside with my binoculars and the little StarPocket scope I picked up for 30p last weekend, had fun identifying the stars with it, then scanned the stars with the binoculars. Saw part of a shooting star in the binoculars as I was observing one of the large clusters near Cassiopia, picked out Pleiades with the naked eye - saw about six and a half stars, looked beautiful in the binoculars. Also

jonathan

jonathan

 

Stole a bit of solar observing time...

Forecast was for sunny and clear skies yesterday evening and this morning, well they were almost right - the clouds didn't really clear last night but this morning there were just a few fluffy clouds about. I took the opportunity to have a quick look at the sun through my Lunt LS60. What an interesting sun today, there seemed to be filaments and prominences galore. One very large filament in the lower left quadrant seemed to be coming out at me, like something from a 3D film. There was a sol

jonathan

jonathan

 

Here come the stars...

Almost September, the dark nights are already here, the dark evenings are fast approaching. Currently busy paying back my student loan, but once that is done I shall be purchasing either an Equinox 80 or Evostar 80ED, I keep swaying to one or the other, but either way it should be an excellent replacement for my ST80 (which I will probably have to sell to make space). This will be used on the CG-4 for visual and, if I am brave, a dabble in wide-field astrophotography, mostly star field views b

jonathan

jonathan

 

CG-4

I finally acquired a Celestron CG-4 mount after weeks of waiting. Now I need to get a dovetail bar that the Lunt LS60 can be attached to via the clamshell and it will be my solar observing mount... Later, I plan to buy an Equinox 80 and tube rings which will replace my ST80 for widefield and a dabble in astrophotography (probably use the NEQ6 if I get serious with that, I am likely to buy a motor drive for the CG-4 anyway so will be trying it on that too).

jonathan

jonathan

 

Back to the fore - Saturn, Mars, M13.

I decided to get The Big One out (8SE, NEQ6) as this may be the best and darkest skies I get before the Autumn. Took the scope out and began setting up about 10pm, didn't wait long for cool-down as it was so (relatively) warm outside anyway, there was no dew so I just used the dewshield - no heaters! Only the second time I have not had heaters on and got away with it. I primarily went out to see Saturn and managed to get some great views of the magnificent giant, among the best I've ever had.

jonathan

jonathan

 

And then, finally, the clouds parted...

It feels rather sad that due to the very wet April and very cool and cloudy May I have effectively missed most of the spring night sky. It is now nearing the end of May, this week the clouds suddenly disappeared and the temperature has risen from about 13 to 23 in the space of a few days. Weather forecasts seem to be all over the place - some say it will be cloudy, others not... today was supposed to be cloudy but it was a clear blue sky all day. I managed about 30 minutes of solar gazing thi

jonathan

jonathan

 

The Moon

I had admired the moon yesterday as it was a new crescent, with Venus and Jupiter still close by from the recent near-miss conjunction (from my location), I decided to have a go with the telescope tonight. I had the telescope set up before sunset, the moon and Venus were clearly visible, as the sun set but it was still light I also noticed Jupiter and Mars so I had a look at both - Jupiter was looking very nice, several bands visible and four moons in a long line (still only just dusk, daylight

jonathan

jonathan

 

A few easy targets

Seeing as the buzz was all about Mars, I decided to try and see it using my 8SE, this would be the first real effort on the NEQ6 mount too. I set up just after 6pm, the skies were clear and forecast to stay that way pretty much all night according to WeatherProHD on my iPad. I didn't wait long for the scope to cool, it wasn't that cold outside anyway (about 7 degrees), so I trained it on Venus which was just setting in the West. Venus appeared to be just less than half in shadow, the lower

jonathan

jonathan

 

Open clusters ahoy! M35, M36, M37, M38

I've noticed the past few nights have been cold and clear, but it's been an exhausting week at work so decided to relax until the weekend, it was worth the wait. Having failed to find these open clusters just to the left of Orion on a previous attempt due to the bright moon, I decided to postpone until the moon was out of the way. I'm still new to this whole moon thing as I wasn't expecting it to be out of the way so soon after a full moon, it didn't appear in the sky at all during my session

jonathan

jonathan

 

M35, then fail on M37 so fall back to Moon Observing

I went out with the 8SE with the intention of seeing the open clusters near Orion, namely M35, M37, M38, but I felt hampered by the half-full Moon from the start. I found M35 easy enough, though it was only just visible in the 9x50 finder scope with averted vision. It seemed a little unspectacular, probably due to the light from the Moon, indeed after my eyes had adjusted I hardly needed a torch to see what I was doing. I tried moving on to M37 but for the life of me I just could not locate

jonathan

jonathan

 

M42 through my 8SE with Skywatcher UHC Filter

Back in September I made a rather large purchase from FLO which included a Baader steeltrack focuser and Skywatcher UHC filter, purchased mainly with the Orion nebula in mind (this particular filter was recommended to me for Orion by the nice chaps at FLO), so I've been waiting for an opportunity to try it out since then. In the mean-time my Maplins power tank died, I've been trying to purchase a replacement AGM battery for it but that has been delayed so the other day I ordered another ident

jonathan

jonathan

 

M42 - The Orion Nebula - through my ST80

Having studied M42 through my Celestron 8SE with the supplied 25mm and Celestron X-Cel 10mm eyepieces last winter I was curious to see how well the ST80 could display it using the same eyepieces, as well as the standard ones that came with the telescope; I was pleasantly surprised at how good the views were. From memory of last year's viewing through the 8SE I remember the view being much larger, though that could have been through the 38mm (2mm, won't fit the ST80). I was able to clearly make

jonathan

jonathan

 

First decent sighting of M42 this season

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to see Orion at all from my usual viewing location yet, but it made a full appearance between two buildings as it rose up tonight. Even with the light pollution from the local pub (which it rose almost directly above) I was able to make out a good amount of the nebular with binoculars and averted vision, maybe even with a slight green tinge unless my imagination was working overtime. Can't wait to use the filter I purchased on it, should bring out the detail beauti

jonathan

jonathan

 

Battery update

Expected delivery at the suppliers for the AGM battery I am hoping to buy is 5th December, just two weeks to wait. Until then it will be binoculars and the ST80.

jonathan

jonathan

 

Random binocular Milky Way panning finds M39

I put my ST80 out without any real plans of what to see, as I'm in the middle of sorting out a good battery for my NEQ6 / Celestron mounts (current battery is dead). I viewed a few things that I'd seen before, pleiades is always a favourite of mine, tried to see NGC6826, The Blinking Planetary, but no luck. Scouting along the Milky Way I spotted what looked like an open cluster that I hadn't seen before, I easily located it using the finder scope by keeping both eyes open and focusing my atten

jonathan

jonathan

 

Perseus: The Double Cluster

More precisely, NGC869 and NGC 884. An excellent target for my ST80, and the best thing I managed to observe tonight. I started off by continuing to work my way through Turn Left At Orion for the Autumn season, there seemed to be quite a few clusters and double stars that required either dark skies or a bigger telescope than the ST80, I attempted a couple of the double stars but could not see them, possibly hampered by atmospheric conditions (high haze?) M34 was my first real success, an open

jonathan

jonathan

 

Brand new NEQ6 Pro SynTrek

Flippin' huge! Heavy, too, but not unmanageable even for a weedy nerd like me. Makes the Celestron 8SE mount look weedy for sure. First attempt at using it was a bit of a failure as I hadn't appreciated just how much initial (one-time only) set up was required, I ended up fumbling with it for about an hour in the dark with weight and OTA attached before giving up and just manually pointing it to various random stars. Pretty! This was also the first time I used the Baader SteelTrack crayford

jonathan

jonathan

 

Attempted to see The Lagoona Nebula, got The Dumbbell Nebula instead

I suppose I should have read the text before going out, in Turn Left at Orion it says to find the "Teapot", but having no clue where this was (even from the diagram) I was lost from the start! I looked downwards from Altair but couldn't see anything like in the diagrams so decided to switch targets to The Dumbbell Nebula. This I managed with relative ease, I didn't have my iPad or SkyScout with me and there were no co-ordinates so I relied entirely on visual star hopping, I found the arrow of

jonathan

jonathan

 

The double-double, Epsilon Lyrae, clouded out!

I decided to have a crack at this from Turn Left at Orion using my Startravel 80, it looked simple enough - a couple of stars right next to Vega, how could I not find that? Except, that is, for the massive cloud bank that had appeared across virtually the whole sky since I put my telescope out. He waits, that's what he does. Tick follows tock follows tick. You get the picture. :clouds1: Eventually I could see a gap forming on the horizon, and about twenty minutes later it arrived at Vega

jonathan

jonathan

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