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Back from Holls, Great session!!

27th April 2011 This blog entry sees me travelling 300 miles north to the Scottish highlands and my father’s croft in Perthshire. This place was a big factor in me investing in my equipment as it lies in the centre of the highlands and the nearest proper town is about 40 miles away as the crow flies so light pollution is zero and the elevation is about 245m with big swathes of sky viewable at night and picture postcard views of the loch and mountains in the daytime. Weather reports promised clear skies for the next 5 days and everything was crossed for some decent viewing. After re collimating the Dob. (the last 20 miles or so sees some pretty rough roads) on the Wednesday when we arrived and having a quick look at Saturn and a few other favourites before bed I knew I would be in for some viewing over the course of my stay. Our first full day and skies were clear from the outset. We set up a horizontal viewing platform on the flat barn roof and everything was zeroed in waiting for nightfall. With the kids finally in bed, inky blackness soon flooded the sky followed by the mottled mosaics of a billion pin pricks of light and a faint river of vivid luminosity running roughly north to south. I had a list of things I wanted to see so I started with a few favourites to check everything was in line M3, M51 and M81/ M82. Everything was where is should have been except clearer, brighter and with more detail than I’d seen before. Next I moved on to the Leo Trio of galaxies (NGC 3628,M65, M66) for a short stay and then to the Virgo cluster that had annoyingly eluded me in the light polluted skies of South Cheshire. First was M85 then I began to work my way down though M100 then Markarian’s Chain and beyond ticking off all of the ‘M’ numbers as I went. This really is a stunning piece of sky and very confusing at times, there is just so much going on with fuzzies galore filling each view. After finally exhausting Virgo the battery in the finder computer decided to give up the ghost so I had a bit of a point around at stuff I could see without the scope and quickly found the stunning Beehive cluster and breathtaking Double Cluster NGC 869 (Spotted with my eyes!!) After replacing the battery and downing another Red Bull I felt I was on a roll and decided to see how many of the messier index I could find. After a quick 2 star alignment I started and M1 and went for everything above the horizon... By the end of the night I had identified and noted 55 of the 110 Messier objects (Half - Spooky), including some breathtaking nebulas and galaxies in great detail. Andromeda Galaxy was well worth the wait to appear below Cassiopeia and the beautiful and perfectly formed, tiny Ring Nebula was as clear as a bell. Frost bite, fatigue and caffeine overdose took its toll by about 4am so I had to call it a night shortly after. A quick rundown of identified objects from the night in index order: ·M3 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M5 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M10 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M11 – WILD DUCK CLUSTER ·M12 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M13 – GREAT CUSTER IN HERCULES ·M14 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M17 – OMEGA NEBULA ·M18 – OPEN CLUSTER ·M27 – DUMBBELL NEBULA ·M31 – GREAT NEBULA IN ANDROMEDA ·M32 – GALAXY IN ANDROMEDA ·M34 – OPEN CLUSTER ·M39 – OPEN CLUSTER ·M40 – WINNECKE 4 (unsure as to what it is??) :iamwithstupid: ·M44 – OPEN CLUSTER ·M49 – GALAXY ·M51 – WHIRLPOOL GALAXY ·M52 – OPEN CLUSTER ·M53 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M56 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M57 – RING NEBULA IN LYRA ·M58 – GALAXY ·M59 – GALAXY ·M60 – GALAXY ·M61 – SPIRAL GALAXY ·M63 – SUNFLOWER GALAXY ·M64 – BLACK-EYE GALAXY ·M65 – GALAXY ·M66 – GALAXY ·M76 – LITTLE DUMBBELL NEBULA ·M81 – BODES NEBULAE ·M82 – BODES NEBULAE ·M84 – GALAXY ·M85 – GALAXY ·M86 – GALAXY ·M87 – GALAXY ·M88 – GALAXY ·M98 – GALAXY ·M90 – GALAXY ·M91 – GALAXY ·M92 – GLOBULAR CLUSTER ·M94 – GALAXY ·M95 – GALAXY ·M97 – OWL NEBULA ·M98 – GALAXY ·M99 – PIN-WHEEL NEBULA ·M100 – GALAXY ·M101 – GALAXY ·M102 – GALAXY ·M103 – GALAXY ·M106 – GALAXY ·M108 – GALAXY ·M109 – GALAXY ·M110 – GALAXY ·NGC 869/ 884 – DOUBLE CLUSTER ·NGC 3628 - GALAXY Waiting for dark.. Daytime view from platform.

mylatestwhim

mylatestwhim

 

Red letter day! Best session so far... (Beginner)

Just returned inside from a 3 hour window in clouds after a welcome flash monsoon and thunderstorm cleared all the rubbish out of the sky that has been hanging around for a couple of weeks. What a difference from past nights. This is the fourth time I have used my own telescope and everything seemed to go well. As a complete, first scope, novice I have suffered from dust clouds, bad atmosphere, security lights, bad collimation, poorly aligned finder, limited EPs and limited viewable sky from my back yard in the last 3 sessions since getting my xt8i. I had a look outside before bed (about 11:50pm) and saw my opportunity. After aligning the scope 3 times, it was too far out the first two times in the haste and excitement, and firing up Stellarium on the lap top I was off searching for DSOs. Immediately I was finding them in the middle of my eyepiece clerer than ive seen before. I'm really chuffed that it is possible to get excellent viewing from my back yard given decent conditions and my investment was not a waste. I'm sure I saw more noteable objects but here is a list of things I viewed with help from the 'push to' intelliscope. I was out from the moment the cloud parted to the moment it rolled back in so really got good value. I got really good resolution on some of the globular clusters using my Orion Sirius EPs. (40mm, 27mm, 17mm) Anyway objects viewed with help of Sky at Night Mag and Stellarium: M81 - Bodes galaxy
M82 - Cigar galaxy
M63 - Spiral galaxy
NGC 4449 - Magellanic Dwarf galaxy
NGC 5005 - Spiral galaxy
M85 - Lenticular galaxy
M51 - Whirlpool galaxy (Clear double blob)
M102 - galaxy
M106 - Spiral galaxy
M3 - Globular cluster
M92 - Globular cluster (great res!)
M64 - Black eye galaxy
M52 - Open cluster
M53 - Globular cluster
M29 - Open cluster
M39 - Open cluster
NGC 6910 - Open cluster.
I was gutted that the virgo galaxy cluster that I'd been after on 2 previous occasions was behind next doors roof but the rest of my finds made up for it! Next time maybe.. Andrew :)

mylatestwhim

mylatestwhim

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