Retuned home yesterday after 2 weeks holiday in Devon, the weather was not as good as expected however the last 3 nights were clear which was a relief. Unlike my last visit a few years back where I had to make do with an out of collimation pair of cheap binos, this time I had come prepared with a new set of Hawke 8x42 which were still to see first light.
My observing site was a small cottage in a place called Sheepwash where the nearest main populations were Bude 20 miles East and Okehampton 10 miles South East, overall the skies where quite dark with only a slight light-dome to the direct south which was probably Plymouth on the other side of Dartmoor. With no moon the skies were very good, I could easily see the Milkyway directly and the Scutum star cloud was very obvious. From Scotland you dont get skies this dark at this time of the year and its a novelty to view Scorpius and the teapot of Sagittarius so clearly.
So staring at Scorpius I viewed Antares and could easily see M4 close by, I attempted M80 but could not be sure I was seeing it or some faint star, moving quickly east I searched for M6 the butterfly cluster & M7 and found them low on the horizon, again Its great to view these clusters as I dont thing they even rise above the horizon back home, both were very clear in the same FOV even though the skies were a bit murky this low. Onto Sagittarius M22 very bright and always easy to find, M8 the lagoon bright and the little "W" above with the triffid M20, moving up into M24 the Saggitarius start cloud which I could see naked eye, in the binos I could also view the clusters M23 & M25 on each side, Moving up slowly both M16 & M17 the Omega and Eagle nebulas came into view and I wished I had a telescope at this point ;-), Futher North picking up M26 a faint star cluster in scutum and one of my favourite parts of the sky the Scutum star cloud and M11 the wild duck cluster. Scanning across into Ophiuchus viewed IC4665 shinning brightly and then attempted to find M10, M12 & M14 but could not recall their positions, there were so many stars it was difficult to be sure if I was looking at them. I was back onto Altair and looking for Barnards E, Im sure I can see it and quickly moved onto Sagitta, M71 easily discernible as with the coathanger cluster nearby, Onto Vulpecula and M27, neck cranked all the way up into Cygnus and staring for a few moments at the Veil nebula, Im certain I can see the brighter Eastern component NGC6992, try my luck for any nebula around Sadr but nothing obvious. On further up onto Deneb and across the the North American nebula, again I stare for a while and im certain I can see it with direct vision ;-).
Also had a look at a few favourites, M31 Andromeda, M81 & M82, M51, M39, M13 which I could see naked eye, a first for me.
So onto the HAWKE 8x42 APO binos, to be honest im not that impressed by them, I had expected to have been blown away by the views but there was something missing when viewing through them, using then during the day the views were suffering from blackouts, I adjusted them as best I could and the backouts were less of a problem at night, the pincushion effect is very apparent during daytime viewing but less so at night, there is some astigmatism evident and focus seems soft 15-20% from the edge, for me I just did not get the feeling of being immersed in the views and felt I was looking down a tube? So unfortunately Im sending them back and im back on the look out for a decent pair of widefield binoculars.
I also too a few snap shots with the DSLR, brought the wrong intervalometer so only a few images taken, Wish I had a travker but hey ho maybe next time.