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Posts posted by cotterless45

  1. A week in Northumberland and this week in the Scottish Borders.A couple of hours of clear sky. Last evening and half past three this morning were just stunning. We're some 15 miles inland from Berwick upon Tweed, it's open countryside. 

    The sky was as dark and as stunning that I've seen in the western Isles. 

    Firstly the Milky Way was a wide twisting broken bright stream across the sky . Through Cygnus, rift and coalsac , it halted before splitting carrying on down to the horizon. Next the constellations . It takes some time to get adjusted to so many stars. Mars helped in orientation.

    This morning , Cassiopeia was not a "W" ! It looked like a wide twisted Perseus. Orion looked huge , his multi-starred club /bow arcing to the huge Hyades.Not often that I've seen the shape of Monoceros. Gemini could not be made out , if you were unaware of its size and shape. Our ancestors must have sat around fires to get the constellation shapes.

    Auriga was breathtaking . The odd fuzz showed where the larger clusters were. Including a very bright patch of the double cluster. My evening view showed the swirl and knots of M33 through 15x70 binoculars. M31 just filled the field of view. The MW just showed a background of bark brown star filled areas.


    This area of the country is scarcely visited and well worth exploring, especially for delights the very dark skies bring,

    Stay safe and clear skies , Nick

    • Like 12

  2. Thanks Mark !

    I found that with the aperture closed down to 120mm that an old school "Moon" filter took too much light . There was barely any difference turning the single polarising filter . I don't know what others have found . I did hear of colour filters being used .

    I did find that using no filter just gave you glare and that it's rare to nip inside for drink and toast and it not affecting the views  !

    Hope everyone enjoys Mars and looking forward to the opposition on the 13th of October ,


    • Like 3

  3. You wake up in the night. Groggily and half asleep , walk out into the garden. That cloud filled forecast has broken into crystal dark sky . High in the south sits a very bright Mars ." I wonder what it looks like that high ?" 

    The following nights bring cloud then clear skies but with wobbly seeing . Even Jupiter hardly shows it's bands. 

    Setting up at 11 , this time I'm waiting and watching out for that early morning height of Mars.
    First views and wow ! Focus on the ice cap and wait until the surface comes to view. Just don't keep fiddling with it . Both eyes open with a hand over the non observing eye, gets the eyepatch out .

    Sits and draws, funny what detail you can see. The surface shows not only darker bits.  But delicate channels where one arm flows off. 

    It's still wow at x240 with a 10mm Vixen plossl in x2 Barlow.I settle at x240 with an old school heavyweight ,5mm Vixen LVW and a single polarising filter . Just no breeze , hardly any dew and a lovely Mars.

    2.15, dew is getting heavy , sleep calls . Thank you red planet for an unforgettable night,
    Stay safe and clear skies ,
    Old Nick.IMG_8203.thumb.JPG.17788909447fda9c50c6755b9be5b7af.JPG

    • Like 11

  4. Ditto, there wasn't a forecast giving out the misery of cloud pouring in. Seems high presssure does little favours for seeing .

    There have been a few nights when I thought that there was something wrong with the Optics or my eyes. Just blame the sky !

    old Nick.

    • Like 1

  5. Patbloke arrived with his 120ed . We were well tooled up , Eq6 pro, C6r and a manual heavy duty CG5. 

    Kicked off with Jupiter , bit blurry. That followed a heated discussion on there being no finder scope on the ed , interesting alignment ! 

    Saturn was stunning. Best that I'd ever seen. I had goosebumps on my neck which spread down to my legs. The detail was amazing with a dark band outside the Cassini and plenty surface details at x216. It was rock steady and just a crystal view.

    Mars as soon as it cleared the houses showed a bright polar cap and surface markings. We waited as it climbed higher . I moved the ed to the manual CG5 down the garden and told Pat to sit down and play with apertures, eyepieces and filters. 

    I used a 120 aperture and an nd filter on the C6r. Best views were x240 up to just under x300. The ice cap was clearly defined with Syrtis Major dark on the surface. Seeing was exceptionally good. We enjoyed the view from both scopes and a selection of eyepieces.

    It was an exceptional night shared , pat left after 2 and I carried on for another hour,

    clear skies ! 


    • Like 12

  6. So so with this . I regret buying Astro gear in the past when I began and all that sparkled was thought to be essential. Now I've settled on the best gear I can afford and in that way am really happy.

    Before you sit on money , remember that there's no pockets in a shroud. My parents had a huge house and money. It's now gone with mother being in a care home for ten years. They never went on holiday and had a pretty miserable life worrying about money !

    We spend a right amount on holidays and trips. This has taken us to fabulous places and experiences. This has luckily included dark skies. If you really need to spend to enjoy the sky , then ensure you get to a dark sky ( when this virus has allowed).

    Same for spending on our grandchildren, we have a weekly WhatsApp quiz and take their prizes ( games for indoors and the garden) around a few days later. You can spend for pleasure and memories. Sparkly things soon lose their lustre, just chill out and enjoy what you afford,

    keep safe , 


    • Like 14

  7. 20 degrees C, no breeze, no dew and a busy young hedgehog ( been called worse ). Kick off 10 through to 1 when cloud filled up the sky. It's that special moment when the planetarium lights dim and you know it's going to be a great show, but isolated !

    Waiting for the Summer Triangle to completely rise, I had a look around. Two great bright ISS passes added to the delight.Just how huge does setting Leo look ? It dominated the south western sky. Cassiopeia was hugging the northern horizon. 

    The great line between Arcturus and Vega shows the crown of Corona Borealis and the great Keystone. Below Hercules watch out for Ophuichus holding Serpens on each side. Lower in the south east and Libra and a very special star .

    Libra. HD140283 (SAO 159459) , the "Methuselah " star , ancient enough to be formed just after the BB. I struggled with the binaries here as it's right over town. The seeing here was wobbly and not great over the sky , even past midnight.

    Cepheus. Lovely view at x48 of the colourful triple in IC1396. There's violet and green here.

    Draco.Caught the "Cat's Eye", NGC 6543.

    Ophuichus .IC 4665, the "Summer Beehive", buzzing with stars and unusual in that it's 15 degrees off the galactic plane. Just a mass of globular clusters here , I went for the higher ones, M9, M10,M12(in a flurry of stars) and M14.

    NGC 6633, a beautiful dancing open cluster. 

    V Ophuichi, a bright carbon star (SAO 159916).

    NGC 6572, the "blue racquetball", huge and deliciously bright, it's light blue.

    Serpens.IC 4756, the fabulous "Graff's cluster", so huge ( twice full moon) it wouldn't fit at x30. An unmissable sight.

    Vulpecula.M27 and a classic view of this bright beautiful dumbbell in the star field.

    Sagitta.M71, this globular cluster appears faint , but easily resolves from x100. At 8-9Billion years old.  It's younger than most, don't be passing it by , spend some time here.

    Cygnus. No beginning or ending here , must spend another few nights just on this banquet of delights. However settled for the overlooked M39 with rings of bright stars. NGC 6811, the "hole in the cluster". M29, the "shopping trolley". NGC 6910, the little "rocking horse". Ending up with NGC 6826 , the "blinking planetary", wow it does blink and that most lovely binary 61 Cygni (Piazzi's flying double) SA0 070919. I always imagine this as a trapeze with circus music.


    A most splendid and mouthwatering few hours, keep observing and keep safe,


    • Like 16

  8. Use the Pocket Sky Atlas, some years ago I got some self adhesive clear sheets. Covered each page and the outer edges. Heavy in weight , but has been out in the wettest dew . Very useful cladding , as you can use marker pens on the pages and wipe off later,


    • Like 6

  9. Lovely looking night , seeing was very variable before midnight . Widely spaced and variable in brightness , the satellite train took ages to pass just above Leo. Right neck crâner to see before 11. 

    Very pleased to get the comet in Camelopardalis, not easily placed in a brighter area of the sky. Something magic about a small fuzz visiting our skies.Cassiopeia was hidden below next door.

    Onto Draco, some glorious binaries there, well placed for a comfy chair at the eyepiece.

    Σ1984 and a close delicate companion, easy spot at x48.  Σ2199 , bright and wonderfully matched.  16-17 Draconis a wide triple , the bright A having a companion.

    Tour of M13 , M92, M53 and M5. Some resolved stars to these ancient cores. Rasalgethi (α Herculis) once again gave the challenge of a small speck beside a very bright ( brightest in Hercules ) star. Rasalhague was rising , Ophuichus is coming with some great views.

    Keep safe , clear skies , 


    • Like 5

  10. Some small comfort required ! Looking around at a milky sky and seeing that was somewhat curious. Some areas of the sky were great , others wobbled like a frightened jelly.


    Lost in Corona Borealis and the stars there. Then up to Draco, main stars are easily spotted giving the head of Draco . NGC 6543 ("cat's eye Nebula") looked beautiful . 

    Both zeta (SAO 64833) and the beautiful v1 and v2 are a lovely grapefruit (16h22.4m. +33 48'. Nice close pair at Σ 1932 (SAO 83756).


    Arrakis (SAO 30239) looked stunningly bright ( home of "Dune" for us sci fi geeks).

    Σ1878 gives a most delicate companion, see if you spot this gentle small speck of light.

    Σ2278 gives a great and easy triple. 


    These types got me into multiple stars, useful against increasing light pollution and  observing the same old.

    Stay safe , enjoy those skies ,


    • Like 5

  11. Nice report Peter !

    Followed the Starlink satellite train ,thanks to the benevolent and wonderful  Elon Musk.

    Put out the garden recliner , got togged up and waited and waited .Went through to 1am , just one very spectular trailed Lyrid.

    Viewed  the globulars , ended up with the planetary Nebula ,NGC 6543 ( "cat eye ") very very bright and wonderfully resolved at x200.

    keep safe , Nick.

    • Like 3

  12. Set up and before long the satellite train rumbled by , some lagging , one with a tiny bit beside it . Got the boss out to look , I don't know anything about them apart from they're the size of kitchen tables. Oh and the idiot Elon Musk got a mention.

    By eye , got down to the four stars of Corvus . Got two sets of triple stars there.  Σ1659 and Σ1604. Quite easy and a delight , especially Σ1659 presented as a triangle inside a field triangle.IMG_7633.thumb.JPG.f831c0b5a3c61d8a7c2b012fe75bab5c.JPG

    Then a couple of gems in Ursa Minor,IMG_7632.thumb.JPG.dc15b31d8592d2225a328934c046700d.JPG

    Great time for galaxies , so chose the brightest , came away with some bright cores and long streaks. SQM just under 19.

    Virgo. M104 (+8) Sombrero galaxy , nice shape.  M49 brighter , M58, M59. M60 was brighter, both M84 and M86 in the field at x92.M87 and M90 rounded up the fuzz.

    Canes Venatici.M94 very bright. NGC 4632 ( the "whale") long streak. M51 there with NGC 5195. M63 (" sunflower") and M106.

    Hercules was well up, try two planetaries there ,

    IC4593   The "white eyed pea" does what it says , then blinks away.   NGC 6210 at x92 a very big "turtle Nebula ". 

    Feeling tired , retired for the night , stay safe ,




    • Like 10
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