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After a clear start to the evening here, I set up my 200p with the intention to do some imaging. As usual, after it was properly dark and I was pretty much ready to go, the clouds rolled in - though they were thin and quite broken. This put paid to any thoughts of imaging and so I decided to have a look for the galaxy C3, NGC 4236, which is relatively large and has a low surface brightness. I didn't have much confidence that my 8" F5 Newtonian would have the light grasp to pick out anything but I thought that I'd have a go anyway. The star hop is very straightforward and I managed to get the finder lined up in the right place without too much difficulty. The faint background marker stars were also visible in the finder and so lining up wasn't so bad, although equatorial mounts can be a bit awkward at high DEC values. I popped in my 15 mm EP and had a look. There was nothing much to see to start with apart from the stars I used for lining up the telescope was obviously much brighter and I spent a bit of time matching the views between what I could see in the fnder and the main scope. After a bit of time I could see that the background sky glow wasn't uniform and there was a hint of a slightly brighter band that was just about visible. It's easy to confuse internal refflections within the scope for features (even with the dew shield attached) and so I used the RA and DEC controllers to jog the scope slightly to see if the band would move with the field stars. Sure enough, the band did move in register with the stars. I had my laptop at hand and I looked up some astro images of the galaxy and, indeed, the band I could see was lined up relative to the field stars in the same way as the galaxy is aligned in the images. I was really please with this as I could at least make out something of the brighter regions of the galaxy and the night ended on a bit of a high.
I braved the cold until just before midnight last night until M81 and M82 were high enough to see above the back of the house. They are a lovely pair of galaxies and it's really easy to make out their shapes and see a little detail with patience. I'd been planning a star hop to the galaxy C7 for quite some time using my binoculars and last night I could actually see a little smudge in just the right place with my bins. As C7 isn't that far from M81 and M82, I used my pre-planned hop. The inverted view in my finder confused me a bit to start with, as it often does, but I managed to find my way to C7 and it was even visible in the finder. It's a very rewarding sight and it appeared as a mottled smudge bracketed by a pair of fairly bright stars. Near the centre there is a fainter star which popped in and out of view as I averted my vision. I only used my 15 mm EP but I'll try again with higher power (10 mm probably) to try to tease out more detail. I'm really surprised how bright the galaxy is and that it's not in the Messier catalogue.