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Having barely enough time to let the ink dry on my last report, here's another from last night. Having missed my opportunity last night, I found an angle to view Corvus through a small gap in the foliage, target:- the Antennae galaxies. This pair were reasonably easy to locate and have a high surface brightness (well, for galaxies). Unfortunately their low elevation was a big hinderence. My semi-rural skies did allow me to see the subtlest wisp with a little persistence but it is impossible to be sure what part of the Antennae that was. This presents me with a small ethical dilemma, namely what do I record in my notes. I most probably saw the brighter interacting area but could only see one 'fuzz' and was nowhere near separating the pair into identifiable elements. The brighter of the pair is NGC 4039 (Caldwell 61) and at the moment, I am going for that option with a caveat in my notes. If I had have been able to discern a heart shape or something similar, I would have entered both. Any ideas? My next target was far less controversial. NGC 5248 (Caldwell 45) was identified by starting at Epsilon Virginis and heading just over the Bootes border. Another subtle and soft galactic radiance but easier to see than the previous object. With a low Southeastern horizon (down to five degrees or so) I next revisited M107 which I have only ever had a fleeting glimpse at. As part of an unmistakable asterism to the South of Zeta Ophiuchi, it is easy to find but once again its poor elevation meant that I was just about able to see it using all the usual tricks. My final challenging object was NGC 5363, a galaxy to the North of Tau Virginis. This was the easiest of the new finds in the session. Fed up with looking at inconsequential blobs, I thought I would turn my attention to more rewarding objects. Given both were now favourable, I did a comparison of M5 in Serpens with M13 in Hercules with the 8mm X-Cel. In my opinion, M13 is the slightly more rewarding to view. I was able to resolve more stars and the Herculean glob seemed to be slightly less uniform and show hints of star chains, as opposed to a large fuzzy ball with some resolution. My only additional comment on M5 was that I though it looked very very slightly elliptical. I finished up with Saturn in the 5mm X-Cel, which is presenting itself in a very aesthetically pleasing way at the moment. Titan and Iapetus were very obvious, Rhea (betwen Titan and the planet) could occasionally be seen directly and Tethys just about peeked through the glow with some technique (moving the planet out of the field of view worked a couple of times). Viewing the moons really highlights just how much poor conditions alter what is possible. Iapetus at magnitude 11.2 was almost a clear as Titan in the outer glow of Saturn. Rhea (at magnitude 9.8) was quite tough in denser planet glow and Tethys (at magnitude 10.3) was only just possible in similar glow, the other side of Saturn. Keep those clear nights rolling! ____________________________________________________________ Observing Session: Friday / Saturday 2nd / 3rdMay 2013, 22:35 hrs to 00:25 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 5.2 New - Revisited - Failed
Hi, I observed these during amateur astronomer meeting at Tähtikallio observatory (in Finland) with 36" f/3.5 Newtonian. Lovely weather, although sky wasnt as dark as usually due to hing moisture content in the air so I didnt try to observe more Hickson groups. Instead I sketched few globular cluster's and bright galaxies, all of them listed in the Messier catalog. M10 and M12 were really beautiful although they were really low near the horizon.
I have just got back from a week away in Cornwall, close to Crackington Haven on the Northeast coast. I only had a couple of clear nights, the first of which was affected by a Moon just past full. The second clear night (Thursday) was Moon free until about 01:30 hrs on Friday morning and so I crammed as much as I could into two hours under a very dark sky with quite low Southern horizons. Admittedly the sky doesn’t quite reach astronomical darkness at this time of year but despite that, it was at least 0.7 of a magnitude better than the very best night at my home observing site: the Milky Way was visible all the way down to Sagittarius. I started with M9 in Ophiuchus, which was easily found and appeared quite bright and condensed. M107 was larger and more diffuse in comparison but none the less much more prominent than I have ever observed before. Slightly further West, close to the bright red Antares was M4, a very large diffuse fuzz which seemed to be quite irregular in shape and consistency for a globular cluster: it seemed to have a line through the centre. M80 took a little more patience to find but came through as a small and condensed ball. I then spent a little time looking at some more obvious targets in favourable conditions. M13 could be resolved a little further than usual but both this and M11 (the Wild Duck cluster) were only marginally better. What was noticeably better was M27 (the Dumbbell nebula). The characteristic shape was very prominent and the nebula was very bright. M51 and companion NGC 5195 were probably the biggest improvement on previous sightings. Both cores were very bright and the surrounding nebulosity was easy to see directly and appeared larger. Additionally, I could pick up the subtle hint structure in the Messier, not obvious spirals but definitely a hint. Stunning! After a quick peek at M10 and M12 in Ophiuchus, I moved further South and found M62, which was brighter than I anticipated. Just to the North was M19, another new globular find, only slightly inferior. Finally, with Sagittarius more prominent, I viewed two more globular clusters. The very impressive M22 was easier to partially resolve than from home. The cluster is normally slightly washed out from light pollution. M28 was another new one for me. By this time, the 55% Moon had risen and so I called it a night. Six new objects ticked off the Messier list (now at 97) and some improved observations of old friends made me one happy bunny. Pity I didn’t get one more clear night to bag some of the really low Messiers, like M54 and M70. ____________________________________________________________ Observing Session: Thursday / Friday 30th / 31st May 2013, 23:30 hrs to 01:30 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 6.1 (at least) New - Revisited - Failed