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I didn't have much time out last night, with a early start this morning, but thought that I'd better make the effort with clear skies. With the weather in this country you never know when you'll get the opportunity to stargaze again and I hadn't been out since last Wednesday anyway. I tend to plan my next observing session on the days when it's cloudy. As a beginner I'm using Turn Left At Orion as my guide to objects to view. There's so much in that book that I'll probably be using it for ever especially as it's always a delight to return to the old favourites. Last night I was going to try to observe the globular cluster M2 and then get to the Helix and Saturn planetary nebulae but I got distracted. I managed the first part ok. M2 is rather in the middle of nowhere with regards to bright stars by which to find it, so after finding Sadalsuud in Aquarius in my finderscope I headed north, starhopping using my 25mm eyepiece and Stellarium as my comparison. My modus operandi for finding objects has grown to be that Stellarium is on my computer in the kitchen and I go into and out of the house remembering star configurations that I have seen in the eyepiece and compare them with configurations that are shown in Stellarium. I've got a good memory and it's a good mental exercise as well. In the end the gobular cluster M2 was not that hard to find but I'm going to have to revisit it when I'm a bit more relaxed to appreciate it a bit better. What was upsetting me was my neighbour's, yes you've guessed it, security light. My blood pressure was up a bit as a consequence and I couldn't enjoy the experience as I would have liked to. M2 wasn't as spectacular as the great globular cluster M13 in Hercules but was pretty impressive. I didn't really notice any distinct stars just a general quite bright haze of light. I pushed the magnification up to 166x and it still looked really good. It was at this point in proceedings that my plan went awry. I noticed in Stellarium, I had zoomed in sufficiently, that the asteroids Pallas and Eros were also in the vicinity. After observing Ceres last week it would be good to follow it up with a couple more objects in the asteroid belt. Pallas is, according to Stellarium, at magnitude 10. That's faint compared with the objects that I have been pursuing up til now and I wondered if I would be able to see it with my telescope. Starting at Saadalsuud again I made my way to the location of the asteroid Pallas via 16 and 15 Aquarii and HIP105075. A few faint stars later and I was looking through my eyepiece at the asteroid Pallas. I can see why William Herschel called these objects asteroids as Pallas appears just like a very faint star. I was observing it at 40x magnification but increasing the magnification to 100x and 166x didn't elicit any better view. It was still like a very faint star. On to Eros next. Once again starting at Sadalsuud and navigating north via 21 and 20 Aquarii and HIP105534 I came to the area of sky where Eros is supposed to be at the moment. What did I see? Nothing. It seems like a magnitude 13 object is too faint for my telescope in the light polluted skies as seen from my back garden. I tried averted vision to no avail. Only my imagination was trying to conjure up Eros. After this observing session I now have a new test to perform. How faint an object can I see from my garden? I'll have to plan this test for one of the next observing sessions when seeing conditions are good (relatively).
Toxophilus posted a topic in Imaging Challenge #18 - Globular Clusters (Now Closed)This was taken over 4 nights between the 24th September and 6th October as I have a small windows to view objects in the south due to houses and a great big tree getting in the way. Messier 2, also known as NGC7089 is a globular cluster in the constellation of Aquarius. It is one of the largest know globular clusters and was discovered in 1746 by Giovanni Domenico Maraldi. It lies approximately 55000 ly away and is around 174 ly across.
Hi all, for those that are interested, Serge from AstroDevices.com has sent me some pics of the encoders he has just finished working on for the Stellarvue M2 mount. Looks like a very professional job to me and I am looking forward to installing them ASAP. I intend using them with the NEXUX DSC from Astro Devices but you could use the NEXUS II as well. I anticipate the encoders will cost around £290 ish here in the UK after taxes etc. Astrograph.net is the UK distrubuter. The last image is of my own M2 opened up. Installation should take 15mins I am assured. Clem