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This is just a log of my observations last night from my balcony. It has quite a restricted view due to it being recessed so the floor above me gets in the way. It faces south-east-east and I have around 80-90 degrees of azimuth view. If you’re prepared to watch the constellations appear it is ok and put up with the streetlights on the paths it’s ok. I have places nearby where I can set up to get a better view of the sky but it’s summers and I could hear some people having a party in the park. I thought I’d leave them to it as it will be cold in the winter and the night time park will hopefully be empty! I was using my 102mm Mak on an eq2. I’d been hoping to have another attempt at the Ring Nebula in Lyra but the floor above me was getting in the way. I should have got out a bit sooner – with it not really getting dark enough until ~2330 and it going out of view for my viewing spot I’ve only got a short window of opportunity for this target at the moment. So I settled for Albireo. This was the first time I’d gone for this double in Cygnus and it’s a lovely sight. A warm orange spot with it’s hot blue partner. It’s not as hard to split as the Double double (which isn’t hard either but it’s the only double I’ve seen so far which I know the name of J ). I then decided to try and find M31 which isn’t visible to the naked eye for my location but the Andromeda constellation was easy to make out by following along from the belly of Pegasus. M31 proved a hard target to find at first. I’d initially started to use the two stars I could see that formed the waist of Andromeda which seemed from Stellarium could be used as a pointer up towards M31 but no amount of wriggling the scope whilst moving up worked so I consulted Stellarium again. Although I can’t see Polaris to polar align I can get a good enough polar alignment by pointing the polar axis north and the latitude for my location. So I could see that if I went up to the centre of the cross of Cygnus (Sadr), moved my declination up a couple of degrees and then scanned back with RA I might hit M31. Whilst getting my up and down mixed up on my declination axis, I happened across a star cluster which took me by surprise a bit. It seemed that I’d mistakenly found M29 after checking with Stellarium. After M29 I decided to put the scope in the right position I’d intended to scan back to M31 from Sadr in Cygnus. This approach didn’t help either! Back to the drawing board. I used the star near the head of Andromeda as a guide next and moved my declination up whilst giving the scope a wiggle and M31 came in to view. In my little Mak it was only the smudge of the centre but I was surprised how big the smudge was. I was expecting the core to appear smaller but I would estimate that I could see around 0.2 to 0.3 of a degree (I was using a 20mm Erfle which gives me ~1 degree in my scope). Having found M31 I was starting to notice more stars in the sky now. I could see the two brightest stars of Aries and the Triangulum so decided to attempt M33. I spent ages trying to find this but couldn’t do it. After doing some research today though it seems that M33 surface brightness is very low so maybe my scope is too small and I have to be a bit more patient when scanning the sky. The same research threw up the obvious question as to why I didn’t see M32. I should have been able to see it with M31 however I probably mistook it for a star. Now I know how to get M31 I’ll look out for it next time. My next target for the night was M34 as I felt this would be easy to find by scanning in RA from Almaak in Andromeda. Whilst lining up on Almaak I noticed this was double with a small companion. This was a double that I was going to put a name to! I’d seen a few without naming them but it’s so easy to find in Stellarium that I had no excuse although I was a bit thrown out when Stellarium didn’t show it as a double in ocular view. Some wiki research today confirmed this though and Almaak’s companion is a double itself but they are seperated by less than an arc second so not sure if I have the resolving power to try this when I go back to it. I found M34 after looking at the Almaak double. It wasn’t hard to find this time. Whilst the open clusters are nice and I like the way they jump out at you as you’re scanning across I must admit I preferred viewing M13 when I first found it. Even though I couldn’t really resolve stars in M13 I just found it a more exciting target. I suppose as it seems like a galaxy within a galaxy. I could now see Jupiter rising through some trees in the distance so tried to get the double cluster but I was just restricted by the floor above again and I could only see the southern half of Cassiopeia so I went to M45 which I could just see as a smudge 20 degrees or so above the horizon. There’s no way I can get all of the Pleiades in my FOV but it was fun scanning around it and all the other stars appear within it. Finally Jupiter had cleared the trees so I concentrated on this now. The seeing was quite bad, the transparency was getting worse (a haze was starting to develop around the planet) and Jupiter was still quite low.I found that my 10mm plossl was giving me a bit too much magnification and I was better of using my 15mm or my 20mm erfle with the barlow cap in the end to give ~100x magnification. Detail was hard to make out though and I was restricted to seeing 2 bands of brick colour on against the cream background. Unfortunately the moons were nicely spread out this time; I’d been hoping for a repeat of when I watched one of the rise from behind Jupiter a week ago. I’m looking forward to when Jupiter starts rising earlier in the autumn so I can view it higher in the sky to beat the seeing before the Sun rises. So that was last night on my balcony waiting for the earth to spin. Next week looks good my way for weather so hopefully I can repeat it soon.
Messier 29 An open cluster in the constellation of Cygnus. Discovered in 1764 by Charles Messier. This target can easily be seen with binoculars, so if you get to observe it let me know what you think. Is is between 4 and 7,000 Ly away, around 11 Ly across, approaching us at an estimated 28 Km/s and is around 10 million years old. The five hottest stars form a 'chopped off mini big dipper'. Its apparent brightness is 8.5 but the absolute magnitude is -8.2 or put it another way the luminosity of 160,000 Suns. Taken with poor seeing from fine high altitude cloud in gusty conditions. If you want to know more the astrobin link is: http://www.astrobin.com/265279/
Clear skies at last! It's been a while since my last report but hopefully weather armageddon has now past us by and we can get out there doing what we do best. Due to early morning commitments, this was only a short binocular session but still satisfying none the less. I started with a quick check on Ursa Minor and yes, all stars were present and correct. The sky had moved substantially since my last session so I took a little time to familiarise myself with some old friends. M27 (the Dumbbell nebula) stood out quite well in Vulpecula, as did M29 and M39 in Cygnus. Overhead, the Milky Way appeared reasonably clear and it was very enjoyable just sweeping through the rich star fields. To the North-East, Casseopeia was beginning to rise. NGC 663 and M52 were both very obvious in the 15x70s. I couldn't see M32, once I had moved round to Andromeda but M31 filled a substantial part of my field of view. I have only ever seen the Andromeda companions in a scope. I wonder if anyone has managed them with a pair of binoculars. I then moved round to the Southern skies to test the sky out for future reference. In Scutum, M11 (the Wild Duck cluster) looked very nice but I couldn't find M26. To be fair, I didn't spend long looking.... there was Sagittarius (or at least the Northern half of it) just popping his head over the low-ish tree line. M22 was impressive, despite it being so low in the sky. Sadly, I wasn't sure if I could make out M28. Anything further South is impossible due to viewing restriction. M24 was not as clear as I had previously seen it but it is a fine starfield and tolerant of a bit of light thrown up by Medway, which is three miles to the South of me. North in a line from M24, I could find three fuzzies. First was the open cluster M18. I believe this has 20 - 25 members but the binoculars revealed just a very small fuzzy circle. Just North from there was a larger and easier fuzzy area to view. I look forward to getting M17 (the Omega nebula) in my scope sight. Further North again is M16 (the Eagle nebula) though obviously it was just the associated cluster that I could see. Nice to start the season with three new finds. I look forward to spending a little more time with Sagittarius. It is my favourite constellation. __________________________________________________ ______ Observing Session: Sunday 22nd July 2012, 23:30 hrs to 00:05 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 5.4 New - Revisited - Failed
Image captured 15th April 2018 from my back garden in Birmingham Multiple 130s exposures at ISO 800 - Canon 200D with CLS filter. approx 20 mins exposure in total. Darks and flats applied. Telescope : SW ED80 DS pro Mount : HEQ5 pro - belt modded unguided stacked in DSS and processed in Star Tools