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  1. It has been 25 days since my last encounter with the cosmos and I was starting to get fed up about the whole thing. There was much to do to make up for lost time and despite the fact that the atmosphere felt quite dewy, I could see down to around magnitude 5.3. My first regret was waiting until 10pm to set my scope up. While it cooled, I thought I would point the binoculars at NGC 253 (Silver Coin galaxy) very low down in Sculptor but found that I had left it about 10 to 15 minutes too late. It was just obscured by a roof it had 'decided' to set behind, in spite of me trying to find other vantage points and standing on tippi-toes for additional two inches of height. Never mind! Once the scope was ready, I decided to start with objects in Auriga where there were no such issues. IC 2149 is a small (possibly elongated) and moderately bright planetary nebula near Pi Aurigae and was reasonably easy to identify. Further East in the constellation I found NGC 2281, a bright open cluster with 25 or so stars counted. It appeared moderately sparse but was centred on a small diamond of four of the brighter stars. As Taurus approached due South and Gemini was now quite elevated, I decided to see if I could locate another prominent asteroid after the success of 1 - Ceres and 4 - Vesta in October. 9 - Metis was (at magnitude 9.7) far more of a challenge to locate than to see, not helped by the fact that CdC was slightly out again. It can be found starting from Wasat, moving to 52 Geminorum and then moving back through fairly easily identifiable asterisms. Nearby was Jupiter, which I was long overdue for a peek at. The sky was the steadiest I can remember and with the Moon filter on I could see three bands and what appeared like a little texture to the two equatorial bands. The also seemed to be some polar colouration compared to the main body of the planet between the belts. I did try the UHC (for a punt) and won't be trying it again. It made my eyes feel weird. Happy with the local tour, I moved into Aries and was just able to prise the galaxy NGC 821 out from the very nearby ninth magnitude star BD+10 293 in the very South of the constellation. It appeared quite dense but at magnitude 10.7, it was quite difficult to see clearly, even with a nudge of the scope. I moved on to M33 in Triangulum. Definitely easier to find in binoculars but with the scope the large core was very obvious and I believe I could detect a soft brighter glow in the surrounding area. This contrast was particularly evident when I moved away to the West of the galaxy. By now, the Northern part of Cetus had cleared my house and so I headed for Delta Ceti in search, firstly of NGC 1055 which sadly was a galaxy too far. M77 on the other hand was very bright. The dense and bright core seemed to be enveloped in a soft circular haze. From there I moved West to find another galaxy, NGC 936 whose moderately condensed glow made a backwards question mark asterism with four other stars between magnitude nine and eleven, just to the South of a brighter pair. I moved back to the Gemini - Taurus borders, to find Ceres again but found I got side-tracked when I found M35, a very rich open cluster. Two more open clusters were close by. NGC 2158 was very obvious to the Southwest and even IC 2157 further West again seemed reasonably easy to pick up, all be it slightly larger and more diffuse than NGC 2158. I had been very mindful to keep replacing the lens cap when not in use to delay the effects of the moisture in the atmosphere but by now I knew I had just one more target before the night was over. I decided to break my Eridanus virginity now the constellation was visible to the side of my house. NGC 1084 was still just about detectable despite lens conditions. A shortish star hop from Eta Eridani and close to the Cetus border, the galaxy has quite a high surface brightness but was only visible with averted vision. Let's hope the next wait for a clear night is a shorter one! __________________________________________________ ______ Observing Session: Saturday / Sunday, 10th / 11th November 2012, 22:20 hrs to 02:10hrs GMT VLM at Zenith: 5.3 New - Revisited - Failed
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