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  1. Some field sketches, as I don't get to spend a lot of time at the eyepiece lately... All done with a 12" dobsonian under moderate skies. NGC 6543 - Cat's Eye Nebula. It's a bit elongated, but clearly bright and big. Nice object! NGC 7009 - Saturn Nebula Also a bit elongated, no further details as the object was standing too low, and in a messy lightpolluted area. M 72 A small and faint fuzzy ball, not resolved into stars, but clearly round and directly visible.
  2. The night of 10/9/15 was the clearest it's been for a while and I actually started the session viewing the galaxy NGC 6503. I find the eq mount a little awkward in this patch of ths sky close to polaris as it never quite moves the way you really want it to. The galaxy itself is well worth a visit as it's bright and easily discernable as an elongated smudge. It's also quite easy to locate. After I'd completed an imaging run I went off to explore another region of the sky and I settled on looking for the Saturn planetary nebula which had had cleared the neighbours' house by then (my view low down to the south is a bit restricted). It's quite an easy hop to the Saturn nebula but I couldn't really see very much notiecable at medium power (with my 15 mm EP) apart from a fairly empty looking field of faint looking stars. None of these looked all that fuzzy. I upped the magnification to 200 x (with my 5 mm EP) and, sure enough, one of the stars (after a little hunting around) was distinctly fuzzier (not point-like) and distinctly elongated. It was fairly bright, even at this high power, and I expect that it may have benefited from the use of my OIII filter to teaze out more detail. Overall it did look reminiscent of Saturn at a low magnification in poor seeing. While I was in the area I also viewed the open cluster M73 which was quite a small cluster with only a handful of stars visible. I then moved on to the globular cluster M2 which was signinificanty brighter, overall, than M73 and appeared as a round compact milky patch, which dimmed rapidly towards its edges. There was just a hint of graininess to its appearance but it wasn't really possible to pick out any brighter member stars. Finally I moved on to the globular cluster M2 which, being much brighter and larger, was more of a treat to the eye. It was much more grainy with the odd member star popping briefly in to view.
  3. At last, my first prolonged telescope session of the new season and worth waiting for. With a waning half Moon not affecting the sky until close to midnight, I had over 2 1/2 hours to catch some late summer treats. First up, M11. Something I have only ever viewed with binoculars before. What a difference a scope makes. Dominated by the 8th magnitude star near the centre, the majority of the cluster fanned out to the North, with another pair of 9th magnitude stars of to the Southwest to counterbalance. Within the fan shape appeared a darker rift dividing up the denser areas. Superb! Happy with a prolonged revisit to one of the skies top 20, I moved on to finding some new things. The first of these was NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30) in Pegasus, a galaxy I have failed to find on a number of occasions. With perseverance, I cracked it. With an elongated bright core, it was surrounded by a soft halo best picked up in the 15mm eyepiece. Buoyed by this success, I moved onto another previous failure. The small planetary nebula NGC 6572 in Ophiuchus was also difficult to locate by repeating my star hop I managed to see it. Small it may be but it is also bright and I thought I could pick up a hint of green. I then moved across to Scutum to find the globular cluster NGC 6712, which was easy with averted vision and mid-sized compared to others. The only failure of the night was the Aquila open cluster NGC 6738. I think I was in the right area but cannot be sure and certainly could see anything. I then moved back to planetary nebula to seek out NGC 6818, the Little Gem in Sagittarius. This appeared condensed and possibly rectangular and was reasonably easy to see given its limited elevation. Moving East and far superior to observe was NGC 7009 (Caldwell 55), the Saturn nebula. A lovely object. At 126x magnification, I could make out some hint of colour in the bright lemon-shaped nebula. From there I moved on to nearby M73 but could only make out a handful of stars at 40x magnification. M72 was no better. A soft glowing mid-sized globular which I struggled to view with averted vision. NGC 752 (Caldwell 28) in Andromeda was much more enjoyable however. The large cluster is punctuated with a nice orangey pair of stars (class K and M) to the Southwest. I moved to the North-eastern sky to observe another classic I had not seen before. Kemble’s cascade leads to NGC 1502 which had ten to twelve individual stars I could make out. I finished the session by finding the Pegasus galaxy NGC 7217, just before the Moon started to interfere too much. It appeared like a soft oval haze. A total of two new Messiers, three new Caldwells and seven to my Herschel total. I'm happy with that. __________________________________________________ ______ Observing Session: Friday 7th September 2012, 21:05 hrs to 23:45 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 5.1 New - Revisited - Failed
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