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There was a nice clear sky last night despite the full Moon rising up at East and the long twilight at West-North-West. For these reasons, I chose to look for targets in the 'darkest' area of this bright sky, meaning Cygnus and Cepheus, with exception of Saturn of course! Thanks for reading, Piero Date: 02/07/2015 Time: 21:50-0:00 Temperature: 16C (wind: 10km/h) Seeing: 2 - Slight undulations Transparency: 5 - Clear Telescopes: TV 60 F6 Eyepieces: TV Nagler 13mm, Nagler 7mmm, Vixen 5mm SLV, Nagler 3.5mm. These eyepieces give Power, Exit Pupil, FOV of (28x, 2.2mm, 2.80deg); (51x, 1.2mm, 1.54deg); (72x, 0.8mm, 0.69deg); (103x, 0.6mm, 0.76deg), respectively. Filters: Astronomik OIII Although I own a Panoptic 24mm, due to the long twilight in this period of the year I am star hopping with the Nagler 13mm directly to reduce the sky brightness at the eyepiece. This is the only reason. All targets seen at magnifications 28x and 51x, were also seen using a Tele Vue Plossl 20mm with Bresser SA 2x Barlow/Tele-extender. This "built TV Plossl 10mm" (36x, 1.6mm, 1.3deg) was intentionally used for testing whether there was a gap between the Nagler 13mm and 7mm. I have not found that this combination is really required with my short focal length telescope (360mm), and will unlikely use this again. The jump from the Nagler 13mm to Nagler 7mm works well in terms of fov, magnification and exit pupil. I did not find the 10mm to improve the image or add details. For the report, I decided to omit the 36x magnification in order to not distract or confuse members who might otherwise think that this magnification revealed something more. Saturn, Lib. (28x, 51x, 72x, 103x) Observation during twilight. At 28x I could spot the rings and Titan. At 51x Saturn was very crisp but not additional detail was detectable. At 72x, the North Equatorial Belt and the Cassini division on the lateral rings were visible. At 103x those gained details were somehow lost unfortunately. Saturn was lovely at 72x. NGC6871, Cyg, Opn CL. (28x, 51x) I tried to see this wonderful open cluster again at both 28x and 51x. It is a fantastic cluster with the faint Milky Way dust in the background. 3-4 pairs of double stars were visible. All the bright stars are blue. Really nice. M29, Cyg, Opn CL. (28x, 51x) Cooling Tower. At 51x the cluster revealed 2-3 dim stars but not much else. The full moon did not help though. M39, Cyg, Opn CL. (28x, 51x) Great open cluster of medium size. About 20-25 bright stars were visible and other 20-25 faint stars detectable. This is a nice open cluster with a decent size, shape and a mixture of bright and dim stars. NGC7082, Cyg, Opn CL. (28x, 51x) Although this cluster is a bit smaller than M39, it is much less evident. It is located at South of M39 and where the lines made from two pairs of stars intersecate. Nice to see, but far less spectacular than M39. NGC7086, Cyg, Opn CL. (28x) Located 3-4 degrees North of M39 and above the star 80 Cyg (Azelfafage, mag 4.75), this cluster is just above a curved chain of stars. It is a small open cluster made of dim stars. Mu Cep. (28x) Garnet Star. Bright orange star located next to IC1396. Magnitude 4.2. IC1396, Cep, CL+Neb. (28x +/- OIII, 51x) Elephant's Trunk Nebula. I tried to reach this open cluster from M39, but I wrongly arrived at Alpha Cep (Alderamin). Star hopping from Alderamin was much easier. Although the nebula was not visible with the OIII filter, it was nice to see this cluster. In front of the Garnet Star, there is a chain of stars. The brightest is a tight system of three stars of different luminosity. Really nice to see and already split at 28x. This was well separated at 51x. Nearby this system there is another double star where the components have different brightness. Almost all, if not all these stars but the Garnet Star, are blue. NGC7235, Cep, Opn CL. (28x) From the Garnet Star, I moved East until I reached Zeta Cep. From there in the same field I gradually moved South. There are three bright stars as a reference. Between Zeta Cep and these three stars there is this little open cluster formed by dim stars. NGC7261, Cep, Opn CL. (28x) Two of the three stars previously mentioned are double stars (I think!). To find NGC7261 I moved along the line depicted from these three stars on the side of the double star on the corner (the one located at East). This cluster was also small and made of 3-4 dim stars. Delta Cep, Dbl Star. (28x) Very close to the cluster above, continuing along that immaginary line, I found this beautiful easily split double star. One component is orange, whereas the other is blue. The brightness is different between the two and in particular the blue star is dimmer. This double star is a little gem and reminded me of Beta Cyg (Albireo).
Open star clusters Trumpler 14 & 16 and Collinder 232 with the Carina Nebula a very colourful backdrop Eta Carinae and star clusters Trumpler 14 & 16 and Collinder 232 ( please click / tap on image to see larger ( 1632 x 1632 ) and sharper image ) The stand out member of Trumpler 16 is the unstable hypergiant Eta Carina ( just to the left of the Keyhole Nebula ). A larger ( 3264 x 3264 ) version of this image can be found on my Flickr page. Capture and processing details can be found in this post.
After a recent stuff up with my software that I have since cleared up (ooops ) I was itching to get some sky time. I managed 25x60sec frames in Luminance of open cluster NGC3532 after a bit of testing and realigning which I was able to mix with some older RGB that I had from a previous effort. Hope you find it interesting. Cheers.
Finally the skies cleared yesterday, and at last a chance to do some observing. It turned out to be a really good session - one of the best I've had for a long time - and I got through a good number of targets in just over 2 hours. I started off with the 4" refractor, hunting galaxies - the Andromeda Galaxy and companions, and M33 in Triangulum. These were really well placed at around 8.30pm, and despite a knackered red dot finder (!) I was able to get a great view of M31 with the 24mm Panoptic eyepiece (giving x20 magnification - ideal for large, diffuse objects like this). M31 showed a bright central core and an extended haze of light which stretched pretty much across the whole field. M32 was clearly visible as a small blob just to the south, and with averted vision M110 also came into view as a faint cloud off to the west. A quick star-hop through Andromeda led me to M33 - much fainter than M31 but certainly visible with averted vision. This gave an impression of being quite large, especially when I jiggled the scope around a bit. After a quick look at Lambda Tauri (to check it off the Moore Winter Marathon list) I had a look at M44, just rising out of the murky eastern horizon. A really lovely object this, one of the best in binoculars for sure - the 4" at x20 gave a great view too. Next, on to the undoubted highlight of the sky at the moment - Jupiter, by now high in the south and fantastically placed for viewing. At this point I rolled out the big guns - the 10" Dob got to work. This was probably the best view of Jupiter I've ever had - at times the seeing was crystal, and the detail on the planet at x171 using a 7mm BGO eyepiece was stunning. Lots of fine detail, especially in the northern hemisphere, with a prominent dark spot on the NEB and a white storm right next to it. Awesome. By this time the Moon was well above the horizon and the sky transparency was deteriorating a bit. So, one last target - M34 in Perseus. Very nice at x20, and some nice colour contrast amongst the group - one yellow / orange star in particular stood out. Overall, a really good session. Let's have some more of that kind of weather please....!