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By Double Kick Drum
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