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Roaming Through the Globular's


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Date: Sat 24, Sun 25 March

Location: Breamish Valley, Northumberland

Instrument: 200mm F6 Dobsonian

Ave SQM (L) reading taken between 2.45 to 3am: 21.52

The valley was fairly lit up by moonlight as I established my equipment, long shadows were cast by myself and the scope, the moon reflected in the car window as though a head light was approaching. There was also a cold gust funnelling through from the west. This was just fine as my approach tonight and in the early hours of the morning, was for emerging Easterly constellations of Bootes, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, Hercules, my back to the moonlight and the gusts. 

I began at 10pm and turned my attention firstly towards the moon. The topography, highly dramatic across the terminator, shadows and contrasts, among mountain and crater topography pronounced in my 21E. Clavius, Archimedes, Plato, I had to comprehend what was going on later, referring to another thread from last night, Alphonsus was a central attention feature, projecting shadows and light. The moon had made my right eye blinded for a time, I would not look at it again through the scope tonight.

M53 was neatly located, at 200x it was not quite resolving into those individual peppering stars, averted vision helped a little. Close by and with averted vision I just glimpsed the visually challenging globular NGC 5053, more like a loose open cluster perhaps and will return to try again once the moon has set. M3 gracefully entered into view, delightful at 200x, as with M53 I would return several times during the course of the session to M3. NGC 5466, I was only able to grasp much later after the moon had set, this is a challenge of low surface brightness, appeared as a faint thumb print. Even so I would have attempted a mid power view to see if anything could be resolved expect that my low power eyepiece had, for a time, 'locked into' the focuser due to the cold gusty wind chill, an occurrence each time I visit the valley. M13 was magnificent at 200x, the dark lanes that form the propeller just visible. More graceful globular's were to follow, M92 and the bright small formation of NGC 6229.  

By now M5 was favourably positioned and became absorbing and highly engaging at 200x. I drifted down to Virgo for NGC 5634, a bright globular, which I had encountered once before but somehow missed this fairly easy target tonight. Taking a break from the globular's, I visited the sharp granular composition of M81, M82, the Plough elevated in a more dark northerly placement. I drifted through the clusters that abound within Cassiopeia and my attention turned to Jupiter, by now ascending towards the south. Crisp and defined I think I saw a shadow transit, I visited again later. 

Earlier for a time, thin cloud had enveloped the East and South, adding to the challenge of moonlight. Dissipating, transparency greatly improved and with the moon setting, it was possible to go roaming through Virgo and Coma Berenices. M64 was the first to jump out at the eyepiece, drifting through Markarian's Chain and onwards picking out bright individual and collective groups, it is easy to become lost in concentration. I actually did become lost or more to the point I lost Hercules among the intensity of stars. As though waiting until I looked up, one, two then three meteors glided with rapidity across my line of vision, leaving a trail behind. I wished to go in pursuit of M12, M10, M14, NGC 6366, this could have been the beginning but was the beginning of the end, at approaching 3am I took a succession of Sky Quality Meter readings with an appreciable average reading of 21.52, the sky justifiably looked so.

You are never alone when you go dark sky stargazing, somewhere unseen was the sound of a Curlew, when the wind eased, an owl could be heard, the flow of the river was ever apparent. Arriving back home, still dark and clear, the dawn chorus had begun, 'they are a bit early'' I thought, erm... actually not I reasoned.

 

The morning after 

 

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1 hour ago, scarp15 said:

You are never alone when you go dark sky stargazing, somewhere unseen was the sound of a Curlew, when the wind eased, an owl could be heard, the flow of the river was ever apparent. Arriving back home, still dark and clear, the dawn chorus had begun, 'they are a bit early'' I thought, erm... actually not I reasoned.

Sounds wonderful Iain.
As to being alone, well I am kept company by a local owl when out observing from the garden and get visits from foxes and badgers too.

 

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2 hours ago, Alan White said:

Sounds wonderful Iain.
As to being alone, well I am kept company by a local owl when out observing from the garden and get visits from foxes and badgers too.

 

That is really appealing Alan, just becoming removed for a time from conventional circumstances and gaining a more heightened sense of nature, having a particular reason to be out there, such as pursuing astronomy, provides a sense of occasion, a sense of place and sense of purpose.  

40 minutes ago, Littleguy80 said:

Really nice report, Iain. Feels like you captured the atmosphere of the night perfectly. Despite the reference to globs in the title, you actually covered a good range of targets. Great stuff :) 

Thanks Neil, my first time out since January 20th. I really wanted to hang on when the moon finally set and regardless of the clock change, which I heeded no attention to, basing my account on the old and not the forward by one hour time.  It was just great to be able to simply get immersed in it all, get a bit disorientated again (particularly when the coffee ran dry) and eager to pretty much have a go at everything. An hours drive home though has definitely to be reckoned with.  

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Nice report Iain, I do like Glogs alot, I tried to photograph M79 about two weeks back as it is starting to slip from the night sky but it was very low even from here. A combination of poor conditions and a walnut tree didn't give good results. Messier 3 is a lovely Glob as too is M5 though I feel M22 is my favourite.

Alan

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Great stuff Iain, a lovely sessions and entertaining read. You certainly have some good skies there although as you say, an hour’s drive when tired requires concentration, and preferably backup coffee!!

@alan potts M22 is indeed probably nicer that the other Northern globs but is very low down for us island dwellers ;) 

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

Great stuff Iain, a lovely sessions and entertaining read. You certainly have some good skies there although as you say, an hour’s drive when tired requires concentration, and preferably backup coffee!!

@alan potts M22 is indeed probably nicer that the other Northern globs but is very low down for us island dwellers ;) 

I also read somewhere that M22 has a dust cloud that sits in between us and it. Without the dust cloud it would apparently be brighter than M13! 

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3 hours ago, Stu said:

Great stuff Iain, a lovely sessions and entertaining read. You certainly have some good skies there although as you say, an hour’s drive when tired requires concentration, and preferably backup coffee!!

@alan potts M22 is indeed probably nicer that the other Northern globs but is very low down for us island dwellers ;) 

It is not exactly overhead here Stu, I may well try to photograph it this year, it looks lovely with the 18 inch though.

Alan

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On ‎26‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 06:17, alan potts said:

Nice report Iain, I do like Glogs alot, I tried to photograph M79 about two weeks back as it is starting to slip from the night sky but it was very low even from here. A combination of poor conditions and a walnut tree didn't give good results. Messier 3 is a lovely Glob as too is M5 though I feel M22 is my favourite.

Alan

Cheers Alan look forward to your photographs of M22. It's quite possible to see this cluster from here, but understandably at low elevation at 55' N and the approach to the Summer months impact on dark sky periods.  

On ‎26‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 06:48, Stu said:

Great stuff Iain, a lovely sessions and entertaining read. You certainly have some good skies there although as you say, an hour’s drive when tired requires concentration, and preferably backup coffee!!

@alan potts M22 is indeed probably nicer that the other Northern globs but is very low down for us island dwellers ;) 

Thanks Stu, the trip had bolstered my confidence and feel as though I'd regained enthusiasm. I was really pleased with the meter readings and knew that the valley would have this potential. Driving home you kind of get into another mind set in a way. It can be calming and contemplative, going over the nights events and perhaps thinking 'job done'. The roads up here can be quiet and it was almost upon reaching Newcastle before encountering any traffic, the journey back felt a bit surreal, there is an acute stillness. I tend to drive steady anyhow, partly because I do and also, there is always something or another scurrying across the road. 

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Very nice report . I use to do those back 10-15 yrs ago cause I wasn't much into imaging back then . I hear ya on M3 . I remember that was my first ever DSO I found with a 5" Newt on manual mount back in 96' . I was glued to that for a great deal of time . But I never did image M3 but it was my favorite among all GCs' . But I also don't stay up late nights anymore that i'm older and need my sleep :(  but I do miss it a lot ! 

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Nice one!!  A dark location at 21.5  :)

I've managed 5053 with a 60mm frac on several occasions.  Using a low magnification it doesn't resolve.  The nearby star just looks like it has some haze attached compared to similar stars in the FOV.

Aye, the drive home can be very tiring and trying!!!

Cheers, Paul.

Edited by clarkpm4242
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Thanks for that account Paul concerning 5053. I have been trying to verify my own observation and your description concerning a close to star with some haze attached compared to similar stars in FOV, is precisely how I determined the observation at low power. Using just a 60mm frac is interesting, I hope to use a small wide field frac next time, possibly take a tent to, so no tired drive home to contend with for a change.  

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