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An ode to Nick

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As I sit here on a cloudy and rainy Friday night, I look back on a happy Thursday night with the stars. I was a weary stargazer, having risen at 5am for work. A restful afternoon had given me enough energy though to wander out under the clear skies. The Moon and Venus in the early evening had lit the fire inside me. The fire was needed as it was bloomin’ cold outside. The words and sketches of a fellow stargazer named Nick filled my mind. You may know him as @cotterless45. Nick had written of a Constellation named Puppis and that is where I directed my telescope. The planetary nebula NGC2440 blinked in and out view, just as Nick promised. More magnification showed an irregular shaped nebula. At first I thought it’s stat could be seen but, alas, it was simply a brighter region within the nebula. Nick’s trail led to a spectacular pair of clusters, M46 and M47. The bright binary in M47 was eye catching. Nick described M46 as delicate and I cannot top his words. Adding an OIII filer, elevated the view as the planetary nebula NGC 2438 grew in prominence within the nebula. With greater magnification, the PN took on an annulus structure to my eye.

Nick knows just where to find the most stunning double stars. The winter Albireo, h3945, more than lived up to its name. Carbon stars followed. For these I retrieved my refractor. Hind’s Crimson Star and La Superba showed amazing colours. The first like the red of a traffic light and La Superba, a deep orange. The colour rendition of the frac surpassing my reflector on these targets. 

I parted ways with Nick at this point and started to collect galaxies. The superb irregular galaxy, NGC 4449, led me onto the Cocoon galaxy (NGC 4490) and its smaller and fainter companion (NGC 4485). The bright Messier galaxy M106 followed. The pairing of M97 (Owl Nebula) and M108 was intended to be my final flourish but I decided on just one more target. 

I’ve clocked up 13 observations of the wandering comet know as C/2017 T2 (Panstarrs). Observation number 14 was a memorable one. The icy visitor is currently travelling through Cassiopeia giving a wonderful starry backdrop. Using a simple but very sharp orthoscopic eyepiece, I marvelled at the hazy glow of the comet. It seemed to hint at its tail. As I started to  clear my stargazing tools away, I kept coming back for just “one more look”. A view worthy of a sketch by Nick who inspired this session with his words and sketches. 

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He's alright that old Nick bloke, isn't he? 😉👍

Lovely stuff Neil.

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Nick has transformed my viewing until I had met him I had been using "Turn left to Orion" looking for the galaxies. 

Disappointed at my lack of seeing anything apart from M45 and M42 I was about to pack it all in. 

So when I met him he put me on the track of clusters and double and multiple star's, 

This renewed my interest and now having the EQ5 and two refractors on clear nights I am spoiled for choice of the thousands of objects I care to view now I am in my element. 

So it's all thanks to Nick who I cannot thank enough. 

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Cheers Neil and good trail to follow. 

A few of us have observed with Nick and he's a knowledgeable chap if quite wacky in the best sort of way 😄.

Been some nice nights of late but the moon has been taking the glory. Good If you can avoid it for some viewing .


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