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Human Sheep in West Kilbride

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Away for a couple of weeks with the family at the moment. Car was a bit full to bring the dob, but I've bought my etx105 and some Celestron 12x70s with me. I've discovered that technology really isn't for me whilst observing, so the scope is de-forked and now on an AZ4 mount.

Every night bar last night is meant to be cloudy, so I was really keen to have a session, even if targets were dictated by cloud gaps. Our cottage is half a mile outside the village and the skies are magnificent with the Milky Way prominent across it.

I set up on the edge of the plot right next to a field full of sheep. Did you know that sheep make human sounds whilst sleeping? Ok- imagination plays tricks in the dark, but it's very off putting! 

Just lining up on Izar. Cough! Who was that? Just a sheep... Nicely split- companion just outside the first diffraction ring. "Oi!" Hello- is someone there? No- another sheep. This continued throughout the session, at one point a sheep sighed loudly right behind me- I nearly had a heart attack!

Spent a while on Jupiter and Saturn. Saturn was glorious with hints of the Cassini division, but Jupiter was a fraction lower and wobbling like crazy. In the better moments of seeing you could see a couple of bands but it was never great.

I found the very high targets uncomfortable and the etx was quite unbalanced, so I stuck to 40-70 degrees.

M13 was wonderful, resolving a long way into the core.

M31/2 was good in the scope but better in the binoculars- showing more of its full extent- couldn't get M110 in either instrument though. It was also pretty cool naked eye- spent a long time looking and it gradually seemed to emerge from just a faint smear to showing quite a lot of size.

Clouds came across to the North so I switched directions. Couldn't see much of the big nebulae, but had a nice view of M11. I really like M11.

Next up was Mars- this was the highlight for me- and my first view in this apparition. Vibrant orange with the polar cap prominent and some smudging on the surface. I spent a long time just soaking it up. What a sight!

Decided to switch to the binoculars for some wide field sweeps of the Milky Way but found they were completely dewed up, which was disappointing, and the etx wasn't far behind them. A shame to pack up with the skies getting better, but at least I've managed one good session on this trip! And a bit of a relief to get away from those sheep and their weird human sleeping noises!

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Nice account and some humorous encounters with sheep. They can be surprisingly startling at night, at least wherever you were based you were not it would seem harassed by hordes of midges. Particularly good observation of Mars, great that you got an opportunity at least as the weather has not been very cooperative for observing. 

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Nothing, at night, is as scary as a camel! They can creep up at you silently with their soft hooves, then make the most loud and disturbing snorting noise.

(well, nothing without sharp teeth)

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Yeah- camels have a pretty fierce kick as well- I wouldn't want one of them near my telescope 😬

It's funny the way that observing changes- at home in the garden I relish the animal noises as part of the experience of being out at night- where I live is urban but there are cats, bats and hedgehogs aplenty and they all add to the experience. Out in the country the risk is barely larger (although I've never trusted rabbits after The Holy Grail!), but the rational bit of my brain struggles to suppress the fight/flight response.

Glad we don't have camels roaming about the place!

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West Kilbride is just up the road from me.  There's Portencross close by to West Kilbride and Seamill, unfortunately all the boy racers tend to congregate at the car park at Portencross, making a good viewing location ruined!😒

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Nice, interesting report Bob, thank you.

Good clear nights have been hard to come by lately, and I would gladly accept some sheep nearby to get some skies like the one you described 😊.

I showed my wife Jupiter and Saturn briefly last night as it was just getting dark and we got back from a walk. The cloud had already obscured the Moon in the west, but I got the scope out and quickly swung over to Jupe and Saturn. Jupiter was just boiling, impossible to see any detail, although we saw the 4 main moons, two either side of the planet. Saturn was better, strangely, and the rings were clearer than I'd expected but no Cassini Division. 

The Jetstream is just so active at the moment, we could really do with some calm, quiet skies such as we had back in April and May in early lockdown..

Enjoy the rest of your holiday and hope you get another session...sans sheep!😁


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