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Captain Magenta

Session with the Neighbours: Mars and M13.

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Last Sunday my neighbours asked when was the best time to look at Mars? Which I interpreted as them having read about Mars' current close proximity, knowing I have telescope(s), and requesting a good look. Naturally I obliged, and suggested Tuesday evening, school night notwithstanding, as it was forecast clear. It was also due to be Moonless and clear, so I after finishing work I set up 2 scopes, my 12" on the big AZ-EQ6 and my little 6" Intes on the Stellarvue M2. I drew up a short list of other targets that might interest them aside from the Red Planet.

They turned up, and we quickly turned to Mars.

As I had expected, and although they didn't admit it, I suspect they were somewhat underwhelmed by the view. In my experience, it was a good view, seeing was quite good. Dark regions were easily on show, but I think they were expecting D Peach or Hubble. Oh well. This was exactly why I had other targets in mind.

I directed them, naked eye to begin with, to the Andromeda Galaxy, then we turned to binoculars. They were more impressed by that.

Next, and from their point of view this was the absolute star of the evening, was M13, the Great Hercules Cluster. They'd never heard of Globular Clusters, and I'd deliberately not told them what we were about to see. First, like M31, we just about were able to make it out naked eye, as a "something" brighter patch maybe not a star, 2/3rds the way between the two stars on the right of the keystone. Then we brought binoculars to bear, and they definitely saw it was not a star, but a circular graduated haze, more or less bracketed between a couple of brighter stars. Finally I let them look through the 12". They were absolutely blown away. It was so gratifying.

Uranus came next, an obvious bluish disc. They liked that, too.

Albireo, aka The Jewel of the Sky, was too high, I know from experience my 12" newt would've suffered "mount-strike", so I chose instead Almach which is better in two respects: its colours are deeper, and it's a true binary unlike Albireo. They loved the colours, and I never tire of Almach.

Finally I put in my Panoptic 35 giving me 43x and 1.6 FoV, and we headed to The Pleiades. We first of all tried to discern as many stars as we could naked eye. Then through the eyepiece, they loved the field of super-bright stars and inky background, such fine jewels.

 

So it was an unexpected neighbour-demanded observing session which I almost certainly would not have done without the prompting. It was interesting that Mars was the initial motivation but disappointed them, and that M13 was the real, er, star of the show: I always suspected it should be, as it's so unexpected. And we saw lots of meteors too, mostly funnily enough coming from the South West, not sure what xxx-ids they were.

Cheers, Magnus

Edited by Captain Magenta
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Nice one Magnus- I've had similar impromptu sessions with passers by who expressed an interest. And yes too they've been pretty unimpressed with Mars lol. I'm loving it though- needs a lot of time dedicated to it to tease out the details- too much for the uninitiated I guess. I remember the double double being the star(s) of the show a few times which I found odd...

Mark

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Yes I had intended to inflict the double-double on them too, but it was at almost exactly the same altitude as Albireo and the back end of my newt would've struck the tripod. I need the AZ-EQ6 extension pillar: I've been meaning to get one for ages now.

When I first saw them, the only (so far) objects that I myself have said, on my own, out loud, WOW! have been M13, M57 and the double-double.

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Nice report. Good choice of targets for showcasing what’s up in the night sky! 😀

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3 hours ago, Steve Clay said:

How you getting on with the M2 Magnus?

Regards Steve

I really like it. As with any such alt-az, it’s very sensitive to the tripod head being level. If it is level, and the scope balanced, on light friction settings it just needs the lightest touch to move it to a new position and it stays there.

Did you fit the guide handle or was that part of it?

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58 minutes ago, Captain Magenta said:

I really like it. As with any such alt-az, it’s very sensitive to the tripod head being level. If it is level, and the scope balanced, on light friction settings it just needs the lightest touch to move it to a new position and it stays there.

Did you fit the guide handle or was that part of it?

I fitted the handle. It was off an old photo tripod. Never got it secured that well.

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