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Double stars, galaxies and frozen toes.

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Forecasts were looking good for 3 clear nights in a row. However, I have my first Covid jab tomorrow, so thought I had better make the most of the first night, and thought I'd try for a longer session than normal.

After a week of quick sessions with the new ST80, it was nice to go back to the 8" dob.  All the posts about seeing Sirius' pup inspired me to have a shot. I moved a table to the northern side of the garden and set the dob up on top, so that I could get a view of Sirius. Shouldn't have bothered though - the seeing was pretty bad and disco-ball Sirius was jumping all around the field of view. No hope! Not sure if it had been the local seeing or more likely just the low angle over distant buildings.

Started the session proper with a shot at the nova in Cassiopeia. After getting used to the views in the bins and the little refractor, it was good to see it next to M52 in all it's proper glory. The nova's brightness is dropping though, I think. 

Next up was the multiple star Theta Aurigae. The last time I tried to observe it, I failed to split/find the dim B star in the glare of the main star. However, I could see it OK tonight. The seeing was pretty good, so the issue with Sirius must have been local conditions. After that, I had a quick tour of some of the clusters in Auriga. M35 and M37 were as pretty as usual. M36 was hiding behind a tree branch! I tried to find the small cluster NGC 2158 in the same FOV as M35, but the glare above the centre of Edinburgh made that impossible. I'd love to see both together and that's a target for when I can get to a dark site next month, hopefully.

Coming round south, I thought I'd try the Leo Triplet to see how transparent the sky was. I could find M65 and M66 easily, but NGC 3628 was nowhere to be seen. I decided against hunting down other galaxies in that direction, and looked east next, to Canes Venatici.

M94 was bright, but I'd seen it better. Likewise for M51. I had a look around for other galaxies in the area. NGC 4490 (the Cocoon Galaxy) was clear and offered some definition of its shape with averted vision. NGC 4449 was visible too, fainter and smaller, though. NGC 4214 is fainter still but visible with averted vision, which is more than I could say for NGC 4244 (the Silver Needle Galaxy) which I couldn't find.

M106 was clearly seen, though. The centre was visible with direct vision, and with averted vision I could make out its extended shape.

I took a quick break from the faint fuzzies to have a look at the double star HD107341. The main star is mag 6  and is yellow. The secondary is much fainter at  mag 10, it's around 10 arcseconds away, at 150 deg. I split it at x100, the difficulty being the faintness of the secondary, which made it hard to try and determine its colour.

Thought I'd end on some brighter galaxies, so I paid my usual visit to M81 and M82, which were very clear. I could see them in my binoculars, too.

It was getting very cold now. I had no gloves and my toes were getting cold. I wasn't prepared for this drop in temp so started getting ready to call it a night. A quick visit to M13 (lovely) and its neighbour M92 (also lovely). I decided to finish with a quick binocular view of the nova again. I could actually make out M52 in the bins, perhaps as I had my eye in from the session. I could hardly detect the nova, though. I must be getting dimmer.

Luckily I forgot to turn the heating off earlier! 

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Very nice productive session and great variety of objects! Good luck with your jab. We have had nothing but clouds down here...

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Very nice report and it seems that you did get the clear skies after all 😀. My clear skies turned to be all cloudy but it is nice reading your report and imagining what it would have been.

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A great session @Pixies, good set of targets there. I viewed Thera Aurigae the other night, a nice one I hadn’t looked at before.

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Great report !

I've observed Theta Aurigae the last few times that I've been out. It's a nice one !

Sirius must be a little more challenging for you further north because of it's lower altitude ?


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Hi Neil,

A very nice session with many favoured targets.  I have not seen the 'Pup' for a very long time and not for the want of trying....:smiley:

Edited by Saganite
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11 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

I dunno why but I read, "Double stars, galaxies and frozen peas."

Still a good report though! 

And I've just realised that I wrote: "I must be getting dimmer."

I mean "IT must be getting dimmer", but might have been correct the first time.

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