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A planetary conjunction and a trio of comets

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Returning from a family day out late afternoon, I went straight to the garden to see if I could spot Venus. I found it quickly and dashed inside to grab the 10" dob. Not long after I was enjoying the conjunction of Saturn and Venus. They were close enough to share the FOV at just under 100x mag. I grabbed a few pictures of the event. Clouds rolled in and I expected that to be the end of my observing for the evening. 

As I finished up the washing up, a little after 9pm, I noticed the stars shining so decided bring the dob back out to play. Hind's Crimson Star was my first target, as it had some discussion on another thread. A short star hop from Rigel brought me to its location. I don't think there's another star to compare for such a brilliant shade of red. I grabbed a quick shot with my DSLR just to capture that amazing colour. Keeping with a low power eyepiece, I enjoyed the green nebulosity of M42 and then spent some time, unsuccessfully, trying to see the reflection nebula in M45. My skies at home aren't quite dark enough for this.

I moved into Cassiopeia to find a comet. On my way, I passed the wonderful Owl cluster (NGC 457) and M103. C/2020 V2 (ZTF), the less impressive of the ZTF's, is quite small, like a very small globular cluster. The additional challenge of finding it did add to the fun though. The second comet of the evening was C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) and was a new comet to me. Found in Draco, it was much larger and quite diffuse. A more typical comet in appearance. As a bonus it was situated next to the faint open cluster NGC 559. The headliner in the comet trio was, of course, C/2022 E3 (ZTF). Bright and elongated, bringing back memories of NEOWISE, despite falling short of it in terms of brightness. I tried to spot it naked eye but my skies were again not dark enough for that.

I closed out the session with some time in Cancer/Gemini. The spectacular Beehive cluster led to Tegmine. The split of Tegmine only coming with the brilliant Vixen HR 3.4mm eyepiece. I was pleased that my manual tracking skills were up to this task. The Vixen staying in the focuser for a view of the Eskimo nebula. A great way to finish the session.




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