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Best night so far


Moonshane
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Hi all

Still a relative newbie and therefore pretty much everything I see is new! After such a long time with cloudy nights I took the chance for a couple of hours or so to see if I could 'go through' the spring section of Turn Left at Orion (TLO) - a superb book for the beginner as my following notes will show.

I decided to go for those Messiers that I have never seen but also included some old favourites too. I also followed the 'what's also in the neighbourhood' details and saw some additional lovely items, mainly double stars.

This was my most productive night as far as I can recall, certainly in terms of galaxies and I also saw my first globulars - something I'll never forget. The transparency was good with occasional thing spots of cloud but the seeing was not so hot with main stars twinkling badly and some of the doubles quite hard to resolve even with the 12" Orion Optics UK dob I was using. I collimate before each use, adopting the barlowed laser method.

Here's my list with a few comments:

Polaris

I always line up on this nice double and it’s generally the first thing I see through the scope.

Castor

This was my first ever double star and I like to have a look every now and then, it’s a check on seeing usually for me. The separation which originally looked tight is now well spaced and a gaping chasm compared with some!

M44 Beehive

A lovely open cluster and one of my favourites. Whilst better in binoculars it’s also good to ‘get inside it’ with the 33mm 2” WO SWAN.

Zeta Cancri*

Double star which I managed to split into two pretty equal yellow stars, despite the poorish seeing. I get the impression that the main star is a double too from the text in TLO but no chance of seeing the secondary star.

Iota-1 Cancri*

Another double star and very like Alberio – really stunning under low and medium power with a yellow and a bright blue component star.

Struve 1266*

A double star in Cancer close to Iota-1 Cancri and with a wider separation that the latter.

M81 and M82

I saw this pair of galaxies in Ursa Major for the first time recently and had another view tonight to get my eyes accustomed to faint fuzzies before moving on to other targets not seen.

Cor Caroli*

A lovely and relatively easy double star in Canes Venatici and is the most obvious star inside the curve of the handle of the Plough.

M94*

Also in Canes Venatici, this was quite close to Cor Caroli and surprisingly easily located despite my relatively light polluted skies. Not much detail but it was certainly their and in the right place looking at the guide stars in TLO.

Struve 1702*

A double star close to Cor Caroli and again more widely separated.

M65* and M66*

Two faint galaxies in Leo to the left of the reversed question mark (had not even seen THAT before tonight!) and again quite easily located. Lovely in the same field as the WO SWAN – this eyepiece is a little soft for stars etc but is great as a finder eyepiece for galaxies etc. I find that galaxies usually yield more detail with this than the 24mm Panoptic.

Algeiba*

A very nice double star, in Leo, being the third star up from the bottom of the reversed question mark – nice easy double to split.

M53*

My first globular cluster! I was amazed by this but I must confess slightly disappointed as the seeing not being great revealed some graininess but not masses of sparkling stars as I’d expected / hoped for. It’s reasonably easy to pick out as a fuzzy patch in Coma Berenices. Really nice – I’m hooked on globulars.

M64*

The famous Blackeye Galaxy in Coma Berenices. I could make out some shape but I fear that even with my dob, the dark lane will not show well in my skies. Great one to see though and close to M53.

M3*

I was getting a bit tired by now but was determined to try and see this one as it’s described as a superb globular. It took a little finding for some reason but eventually I located it in Canes Venatici. WOW! This really was a fine way to end the night. I was able to resolve hundreds of individual stars as the seeing zoomed in and out. I found strangely that squinting resolved different stars to not squinting. Quite how I instinctively knew to do this I don’t know. If you have never seen this beauty then find it – I suspect it would show well in most scopes.

Epsilon Bootis

A double star in Bootes which is quite hard to split it seems unless seeing is good. Had another go but still not getting great separation just a hint. I maybe need to try this one with my refractor.

Planets

Also managed brief views of Mars (too small and fuzzy – seeing), Saturn – not bad with three moons at least. Venus was just seen with naked eye – my view to the west is blocked by houses (well, my house actually!).

The end of a really great night and I’m hungry for more – especially if I can get to a darker site soon. The targets with asterisks are the ones not seen previously.

Cheers

Shane

Edited by Moonshane
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