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Tantalus

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9/10th May, 2010

120mm f8.3 refractor

20mm, 10mm, 6.3mm Plossls

First cloudless night in around 2 weeks for me, and it was good to back under the stars. I watched the 21:05 pass of the ISS, then took a quick look at Venus. It really is very bright right now and an unmistakeable beacon in the west, showing a clear phase at around 80% illuminated. After Venus I slew round to Saturn, where I could see Titan and Rhea on the eastern edge of the rings and Iapetus further out to the west, but couldn't pick out Dione just above the western edge of the rings. I don't think the seeing was very stable tonight and at times Saturn seemed to slip in and out of focus. At one point, I thought I'd seen Tethys but wasn't able to pick it up again so I can't say for certain.

Next on my list was M13. I've been tweaking the focuser on my scope recently and I think it's helped. I was able to resolve individual stars in M13 for the first time at 50x magnification and even more at 160x. Then on to M92. I've been trying to track this one down for almost a year but have always managed to miss it until tonight. With no great skill and just moving the scope to and fro in the area I knew it was in, I managed to picked it up in the ep. Similar in appearance to M13, but I found this one a little 'easier' to observe in that I was able to resolve more stars I managed to pick out a couple of chains of stars.

Another target I've been chasing for a while it the Garnet star Mu Cephei. Apparently it's one of the largest stars in the galaxy, a red giant thought to be coming to the end of it's life. But then I am short-sighted, so that's my excuse for missing it until now. Herschel described it as ' a very fine deep garnet colour', and IMHO that's an accurate description, and a lovely sight in the ep.

I had intended to track down K5 McNaught, but by the time I got to it the seeing had deteriorated. I caught a vague hint of it, but nothing certain. Still, that's a target for another night.

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Nice one. The chains of stars that swirl out from M13 are a beautiful sight. Certainly the best globular in the night sky for yielding detail. Mu Cephei sounds interesting. Must add that one to my list!

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