Viewing time period – 18:31 – 22:06
Tonight I decided to setup next to the pool area due to its height and ability to look over the rest of the site, affording great visibility both South and East. I dragged out the 10″ Skywatcher dobsonian telescope from inside the pool building and placed my own 24mm Panoptic eyepiece in it.
M11 – The first object this evening as I was the Wild Duck Cluster in Scutum at 21:54. The central star was prominent along with 2 other stars to one side. There was a definite mass of stars packed in the centre, twinkling slightly as I gazed around.
M27 – Next up was the Dumbbell in Vulpecula. This was such a bright object that I decided to draw it. 5-6 brighter stars could be seen and the central portion of the nebula looked almost rectangular to me with the fainter outer edges showing. The drawing took around 30mins to complete due to the time it takes to look through the eyepiece, look at the paper, look again through the eyepiece, look back at the paper, draw a star, then look back in the eyepiece and check the position.
M31/M110/M32 – Another tour of these galaxies but this time with he 10″ since I had seen these through the 6″ Dob and 100mm binos recently. For M31 it was a very bright structure with a dark dust lane seen to one side. however no other detail was visible. M32 looked round and distinct.
NGC 404 – At 23:49 I moved the scope to Mirach, a bright star in Andromeda. Mirach’s Ghost is an elliptical galaxy right next to the main star Mirach. It tends to be called a ghost as it has been assumed to be a bright spot potentially bouncing off the optics of a telescope. However, even though it comes and goes there it was seen directly.
NGC 7640 – Alan and I both looked at this faint barred spiral just after midnight local time. Faint but definitely elliptical in shape, we both confirmed it’s existence however we could not see the magnitude +11 triangle of stars surrounding it.
M45 – By 00:11 I moved the scope to view the Pleiades open cluster. Instantly you could see a bright halo of blue gas around each star. It was fairly obviously the reflection nebula in front of this cluster as other stars of similar magnitude did not display the halo effect. Alan and I both confirmed the blue reflection nebula across most if not all of the brighter members of the cluster. I could also make out the chain of 7th and 8th Mag stars from Sigma 450 and I could see the triangle of stars just West of Mag +2.9 Alcyone.
M103 – Decided to take a look at M103, an open cluster in Cassiopeia at 00:47. Given the cluster has a visual magnitude of +7 it was in reality really dim, probably owing to the fact that it is only 16 arc minutes across.
NGC 663 – To cheer myself up I moved almost next door to view this lovely open cluster. It was bright and sparkled in the night sky.
NGC 654 – Next up was NGC 654 seen with averted vision the single bright star making it easy to find from 663.
M42 / Running Man (NGC 1973-77-79) – By now it was 01:51 and I had setup the 100mm giant binoculars next to the 10″ Dob. Alan and I looked at M42 in the 10′ Dob and the trapezium was bright and clearly visible. The image was not the sharpest, maybe due to the optics of this reflector, maybe because we had the binos nearby which are a set of 4″ refractors. Through the binos the trapezium was smaller but sharper and the wider wings of M42 visible. The Running Man nebula adjacent to M42 was visible in the same field of view and looked like the photos we take. Through the 10″ is was much dimmer.
Comet 38P/Stephan-Oterma – Sitting in Gemini tonight, just NE of Pollux ( left most twin) the comet was found at 02:17 by myself, Alan could not confirm through the binos. I could only see with averted vision (AV).
So this evening was a good visual viewing for me and for Alan, incidentally Alan was off imaging too some of the time so I await his processed results with great excitement. There was a lot of dew around this evening and I should have bought a humidity sensor with me to record just how much.