Viewing Report 5th May 2019 (Night 3) – La Palma

Viewing time period – 21:00 – 02:30

So this evening it is clear both at Athos star camp and at Hacienda, so we have decided to observe from both locations rather than head up the mountain. Alan and Bob from Athos and I (Dave Shave-Wall) from Hacienda.

At 20:45 the first challenge this evening was from Alan. He asked we go after the 0.8 day old Moon which was only 0.9% illuminated. This was going to be a tough challenge. The newest Moon I had bagged was back in 2015 also from La Palma but 1.8 days old. So I decided to find Aldebaran in Taurus the bull once the Sun had set. The Moon would be below this slightly to the right. The approach I took was to wait until on SkySafari on the iPhone the Moon was just above the horizon then try to find it. Finding Aldebaran was not so bad, I finally adjusted my eyes against the relatively bright sky and could see it. Now I could put the binos on it, then I would head directly down to the horizon and sweep right , up a bit and back to the left. Finally I found it in the binos! Next I had to get the camera on it. That proved more difficult due to the focus not being set for the camera. I used the 6D MKII with a 100-300mm lens attached and manually focused on the distant clouds on the horizon. I then pointed the camera in roughly the right direction as the binos which was helped by a foreground bush pointing the way. I then used the zoom on the display to get to 5x and then panned around, finally finding the 0.8 day old Moon, this was @ 21:25 and I was delighted!

I found I was also surrounded by trees which were great for framing skyscapes. I took one of a conifer with Omega Centauri to the right hand side over the house which was very pleasing.

@ 00:13 I moved the binos to M61, a small galaxy Virgo which was easy to find and relatively bright. Otherwise this was fairly unremarkable. I made a quick rough sketch to record its position against the stars.

@ 00:23 I moved to another Messier object, this time M49. This small galaxy has a small NGC galaxy nearby, namely 4492, once again fairly unremarkable through the binos and again I made a quick sketch to record the positions.

@ 00:31 I moved to M104, the Sombrero galaxy which I was really excited about viewing. It was easy to find and bright and pencil thin long. It stood out clearly with Direct Vision and was next to a pleasing grouping of stars that I recorded in a pencil drawing. I could not resolve any details within the galaxy disk itself.

@00:46 I received a WhatsApp from Bob that he was imaging Omega Centauri the rather large Globular Cluster. I made a quick calculation as to it’s position and upon sweeping the binos towards it I nearly fell off my feet at how absolutely massive, bright and detailed it was. It was simply stunning and the best thing I have viewed this trip. It looks akin to M13 when viewed through a 16″ scope, but this is through my 4″ binos, it is truly a monster glob! I could resolve countless stars within the cluster, a rough sketch was made as I would simply get lost trying to record the individual stars.

@01:04 I set the camera up with the 50mm lens to image again Omega Centauri above the top of the house, interestingly I have inadvertently picked it up the previous evening in a photo without realising.

@01:26 I took an image of Coma Berenices perched atop a conifer tree.

I then performed some further viewing through the binoculars moving around the night sky before retiring to my room around 2:30pm



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