Candidate for shortest-ever session

The downside of summer is that the hours of darkness are too short and it only gets dark enough to see bright objects around 0100 BST (midnight UT) and, between late May and mid June, we don’t get true darkness only astronomical twilight. This year, though, instead of not bothering I have attempted to get out when possible and so far haven’t done too badly. However, I think the night of 11/12 July 2013 must rank as one of my shortest-ever sessions and I’ve had quite a few prematurely curtailed sessions over the years!

I’d left the 18″ out for the past few days so it didn’t take long to set up (remove covers from the scope and the mirrors, align Telrad, and check the collimation). I managed to find NGC 6181 in Hercules before some high clouds came up from the south-east, wiping out all but the very brightest objects so I called it a night, re-covered the scope and went inside. It obviously didn’t clear as when I got up later that morning it was overcast, although the Sun burned off the clouds as the day went on.

I’ll have another go tonight, probably with the 8″ and the much-loathed equatorial mount, but it looks pretty hazy. I want to get into Sagittarius and Ophiuchus for the globular clusters; I’ve seen many of the globulars available from our latitude but there are still quite a lot left.