Clusters by moonlight

It was the first clear night for a while so I decided to drag the scope out and do some observing, despite the waning gibbous moon. Because of the Moon, I thought that sticking to open clusters in the Herschel 400 was a good plan.
There was definitely an autumnal nip, as well as a ‘smell’ of autumn in the air. I put an extra layer on although, by the end of the session I was wanting to take it off as I was too warm.

Date: 29th – 30th August 2010
Conditions: Clear, slightly chilly, slight breeze
Seeing: Ant II – quite good, looked at Moon after session and there was not too much turbulence
Transparency: III – not too bad. Milky way washed out by rising moon
NELM: I didn’t check, although it would have got a right hammering from the moon and would be no better than 5.5 or 5.8.
Instrument: 12″ f/5 dobsonian with 22mm Televue Panoptic and 15mm Televue Plossl (69x and 101x)
2230 BST – 0015 BST (2130 UT – 2315 UT)

NGC 7044, open cluster in Cygnus – An absolute bugger to find. Small, compressed, not rich, faint. 69x, 101x

NGC 7062, open cluster in Cygnus – Much easier to find than 7044. Nice. rich, moderately faint cluster bordered by four brighter stars. Detached. Small. Stands out nicely. 69x, 101x

NGC 7086, open cluster in Cygnus – Compact, moderately faint. Rich. Detached. Set in a nice area. There are nine foreground stars with many more, resolved, fainter ones in background. Moon beginning to interfere. 69x, 101x

NGC 7128, open cluster in Cygnus – Very small, compact, compressed. There’s a ring of brighter stars on a hazy background. There is a conspicuous reddish star on the SE side, which is the brightest star in the cluster. Very nice. 69x, 101x

That finishes the H400 objects in Cygnus, so I moved on to Cepheus. The Moon was getting higher and about to clear the oak trees that border the north side of the garden, so it was beginning to interfere with finding things.

NGC 6939, open cluster in Cepheus – Compressed, rich. Bordered to east by distinctive pattern of three stars. Quite bright. Nice cluster. 69x, 101x.

NGC 6949, galaxy in Cepheus – The charts showed this was in the same low power field of view as NGC 6939, so I decided to give it a go despite the moonlight washing out the sky. At 69x, ‘something’ was possibly there, at 101x there was a definite faint elongated smudge. I’ll have another look at this when the moon’s out of the way. 69x, 101x

NGC 7160, open cluster in Cepheus – Easily found bright knot of stars, dominated by two bright white stars like eyes, plus 5 fainter ones. Many other fainter stars in background. 69x, 101x

By this time it was past midnight and, although I didn’t particularly want to go in, I packed up as the moon had cleared the tall trees which border the garden on the northern side and was becoming a real nuisance. I did have a quick look at the thing and it was quite spectacular, if horribly bright in the 12″ (felt a headache coming on, how do people observe this thing?? Too bright for me!) before wheeling the scope back inside and putting everything away.

I doubt if I’ll be observing tonight as, following closely on from my ankle injury, I’ve torn the rotator cuff in my left shoulder. Talk about accident prone!