Observing 12/13th September 2010

I got the poison, I got the remedy, I got the pulsating rhythmical remedy

…so goes the lyric of Prodigy’s song Poison, and fairly appropriate as they were coming down the valley loud and clear from the ‘Bestival’ last night – also appropriate as I found a Death Cap toadstool in the garden yesterday, which I promptly threw in the bin out of reach of the dogs (DCs are the most poisonous toadstools known). I like the Prodigy, but I don’t like the light pollution from the festival that was wiping out the north western, and most of the western, sky or Rob da Bank’s DJ set of bad music that went on to almost 4am this morning (1am’s fine, but later than that is not. I bet they’ve pissed off the entire Arreton valley). At least that’s over for another year.

The weather forecast called for it to clear at sunset, the BBC (Met Office) said it would be clear all night but the others (Accuweather, Metcheck and The Weather Outlook) disagreed, forecasting it to be partly clear, and, in the end, they were right and the BBC were wrong.

Would this clear? Btw, the tree is dead but the birds like it so it stays

Conditions: Cool, but not cold, some drifting clouds at first, becoming murkier later. Slight dew.
Seeing: Ant II, very good
Transparency: III to IV later (III. Clear, some haze visible. Milky Way still visible but not detailed; IV. Milky skies, moderately hazy but observing of brighter NGCs doable/drifting cloud).
Equipment: 12″ f/5 dob, 22mm Televue Panoptic (69x), 15mm Televue Plossl (101x), 8mm Televue Radian (190x), OIII filter. MegaStar 5 chart printouts, Sky Atlas 2000.0, Pocket Sky Atlas and NSOG Vols I and II

NGC 6996, open cluster in Cygnus – Located within NGC 7000 (the North America Nebula). Spiral shaped cluster of 30+ fairly faint stars. Spiral is anti-clockwise. Fainter stars among the brighter ones. Chain loops off to north before turning west. Quite large. Moderately rich. Observation interfered with by drifting clouds. 69x.

NGC 6824, galaxy in Cygnus – People think of Cygnus as a realm of open clusters, PNes and nebulae, but galaxies lurk here too. Fairly bright and easy to find as it stands out against the background sky. Almost round. Brightens gradually towards the core. Core diffuse, not bright. 69x, 190x.

NGC 6894, planetary nebula in Cygnus – A bit of a sod to find, faint and quite small. Not helped by milky sky. At low power, there is a hint of something fuzzy and oval. An OIII filter brings it out as a filled-in oval. At high power, and with the OIII,  it has a darker middle and looks annular. 69x, 190x, OIII filter.

The latter observation was being affected by the fireworks from the festival, I could see the flashes in the eyepiece while looking at NGC 6894, which was hard enough to see as it was. So I abandoned Cygnus and moved over to Triangulum and Aries, which were just clearing next door’s oak trees from my position.

NGC 772, galaxy in Aries – Round, quite faint (low), condenses to non-stellar, but obvious, core. 69x, 101x.

NGC 672, galaxy in Triangulum – Quite faint, elongated west-east. No brightening in centre. Faint halo around bar. IC 1727 nearby but very faint that I want another look at it on a better night. 69x, 101x, 190x.

NGC 925, galaxy in Triangulum – Elongated, faint. Evenly bright with halo. Some foreground stars. 69x, 190x

NGC 890, galaxy in Triangulum – Round, bright. Bright non-stellar core. 69x, 190x.

By now, just before 0100 BST (midnight GMT/UT), the sky was getting progressively worse, with a lot of murk scattering light about so I packed in. There were a few other objects I hunted for, among them NGC 1156 and NGC 1012, both in Aries, as well as NGC 6857 in Cygnus and the infamous NGC 6772 in Aquila but these were all wiped out by murk and will have to wait until a better night.