Observing, 6th May 2013

Finally managed a decent observing session for the first time since May last year. After a warm spring day the temps had dropped considerably, so it was wrapping up time with several layers.
I’d got the scope out of the shed earlier in the day so all I needed to do was assemble it and check all was OK. It was and the mirrors looked none the worse for not being used in nearly a year, albeit they were a bit grubby, which was good. I’d been concerned about condensation although dust wasn’t a factor because the scope was well covered and the main mirror has a dust cover on it in any case.

Because it was well-placed, I decided to observe galaxies in Leo Minor. The conditions were chilly, 4°C, with humidity of 77%, no clouds and no wind and I used my 18″ f/4.3 Dobsonian reflector with TeleVue 22mm Panoptic (90x) and 9mm Nagler (219x).
Over the course of three hours I observed NGC 3611 (in Leo and I’ve seen it before but it was easy to find and a quick way to get back into finding stuff again!), NGCs 3381, 3395 and 3396 (very nice pair), 3430, 3424, 3413, 3158, 3160, 3163, 3161, 3159, 3150 and 3152, all in Leo Minor. The last four were faint little buggers, especially 3152 which was the faintest of the lot.
Finally I took a look at Saturn, which looked nice with its rings wide open, Cassini’s Division easily visible and at least 5 moons on display. There was also a bit of detail on the disk, including the shadow of the rings before moving on to NGC 4565, one of my all-time favourite DSOs and then finishing with a look round that busy area of Virgo with Markarian’s Chain before the fog came up and I packed up.

Nice to be observing again!