Observing, early morning 17th September 2010

This was taken tonight, not last night, but is otherwise identical. Lovely pink sunset with the promise of things to come.

The forecast looked good but, unfortunately, a waxing gibbous Moon was in the way, not setting until 0020 BST (one of life’s mysteries is this – why does a waning Moon seem to take forever getting out of the way, yet the waxing stage seems really quick, only slowing down as it approaches Full Moon?). Because of this I decided not to go outside until it was out of the way, although I can never take a nap in these situations!

Date: 17th September 2010; 0130-0300 BST (0030-0200 GMT/UT)
Conditions: Cool, totally cloudless, no wind, slightly dewy

Seeing: Ant II-III
Transparency: I (excellent) – II (very good) later (M33 visible with unaided eye)
NELM: 6.5+
Equipment: 12″ f/5 Dob, 22mm Televue Panoptic (69x), 15mm Televue Plossl (101x), 11mm Televue Plossl (138x)

NGC 1857, open cluster in Auriga – Faint, fairly rich, irregular. 69x, 101x

NGC 1175, galaxy in Perseus – Faint, not quite round. Diffuse elongated core. 69x, 138x

NGC 1177, galaxy in Perseus – NE of 1175. Very faint indeed. Barely seen. Possibly elongated. 138x

NGC 1245, open cluster in Perseus – Very nice large irregular cluster. Faint, fairly rich. Many faint stars. 69x, 138x.

I packed up at 0300 BST after a less successful session than I hoped for; I couldn’t seem to track down most of the Herschel IIs I went for, yet there was nothing wrong with the sky conditions, however I put that down to being tired. An example of tiredness-related cock-ups was when I made some soup and attempted to defrost some bread in the microwave – I ended up nuking it because I pressed the wrong button! Still, an observing session with four objects is better than no observing session at all and a lot better than my sorry effort the other evening (9th September 2010).

However, observing in the early a.m. is a nice way to spend the time, maybe better than evening sessions. There is no-one around at all and it is very quiet, although when I dropped an eyepiece on the shed floor – fortunately without damage – it sounded like an explosion! Likewise when I went back to the kitchen to make the soup, the kettle sounded as loud as a volcano.

Apart from the sound of the horses in the next field, the snoring of my darling dog in her basket, the rustle and squeaks of rats and mice in the hedge and the snuffling of a badger in the lane, there were no other noises. That’s how I like my observing sounds to be. No machines, no loud TVs from the neighbours across the way, no music, just animals and the other sounds of the night.