6th May 2013
Conditions: Chilly, 4°C, with humidity of 77%, no clouds and no wind
Equipment: 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.
Date: 8/9 July 2013
Conditions: Very mild (14°C/57°F), 74% humidity but minimal dew.
Seeing: Good; Transparency: Good, improving to very good later.
Instrument: 18″ (457mm) f/4.3 Dobsonian with 22mm TeleVue Panoptic (90x); 12mm TeleVue Nagler (165x); 9mm TeleVue Nagler (219x) and 5mm TeleVue Radian (395x)
Oxygen III (OIII) filter
I began with some eye-candy, M57, but the reason for this was that I was having a go at seeing the rather difficult central star from home. I’d seen it from TSP once, with a friend’s 18″, but not seen it from home.
It eventually popped out in moments of good seeing. Pretty faint, but it was there. 395x
NGC 6772, Aquila – This has eluded me in the past but I finally got it tonight. At 90x, it’s invisible without OIII filter but looks like roundish irregular smudge with the filter. At 165x it is only just visible without the filter but with the filter added, it looks like a slightly oval with ragged edges. 90x, 165x
IC 1295, Scutum – Easily found, lying just east of M11. Very faint without the OIII filter but nice and obvious with the filter. At 90x it’s a uniformly oval glow, elongated east-west with a star lying just off the western end.
At 219x, it’s visible without a filter as an oval glow only just brighter than the background sky. The OIII improves the view and the PNe looks a little darker in the centre. 90x, 165x
NGC 6803, Aquila – small, bright and easily found at 90x without the OIII. With the OIII, the PNe looks larger. At 219x it is big and roundish with fuzzy edges. Slightly darker in the middle. 90x, 219x
NGC 6572, Ophiuchus – Easily found, looking like a fat, intensely blue-green star at 90x. At 219x it’s distinctly oval and very turquoise. OIII doesn’t do a lot except make the PNe look a bit larger while 395x shows a definite north-south oval, although at high magnification the colour gets washed out. 90x, 219x.
I also looked at the Veil Nebula, M11 and M27 before packing up at 0100 UT (0200 BST)
Date: 9/10 July 2013
Conditions: Cooler than previous night (10°C/50°F), 74% humidity with some dew. Astronomical twilight persists all night until mid-July
Seeing: Good; Transparency: Good, but not as good as previous evening.
Instrument: 18″ (457mm) f/4.3 Dobsonian with 22mm TeleVue Panoptic (90x); 12mm TeleVue Nagler (165x); 9mm TeleVue Nagler (219x)
Only a one-hour session due to tiredness and light skies. The objects are all globular clusters, except where stated.
NGC 6402 (M14), Ophiuchus – Easy to find, large and bright. Some stars resolved across face of cluster at 90x. At 165, almost totally resolved. Nice object.
NGC 6535, Ophiuchus – Smaller than M14 and quite faint against a not-quite-dark sky. At 219x it’s a roundish glow with some foreground stars superimposed on it. Slightly granular but mostly nebulous.
NGC 6517, Ophiuchus – Fairly small but easy to find. Quite bright but not helped by light summer sky and low altitude. At 90x, it is a round glow with a slightly brighter centre. At 165x it shows a brighter dense core and some granulation. No real improvement at 219x.
NGC 6426, Ophiuchus – Very easy to find, because it is located between ϒ and ß Ophiuchi, and is a round glow which is not resolved at 90x although it does have a vaguely granular appearance. It doesn’t brighten towards the core.
Granular at 165x but no improvement at higher powers.
NGC 6712, Scutum – large, partly resolved with many stars on a nebulous background. Not concentrated towards the core. 90x, 165x.
NGC 6664, Scutum – Open cluster. Large, loose group of approx. 30 stars in NW-SE line. Mostly white stars of equal brightness but there are fainter ones scattered in between these. Located 1° from α Scuti.
11/12 July 2013
Conditions, a bit chilly (8°C/43.4°F), 83% humidity
Transparency III; Seeing II
Instrument: 18” f/4.3 Dobsonian with 22mm Panoptic (90x), 12mm Nagler (165x) and 9mm Nagler (219x)
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).
NGC 6181, Hercules – Small, fairly bright but washed out by light summer sky. Easily found at 90x. At 219x it’s an obvious spiral with fuzzy outer halo and a brighter, non-stellar core. Oriented north-south.
It was at this point and after wasted attempts trying to find anything else, that I gave up, covered up the scope and went inside. 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! 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.
3rd August 2013
Last night was One of Those Sessions where I actually began to regret setting up…I dropped my Telrad (fortunately it didn’t break), stepped in some dog crap that got overlooked earlier (why do they need to go on the path?!) and, when I was wheeling my scope back down the garden later, a large globe thistle caught up in it, then broke free and smacked me in the mouth, which hurt but, although the plant is prickly, at least it didn’t draw blood.
It was also one of those sessions when I couldn’t find half of what I went after but, although I have decent dark skies here, last night’s transparency wasn’t as good as I’d hoped and as I was looking for faint objects that wasn’t really surprising, so I went back to the brighter stuff. Oh and my sister, and her kids plus their hyperactive spaniel, are visiting for a week so the house lights kept going on, as well as the upstairs bedroom and landing lights which she keeps on for her kids who, at ten and twelve years old, surely no longer need lights on at night. She let her boisterous spaniel out at one point, so not only did the garden get blitzed when she put the light on, I also had a suddenly-aggressive/nervous dog, who is in an unfamiliar place, barking his head off at me.
The dew was appalling. Everything was wet and it was like observing in a swimming pool. I persevered but packed in just before 3 am when clouds began to roll in; I dismantled my 18 inch Dob and just shoved it into the shed, uncovered, to give it a chance to dry out, gathered up my by now sodden charts and notebook, which were rapidly turning into paper mache, and went to bed not in the best of moods and regretting the three cups of very strong filter coffee I’d drunk!
Anyway, here’s what I actually DID manage to see:
NGC 6440, 6445, M51 (just for something really nice and bright to look at), Abell 2, NGC 7013, NGC 5832 and NGC 6011. Seven objects in a four-hour period is a pretty poor return but I spent (wasted) a lot of time looking for stuff that was a bit too faint for the conditions.
I am looking into getting some digital setting circles for the 18 inch, which will make finding stuff a lot easier. I’ve been talking to Gary at Wildcard Innovations of Australia who makes the Argo Navis DSCs and, although I can make some modifications to my scope’s mirror and/or rocker boxes to accommodate the encoders, it will be a tight fit. The only problem right now is money, with no job (and, looking like no prospect of actually getting one) I can’t justify spending over £600 – which it will be once I have paid import taxes and VAT – on something like this, especially with my car’s annual inspection due on 20th August. I may have to look for alternatives.