Clusters in Moonlight, 7th October 2011

Date: 7th October 2011
Conditions: 84% illuminated Moon, chilly, breezy. A few high clouds and a halo around the Moon.
Seeing: Good to average
Transparency: Average to poor
NELM: 5.5 to 5.2 later (because of Moon)

The Moon is nearly full but I decided to have a quick observing session anyway. However, I left the 18 inch tucked up in the shed and used the little 8 inch Celestron Newtonian instead, as I decided it wasn’t worth getting the big one out in such poor conditions plus it was quite windy, which would have meant the big scope would be awkward to use.

The session began late as I was waiting for thick cloud cover to clear, which it eventually did. I decided to observe some open clusters, because of the Moonlight and decidedly poor transparency. There was no point in going after galaxies or faint planetary nebulae in those conditions.

NGC 7129, open cluster in Cepheus – A very small but obvious cluster next to NGC 7142. Bright and obvious T-shape, despite its small size. Compact. There are six bright stars made up of three doubles, including a very wide one, and several fainter stars among the six. However, the cluster is mostly washed out by the Moon. There is nebulosity with this cluster, which I would probably see on a Moonless, more transparent night, but I didn’t see it with either UHC or OIII filters. Fits into the field of view at 73x. 8 inch f/4 Newtonian, 36x, 73x

NGC 7142, open cluster in Cepheus – The neighbour of NGC 7129, this is much larger and richer. Detached. The Moon is washing out the sky but I can count 11 brighter stars and about a dozen fainter ones. The rest are washed out. Fits into the field of view at 53x. 8 inch f/4 Newtonian, 36x, 53x

NGC 7380, open cluster in Cepheus – A rich, triangular cluster. With averted vision, I can see a hazy background, indicating many more stars. The cluster is at the end of a distinct curved line of three stars (the middle one of which is a double). At 73x I can count 20 stars but more remain unresolved. The nebulosity with the cluster was not seen with any filter.  8 inch f/4 Newtonian, 36x, 73x

NGC 7510, open cluster in Cepheus – This one took an age to locate, mostly because I was using a small Newtonian on an equatorial mount and performing contortions to look through the Telrad finder! It is small, compact and bright with a wedge shape. It is rich and very concentrated. At 36x, I could see individual stars.
A nice view at 73x with about a dozen stars resolved, plus quite a few more fainter ones in the background. With averted vision there are plenty more stars in the background. A very nice object. 8 inch f/4 Newtonian, 36x, 73x

NGC 1513, open cluster in Perseus – A faint oval patch of stars which is mostly obliterated by the Moon. I could see several members but the rest remained as a misty patch. 8 inch f/4 Newtonian, 36x, 73x

NGC 1444, open cluster in Perseus – A pretty boring object as it is just a nondescript gathering of stars around a bright multiple. 8 inch f/4 Newtonian, 36x, 73x

Packed up at 0100.


I am typing this while listening to the post mortem of yet another fail from an England sports team in a World Cup. This time, it was the Rugby Union side who let the country down, in the form of an atrocious capitulation to France. The team, with the sole exception of two decent wins in the group stages against Georgia and Romania, have been pretty awful, narrowly avoiding defeats against Argentina and Scotland. Typically the French, who have been equally awful in their group stages as well as mutinous, as only the French can be, decided to up their game against England. But, that doesn’t alter the fact that England were enfoncer la merde as the French might say. That said, I hope the French go on to beat Wales in the semis. I do NOT want to see Wales in the final…I’ve got Welsh friends and I don’t think I could stand the gloating!