Observations 30th Aug 2017


The 8″ Skywatcher ready for action … (and not a small amount of dew!)

It was a clear night in Shropshire on 30th August. The moon was out, half lit, waxing. Still an eclipse moon, I was thinking. Anyway, the sky was clear enough to go looking for some ‘faint fuzzies’ I wrote out a list of old favourites and new objects to look for.
I started with the old favourite Double Cluster in Perseus, then found M34, by tracing a triangle shape from Algol and another bright-ish star Perseus K. My notes describe it as a loose and pretty cluster.
I waited little longer for it to get darker, and tried to find M81 and M82, two spiral galaxies in Ursa Major. By imagining a ‘C’ shaped cluster of stars above the two easternmost stars in the plough shape, I had a very nice view of them both in my 20mm eyepiece. A few weeks prior, under an even darker moonless night, I’d seen these through 10X50 binoculars, thanks to Shropshire’s dark skies. M82 is the brightest, and it’s an edge-on spiral.
Galaxy-minded, I stopped by a very bright M31 with M32, and found the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) in my binoculars, although it evaded my telescope, and I’ll admit that usng the equatorial mount like I used to use the dobsonian, was becoming a bit of a trudge. I’ve either got to use the equatorial mount properly, or go back to the dob.
The moon somewhat spoiled observations in the south-west, but I took in a vie of M13 in Hercules that showed a bright ball, with no discernable stars in my 8″ mirror. Once again, I wished I had the 10″ mirror of my Dob.
mezI looked for M103, in Cassiopeia, and found a loose grouping of stars, and I noted I wasn’t convinced I’d found it. But my lovely Cambridge Press Messier book (probably in my top 5 favourite astronomy books), describes it as a very loose, somewhat disappointing cluster that looks like a chance grouping of stars. So yes, I’m confident enough to add the object to my list.
Disappearing  behind the trees was M11, which I found as a binocular object. A very bright cluster. The mist came down at 23.30, and dew was all over the scope. I saw an interesting object over to the east, and the binoculars showed me the Pleiades (M45) rising! I was pleased to see them for the first time this season. I had a lovely view through the scope’s 20mmm eyepiece. Later, I was able to watch other winter constellations rise, from the comfort of my caravan bed, (I’ve always got windowlene in the van to clean the glass windows). Through the night I watched Taurus rise, the Hyades, Gemini, and Orion, the wonderful winter constellations that will, in a few months, be high and glorious in the inky black winter skies.

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