The elusive M26

M26 isn’t even in my Cambridge Deep Sky album, and I can kind of see why. A few days after the summer solstice, it’s not much to see at all, but, I did see it tonight, even under the not very dark skies of Pattingham. At one point I think I saw the fainter stars of a great cluster, but then it was gone again, and I was left with a diamond shape that was, I’m afraid, one of the most underwhelming Messier objects to date. I’ll re-visit under darker skies.
The star of the night was M11, the ‘Wild Duck’ cluster that was resolved splendidly with the 18mm Kelner eyepiece. Easily found in the 10×8 Opticroms before dark. One of the greatest deep-sky objects.
I also found NGC6664, a faint open cluster, also in Scutum (as is (M26). M11 is over the border in Aquila.
I found a cluster in Ophiuchus that I knew must be M10 or M12, I wrote ‘a diamond in a triangle surrounds it’, which – I just checked Stellarium – makes it M12.
So bright was the sky, I had trouble navigating. The Telrad finderscope doesn’t magnify, which if fine under a dark sky, but with only the brightest stars at viewable with the naked eye, it’s a test.
Through the bins M13 and M92 were easily found. Saturn and Jupiter looked lovely, but inaccessible due to the observatory having a dobsonian in there at the moment, it won’t get quite low enough. Most annoying having the two greatest telescopic planets in the sky, and a 16″ mirror scope at your disposal, and not being able to look at the planets through it.
I was there a couple of hours but don’t seem to have done much list-ticking, but it was most enjoyable, just me and the owls and the fish splashing in the water over the hedge. There’s talk of putting a ‘go-to’ in the dome, which will be great, but I like star-hopping. Am thinking I should get my 10″ dob back in use and take that up to the site. It’d only take two trips from the van. Hmmm.

Clouds clouds clouds

But there was a brief break tonight, so I hot-footed it over to the observatory. Before the clouds came over again I managed so nice views of the Moon, and I spent a while checking out the smaller craters in Mare Crisium. Then, battling with the clouds, I managed the Ring Nebula at 11pm, not yet fully dark, so good, and I split the ‘double double’ with the 9mm eyepiece. Albereo, then a cup of coffee as the clouds rolled over and Capella was really low twinkling away.
Jupiter rose about 11.30, but the big dob won’t go low enough to get it. I wish my 8″ was back in there to be honest. It’s infuriating seeing stuff in the sky you want to look at, and not being able to get the scope on it.
I did get a glimpse of a very cloudy Jupiter in the 4″ on returning to my van. One moon, and a disc with no markings. Then I drove home.
Not exactly ten galaxies tonight, was it?