The second Helios session

Tonight was the second session with the Helios 15X70 bins on the parallelogram mount, from the semi-rural Bortle 5 site, (which I suspect may be more like 4.5).
Please excuse the quick type-up, as I didn’t make notes tonight due to the cold, (and I don’t seem to have typed up the first session, how disorganised!)
Riiight, the winter constellations are heading westward. Two weeks ago I saw Orion, Taurus and Canis Major easily after sunset, now only Gemini remains, with M35 strangely elusive tonight, (why?). But Leo is in the ‘sweet spot’ of dark sky between the lights of Telford and Wolverhampton, and I’m happy to report I can make a definite sighting of the third galaxy in the triplet, Almost not there, but I made a mental sketch of where I thought it was, and it was where I’d seen it.
It was fun to see them ‘pop out’ actually. Astro darkness was 11.30 ish tonight, I arrived about ten, with no galaxies to see. Then M66 appears, and as darkness properly falls, M65 grudgingly turns up late. It took a long time for me to find the third galaxy tonight, (NGC 3628). It wasn’t till 11.30, and the triplet being in the ‘sweet spot’, that I was able to admit to myself I could see a slither of mist above and to the left of the other two. At mag 10 this was the faintest object in my list tonight.
I’ve been reading about the Caldwell Catalogue, and there are a few Caldwell objects in Cephus, a constellation I don’t think I’ve visited much. Tonight I found Caldwell 4 – (NGC 7023), which is an emission nebula. I’ve got to re-visit this, because my notes don’t seem to marry up with Stellarium, but Stellarium’s labelling has had me confused before, putting object labels in places that don’t help with identifying. I’m going to enter the sighting in my log book, because I did see nebulosity, but it didn’t seem centered round a star, as it appears in photographs.
Two other objects in Cephus – clusters with Caldwell numbers, weren’t found, or were they? Perhaps these clusters are simply star fields. Remember, the Caldwell Catalogue isn’t like the Messier one. It’s not a list based on comet confusion. I tried for cluster NGC 188 (Caldwell 1), and IC 1396. The latter I’ve just checked, and at 3rd mag, I would have seen it, so it’s basically a star field in bins. I obviously need to research and re-visit these two ‘objects’.
Coma Berenices, what a constellation! Hardly seen with the naked eye, but Bernice’s Hair is superb in bins, (better in 10x50s actually). And lovely and bright tonight was the cluster M54 and the galaxy M64. They both live around eleven-o-clock from bright-ish stars, so quite easy to find when star-hopping.
M41, the Beehive, the Alpha Persei cluster, all wonderful! The double cluster (Caldwell 14), M103 (an obvious tiny triangle, nice cluster but small in bins). And another galaxy somewhere left of Denebola (Leo). I knew I was in the ‘realm of the Galaxies’ so a sketch of the surrounding stars helped me confirm later that it was M49 I could see. At 8.4, not a bad catch I think. There’s a lazy ‘T’ shape asterism bottom left that confirmed the sighting.
But then again, I’m thinking bins are the way to go for galaxies. You just need time when you’re looking, patience. I’ve not forgotten last year’s rural viewing of M33, which was invisible in the telescope, but seeable in bins. Something about two eyes being better…
M3, the great globular cluster in Canes Venatici. How bright it is when you eventually find it! For every time I’ve seen this, I’ve seen M13 a hundred times. Why do I pass over this fantastic globular? Very bright tonight. I could almost tell myself I could see it as a naked eye star.
Ursa Major right overhead made it physically difficult to see galaxy M101, or was it the light pollution from Wolverhampton seven miles away? I’ve been seeing M101 in 10×50 bins out in Shropshire the past two weekends.
Wow, imagine these Helios bins on this mount in the Elan Valley.
It has to be done.