The Trials of Cephus

Cephus is doing my head in. Admittedly I was mostly using 10×50 bins tonight, (albeit quality Opticrom bins), but you’d expect I could spot mag 7.7 nebula right overhead in astronomical darkness. But no, the ‘Iris Nebula’ (Caldwell 4) still eludes me. I can easily see the 6.8 mag star the nebulosity surrounds. But no nebula.
And don’t get me started on the supposed deep sky object I found inside the ‘box’ of Cephus, I was all excited to look up what I’d found when I got home, and all I can find for that area is NGC 7139, a 13th mag planetary nebula. There’s no way I saw that through my bins. Back to the drawing board for king Cephus I think! I need to get the big guns out in Shropshire. Unleash that dob on this Cephus nightmare.
And the constellation itself, by the way,  is a bugger to find. It’s right up there, spinning round and seems to change direction every half hour. Yea, it’s a bit of a house shape, but it’s a house lying down, then standing up, and then it’s upside down. The circumpolar swine!
Still, I did see M2 (the bright globular star cluster in Aquarius) for the first time at the observatory, so I get to make another entry in the society observation log. That’s 67 Messier objects alone found since we put the dome up.
Although I got flustered with Cephus, I did have a smashing time navigating Cassiopeia, which moved into a nice dark spot around midnight, and I took in the clusters of M103, NGC 663 and NGC 654. The first two forming a nice ‘Orion’s belt’ threesome with the star Ruchbah.
And M52, so easy to find and bright, by using the two right hand stars of the ‘W’ as pointers. Cool!
What else? Jupiter and Saturn were resplendent. Two moons to the right of Jupiter, and I have to say the Jovian image was sharper in my Opticroms than the Helios bins I had mounted on the parallelogram mount. But the Helios certainly captured more light, (I did a Pepsi challenge with Mizar and the surrounding stars, and the Helios bins were better).
M13 in Hercules, lovely and bright, and M71 in Sagitta, so easy to find. Ursa Major was low, and my efforts to spot M97, M108 and M101 were all to nought. I did manage to see M81 and M82, (Bode’s galaxy and the ‘cigar’ galaxy). But they were faint, and I had to use averted vision. But even so, looking at galaxies with only binoculars seven miles from the bright mucky skies of Wolverhampton isn’t to be sniffed at. And, of course, the Andromeda galaxy was easy to spot, as the square of Pegasus rose, and moved into the Wolves sky-glow. I tried to look for M33 (the Triangulum galaxy) but it was a waste of time with that sky glow. Silly me, I’d have been better off looking for Dodos swimming in the reservoir the other side of the hedge.
For some reason, I’d forgotten where the Dumbbell Nebula was, exactly. I know it’s in Vulpecula, (which is one of the most pathetic of constellations). So I checked my maps, and by imagining a lazy ‘L’ shape from the easily findable Sagitta, there it was. No discernible dumbbell shape in the 10x50s, but it was unmistakable, and pleasingly bright.
I’d given up with the Helios bins by this time, they’d misted over.
M15, another fabulous globular was next. Star-hop from the dolphin, (if you’ve made it this far, you’ll no doubt know the dolphin).
And again, use the arrow of Sagitta to find the fabulous asterism of the Coathanger, (Melotte 111). Any summer observation session that doesn’t visit this object is surely lacking. I noticed tonight my Webb Society Star Atlas (colour edition, no less!) lists the Coathanger as an open cluster.  
Neptune is following Jupiter and Saturn westward, and if I’d planned better I’d have taken a detailed star map with me. I’ve seen Neptune before in the 10×50’s, but it takes planning.
I watched Arcturus vanish, and Capella rise. I heard some very strange animal sounds, and saw a few meteorites. I could see the Milky Way, but only through Cygnus.
I’m going to re-check this NGC 7139 malarkey. I’m convinced I saw a DSO where that is, and it was brighter than 13th mag. That’s like Pluto magnitude, or something.
Anyway, all good fun.