Society Obs Logs
Even with the later start time, we were greeted by daylight for the first obs of the summer term, so we went to Grey bar to catch up after the Easter holiday. We eventually went to the obs field under clear skies, but the twilight was still evident.
The first target was Saturn, which could be seen with Titan close by in Virgo. The rings were easily visible, though no detail could be seen on the surface. With the Earth facing away from the galactic disc, attention was switched to finding some galaxies. Firstly, the impressive pair of M81 and M82 was seen in the field of view. Both were reasonably bright, with the different shapes making it easy to tell them apart. Next the more challenging, but closer, pair of M65 and M66, members of the Leo Triplet, was attempted. After a short time of searching, a faint fuzzy was seen, though barely, even with averted vision, with some members not able to see it. After spending some time looking, the other member of the pair was spotted meaning the first could be identified as M66.
Next year's obs officers then had a go at finding objects, with Katie finding the globular cluster M3 and Mike finding the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51. M3 gave nice views of a globular cluster, much brighter than the galaxies, while M51 showed both cores despite being a lot fainter. Another famous galaxy was then viewed, the Sombrero Galaxy, M104. This was difficult to see due to its low altitude in the sky.
As Hercules had risen, its globular clusters were also looked at. M13 is one of the finest examples in the night sky whereas M92, with its tighter core, can be underrated due to its impressive neighbour. One last galaxy, the giant elliptical M49 in Virgo was found but was just a faint oval in the eyepiece. Finally, another bright globular was found, M5 in Serpens.
Throughout the night many satellites were spotted due to the sun's position barely below the horizon, including an iridium flare which shone as bright as Venus before fading quickly. There were also a handful of meteors spotted in what was a very good observing session.
Our favourite observing spot! And what better place, than in front of the old observatory? If the skies are clear, this is where we go to get away from the lights of the city to do the majority of our observation sessions. It is also where we enjoy our annual summer picnic!
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