After missing out on First Light of Jamie's new telescope, I wasn't about to miss a chance to use it the next night under excellent conditions! I arrived under a cloudless sky with unusually good seeing (though unfortunately streetlights, neighbours' OTT night lights and light pollution from the village were still irritating), and was greeted by a rather happy Jamie: he'd found the comet! Then in Pegasus, and at a faint ~8 mag, comet Garradd's tail wasn't quite discernible without imagination, but still a great start to the night, especially with the added bonus of the nice globular cluster M15 in the same field of view.
Jamie spotted the Ring Nebula, M57, which despite its small size, was clearly visible as a ring rather than a smudge and looked very nice surrounded by background stars. M27 in Vulpecula really started to show us what this 'scope can do: we were treated to a view of it looking well enough defined that you could understand just why it's the 'Dumbbell Nebula', with both lobes and outer envelope clearly visible. The next 'easy' targets M56 and M71, both globulars, were faint but M56 was particularly nice, with its 'smudge' standing out nicely against the starfield.
Easily the most impressive views of the night came from M13. It took seemingly forever to prise Jamie away from even the 10mm eyepiece so I could see why this not so faint fuzzy had captivated him. But wow, the globular cluster looked amazing with so many individual stars easily resolvable around the central fuzz. With the 7mm, it was even better, with even stars in the crowded centre easily seen! Spurred on, we embarked on a brief globular cluster tour, with M92 pretty impressive itself, M15 again as it had risen higher in the sky, and Aquarius' M2.
Of the non-globulars, we started with the multicoloured double star Alberio, always a great target, with the bright orange-yellow beta-Cygni A contrasting nicely with its smaller, dimmer, blue companion. The Andromeda Galaxy, M31, looked lovely as always and both the tight M32 and more diffuse M110 satellite galaxies spotted nearby. Even the 'Little Dumbbell' Nebula, M76, had enough of a shape to hint at its similarities to its namesake.
Initially confused (by Jamie!) with a car headlight on the hill, Jupiter made an appearance around 1am so once it had risen sufficiently, I got my first sighting of both Equatorial belts in a long time! We could also see the Southern Temperate belt and possibly its Northern counterpart, clear darkening around the poles as well as all 4 moons; 3 clustered nearby in a nice triangle.
Next were the open clusters M103 and M52 in Casseopeia and M34 in Perseus followed by the Perseus Double Cluster, looking even nicer than normal in the 'scope! Jamie finally 'beat' (i.e. found) the difficult Triangulum Galaxy, a face on spiral wth low surface brightness. The Pleiades looked stunning as always in binoculars, but they even looked great in the telescope! Epsilon Lyrae, the 'Double Double', was next, with all 4 individual starsjust resolvable with careful focussing.
Even with Auriga low in the light polluted sky, we saw the nice open clusters M36 and M38 before turning our attention to tracking the ISS with the telescope! Jamie's convinced that he managed to notice a clear non-circular shape, implying that he saw the solar panels, but I didn't, probably due to taking control of the scope later on and lower down in the pass. It's still pretty fun to track, though! We also saw at least 2 fast, bright and blue probable Perseid meteors and Jamie saw a bright green delta-Aquarid that was bright green, leaving a trail while I was too busy playing with my bins. All in all, a fantastic night!
EventList powered by schlu.net