It was almost good enough to bring a scope out tonight. Bit too much wind and cloud. Still, nice views of the usual winter stars. Cant wait for a decent, clear evening.
This month’s copy of Sky and Telescope magazine suggested that 2 Collinder open clusters low down below Sirius make good targets for binoculars. Sirius currently transits due South at about 0030hrs and is then at its highest. That gives me the best chance of seeing objects below Sirius.
Open cluster Collinder 132 was the higher of the pair.
Here is the sky map from Sky Safari Pro 4:
It was easy to find the small triangle of stars down and to the left from Sirius (containing PI CMa). I could just spot Messier M41 to the right of that. Working down from there, I could find the bright yellow star, Wezen. I could confirm this by seeing two small pairs of objects to the left of it.
Unfortunately, that’s as low as I could go. A neighbour’s house prevented me from getting those last few degrees down to the horizon (green line). I guess that’s the problem with living at a relatively high Northern latitude! There would be no problem seeing Collinder 132 in Tenerife!
I have just started to use a much more detailed app – Sky Safari 3 Pro. Its as easy to use as the others but gives much more detail and lists many more catalogues than just the standard Messier, Caldwell and NGC/IC listings.
It also allows you to save a list of targets for later review.
For example, when I reviewed the DSLR image I took recently of M45 Pleiades, I could see 3 areas of nebulosity corresponding to reflection nebulae. Sky Safari 3 Pro identified these as:
Near Merope: NGC 1435 RN
Near Electra: vdB 20 RN van den Bergh 20
Near Taygeta: Ced 19e RN Cederblad 19e
Id never heard of the van den Burgh or Cederblad lists before!
Tonight was quite cloudy and misty but looking at the star map of Orion, near Orion’s “head”, SS3 Pro identified a Collinder OC, Cr 69, near the star Meissa. This was easy to spot with Canon 10x30IS binoculars. Here is the map:
It was a pretty rubbish evening earlier.
Bit surprised to step out at 11pm to find one of the clearest nights Ive seen in a long time.
Too tired to haul out a lot of kit so I just looked up and enjoyed the view with just a pair of Canon 10×30 IS binoculars for company.
It was so clear that I could spot Andromeda naked eye, which is certainly exceptional for Limavady! Jupiter (and 1 moon) was extremely bright – there was no Moon.
Thanks to the clock moving back, my favourite winter constellation, Orion is now visible again. I used the binoculars and could see 2 of the O class Trapezium stars at the heart of the Orion nebula and surprisingly, had no difficulty identifying one of my favourite open clusters, NGC 1981, just above the Sword of Orion. Ive had difficulty in the past spotting this with 20×80 binoculars, never mind 10×30!
A quick run through: Pleiades, Hyades, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Castor, Pollux, Cassiopeia, Auriga and Capella, Alpha persei moving cluster, Andromeda galaxy, Polaris and the Great Bear.
To cap the evening off, I saw 3 very impressive meteors: 2 coincidentals and 1 Orionid meteor.
Well, if the weather keeps up, I think I’ll find a lot to keep me interested in the next while!
Some cloud on and off but it cleared about 10pm. I set up the Altair 80mm refractor. I was planning to align it really well and then test some longer exposures.
its only has an alt-azimuth mount so it’s not at all in the same class as an equatorial mount but I wanted to see if I could stretch out to 2-3 minutes.
I set up 2 star alignment and the scope chose Albireo (a beautiful orange and blue double star) and Aldebaran. I’d only just done that when it clouded over.
it cleared up again later so I took my 10×30 IS binoculars out and looked at the Hyades and Pleiades. I could count roughly 50 stars in the Pleiades group.
I’ll have to wait for a better night to do my little experiment.
I’m still learning my way around the sky- a “go-to” scope sometimes makes it too easy. Tonight looked promising, so started with binoculars. Having located the “W” of Cassiopeia, I drew a line down from the right-hand “V” to the star, Mirach in Andromeda. About a quarter of the way up and slightly to the right of that line was the fuzzy lenticular glow of the Andromeda galaxy.
Encouraged by my success, I dashed into the house to get my scope, tripod and power pack – by the time it was all set up it was cloudy again!
Still, I was keen to try out a Vixen VLW 22mm versus a Baader Hyperion 24mm eyepiece (both in 2″ mode). So I played chase the star between the clouds. On paper, the Vixen should be better, but I have found the Vixen slightly awkward to use until tonight when I rolled down the rubber eyecup and ditched my glasses- after that it was just as comfortable as the Baader for my eyes. Things looked slightly brighter through the Vixen (better light transmission) – I thought there was a little more chromatic aberration with the Vixen -until I ditched my glasses again when the aberration disappeared. The field of view looked much the same in both.
Overall, I thought the Vixen was slightly sharper and brighter than the Hyperion and I have finally found a comfortable position to use it. No new objects tonight but I can find my way to Andromeda!