An incredible night with zero cloud cover. Transparency came and went but at times the Milky Way was clear overhead with M31 visible to the naked eye. A heavy dew formed soon after dusk but mainly effected finderscopes.
I spent some time (from 21:00 to 22:15 BST) imaging the Andromeda Galaxy. I used an app to assist with polar align which seemed to give decent tracking. I used Nebulosity to frame and focus Andromeda. Fine focus was done on Arcturus which may have been too big of a star. I experimented with various settings but found that 25s at ISO1600 seemed to give good results. At 60s there was too much chance of tracking issues appearing. I took two sequences of 20 exposures, along with similar dark frames for stacking later. I also tried longer and shorter exposures and experimented at ISO800. A clear periodic tracking error occurred but there seemed to be roughly 70-80% usable frames.
Caldwell 28 - NGC 752
A large open cluster in Andromeda. Best viewed in the 30mm eyepiece.
Almach - Double Star
Beautiful double star in Andromeda. Stood up well to the 10mm plus 2x barlow. Excellent colours in steady skies.
M34 - Open Cluster
M74 - Galaxy
Attempted to locate this but it is one of the dimmest Messier objects and was still relatively low in the east where there is some light pollution from the town. Despite getting the 'scope to the right spot via star hopping there was no hint of a galaxy, even with averted vision.
M57 - The Ring Nebula
The dew was building at this point with the finderscope requiring frequent lens clearing. I think the sky was generally quite murky at this time, as though the Ring was easily found, there was very little detail in the view either at 25mm or 10mm.
M56 - Globular Cluster in Lyra
Spent quite a bit of time getting to this one. Again, the sky conditions were quite murky with a foggy finderscope not helping. Eventually star hopped to the right area and then used the 25mm to scan the sky, soon finding this dim object. Seeing conditions not great but it was possible to see a slightly irregular, brighter central area amongst a general haze. No granularity apparent. Didn't hold up well under increased magnification.
I was in the area so checked out Albireo - one of the gems of the sky. Beautiful separation and colour differential.
M2 - Globular Cluster in Aquarius
A moderately bright globular cluster in a dim part of the sky, low in the southwest, making for less than idea viewing conditions. Used star hopping and then scanning the area with the 25mm to find this object. A very compact cluster. Faint but good detail emerged with averted vision including evident granularity and quite a lot of structure within the cluster. It was hard to discern the edge to a lack of contrast with the background sky.
After looking at M2 I briefly revisited M15 which is nearby. The contrast was immediately obvious - this is a much brighter object with a bright central core easily visible.
I spent some time on Mars as towards the end of the observing session it had risen high in the southeast, clearing neighbouring roofs. The sky conditions were variable but the polar cap was visible as a near circular white spot and as the seeing improved I could see dark features on the planet. This was one of the best views I have ever had of Mars. I attempted to use an old webcam to capture some video but this failed as the software kept crashing.
M45 - The Pleiades
One of the first times I have looked at this target using the 200mm scope and the 30mm eyepiece. This beautifully framed the cluster and gave a truly stunning image. The blueness of the stars was clearly evident and there was perhaps a hint of background nebulosity.
After Andromeda I moved over to the Double Cluster and took a short series of images. The two clusters were framed nicely in the camera's field of view.