Astronomy

Observing Log for

Observations

Introduction

We convened in the observing field at around 6pm with the sun below the horizon and a clear evening sky punctuated by sinuous contrails extending overhead. Andy had very kindly brought along his own telescope - a 6" Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount - which would allow for maximum flexibility and ease of use during the night ahead. By the time we had got ourselves sorted with maps, charts and logbooks, Venus, a bright point of light twinkling in the gathering twilight could be seen in the West and as we observed this through the telescope the first stars of the evening, Sirius in Canis Major, and Capella in Auriga began to appear in the sky.

The Winter Sky (6pm - 10:30pm)

The early part of the marathon is a race against the setting stars of winter, dominated by the constellations of Auriga, Orion and Gemini that are filled with Milky Way jewels from the Great Orion Nebula to dazzling star clusters.
Time Messier Number Type Magnitude Comments
18:39:00 M42 Nebula 3.7 No nebulosity due to twilight
18:47:00 M45 Open Cluster 1.5
18:54:00 M41 Open Cluster 4.5
19:00:00 M43 Nebula 6.8 Extended nebulosity around star
19:12:00 M47 Open Cluster 4.4
19:16:00 M44 Open Cluster 3.1
19:23:00 M46 Open Cluster 6.1
19:32:00 M35 Open Cluster 5.1 Very nice cluster - used UWF to see extent
19:42:00 M31 Galaxy 3.4
20:07:00 M93 Open Cluster 6.2 Dense, washed out - close to horizon
20:24:00 M33 Galaxy 5.7 Very, very faint, no detail just lightness
20:30:00 M32 Galaxy 8.2
20:30:00 M110 Galaxy 10
20:44:00 M103 Open Cluster 7.4 Compact
20:49:00 M52 Open Cluster 6.9 Compact and dim - similar to 103
20:56:00 M76 Planetary Nebula 10.1 Very faint - AV required
21:06:00 M34 Open Cluster 5.2 Bright - filled FOV
21:15:00 M78 Nebula 8
21:23:00 M1 Super Nova Remnant 8 One of the best examples of a PWN - Jayne
21:45:00 M50 Open Cluster 5.9 Vert scattered cluster - extended to 3 FOVs
21:51:00 M38 Open Cluster 6.4 Dense and dim
21:59:00 M36 Open Cluster 6
22:02:00 M37 Open Cluster 5.6 Dim- very fine clustering
22:10:00 M48 Open Cluster 5.8 Dispersed bright stars
22:15:00 M67 Open Cluster 6 Very compact

The Spring Sky (10:30pm - 4:45am)

Time Messier Number Type Magnitude Comments
22:35:00 M65 Galaxy 8.8 Dim galaxy - no detail
22:35:00 M66 Galaxy 9 Dim galaxy - no detail
22:51:00 M95 Galaxy 9.7 Originally confused for 105
22:51:00 M96 Galaxy 9.2 Blatantly visible
23:10:00 M105 Galaxy 9.3 Seemed dimmer than listed mag
00:00:00 M81 Galaxy 6.9 Bright
00:00:00 M82 Galaxy 8.4 Distinct edge hinting at dust lane
00:13:00 M109 Galaxy 9.8 Very dim - no definition
00:33:00 M108 Galaxy 10 Very dim and very thin
02:10:00 M97 Planetary Nebula 9.9 Faint - eyes just visible to AV
02:19:00 M51 Galaxy 8.4 Definite spiral structure in main interacting arm
02:25:00 M40 Double Star 9.0/9.6 Just a double - Garlic Twit
02:38:00 M104 Galaxy 8 Faint - elongated
02:54:00 M61 Galaxy 9.6 Very, very dim, barely perceptable
03:05:00 M49 Galaxy 8.4 Obvious disc
03:07:00 M59 Galaxy 9.6 Elongation
03:07:00 M60 Galaxy 8.8 Elongation - bright nucleus
03:14:00 M58 Galaxy 9.6 Very diffuse - eliptical?
03:21:00 M89 Galaxy 9.7 Distinct shape
03:24:00 M90 Galaxy 9.5 Face on spiral - low surface brightness
03:28:00 M87 Galaxy 8.6 Distinctly eliptical
03:34:00 M84 Galaxy 9.1 Distinct nucleus - oval shape
03:34:00 M86 Galaxy 8.9 Distinct nucleus - elongation?
03:42:00 M91 Galaxy 10.1 Very faint - required AV
03:50:00 M88 Galaxy 9.6 Squashed shape - got brighter
04:09:00 M99 Galaxy 9.9 On edge of vision - dim with no detail
04:14:00 M98 Galaxy 10.1 Stupidly dim
04:23:00 M100 Galaxy 9.3 Very dim - no detail
04:29:00 M64 Galaxy 8.5 Bright - nucleus and extensive inner area
04:35:00 M85 Galaxy 9.1 Distinct - small - bright nucleus
04:43:00 M53 Globular Cluster 7.7 Compact - could resolve stars

The Summer Sky (4:50am - 5:19am)

Our time spent in the Virgo cluster, though epically fast, had not been enough to make up time against the rapidly advancing dawn, and those two lost hours now came back to haunt us as the first vestiges of the approaching morning appeared low in the East.
Time Messier Number Type Magnitude Comments
04:51:00 M13 Globular Cluster 5.8 Stunning
04:55:00 M92 Globular Cluster 6.5 Fine grainy - uneven brightness
04:58:00 M57 Planetary Nebula 8.8 Ring shaped - tiny with 25mm
05:00:00 M5 Globular Cluster 5.7 Dense cluster
05:02:00 M56 Globular Cluster 8.4 Very faint - dusting of light
05:05:00 M29 Open Cluster 6.6 Bright but sparse
05:09:00 M39 Open Cluster 4.6 Very sparse
05:15:00 M71 Globular Cluster 8 Not visible due to twilight but had correct FOV
05:17:00 M27 Planetary Nebula 7.3 Twilight - a patch of haze in FOV
05:19:00 M4 Globular Cluster 5.4 Caught with binoculars - starlike object

Images