Waxing Crescent Moon
Just a couple of days past new, the waxing crescent Moon hung low in the west in the gathering twilight. I used this as an opportunity to test my OnStep system which includes the ability to do lunar tracking. After some faffing about with the app and having to disconnect the motor to make some adjustments I finally had the Moon centred. The tracking held it perfectly centred which was very encouraging. The views of the terminator were excellent with a mountain or crater rim shining brightly beyond the southern extent of the crescent. Mare Crisium was a very obvious feature with plenty of detail along the edges of this lunar sea.
I spent some time experimenting with the alignment feature in OnStep - this proved difficult to do with only the RA axis actually working. Getting to a bright star or a large cluster like the Pleiades was easy enough but being unable to fine tune the DEC axis made finding anything fainter or smaller more difficult.
After slewing to the area I found M35 manually. The star cluster stood out well against the high cloud that was building.
Orion is sinking westward now but M42 was still an easy target to find. The murkiness of the sky reduced the impact of the nebula but it was still extensive with the Trapezium visible although not clearly split in the 25mm eyepiece.
After attempting and failing to locate the Leo triplet (the sky was just too hazy) I moved over to Ursa Major to find M51 - the Whirlpool Galaxy. This is a relatively easy star hop although the galaxy pair was not visible in the finder scope. In the 25mm eyepiece it appeared as two connected splotches of faint grey light, with two central bright patches. The haze really was taking a lot away from the views but it was still nice to revisit this target.