After setting up my first and most obvious target was the Moon now low in the west and about to disappear behind a neighbouring roof. The image was crisp along the terminator, craters and mountains picked out in all their glory, but it was evident that the atmosphere was having its fun, with the rest of the lunar surface swimming in the haze. Still it was a nice way to start the evening.
My next target was
My next target was
It was around this time that disaster struck. Never once since getting my telescope in 2004 have I checked the finderscope attachment and I paid for this apparent neglect when, as I was rotating the optical tube to better position the eyepiece, the finderscope slid from its mount and tumbled to the ground. It was an awful moment, happening inexorably slowly but with both my hands unable to get anywhere near it in time. Even worse I hadn't set up on the grass due to earlier rain so it fell on hard concrete with a sickening crash. I picked it up and immediately looked at the Moon. Luckily the image was fine with no harm being done to the optics. Unfortunately the adjustment screws fared less well. After reattaching it to the telescope I had to realign it and during this process one of the screws sheared off, a sure sign it had taken a whack during the incident. Now I need to source a new set screw but luckily I don't need to source a whole new finderscope.
With the finderscope back in action I quickly turned my attention to
M44 and M67 in Cancer
My next two objects were the open clusters
After the open clusters I hopped over to Leo to catch some galaxies.
During my 10 minutes spent staring at this group of galaxies a visitor arrived in the form of a hedgehog. It spent a few minutes snufflinf around my box of stuff before heading off into darker areas of the garden.
By now ice was forming around the rim of the telescope and on the 10mm eyepiece which had been neglected since looking at M67 earlier on. I decided to go for one final target and chose
I now had no feeling left in my hands and the ice was getting thicker so I decided to call it a night. Despite the mishap with the finderscope which annoyed me only because I hadn't anticipated it, it was good to get out with the 'scope again, even if it was only to pick up some of the brighter targets. These are some of my favourite late winter objects so it was good to see them before we lose them over the coming month or two and I'll definitely be out at the next opportunity, possibly diving back into the Coma-Virgo cluster to make some follow up observations after the Messier Marathon.