Astronomy

Observing Log for

Session Details


Northallerton

54.3299, -1.44529

10m

Notes

Conditions: Very cold, half Moon, UrMin NELM: 5.0 (?). Tonight I aimed to do some more lunar observing as well as finding some of the brighter Messier objects. With the temperatures dipping well below freezing and ice forming on all the equipment I didn't last as long as I hoped and failed to find most of my targets but it was a good session non the less.

Observations

The Moon

With the moon now dominating the night sky (and washing out all but the brightest DSO's) it was time for some more lunar observing. The terminator was well placed to get the eastern end of the Appenine Mountains. Scanning up (or south) I identified three large craters as Ptolomaeus, Alphonsus and Arzachel which are situated very close to the Rupes Recta (sadly, along with the crater Archimedes this feature was lost in the lunar twilight and will have to wait a day or so) or Straight Wall. At the very north, just catching the light could be seen Tycho, and above that Clavius, Rutherford and Moretus.

M45 - The Pleiades

The Pleiades are always an easy sight, even in washed out lunar skies and tonight was no exception. Exquisite views of this expansive open cluster. The stars appeared blue showing youth but it was difficult to tell whether any faint apparent nebulosity was due to condensation on the eyepiece or not - I suspect the former was the case.

NGC 869 and NGC 884 - Double Cluster in Perseus

The Double Cluster took some time to locate and was disappointing in the 25mm (x40) eyepiece. Although the two clusters fitted into the eyepiece it was too close to the moon and everything appeared washed out and faint.

Mizar System in Ursa Major

The Mizar system is one of the most famed stars in the sky. Located in the handle of the Plough (second star from the end) it forms a stunning pair with its close neighbour Alcor (1/5 of a degree to the northeast).

Mizar is a mag 2.27 star located 78 light years away and is a binary double. Its companion is 14 arc seconds away and the two orbit each other with a period of approximately 5000 years. It was discovered that both of these stars are in fact doubles, and that Alcor orbits them all making it a 5 star system.

I was able to resolve Mizar and its companion with the 10mm Plossl (x100). The two were even more distinct with the barlow (x200).

Comet Machholz

At around 23:00 I observed Comet Machholz through binoculars. It appeared as a round faint, fuzzy light. I will get the 'scope on it within the next few days.