Observing Log for

Session Details


54.33, -1.445



Today was a perfect spring day and with evening came clear skies, Venus shining brightly in the west and the Moon high overhead. I decided to get the 'scope out in order to tick a few Messier's off but as the darkness grew it became clear that the night was just as misty as before and was getting worse. Instead I went for a quick tour of the brighter targets in the sky and tried some eyepiece projection photography with my camera.



The first obvious target was Venus, shining brightly at mag -4 in the west. Through the scope at x25 it was a bright almost point-like object with diffraction spikes coming off it. The colour changed between gold and white as the atmosphere played its games. Increasing magnification brought true shape to the planet with subtle colouring evident on the disc which changed from white to brown through gold across the surface in almost straight bands. At this magnification (x200) I tried some photography and got the interesting result shown here. Although the colours are wild (white balance setting?) and it isn't a crisp focus, there is evidence of phase apparent.


After looking at Venus for a little longer I turned my attention to Saturn now high in the South-east being pursued by Leo. Through the eyepiece the view was fairly steady though with far less detail than the other night. A single band could be seen on the surface which otherwise was a pale blur and the rings had no definition besides their outer edges. Again I tried to get some pictures and had slightly more success on this occasion, producing recognisable images. Again they were not terribly well in focus but you can see the results here and here. I identified 3 moons whilst observing Saturn although it must be said the sky was worsening during this period.


After Saturn I made my one and only attempt on a "new" Messier - one that I haven't yet recorded as having observed with this scope. I chose (foolishly perhaps) an open cluster, 103, in Cassiopeia. It didn't take long to find, with a simple star hop involved, but the sight that greeted me hardly took my breath away. Of the 40 bright stars known to be associated with this cluster I could see about 3. Also present was the double star, Struve 131, which is not part of the cluster. I still don't think I can say I have properly observed this target!.


As the conditions got worse I chose to have a quick look at 42, the Great Orion Nebula, before packing away. The nebulosity was barely visible, washed out by the haziness of the sky, though it was still possibly to make out the brightest areas around the trapezium. The trapezium itself was a different matter - I could easily make out 4 stars even at x25!


I finally swung the scope over to the Moon to have a quick check on it. The view was crisp and clear but unfortunately my battery ran out before I could try a shot - next time!