What was a seemingly murky evening, with the Moon barely managing to shine through the haze, turned out to be a spectacularly clear night. Even just stepping out of the front door yielded the Milky Way shining above and this only got better as my eyes adjusted. By the middle of my observing session, when conditions were at their best, M31 and the Double Cluster were both naked eye, and the Cygnus rift was an obvious dark ripple in the bright Milky Way. From about 00:30 light clouds came in from the west obscuring viewing that way. This light cloud continued to build until 01:30 when 80% of the sky was lost. Despite this, during clear moments, these were some of the best skies I've ever seen.
M57 - The Ring Nebula
Somewhat dim view with the Ring only really popping out with averted vision. Spent about 10 minutes observing this with both high and low power. Noticed more of a flattened oval shape with darker center and brighter area at NW. Also noticed dim star just to E of the nebula but no sign of central pulsar.
Saw a bright meteor pass very quickly roughly South to North from the direction of
Lyra heading towards Cepheus. Possible Kappa Cygnid candidate.
Saw a dim meteor pass very quickly roughly South to North from the direction of
Lyra heading towards Cepheus in a line just above that of the previous meteor. Possible Kappa Cygnid candidate.
M71 - Globular Cluster
Whilst taking images of the Vulpecula region I had a look at this bright, compact globular cluster which was suffering from some light cloud that had drifted in from the west.
M11 - Wild Duck Cluster
Studied this beautiful open cluster, located in Scutum, under low power (25mm Plossl) for about 20 minutes. Discerned a large amount of extensive detail extending in particular NE of bright foreground star along with two horns S of central foreground star extending towards two dimmer foreground stars W of the main body.
With an overall brightness of magnitude 5.8, M11 contains as many as 500 stars ranging from 8th magnitude down to 14th magnitude.
M26 - Open Cluster
Dim cluster in Scutum with 4 bright stars visible in a diamond pattern enclosing the much dimmer stars of the cluster.
NGC 6712 - Globular Cluster
A very round, compact and dim globular cluster in Scutum with some star detail only being resolved with averted vision. A faint satellite also passed through the FOV as I was observing this globular.
I did not observe this meteor but subsequent study of my photographs turned up this one passing through an exposure taken at 00:42. Possible Kappa Cygnid candidate due to its position close to Cygnus.
IC 4665 - Open Cluster
I was too late to get any of the Messier's in Ophiuchus and whilst attempting to locate NGC 6384 I came across this large, dispersed open cluster of bright blue stars. The cluster was very coarse and filled the entire FOV with the 25mm eyepiece. Looking at it through the finderscope allowed me to see it was indeed an open cluster.
M31, M32 and M110
This was easily the most spectacular view of the Andromeda Galaxy I've ever had. For just a few minutes the viewing conditions were absolutely perfect and the galaxy filled the FOV of the 25mm eyepiece, stretching out beyond it on either side. Its two companions were also bright and easily visible and gave an idea of the expanse of the parent galaxy. A truly awe inspiring sight!
M33 - Spiral Galaxy
As with 31 this galaxy was much brighter than I've ever seen it before with the nucleus a bright area right at the center of the view. Unfortunately I did not have time to observe it properly before a light band of cloud moved over this area of the sky.
C14 - Double Cluster
To finish off the night I enjoyed a stunning view of this jewel of the night sky - two dense clusters of stars packed close together which completely fill the FOV in my 25mm Plossl.