Observing Log for

Session Details


54.33, -1.445



Conditions: Cold, Moon not yet risen, UrMin NELM: 5.0, Milky Way visible. Now that the moon is rising about midnight I decided to do some serious DSO hunting.


M1 - The Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula is an excellent example of a supernova remnant. In July 1054 a star 5000 light years away from Earth exhausted its nuclear fuel and went supernova. This flung out a massive cloud of dust and gases which are now known as the Crab Nebula. Since the explosion this cloud has expanded at over 1000km/second and is now seven light years wide. As it expands it becomes dimmer.

Using the excellent directions and diagrams in Turn Left at Orion I easily located the Crab Nebula. Nothing was visible in the finderscope, but with the 25mm (x40) there was a distinct, elongated fuzz in the FOV. Trying a higher power did not improve the view, so I returned to the 25mm and tracked it (got another decent polar align) for a while, staring at it through the eyepiece. Using this method and averted vision the brightness increased and the oval shape became less defined, possibly indicating the incredible structures picked up by much more powerful scopes.

It was immensely satisfying to bag my first 'new' nebula with the 'scope and having it be M1 seemed even more appropriate.

M35 - Gemini Open Cluster

Again I used Turn Left... to find this beautiful Open Cluster near the feet of one of the twins of Gemini. A very rich cluster it was easy to pick out the majority of hot, blue stars, interspersed with the older, brighter yellow stars which have now evolved past the 'main sequence' stage.

The cluster dominated thr 25mm FOV so I didn't even try a higher magnification although I did spot the neighbouring NGC 2158 (a job for next time I am in this area).

Castor - Multiple Star in Gemini

Turn Left... informed me that Castor, which forms the head of the upper of the twins, is a double star so after M35 I swept over to it - a nice easy find!

The night was good enough to resolve the three stars visible to a medium aperture amateur telescope. A (mag 2) and B (mag 2.9) are each a pair of bright A-type stars and were a fairly easy split even though there was a good deal of glare and diffraction spikes to contend with. C (mah 9.5), a much smaller, less bright star was visible close by.

M31 and M32

I also took my customary glance at 31 which looked much better under moonless skies - this time I could see the light of the galaxy stretching in either direction away from the galactic core out beyond the FOV. I also saw its companion 32 in much better detail than any previous time.


Saturn also earned a look but the seeing was bad enough by that time to cause it to be swimming badly at x200 though it looked great at x40.