Astronomy

Observing Log for

Session Details


Corrennie Forest

57.1715, -2.59333

300m

Notes

An incredible night up at Aberdeen Astronomical Society's dark site near Midmar in deepest, darkest rural Aberdeenshire. After a dreadful day on Saturday, Sunday had turned out beautiful - crisp and clear. We headed up just after six arriving on the forest road shortly before 7. Stepping out of the car immediately presented the clearest northern sky I had ever seen - the Milky Way arching brightly overhead, the Andromeda Galaxy and Double Cluster easy naked eye targets and the shear amount of stars making it difficult to distinguish the constellations. It was a cold night with a chill wind about but we saw no sign of cloud and enjoyed dew free conditions all night.

Observations

Jupiter

At the very beginning of the session we had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Jupiter before it disappeared below the horizon. With all 4 moons visible the globe itself was nothing more than a smudge of bright orange and fainter yellows swimming in the murk of the atmosphere.

M31, M32 and M110 - The Andromeda Galaxy (and companions)

A clear naked eye target the Andromeda Galaxy was the first object of the night and gave serious wow factor. Its bright light filled the FOV of the 2" eyepiece with the central bulge more distinct than ever, and a dark dust lane to the east. The satellite galaxies M32 and M110 were distinct in their own right.

M33 - The Triangulum Galaxy

An obvious smudge of light in the finderscope this was another target that benefited from the beautifully clear sky. Presenting a large eccentric oval it was not possible to detect any structure besides broad areas of lighter and darker shading.

Perseus Double Cluster

Moving into the Milky Way produced an even more impressive view through the eyepiece. It really did look just like a sea of stars. Moving down from Cassiopeia countless clusters could be seen, some no more than an increase in density, but others compact and distinct even against the swarm of stars all around. Finally I reached the Double Cluster which truly did justice to the Ultrawide's field of view. Uncountable stars stretched from north to south, east to west with the two clusters forming bright concentrations at the centre.

M57 - The Ring Nebula

A first chance to check out the Vixen 103 with 13mm Televue Ethos eyepiece that Torc had brought along. An incredible view through this set-up - definitely meets the promises of providing a "space-walking" sensation. The Ring itself sat serenely in amongst the stars all against a superbly contrasting black, black background. I then compared the view on my telescope. The 25mm Plossl barlowed to give x48) gave the best view although the difference was very obvious - less contrast and much less of a field of view. Still the sky conditions gave good depth to the ring.

NGC 6992/95 and NGC 6960 - The Veil Nebula or Cygnus Loop

A new one for me, the Veil Nebula is a complex supernova remnant in Cygnus around the southern wing tip. With the 2" eyepiece in it was immediately obvious that neblosity filled this area of the sky and it didn't take long to find the brightest section of the Veil - the eastern veil which is crescent shaped and had definite filimentary detail at the eyepiece. Torc focused on NGC6960, the western veil which is close to the star 52 Cygni. This the appearance of a witch's broomstick and in the 13mm Ethos this was clear to the eye.

NGC7000 - The North American Nebula

Not far from the veil is another impressively dense region of nebulosity close to Deneb. This is both the North American Nebula and the Pelican Nebula which were both clearly visible in the 2" eyepiece. The smudge of their presence could be detected with the naked eye and the telescope revealed the depth and texture in this incredible region of the sky.

M15 - Globular Clustar in Pegasus

To vary my targets I revisited this compact globular cluster. Without the brightness of the surrounding sky or streetlights it was easier to resolve this cluster and to detect fine granularity in the depths of this compact object.

Uranus

As before this was nothing more than a pale bluish disc which was visible to the naked eye close to Aquarius.

M34

This cluster was revisted and again benefited from the clearer skies. More extensive, dimmer stars could be seen, particularly close to the centre.

NGC7790 - Open Cluster in Cassiopeia

A fine cluster sitting in amongst the swarm of the Milky Way north of the northernmost bright star in the W of Cassiopeia. This was the most distinct cluster in this particularly region appearing like a small whirlpool or eddie in the stars.

M37 and M38 - Open Clusters in Auriga

As Auriga and the other winter constellations were slowly rising I took the chance to catch these open clusters which were distinct even in the finderscope. M38 was close to the horizon and somewhat faint and compact. M37 was more dispersed.

Albiero, Lamda And, Alpha Del - Double Stars

We checked out a few of the best double stars on offer with all easily split even at low magnitudes (x20 for Albiero and Lamda And with Alpha Delphinus requiring the 10mm Plossl to properly split).