After some slight issues with buckets of water we were able to get the Meade trained on Mars, the planet rising in the east through the city lights of Aberdeen. After initially failing to track, some adjustments were made and through a 2-inch 40mm eyepiece (not ideal for planetary work) we were able to view the brilliant, salmony-pink planet. With only a week or so to go before opposition the planet was extremely bright and the hazy sky made it somewhat difficult to make out details, however in the few moments of clarity and good seeing it was possible to detect degradations in colour, particularly the bright polar cap. With a higher power eyepiece on my telescope at home I'm looking forward to seeing this in much greater detail and hopefully trying out some sketching.
With clouds moving through and objects like Comet Holmes and the Andromeda Galaxy lost against the bright city sky we turned out attention to one of Messier's open clusters in Auriga, possibly M37. Here the 2-inch eyepiece with its wide field of view came into its own, setting the cluster in the context of surrounding stars and highlighting the compact nature of it. However, this is definitely the sparsest of the three clusters in Auriga.