Astronomy

Observing Log for

Session Details


Northallerton

54.3299, -1.44529

10m

Notes

Conditions: Chilly, Moon not yet risen, UrMin NELM: 5.0, Milky Way faintly visible at times. Slightly warmer than the previous night there was a good deal of low, fast moving clouds during the middle of the session but these cleared up within 10-15 minutes. Got a great polar align and had everything set up ready to go (ie, take everything outside, setup tripod, attach counterweights and tube rings, attach OTA, balance, polar align) in approx 10 minutes (a new record)

Observations

M33 - Triangulum Spiral Galaxy

Another member of the Local Group of galaxies the Triangulum Galaxy (33) is a huge spiral galaxy. Although unlike its near neighbour, M31, it has no bright central core. For this reason it was quite a challenge to find even with the help of Turn Left.... The effort paid off though because I was rewarded with an interesting view. The galaxy was very faint with the 25mm Plossl - indeed there was very little in the way of contrast (perhaps a filter might help here?) and I had to keep gently moving the 'scope to ensure I was seeing what I was seeing. There was no detail visible, instead it looked like a very faint, distorted oval. I look forward to seeing this object under darker skies.

Comet Machholz

As this object has climbed in the sky it has got better and better. A naked eye fuzz just below the Pleiades tonight it looked great through the binoculars so I decided to train the 'scope on it. Well - wow - it looked amazing - far better than last time I tried. At x40 it dominated the field of view. The core was bright, a pin point of light, and surrounding this was the glow of the comet - staring at it for a while it was possible to see how this fuzz was slightly stretched to one side in a tear drop shape. Sadly, at x100 the light from the street lights completely ruined the view.

M31, M32 and M110 - Andromeda Galaxy Group

As last night the Andromeda Galaxy looked stunning, spilling across the field of view. This time I used Turn Left... to identify its two companions. 110, a large elliptical, was to the NW of 31 and looked like a large globular fuzz. 32 was something which I had previously mistaken for a star. Looking at it carefully it was possibly to see that it was slightly oversized. I centered it in the x40 FOV and went for x100. The galaxy jumped out at me - a distinct egg-shaped cloud of light.

The Double Cluster

I had been very disappointed with my view of the Perseus Double Cluster when I checked it out under moonlight skies a week or two previously so I decided to try again now that it was dark. I was not disappointed. The cluster was faintly visible to the naked eye, and looked good in the binoculars, but then I put the 'scope on it. It was absolutely breathtaking. In the 25mm Plossl the two clusters fit perfectly into the FOV and had stunning amounts of depth and detail.

Almach - Gamma Andromadae

I remember in Durham trying to split this double and failing (must have been a terrible night for seeing!). I turned the 'scope on this after the success of the Double Cluster (and a cup of tea). Again I wasn't disappointed (this must have been my lucky night!) and could almost see the split at x40! Whacking in the Barlowed 10mm Plossl I was greeted with a perfect double. The primary star is mag. 2.2 and golden yellow in colour. The secondary is mag. 5.1, and appeared with a beautiful turqoise colour. There was a good deal of glare due to the brightness of the primary but the longer I looked the better the view.

M81 - Spiral Galaxy

Located close to Ursa Major, 80, or Bode's Galaxy, is a large Spiral Galaxy. In the 'scope it was only possibly to see the bright, oval-shaped central core which stood out at x40 and was still clear at x200.

M82 - Irregular Galaxy

82 is a close companion of M81 (in fact, a few million years ago they had a close encounter) but is very different in structure. In the 25mm Plossl it appeared as a very elongated, faint, oval - almost banana shaped with a slight curve visible. I could easily go up to x200 but couldn't make out any more detail (i.e the dark lane that crosses the galaxy). It was still an amazing sight - definitely the weirdest thing I have seen so far.

According to the information this is a very active galaxy - with a highly eruptive nature and a great deal of star forming activity. It is the brightest galaxy in the sky in infrared light.