Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Observing 30th June-1st July 2008

It was clear last night and I didn't have to be at work today so I set up the 12 inch for an hour or two of observing under less-than-ideal conditions - it was clear enough, but as the solstice was only ten days ago, it wasn't really dark enough for serious deep sky observing but as I am fed up with no observing and at least *something* was visible I went out anyway. As it was, it didn't get 'dark' enough for observing until after midnight, when brighter portions of the Milky Way became visible.
I did, however, begin the
Astronomical League Globular Cluster Observing Program as summer is a prime time for hunting these and there are rich pickings to be had in Ophiuchus and what parts of Scorpius and Sagittarius there are accessible to those of us at these northern latitudes. I'd bought the AL's Globular Cluster book at TSP in 2006 with the intention of doing this program.

Seeing was excellent, very steady (detail was visible on Jupiter when it rose higher) and transparency was also very good, with little haze. Shame about the sky not being quite dark, though!

Because of the fairly light sky, finding stuff was a little difficult and actually seeing it was worse, but I found things that I would never have seen with the old 8 inch.
NGC 6426 was the first GC on my list. It's located just north of an attractive white double, 61 Ophiuchi. It was round, very faint and not resolved. I couldn't see it at all at 44x but it was seen at 102x. 2330 UT (0030 BST).
Because of the conditions, I messed around looking at brighter stuff and then packed up at 0100 UT (0200 BST). There was, at 0010 UT (0110 BST), a bright meteor which left a green trail through Cepheus.

I got to use my new 35mm TeleVue Panoptic for the first time on my 12 inch (although it had its actual 'first light' on Larry Mitchell's 36 inch Obsession at TSP last month) and my slight concerns about it being too heavy and tipping the scope were unfounded. The balance on the 12 inch, and the friction on the bearings, are so good that it stayed put when the big eyepiece was put into the focusser. The view was good right across the field to the edges, with practically no coma.