Thursday, 15 April 2010

Observing April 11th and 12th 2010

At last! A clear night - or was it? It certainly began promisingly enough with the skies clearing off so I set up just before sunset in the hope that I'd get some observing done.
Unfortunately this state of affairs didn't last long and after the session began drifting clouds appeared and, as if in a devious conspiracy, they sat right where I aimed my scope. It seemed that when I moved to a different part of the sky they followed!
However, despite this, I managed to see the grand total of three objects on my H400 list.

Chilly +4C
Seeing III, Trans IV - Drifting clouds interfereing with observing, plus some high cirrus stuff
NELM 6.0
Instrument: 12 inch f5 Dobsonian; 22mm Televue Panoptic (69x), 15mm Televue Plossl (101x), 8mm Televue Radian (190x), Lumicon OIII filter

NGC 2392 - planetary nebula in Gemini: Easy to find. At 69x it's round, fuzzy with bright middle. It's a greenish-blue colour. OIII brings it out well. At 190x it looks very fuzzy with a very bright centre and a dark area between outer parts and centre. 69x, 190x OIII

NGC 2420 - open cluster in Gemini: Nice, fairly small o.c. Very rich and moderately bright. Irregular shape with c. 30 bright stars on a nebulous background which is many many unresolved stars. The brighter stars are all the same, or similar, brightnesses. 69x, 101x

NGC 5194 and NGC 5195 - galaxies in Canes Venatici: Fantastic. NGC 5194 (aka M51) is a large, face-on spiral. Spiral structure is easily seen and it has a big, bright nucleus.
The companion, NGC 5195, is much smaller. Round with a halo surrounding a bright core. 69x, 101x.

At this point, the clouds were becoming more than just an irritation, they were becoming a damned nuisance, so I packed in. As I came back outside to pick up the scope base, the clouds had filled the sky.


The following night, 12th April, wasn't totally clear, so I didn't even bother carrying the scope out but, instead, decided to bag Melotte 111, the Coma Star Cluster, with my 8x42 binoculars. Mel 111 is on the AL Binocular Deep Sky list, which, apart from four objects in Cepheus and Lacerta, I have just about finished.
Easily seen with the naked eye, this huge open cluster is pretty spectacular in binoculars. It is harp-shaped, with 15 bright stars outlining the shape of the harp. There are many more fainter stars in among the brighter ones. The stars are all blue-white and the brightest ones all the same magnitude. Nice.

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