Friday, 10 April 2015

Excitement mounts as I get lost in Virgo.

Good day to you the reader!
This is a bit of a catch-up post.  It's been a manic last week so, even though the observing weather has been pretty good, work commitments have kept me away from the SBT during the working week.  However, I did manage to get out for a quick session on the evening of Monday 6th.  The session wasn't planned as such, so I had no specific targets in mind, but I did want to see C/2014 Q2 Comet Lovejoy whilst still observable in our night sky.
With the change to British Summer Time, the wait for true darkness is prolonged until late into the evening now.  With that in mind, I decided to start off looking at one of the brighter objects in the current skies, Jupiter.  I pushed the scope around and got the huge planet in the field of view.  At first, the view I got was quite familiar.  The focuser on the SBT is a little stiffer than on the 150p, but I brought the image into a good image using the 15mm BST EP.  The seeing conditions were pretty good as I thought, so I decided to see how I got on with the 8mm BST.  I swapped it out and turned the focus wheel.  The image that was brought to me was as crisp and clean as I had ever seen Jupiter in.  It was cracking.  I spent a few seconds just admiring the view I was getting, when I noticed a distinctive mark on one of the equatorial belts.  I started to look a bit harder and the seeing conditions seemed to improve a step further.  Then it dawned on me,  What I was looking at was the famous Great Red Spot on Jupiter.  This was the first time I had eve seen in.  Incredibly satisfying and pleasing.  I decided to try the 5mm BST EP, and though I could still make out the feature, the 8mm give me the better, crisper, cleaner view.
The sky still wasn't completely dark, but I didn't have time to wait another hour or so for it to come, so I pressed on.  I looked up on Stellarium where C/2014 Q2 Comet Lovejoy.  It was just next to the main constellation of Cassiopeia according to the app, to a brought the scope around, engaged the Telrad and started the search.  I was only using Stellarium on my smart phone, so it was tricky to get an exact fix on it.  I spent about 5 or 10 minutes searching and then came across the faint smudge of the fading comet.  It was pleasing to see it, in so much that I can log it as observed.  However, I couldn't make out much detail in it at all.  Unfortunately, I think I have left it a little too long before making a true concerted effort into finding.
During the session, the sky was also graced by a passing of the ISS.  Particularly bright as it passed above the rooftops.
Leo is now in prime position for observing from the back yard, so I decided to pop in the 2" EP and take a look for M95 and M96.  I found them both with relative ease, although because the conditions, they didn't appear quite as clearly as the did when I had first light with the SBT.
Not too discouraged, I decided to take a first glance at Virgo.  The constellation of Virgo is widely regarding as an incredibly 'galaxy rich' constellation, with many of them around the observable magnitude 10 to 11 range.  Indeed, it is home to the 'Realm of the Galaxies'.  Still with the 2" 32mm EP I started looking through the telrad to get the scope lined up.  My first look through the EP didn't initially show much,  I wasn't looking for one particular target in Virgo.  But, with a gentle nudge, I started to come across multiple very faint smudges of grey wispy features.  I was finding it very hard to pick out some of the stars in the constellation to star hop to specific features, and therefor confirm what I was looking at.  Nevertheless. I am pleased with my first foray into looking at Virgo with the SBT.

In approximately one months time, I shall attending Astro Camp in Cwmdu near Brecon, South Wales.  I've got a small pitch, 5m x 5m so need to be careful as to what to take.  I have taken delivery of a small 2m by 1,5m utility tent in which I can keep the SBT and hopefully, it's younger brother, the 150p.  So, the list is starting to be compiled of what I need to pack to take with me.


  1. Telescopes and EP case.
  2. Beer.

1 comment:

  1. I always put beer as No 1 in my lists. :-)

    ReplyDelete