Thursday, 10 September 2015

Cornish Nights - Part 4

8th September 2015
The weather forecast was looking OK although there were signs of passing high level cloud.  The forecast did say that it would get clearer as the night went on.  So, time to pull out the 150p for the evening again.  After the exploits of tracking down cluster in Sagittarius, I decided to re-visit some Summer favourites.  I hadn't observed anything in Hercules since last Summer, so this was to be my first port of call.  I wanted to remind myself of the clusters in the area with a view of photographing them with the tracking mount at a later date.  My first target was M13.  It proved to be very tricky to locate given the amount of cloud that was around.  I had noted in the book that I possibly wouldn't have set up under the same conditions at home.  It is a lovely cluster to look at, but it wasn't showing itself off in its normal splendor because of the atmospherics.  Still, the first for the night.
Staying in Hercules, I moved onto M92.  Conditions being as they were, it was tricky.  But, I still was able to start resolving individual stars.  The clarity of the image was wavering slightly as cloud passed across the constellation.  With longer at the EP, I might have been able to resolve more detail, but it was certainly to be a night of just grabbing what you could!
I noticed Lyra was reasonably cloud free, so a quick visit to M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra to see a brilliant, almost smoke ring, appearance of the nebula.  Then, quickly moved through Cygnus to Sagitta and M71.  This is an open cluster, and on this particular night, well worth the description of the feint fuzzy!  I think I did really well to pick this one out given the conditions.  I was able to resolved 2 stars in the vicinity of the cluster, but not much else.  It was still pleasing to get this one under the belt though.  It proved that even though conditions were really becoming quite tricky, it was worth the time and effort to get to targets around the sky.
Time for another passage from the notebook for the night...
"Looking in the sky atlas for other targets around Aquilla/Sagitta, I saw a large open cluster referred to in the book as "Brocchis Cluster".  A quick check on Stellarium didn't ID that name, but @25mm I could recognise the shape of the star cluster..."
While view Brocchis cluster, I noticed a small feature near by.  I assumed it to be a catalogued target, so I check in the star atlas and found that it was designated NGC 6802, a small mag. 8 cluster.  I was quite chuffed with this find.  And the fact that I was seeing magnitude 8 objects in these conditions.
Just two more objects were observed that evening.  M11, The Wild Duck cluster was the first of these.  It can be found in the constellation of Scutum and is a very pretty, but condensed cluster showing a single stand out star in its centre.  Of course, more aperture and better conditions might well bring out more, but I can only note what I was able to see on the night.
Finally, M26, a supposedly large mag. 8 object again in Scutum.  However, I say supposedly, as I could see the object, but in relative terms, compared to other target, it seemed quite small.  I observed it using the 25mm EP to get an idea of comparison to other targets.  The 25mm EP had been the one of choice for most of the evening.  I will need to revisit this under better conditions, and hopefully with the SBT to gain a full appreciation of what it has to offer.
So, with more cloud whipping across the sky, and with time pressing on, I decided to call it a night and retire to the sleeping bag for some well earned rest and sleep.  So, that's the third observable night on the bounce.  Would there be a fourth, or would that be pushing my luck?  I do fear that all this good weather now is detracting from weather at Astrocamp.  But, I'm quite happy to take that hit at the moment.  There are some people who might not agree though ;-)

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