Another 3 for 1 update!
3/10/16I decided on a visual session because it’s quicker and easy to get going with the SBT rather than carry out alignment processes required for astrophotography. It was quite a busy night!
I started off with a favorite for this time of year, the Owl Cluster in Cassiopeia. Often, a degree of imagination is needed to establish why an object, or a target is named as so, but the Owl Cluster simply leaps out at you, and the shape of the owl with its bright eyes staring straight back down the eyepiece at you is very easy to distinguish. Next, staying in Cassiopeia, the Double Cluster NGC 884 and NGC 869.
While on the theme of clusters, I moved the SBT to point toward M71 in Sagitta. It’s a small cluster in comparison with the ones I had observed earlier, but with the help of the 12 inch mirror in the SBT I could see the small tight cluster nestled in among several brighter surrounding stars.
Clusters seemed to be the topic of the night because the next target was an open cluster in Cygnus, M29. This is also known as the Cooling Tower, and though reasonably easy to see and locate, it is one of those targets that I find hard to understand how it got its name.
It was time to move onto a nebula, and another favorite for this time of year. The constellation of Lyra is almost at zenith at this time of year, so I attached my UHC filter to the eyepiece and went off in search of the Ring Nebula, M57. Being straight up above us, it means that we can observe it through the thinnest part of the atmosphere at the moment, giving us the theoretically best views we can get. Chopping and changing between eyepieces, I wanted to have a go at finding the central star to the nebula, but alas it wasn’t to be this time. It’s one of the few targets where the colour of the object comes through visually. Especially the Deep Space Objects. Most of them initially appear as grey smudges, the Ring Nebula is different and always worthy of searching out.
For the final target of the evening, I chose something that I don’t often search for on purpose. Some people love observing individual stars, be they variable stars, double stars, star associated with nebulosity etc. but they are not something I search out specifically. The target was the variable star, Herschel’s Garnet Star on the edge of the constellation of Cepheus. It stands out easily amongst its neighbours and is relatively bright. It’s a beautiful orange colour, and at just under 6000 light years away, comparatively speaking, quite close!
That's about everything up to date. There is a potential for some reasonable weather at the start of the working week, so I might be able to squeeze in another session before we go on holiday. Failing that, the next time I post, it could well be from France! Until then, clear skies!