Friday, September 30, 2011

Right Back to Square Two

My first night out for 6 months, same location (sw Sheffield) & same kit. I'd spent a couple of evenings prior doing some naked eye astronomy and I'm glad I did. I thought I'd start off on something easy like Jupiter and although the "seeing" wasn't too good I saw the two equatorial cloud bands and the four moons at both 50x and 150x.

As the night was reasonably clear, there were some wispy clouds about, I thought I'd go off-piste. Given the recent news regarding the supernova I thought I'd have a stab at the pin wheel galaxy and what do you know; I found it! It was a blur but I could just about make out the "arms".
So, on a roll, I thought I'd have a go at my old nemesis, Andromeda. After about 15 minutes I found the all too familiar blur. Of all the sights I've seen I would love to see it in more detail. At both 50x and 150x I can only make out a faint glow in the middle of a smudge.

The title of the post relates to the fact that spending some time looking at the stars, with or without a telescope, means your locational skills get better and constellations become easier to recognise.

A successful night for me but I can see a future blog regarding scope maintenance as my focusing wheels were a little sluggish. Saying that tonight has made me want to save my pennies for a Dobsonian or standard reflector.Watch this space.Al

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First night at a new site

I have recently moved house with bigger gardens and luckily has dark skies. Last night was not only my first foray outdoors with the scope here, but also the first since I fitted my RA motor drive (to counteract the Earth's rotation once the scope is polar aligned).
Well, what a treat I had - some of the things I saw I've been wanting to see since I was 10 years old! The Milky Way was clearly visible - much more than I have previously seen.
All of the objects were viewed with my 4" mak with 25mm eyepiece, which gives me 52x. I really like this eyepiece for the wide field it gives me even with the 1300mm focal length of the scope.
* Andromeda Galaxy (M31)
* Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra. This is a Planetary Nebula
* Alcor and Mizar in the Big Dipper and also Mizar's double
* The double cluster in Perseus - two open clusters, NGC869 and NGC884. NGC869 has a lovely haze of light behind the stars. NGC884 contains supergiants, some of which are 50,000 times brighter than our Sun!

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable night.


Friday, September 16, 2011

A blast from the past...

One more from the archives.
This is Comet 17P Holmes from 16th November 2007 at 22:20GMT.
Taken with camera only - ISO1600 6.5sec at f3.2 (hybrid DSLR Fuji FinePix5600 at 300mm).


What can I see with my (your) equipment?

I have just come across THIS superb on-line app via Stargazers Lounge.
It shows you the apparent Field Of View (what you expect to see) for a range of scopes, eyepieces and objects.


Supernova !?

In light of the Supernova in M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy) I thought it time to post something. Both Al and I are gearing up towards starting more regular viewings as the nights close in and get a little crisper.
I had all good intention of seeing the Supernova but as luck (or lack of!) would have it, cloudy skies and bad timing prevented this. Is there still time? ...... maybe, but it will be getting much dimmer now - I mean it's only got to travel a mere 27 million light years!! - that's approx. 6 mega parsecs!, CRIKEY. Here is M101: