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Kelling 2015

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Well, yet again we weren't disappointed at Kelling, we had four nights with clear skies. True some were better than others, but all were usable. It may seem like I didn't get much done, but there was wandering about and seeing what others were doing 

For all observations, my 12" Dob was used.




I just sat and watched the light fade and the stars appear, there was some high cloud floating over now and again, but it wasn't too obtrusive.

I spent most of the night just running through some of the old favourites, just to see how they looked under dark skies.

First off was M57, the Ring Nebula. I look at this every time I get a chance, it just amazes me.

Also designated NGC 6720, this is the arch-typical planetary nebula and probably the easiest one to find in a scope. It's situated not quite mid line between Sulafat (Gamma Lyrae) and Sheliak (Beta Lyrae), which are the bottom two stars of the Lyra.

It is probably easiest to locate using a Telrad and a Telrad chart, which put's you right in the area.




The first view is in a low mag eyepiece, to locate the object, this is clearly a non stellar object and at around fifty times is a bright little disc. Increasing the magnification starts to show a clear hole in the middle, which isn't as dark as the surrounding area, but shows an obvious doughnut shape with a slight elongation one way. To my eyes it is a greyish green in colour, I found that around 150X is around the best view for me, it gets dimmer with any more and anyway I cannot see the central star which is apparently Magnitude 13.

Definitely one to have a look at.


Then over to the Great Hercules cluster, M13. (NGC 6205).

If M57 is the arch-typical planetary, then this is the candidate for arch-typical globular cluster. Probably the largest and easiest of them to find as well. Under dark skies this is a naked eye object and is easily visible in 10X50 binoculars and finder scopes. It is situated between Eta and Zeta Herculis, around a third of the way down from Eta Herculis. It shows as a small fuzzy blob in the finder scope, and even with low magnification is clearly a globular cluster. Increasing this, the stars become more easily resolved, quite clearly showing the tight core surrounded by stars. Increasing this to around 220X really shows it at it's best. The stars in the core are a white-blue, while the outer members are yellow. The "propeller" is visible at this magnification, three thin dark lanes that divide the cluster unequally. 


The Dumbell nebula M27 (NGC 6853) was the next target.

This is harder to find, it is in Vulpecula, but sits above Eta Sagitta.




This is also a famous planetary nebula and is much bigger, but fainter than M57. It can be seen in 10X50 bino's and finder scopes, but is also easy to miss.

This is also known as the apple core nebula and is much more that shape than a dumbell. At around 100X this is a large and clear object, apparently it has the largest known white dwarf star at it's core, but at Mag 15, there's no way I'll see it.

I have tried an OIII filter and this works, but for me the UHC filter brings it out the best. It doesn't darken it as much and more detail of the core and filament structure is visible. Again this has a greyish green hue to it.


The Double Cluster in Perseus (NGC 869 & 884) got the next viewing. Amazingly Messier never included this and considering the Pleiades were included at M45, you would have thought that these clusters would be catalouged. Patrick Moore made amends and designated the Caldwell 14.

These are easy to find, mid way between Perseus and Cassiopeia, and a naked eye object in dark skies. These are a nice sight in binoculars but only really any good in a scope with a low magnification. I used the 38mm Panaview which puts both clusters in the field of view. A really rich view of hundreds of stars, described by PhilJ as "Diamonds sprinkled on black velvet". 


By this time an object I have not seen before rose low above the trees on the southern horizon. The Helix Nebula (NGC7293) in Aquarius.

This is reputed to be the closest planetary nebula to us at around 600 light years and it is big, 16' across, about half the diameter of the full moon. The problem with that is it has a low surface brightness, I could just about see a smudge in the finder scope, but had to use the 38mm Panaview to get a good look at it. Again I found the UHC filter best for me in bringing out the best detail from it. I could see vague structure, but nothing remarkable. I suspect if this was higher in the sky it would be a more interesting sight, but low down in the murk it is really a big smudge. It is still nice to have seen it though.


While the 38mm was in I had a squint at M31, 32 and 110, the Andromeda Galaxy. It was a clear naked eye object and through the eyepiece the dust lane was evident. 

Phil had found Neptune, so we went over and had a look, a clear greenish blue disc. 

Stephen Green had M81 and M82 in his new 8" Celesron SCT. M82 was a cracking sight, with the darker central regions clearly visible.


I rounded up the night with a look at NGC 457, the Owl cluster in Cassiopeia. This is fairly easy to locate and is visible in the 10X50 finder. 

The 26mm Panaview fits it nicely and shows a definite owl with wings outstretched shape. Loads of stars to see, with the two brighter ones making up the eyes.





I also waited for the sky to darken and had a flit round M57, M13 and M27 until it got properly dark.

I then had a look for a faint galaxy just next to M13, NGC 6207. I found this Mag 11.6 - 12.1 (reports vary) galaxy and it sits around one degree north of M13, to the east of two fairly bright background stars. It is tilted away from us so there is nothing much to see, a star from our own Milky Way sits in front of it towards the centre. At a distance of around 30 million light years away it is still nice to find it.


I then had a good look at NGC 7662, the Blue Snowball in Andromeda. This is fairly easy to find by star hopping and you will need a star atlas to nail it. It shows as a distinct disc at around 50X , but becomes a vague doughnut at around 220X with a distinct pale blue colour to it. The UHC showed a faint halo around the disc of the nebula. Well worth finding and spending time on.


Next was M76, (NGC 650) the Little Dumbell in Perseus. 

This is a bit trickier to find and probably one of the hardest Messier's to locate. It is faint at mag 12.2, so has a low surface brightness due to it's size. It's just in Perseus and on the border of Perseus and Andromeda. At around 100X it shows as a rectangular object with brighter nodes at either end. At 180X and with the UHC, it shows a faint halo which makes it a bit more like it's M27 counterpart. There are theories that this would look like the Ring Nebula, but we are seeing it sideways on.


M34 (NGC1039) in Perseus followed. A large open cluster which is easily shown through 10X50 bino's and best through a wide low power eyepiece. It's not to difficult to find, lying just above the half way distance between Algol in Perseus and Almach in Andromeda. It covers quite a large area, something like the size of the full moon, at low power around thirty stars are visible. Crank up the magnification to around 100X and more stars pop out, but you have to scan round to get the full benefit of the cluster.


To round off the night I had a look for the Stock 2 cluster in Cassiopeia, inspired by Pete Sullivan. This is a huge area of sky, around four full moons, so binoculars were the only option. It is also called the Muscleman cluster, I can see why it is called this, after someone in a bodybuilding pose flexing their arms. But it takes some imagination to see this, there are around twenty or so brighter stars and hundreds in a rich area of the sky to mooch around in. Whack in 50X and just have a scan round, there are numerous stars, some really rich orange and red ones interspersed in white, blue and yellow ones.


Cloud rudely ended the night at around 01.00.





I began the night with a look at M11, the Wild Duck cluster in Scutum. It is easier to locate with binoculars to get an idea of where to point the scope, as this is a really rich area of the sky and it lies within the Scutum star cloud. This is just an amazing area of the sky, the star cloud is easily visible and is best viewed as it gets dark, as it sets pretty quickly. The Wild Duck cluster will readily take magnification and it's estimated there are around 3000 stars associated with this group. Magnitude varies from 5.8 to 6.3, it's apparently a naked eye object, but not with my eyes unfortunately. This also apparently looks like a flock of, well, wild ducks. I have no idea how they saw this, probably copious amounts of hallucinogenics might help. Don't forget Opium and Laudanum  were available back in the day.

That does detract from a stunning cluster, have a go with binoculars and higher magnifications in a scope, it just stands right out with a background of very faint, talcum powder like stars. This is definitely a dark sky favourite.


M26 (NGC 6694) Had some attention next. This is a faint and sparse open cluster in Scutum, the brightest star in the group is around 11.9, but it has a visual magnitude of magnitude 8. You won't find it in a finder though, a pair of 80mm binoculars is needed at a minimum and I only found it at 100X. There is a loose group of around thirty stars, none remarkable, with a "hole" in the middle of the group, reported to be a dust cloud obscuring the view. Well worth a look and a pat on the back for finding it.


My next object is one I haven't yet seen despite it's famous and well known name, the "Pillars of Creation", M16 (NGC 6611). The Eagle Nebula.

I found what appeared to be a loose open cluster, with no hint of the nebula it's renowned for. It's a bit tricky to find, and either go east from Scutum, or North from the top stars of Sagittarius. There are four stars in a rough line within the cluster that give it away.

The UHC filter gave the best view and really fetched out the nebula with good structure visible. The Eagle shape was clearly shown. I couldn't make out the pillars though, to be fair it wasn't properly dark yet.


After a brew it was back to the rarer objects. NGC 7457 in Pegasus. This is a faint mag 11.2 galaxy, but stands out well with a brighter core, no discernible structure.

Then over to NGC 7331 also Caldwell 30. This is a brighter magnitude 10.4 galaxy on the outer edges of Pegasus. To find it, locate Matar, Eta Pegasi, and move northwards through a field of stars with NGC 7331 above these.

It is a bright galaxy for it's size and distance of about 40 million light years away. There is a reasonable bright core with a fairly good halo around it, again no structure was apparent.


Rusty Strings (John) said he has not seen Kemble's cascade, in Camelopardalis, so we went looking for that. This is another large object and probably easier to find going west from Cassiopeia, as there are no real stand out stars in Camelopardalis. It is best seen in binoculars, a chain of around twenty or so stars ends in the open cluster NGC 1502. This is worth a look through the scope, a pretty little group, which serves as the pool for the cascade. This is worth scanning as well, as there are some lovely star colours to be seen including a red one, some orange and deep yellow ones.


Next  NGC 6934 got some attention. This is a mag 8.9 globular cluster in Delphinus, it is fairly easy to locate dropping down from the tail of the dolphin, and just visible through the finder. There is an unresolved core, with a few stars which were visible in the halo surrounding it.


Then over to NGC 7006 or Caldwell 42.This is a faint globular cluster at around 135,000 light years away on the other side of our galaxy, pretty dim and nothing resolved. Nice to see something so far away that is connected with our own Milky Way.


Off then to M56, a Mag 8.5 globular cluster in Lyra, it's not too difficult to locate and just about visible in the finder, but only just.

Nothing remarkable about this either to be honest, I could resolve a few stars in the halo and possibly one or two in the core. Worth finding though.


Someone shouted they wanted a look at Uranus, cue usual blokey jokes! Fairly easily found and displaying a nice blue colour.


I finished the Night with Caldwell 28 (NGC 752) in Andromeda. A large loose and scattered cluster to the south east of Almach.  It comprises of around fifty or so stars, none brighter than mag 9, but is alleged to be visible to the keen sighted naked eye under good conditions. Needless to say that wasn't happening here!


And that concludes Kelling's viewings.

I did see other objects through other folks scopes, but as I didn't find them, they don't count. I didn't have the scope out for the fourth night as my back was complaining a bit and I didn't want to push it for packing the pitch up the next day.


Many thanks to everyone for making it an enjoyable and educational experience. See you next year!
















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Well, yet again we weren't disappointed at Kelling, we had four nights with clear skies. True some were better than others, but all were usable. It may seem like I didn't get much done, but there was

Thanks Martyn, great report and considering the weather both before and after Kelling we were well blessed!!   Ron

Good report Baz and thanks again for the help locating that cascade.

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