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Sawley. 14.1.2012


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The weather forecast predicted cloud building for around nine, so we got down there at 18.30. It was already getting cold and at freezing. The sky wasn't that clear with a haze all around the horizon.

The nearby power station has work going on and has one of the largest, brightest lights, mankind makes.

This was a real problem, to the point where it cast shadows across the field, and totally ruined any night vision.

But with since the stars were out we made the best of it.

First was M1, the Crab Nebula, just as a test of how the sky was, and it was faint, but clearly defined.

M35 was the next object, and nice and clean, however I was unable to see NGC 2158 , another cluster but around ten times as far away, next to it, due to sky glow.

M37 got a request so that was found, this is one of Wise woman's favourites as it has a good number of red stars within it.

The Owl cluster, ( It was the Owl cluster before E.T. was even a concept!) NGC 457 didn't miss out, as this was nearly overhead, and didn't disappoint.

The next one M78, is a fainter reflection nebula just above Alnitak in Orion. This is classified as Mag 8.3, but this is the surface brightness for the entire object. It was easier to find by looking for the two m10 stars within it, and are what illuminate it. As Ibbo pointed out, if there wasn't M42, this would be more famous.

It would have been rude not to include Jupiter, and although this got various views throughout the night, Ibbo's filters came out and a blue one gave the best view, clearly bringing out the Great Red Spot, which without a filter isn't red, and difficult to make out. The Great Salmon Pink Spot doesn't have the same ring to it. One of the moons, Europa, had been in front of the planet, popping back out into view around half nine.

The Milky Way was visible high up and at it's best faintly visible between Cassiopeia and Perseus.

We then waited for Mars to put in an appearance, which slowly emerged from the steam of the cooling towers. As it wasn't high, but it was still nice to see it's brilliant red disc.

By this time it was getting on for midnight, and the ice was forming nicely on the scopes and eyepiece boxes, an air temp of -5 being recorded. Time to pack up and head back, warm up, and reflect on what wasn't a bad night, and would have been a lot better without the additional lighting.

Also in attendance were Ibbo, Craig, Doc, Geezanova, Wise Woman, and a visit from Red Dwarf before his night shift.

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Nice report Martyn, shame about the lights from the power station, still gutted I couldn't make it but there will be other times.

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Unfortunately I had to miss this one, was away for the weekend on family stuff. Sounds like you guys really made the best of such conditions as you had, well done all!

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