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10x50 session 2nd April


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Last night I had a nice binocular session in the backyard.

I had thought about setting up the scope but was feeling just a little tired and possibly coming down with something, so I initially decided to stay warm indoors. After going outside a couple of times with the dog and seeing the sky was looking pretty good, I decided to wrap up warm about 10pm and just use the 10x50s. Maisy the dog didn't like me in my new black balaclava neck warmer with the drawstring pulled to expose only my eyes, but It does an excellent job for about £3.50 off eBay. :ph34r:
Had a bit of a scan around while getting more dark adapted and after a few more minutes outside I realised that the sky was really good.

Here are a few of the things I enjoyed seeing.

Melotte 111 the Coma Berenices cluster is always a lovely sight in binoculars, completely filling the field of view with many bright and faint stars, I love scanning this area.

Globular M53 was easily visble as a small round fuzz near alpha Com and in the same field, I also hoped to see the other globular NGC5053 nearby but it eluded me unless it was there as a faint star. Half a degree north of M53 is a pretty little group of about eight 7th and 8th magnitude stars which really enhance the binocular view providing extra interest.

Nearby was Globular M3 which is slightly bigger and brighter than M53 and stands out well in a much sparser field.

M44 the Beehive cluster is a marvellous binocular object which is framed nicely in the binocular field.

M67 cluster in Cancer was barely visible as a very faint fuzzy patch.

Between an just below Castor and Pollux is the HD60204 asterism which is a sparse little group of eight stars from 6th to 9th mag.

Leo Minor has a little gem of an asterism called the Sailboat or Harrington 6, which includes the star 22 LMi. It wasn't easy to see the upside down boat shape properly in the binoculars and I suppose it helped knowing what I was looking for, otherwise it could easily be missed. This should be far better at low power in a telescope where it will be much brighter and nearly fill the field, and may also appear the right way up. In the same field as this is the brighter group of about 8 stars near 30 LMi covering and area of two thirds of a degree with a nice double at the top about 3 minutes separation, both of 7th mag.

Near Chi Draconis is a bright little asterism called Mini Cassiopiea. This easily shows up as a nice little w shape.

In Canes Venatici is a prominent little asterism called Upgren 1 which really stands out as a small fuzzy patch in a sparse field of view, which is resolved into several stars on close inspection.

During the session I saw maybe a dozen satellites, mostly passing through the binocular field and a couple naked eye.

One of the highlights of the night was seeing a bright yellow/orange fireball coming almost vertically downwards through Ursa Major. It caught my eye at probably magnitude minus 1 and must have been at least magnitude minus 3 at its brightest as I watched it travel through maybe 50 degrees of sky over about 4 seconds. At its brightest it left a trail up to about 5 degree long which remained visible for a couple of seconds.

The binoculars gave a great show, and the best thing about them is that it takes about 10 seconds to pack them away. :)

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Great read Pete. Would love to have seen that fireball. I was out with the 15x70's last night too but jut general scanning rather than structured observing.

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Cheers Darren and Felix.


I didn't do any structured observing or have any plan, I just went out on the spur of the moment to have a scan around. It is just that after hundreds of years learning my way around up there, I remember where a few things are. :D


I actually came in and went to bed with that buzz that we often get after an enjoyable session, thinking of a dozen other things I wished I had thought to have a look for whilst still out there.


As for the fireball, I was very pleased because I just happened to be looking in exactly the right place for once and saw the whole event, rather than just catching it out of the corner of my eye or glimpsing the last little bit of a flash. Very lucky this time.


At some stage I intend to do a well planned and structured scope session looking at galaxies in Coma and Virgo etc. using some detailed Stellarium print outs at the scope. In the past I have seen quite a few of them but never properly sussed out exactly which one is which. Just enjoyed hopping around from one fuzzy patch to another. :)

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