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Baz's (best) Kelling Observation. 6.10.13


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After a very peasant day, 21 degrees, the evening started with a few fair weather clouds, which rapidly dispersed with the sun going down.


12" Skywatcher Dob, 26mm Panaview, 17mm Orion and my new (S/H courtesy of Daz, cheers mate!) Hyperion 8 - 24mm clickstop zoom.


Now it's always been part of star party folklore that the Sunday night following a star party is always a belter, and I didn't want to say I told you so.

I didn't, but Phil did! And it turns out to be really unfortunate for those who departed that it was the best night of the whole week


I kicked off with having a look for M51, the whirlpool galaxy in Canes Venatici, as Alkaid, the star I star hop from in Ursa Major was reasonably high, but getting lower. Even in the darkening twilight this stood out well, with both parts of the galaxy and the bridge connecting the two components being easily visible in the zoom eyepiece.

Messier found this in 1773, but Pierre Mechain found the smaller NGC 5195 associate in 1781, this must have been an eye opener for him that night! Even with a bright-ish sky behind it, there is detail in the spiral structure of the main galaxy. 

I compared the zoom at 24mm, and my 26mm 2" panaview, and both were equally as bright, but a far bigger field visible with the 26mm.


I have seen M11 the Wild Duck cluster in Scutum before, but still felt it needed a look at. This was the best I have seen it, and it is probably the best open cluster there is. It has a remarkable number of stars in it, around three thousand. The best way of finding this is to star hop from Lambda Aquila.


This was found in 1681 by Gottfried Kirsch, but noted by Messier in 1764. I would assume that it had been found well before this, as it's a naked eye object, and easy in binoculars, even from my back garden.

Iam not sure how the Wild Duck bit came about, but I could see a faint triangle of stars on the north western edge of the cluster, but all in all a gorgeous cluster.


I then wandered over to another under used object, M92, a stunning globular cluster only beaten in the Northern skies by M13. This is a bright cluster on the verge of what the eye can pick out, but mine don't, it's easy in the finder though. I would say this is a more compact cluster than M13, and is well worth time spent on it. It's easy to find, being at the point of a triangle formed from the top two stars of the keystone asterism, stick the finder in that area, and with a bit of looking round, a small misty patch is apparent.


A bit of high murk floated across, so with a brew and binoculars in hand, the wife's new Meade 10x50's I had a look for the coat hanger cluster, CR399, or Brocchi's cluster in Vulpecula. This was visible naked eye just on the edge of the western part of the Cygnus rift where it begins to brighten again. The best way to find it is to start at Altair, and move in a straight line towards Vega, where it will pop out at you about one third the way along. 

This is too big to get in most scopes, but the bino's do it justice, there are some nice colours in this cluster particularly two orange/red stars in the hook.


After this another binocular object had some attention, Kemble's cascade in Camelopardalis. This is a lovely  asterism was noted by Farther Lucian Kemble who had swept up from NGC 1502, which is a small open cluster of around forty or so stars. The main cascade is a meandering line of around fifteen to twenty stars spanning a good five full Moon widths, which end in the cluster. well worth a look even with small binoculars. 


I then had a bash at NGC 6229, a small globular cluster in Hercules. This is a small cluster, at mag 9.4, but easy to verify as it forms a triangle with two mag 8 stars to it's west. Not spectacular, but worth finding.


Neptune was on the cards next as other members were after it. This took some finding, as again even with a bit of magnification is easy to miss, but once found, the blue disc is definitely different from the nearby stars. This is a deeper turquoise blue than the greener hue of Uranus, and only about half as big, which is understandable as it's twice the distance away at around 2,700 million miles.


I have never found the Blinking Planetary Nebula in Cygnus, so I thought it long overdue. This is fairly easy to locate, being a short hop from Theta Cygnus. It's a featureless disc, but quite large at 20" of arc. Apparently the central star is visible in this one, but I couldn't see it, and the nebula didn't blink either.

Enthused by this I got carried away and had a look for the Crescent Nebula, but that wasn't happening, I suspect this is going to need some rare and wonderfully expensive filter to see this one, so Iam leaving this one to the dark sider's to play with. 


Not to be daunted I went in search of the Saturn Nebula, an object not yet seen.  This is in Aquarius, and discovered by William Herschel in 1782. It sit's just to the west of Nu Aquarius.  It's fairly bright at mag  8, and does appear to be a out of focus Saturn, with the "rings" or ansae  easily detectable at the ten and four o'clock positions. Not much more detail could be wrung out of this, but another one I'll return to.


While in the neighbourhood I went and had another look at Uranus, and was surprised it still looked exactly the same. Still good to see mind you.


M45, the Pleiades, had risen well above the tree line by now, so I spent a bit of time on this, but didn't manage any of the nebulosity around Merope.


Then over to M1, the Crab Nebula, a famous super nova remnant. Just a big, but relatively faint grey smudge visually, but with some faint mottling going off towards the edges.


Then down to M37, 36 and 38, the open clusters in Auriga, all nice, but for me M36 seems the sparsest one of the lot.


Off then across to M35 in Gemini, which is lovely, containing around a few hundred stars about the size of a full Moon just off the upper foot of Gemini. Visible naked eye, it's easy to locate in a finder. Along side it is the fainter NGC 2158 cluster, at mag 8.6, which is roughly the same as M35, but six times further away. Both look well in the same field of view.


Over to M108 for a change now, a galaxy just below Merak in Ursa Major, having not seen this before it is a nice one to find. It's fairly faint, but after a while looking at it, some of the spiral arm in the form of mottling, and some brighter patch's running down the centre line start to come out with averted vision. No obvious core is visible.


The Star, or rather Planet of the night then rose above the tree's. Jupiter, very bright and utterly unmissable. I had to wait until it got to a decent height, as it was a bit Scooby Doo to begin with (wibbly wobbly effect). But after it settled down, the two major cloud bands were there. At 01.44 Io emerged from the Eastern limb, a small dot just beginning to break away from the edge of the Planet, followed at 01.58 by Ganymede and Callisto emerging from the western limb. Interestingly the mobile phone apps that others had, showed the moons well clear of the Planet, where in fact they had only just come from behind, or in front of it. Both also showed them in the same places relative to the Planet, so the speculation is that they get their data from the same source. I didn't see the Great Red Spot.


Finally then to M42 and M43 in Orion, I spent a while on these ,and Phil J loaned me a Hb filter. Visually the "wings" of the nebula were outstanding and wrapping round in an arc either side of the main body, the Trapezium stood out, as did the fish's mouth.

With the Hb filter on, all but one of the Trapezium stars disappeared,  but the nebula looked very different, with more knots and tendrils visible, just fantastic. I tried my UHC filter, it did help a bit, but again showed a different side of the object.I also had a good look at M43, De Mairans nebula and NGC 1973/5/7,  the Running Man nebula.


I packed the scope away at 03.10, and had a chat with Percy from Slough, who was taking very wide field shots on a 10mm fisheye lens, until 03.45. I was absolutely knackered, but really happy with a superb night to remember.

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What a cracking read, the saturn nebula is a remarkable object, it really does appear saturn shape, and is actually quite hard to find so you done really well there Martyn.


It's a shame the best night was after many had departed but then thats the nature of the beast I suppose.

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Was a pleasure to share some of those objects with you Martyn ;-). Sorry those that had to go Sunday, you missed a treat. My first Kelling but def not the last.

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Another good report Martyn, we were also looking at the Saturn Nebula this weekend. The crescent should be visible easily with your scope. O111 filter in a low mag eyepiece worked for me.

I really like the way that not only have you explained which objects you have seen, but you have again also given a brief description of the object.

Glad you had a great weekend at Kelling.

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Fantastic read Martyn :) I saw the blinking nebula for the first time this year too when I use the sky tour function on my mount. It only blinks if you switch between averted and direct vision-I found that out purely by accident :)

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Nice one Martyn, m42 was indeed a grand sight in visual and hb light through your scope. That night was a superb end to the event plus you got to play with your new kit as well

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I have to be honest and say I was a bit jaded over the summer months, but this has got me right back in the saddle.


I subscribe to the One Minute Astronomer, and this got my interest. Your M33 image has it nicely.




This turned out to be not only a holiday, but what I needed to be interested again. The kit's all working well, and Iam looking forward to the darker nights.

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"This turned out to be not only a holiday, but what I needed to be interested again."


I think a lot of us felt a bit the same - Kelling's really perked me and Di up too - hence why I'm rationalising all my equipment. And we're just thrilled beyond common sense to get some dso subs - thought we'd never get round to it lol.


Incidentally the blinking neb is an illusion of the eyes - if you look too hard for it, or use all the usual techniques like averted vision, then it's easy to miss. Just look at the area generally with eyes relaxed, and you suddenly see it blinking - about once every 1.5 secs.

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"This turned out to be not only a holiday, but what I needed to be interested again."



I must admit I often go through this as well.


And a weekend like EMS2 really perks me up until the novelty wears off again. I hope the winter brings some good nights of clear skies.

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