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Kelling Heath 24.9.2014. Baz's report.


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21.30 – 0400.
Sky Watcher 300P Dob.
Weather started a bit hazy, but cleared after around 23.00

First up was M31, the Andromeda galaxy, this was visible naked eye and this was very clear as it reached the meridian. Using a 38mm Sky Watcher Panaview most of the galaxy could be seen, including M32 and M110. I thought I could see the dust lanes, but I couldn't be sure, so would doubt it.
I don't think I will ever tire of seeing this, it's just one of those objects that really do it for me.  Just the scale of it and the numbers involved, if it's that visible at two and a half million light years and it took the light that long to reach my eye, how big is everything else considering that this is our neighbour.


Still with the 38mm, the Double cluster (NGC869/884) looked fantastic, just masses of stars, some with nice colours, mostly blues and whites, but in increasingly smaller numbers yellow, orange and a few red ones. This too was a naked eye object, and it still surprises me Messier never catalogued this, as it doesn't look dissimilar to M31 naked eye.


Another Summer favourite next, M27 the Dumbbell nebula. This is one of the larger Planetary nebula, and is visible in Binoculars, although it doesn't show any detail. But in the 300P the waisted centre or apple core effect is very prominent. The 14th magnitude central star was not evident. I tried this visually, with an OIII and a UHC to see what was able to get the best view, and for me it was the UHC.
Although the OIII really made it stand out, it did this by losing a lot of light, so the background stars and some of the nebula detail was lost.
The UHC, did the best for me, by dimming the background enough for some filamentary structure to be seen. It was also the brightest of the three options.
Naked eye wasn't too bad, and a good amount of shape could be seen, but the UHC teased out that bit more detail for me.


The Veil nebula is one of those objects that is best seen under a dark sky, and is relatively easy to find as the western component is smack next to 52 Cygni. This stretches for around one degree, with the star roughly near the centre.
The Eastern part is the brighter and larger object, with the very faint Pickering's triangle in between both of these.
Again for me the UHC did the best, and it was only with this that I could see the triangle. The OIII made parts of the nebula stand out, but at a loss to the finer detail, and not so much of it could be seen. Using the 38mm, I could get either of the larger sections in one view, but not the whole lot as it is a really large area of sky to cover.


M13, the Hercules Globular cluster couldn't be missed, and again from a dark site, is visible naked eye at mag 5.7. This is easily picked up in the finder scope, and I started out with the 26mm Panaview. This object takes magnification well, so I swapped for the Hyperion zoom, beginning at 24mm zooming in to 8mm.
The propeller could be clearly seen, this is three connecting dark lanes in the cluster which  
form a propeller shaped object in the cluster.




At around 200X the colours of the stars can be made out, with the hotter blue ones in the core surrounded by yellow stars.


Over then to M92, which is also a superb Globular cluster, and if it wasn't for M13, would clearly get more attention. This is more compact than M13 and is some 4000 light years further away than M13. (M13 – 21,000 LY  & M92 – 25000 LY).
This isn't as easy to find, as it's in a sparse region of sky, but stands out well due to this. It can be seen in binoculars, and is clearly not starlike, but needs some aperture and magnification to be seen at it's best.


While Globular clusters were getting some attention it seemed only fair that M71 got a look in, this is in Sagitta.
This is a Mag 8.4 cluster, and is fairly easy to find with a Telrad and wide field eyepiece. I used the 26mm. It is roughly just below centre of delta and gamma Sagittae, and after a bit of scanning around I found it. This is no where near as good as the last two globular clusters, and there was debate as to whether or not it is a tightly packed open cluster, or a very loose globular. It turns out large scopes now say that it is a loose globular cluster.
It certainly seems to lack the number of stars you might expect, and has no defined core. It is a rather dim object and I have never seen it in either the finder or binoculars, although it may well be visible in larger binoculars.


Time for something different, so with the 26mm still in, a roughly 180 swing found M81 & M82, both looking good in the same field of view at 58X magnification. These are in Ursa Major, which was low, but are easy to find by extending a line from Phad, (bottom left of the square) through Dubhe (top right of  square) for about the same distance. They are visible in the finder and binoculars at Mag 7.9 and 9.3 respectively.


As Auriga was rising well now, M36, 37 & 38 were found. Although the Milky Way runs through this region, Auriga is opposite the centre of the galaxy, so we are looking out of the galaxy and the star field is less dense.
M36 is the poorest of the lot, with only around 40-50 stars, but as these seem individually brighter, and it makes up for it.
M37 is the richest cluster with 150+ stars in it, and for me is the best of the three.
M38 is the second best with around 100 stars in the cluster. All three are well worth a look, and are on the threshold of naked eye visibility, certainly from here the brighter two are visible and all three found in the finder scope.


As Taurus was sneaking out from behind the tree line M1 got some attention. This is 1  degree NW away from Zeta Tauri, the lower horn of the bull.
This is a disappointing grey smudge, and will need a low power eyepiece, as it's not visible in the finder or binoculars. At a higher magnification, there is some faint mottling visible, but using filters has no beneficial effect, it's at it's best without. It appears greyish as it is lit by a 16th mag pulsar which rotates at 30 times a second and is all that remains from the initial explosion in 1054.
This was the first object to be added to The Messier list, he observed it for a good few nights thinking it was a comet, but realised it didn't move, so decided to compile a catalogue of NON cometary objects.
Well done that man, I am still working through them.


I had a look next at the Ring Nebula in Lyra, another favourite of mine, and one of the first deep sky objects I ever managed to locate.
This is found roughly between Beta (Sheliak) and Gamma (Sulafat) Lyrae. This is one of the best known Planetary nebula, and it doesn't disappoint. At 50X it is definitely a small round tilted ring, and at 180 – 200X is clearly a well defined greenish smoke ring. Again I have tried OIII and UHC, and again for me the UHC wins. But this is still good visual object. This is another object that gets a look every time it's about.


By this time Gemini had put in a low appearance, Castor and Pollux were getting there, Castor being a nice easily split double star.
I found M35 next, one of the better open clusters and at mag 5.1 can just be seen with averted vision naked eye. This wasn't the case here though as it was still in the murk, but I have seen it when it's nearer the zenith.
This is a lovely open cluster just above Propus, Eta Gemini, the upper foot of the twins.
There are over 100 stars filling an area not much smaller than the full Moon, and it's difficult to see where the edge of the cluster is as it sits in the background of the Milky Way star field. This is really worth a look at around 30 – 50 X magnification.

Just about half a degree away is the much fainter NGC2158 open cluster, I can make this out in my 26mm, increasing the magnification reveals itself to be a nice cluster in it's own right. This is a similar size group to M35 but six to ten times further away, the estimates of distance vary.

After this I had a look for and found the Eskimo nebula, (NGC2392) another Planetary nebula. This is an easy star hop from Wasat, delta Gemini. Then find 63 Gemini, it sits right next to it and appears as a fuzzy star at low powers.
Increasing the magnification brings out some of the filamentary detail around the centre, but not much, and increasing the magnification over around 180X just ends up losing any real clarity. Still a nice object to find though.


After this the real treat had risen enough to view, M42, the Orion Nebula.
This is a stunning object, and will happily take magnification. The central area with the fish mouth and the Trapezium stars just draw your eye in.
M42 was a bit of a fudge by Messier, as his catalogue neared publication his list of 41 objects (to be fair quite dim objects) didn't seem many, and Lacaille's had 42.

So he picked on the easiest things to add. M42, and 43, although as we know now these are both part of the same object, it didn't matter. Then the Beehive M44, and finally the Pleiades M45. Done! These were all naked eye objects and were clearly just added to bulk up the publication.
This is a favourite imaging target, and rightly so. The longer exposures bring out detail not visible to the eye, but using filters works well, again UHC and a Ha works wonders, showing even more filament structure that surrounds the central area. But this can dim down other area's as well, so it's getting the right filter for the area of the nebula you are looking at.


After around twenty minutes staring at this I got caught by dew, my battery had given out.
Not a bad night I thought, and thanks to folks for keeping me company and sharing the views.



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Nice report Martyn, I did pretty much the same as you.




The highlight for me was M42, using the 13mm Ethos at 92x mag, it was the best i had ever seen it, never seen so much detail before in there and that was without any filters.

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Excellent report.

We were sure we could see the double cluster naked eye at our darksite last time out.

M31 was easily seen.

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What a report Martyn your fingers must ache now.


Some fantastic autumn objects there, the ultimate astronomers viewing guide.


Well done.

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You obviously had a wonderful observing session Martyn.


Interesting results with the filters.


That was a very enjoyable read :thumbsup: .

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Martyn and Daz did you add any more messiers to your totals?


I added another 4, unfortunately, the majority of what I need to finish the list were between -20 and 11 degrees below / above the horizon, which at Kelling was in the trees.


M4, 6, 7, 19, 20, 49, 54 etc etc



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Thanks for the comments folks.

Iam not really sure where my Messier list is at, I have two notebooks which I use to scribble in with a pencil, as biro's don't work in dewy conditions. I might have to go through them and total them up. I can't keep up with Daz, you have to duck when he's hunting or you could get a scope in the side of your head. :D

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