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2009-02-07


Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2009-02-07 21:00 UT
To: 2009-02-07 23:34 UT
Equipment: Canon EOS 400D
Naked Eye
Notes:

Joined John at Woodland Waters for an observing session. Forecast suggested the night could go either so decided to take a chance. I decided not to bother taking a 'scope, assuming that cloud would be turning up. Instead I packed binoculars and my Canon EOS 400D.

This was never going to be a real observing session, more a case of standing in a field, chatting, and looking at stuff when it was available. I left home with clear skies and reached the site to find lots of scattered cloud so packing light turned out to be a good plan.

Random Moon shots

From: 2009-02-07 21:15 UT
To: 2009-02-07 21:30 UT

While standing around and chatting, during the gaps in the cloud, I took a number of hand-held shots of the Moon with my EOS 400D and the its 200mm Tamron lens. Nothing fancy but they turned out okay. Here's an example:

Moon

Clouded Out

From: 2009-02-07 21:41 UT
To: 2009-02-07 22:24 UT

The cloud got worse and by about 21:41 UT we were totally clouded out. This lasted until around 22:24 UT when it started to break up again.

Saturn

From: 2009-02-07 22:25 UT
To: 2009-02-07 22:30 UT

By 22:25 UT some reasonable gaps had started to appear in the cloud and John turned his 'scope on Saturn. I had a look and was immediately struck by how much the rings at closed up since the last view I had almost exactly a year ago. There was a hint of mottling on the disc of the planet but it was difficult to make out much in the way of detail due to cloud coming and going.

Titan was easily visible.

Meteor

Time: 2009-02-07 22:33 UT

While waiting for Saturn to appear from behind the clouds again I was looking in the general direction of Leo and saw a short but bright meteor head roughly west to east just below the constellation.

More Saturn

From: 2009-02-07 22:36 UT
To: 2009-02-07 22:50 UT

Cloud cleared again so back to Saturn.

John noticed what he thought was another moon or perhaps a background star near Titan. I had a look and confirmed that there was a pretty faint object in the position he'd mentioned. I made a simple sketch in my notebook with a view to checking what it was when I got home.

Checking later it would appear that the object we saw was Rhea.

John next spotted another, even fainter, object. This time around half way between Titan and Saturn's rings. Again I looked and managed to confirm the object in the position he'd been looking in. Again, I made a note on the simple sketch in my notebook so I could check what it was later.

Checking later it would appear that we'd seen either Dione or Enceladus. Starry Night suggests that Dione would have been the brighter of the two so I'm assuming that that's what we saw.

The other thing I noticed while observing Saturn, and John confirmed it, was that one side of the rings (the "right" side as seen via the view at that time in John's refractor, the opposite side to the side where Titan was) looked like they were detached from the planet's disk whereas the other side looked like they were attached. Despite the rings being very closed up now it seems that the planet's shadow on the rings was still very obvious.

Later checking confirms that this is where the shadow should have been.

Some photography

From: 2009-02-07 23:00 UT
To: 2009-02-07 23:30 UT

Did a bit of general skyscape/landscape photography, taking in Orion (including picking out M42).

End of Session

Time: 2009-02-07 23:34 UT

Even though the sky had cleared by now the Moon was whiting out the sky and, given that we'd seen most of what was worth seeing tonight, we decided to call and end to the session and pack up.


2008-11-22


Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2008-11-22 20:20 UT
To: 2008-11-22 23:50 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Lomo Lubitel 166B
Notes:

Joined John at Woodland Waters for an observing session. Very crisp, cold and clear night, started with some cloud around but the forecast was for it to clear.

I brought my Antares 905.

Waiting for cloud to clear

From: 2008-11-22 20:20 UT
To: 2008-11-22 21:06 UT

When we first arrived at Woodland Waters the sky was partly covered with thin cloud. In the clear patches it was obvious that it was a good night because, even as soon as I'd turned up, and with no dark adaption having happened, I could clearly see the Milky Way.

I set the Antares 905 up and left it to cool down while we waited for the sky to clear. It took around 45 minutes but, eventually, it turned into a really nice evening.

Started a star trail of Auriga

Time: 2008-11-22 21:13 UT

Once the sky had cleared nicely I set the Lomo Lubitel 166B up on a tripod and pointed it in the general direction of Auriga. It was loaded with Fuji Provia 100F (120 roll film), the aperture was set to f8.

NGC 1528

From: 2008-11-22 21:15 UT
To: 2008-11-22 21:40 UT

While I was setting up the Lubitel John had, while looking for something else, stumbled on what appeared to be an open cluster in Perseus. Using the 32mm eyepiece located it with my 905. Checking the position on a chart we worked out that it was NGC 1528.

The view was very nice. A small and tight collection of stars that stood out really well against the background. Next I switched to the 6mm eyepiece but the view was nowhere near as impressive, I suspect I was pushing the 905 past its limit in this case. Next I switched over to the 15mm eyepiece and the view was much better. The overall impression I got was that the shape of the cluster was something like a very wide arrow head.

Finished the star trail of Auriga

Time: 2008-11-22 21:45 UT

Stopped the star trail I'd started earlier. Here's the resulting image:

Auriga Star Trail

Started a star trail of Gemini

Time: 2008-11-22 21:49 UT

Started a new star trail with the Lomo Lubitel 166B, this time trying to capture Gemini rising above some trees. Fuji Provia 100F with an aperture of f8.

Very bright meteor

Time: 2008-11-22 21:59 UT

John saw a very bright meteor head roughly from the general direction of Ursa Major, head between Cygnus and the zenith, and head towards the horizon. Sadly I wasn't looking at the sky at the time. However, I did happen to be looking towards the ground and at exactly the same moment he shouted it out I saw a very brief flash on the ground.

Looking for the Eskimo Nebula

From: 2008-11-22 22:10 UT
To: 2008-11-22 22:30 UT

Decided to see if we could locate NGC 2392, also known as the Eskimo Nebula. I started with the 15mm eyepiece in the 905.

Got the 'scope pointing in the right place and, pretty soon, was wondering if I'd found it. Towards the end of a curved line of stars I could see a faint star that, with averted vision, appeared to be a little bit fuzzy. No other star in the area gave this impression.

I spent a little more time looking around the general area and couldn't find a better candidate. Going back to the area mentioned above I could still see the "fuzzy with averted vision" effect. However, I just couldn't be sure. Using higher power didn't help at all.

Checking later with a copy of Starry Night I can see that I didn't manage to locate the Eskimo Nebula. The "curved line" of stars that I'd been looking around comprised of TYC1372-1262-1, TYC1372-1306-1, HIP36307, 63 Geminorum and HIP36152.

Finished the star trail of Gemini

Time: 2008-11-22 22:35 UT

Stopped the star trail I'd started earlier. Here is the resulting image:

Gemini Star Trail

Started a star trail of Orion

Time: 2008-11-22 22:36 UT

Started a new star trail with the Lomo Lubitel 166B, this time trying to capture Orion. Fuji Provia 100F with an aperture of f8.

The Eskimo Nebula

From: 2008-11-22 22:40 UT
To: 2008-11-22 22:55 UT

While I'd been sorting out the previous star trail John had also been looking for the NGC 2392. He had found an object that, while small and star-like, also looked a little fuzzy even with direct vision. This object was, however, in a slightly different location to where I'd been looking (pretty much the same position overall, just off a little).

There was no question that what he'd found looked like a small planetary nebula so I made a very rough sketch of the nearby stars and the location of the object so I could check at home.

Checking later with a copy of Starry Night I can see that, without a doubt, we'd been looking at NGC 2392.

M42

From: 2008-11-22 23:00 UT
To: 2008-11-22 23:15 UT

Although I've observed it many times before I couldn't resist having another look at M42. First using the 6mm eyepiece in the 905 I was surprised at how much detail was visible. The dark lanes and "knotty" appearance in parts really stood out well. The trapezium could also be seen very clearly (probably the most clear view I've ever had of it). The slightly blue/green colour of the nebula was also very obvious.

Despite the fact that I wasn't using the better of my two 'scopes this was probably the best view yet that I've had of M42 and this probably says a lot about how good the air was.

Finished the star trail of Orion

Time: 2008-11-22 23:17 UT

Stopped the star trail I'd started earlier. Here is the resulting image:

Orion Star Trail

Increasing cloud and the end of the session

From: 2008-11-22 23:34 UT
To: 2008-11-22 23:50 UT

For some time we'd noticed cloud increasing from the west. By 23:34 UT it had started to cover a fair bit of the western sky and, by 23:50 UT it had reached the zenith. Given that it was obviously going to obscure the whole sky pretty soon we decided to call an end to the session and pack up.


2007-03-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-03 13:00 UT
To: 2007-03-03 13:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 11.1C ...
Dew Point: 5.8C ...
Humidity: 71% ...
Wind Speed: 3.3mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1003.9hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly clear day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-03-03 13:00 UT
To: 2007-03-03 13:05 UT

Active area 944 was still visible and looked more or less the same as it did yesterday.

Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-03 20:10 UT
To: 2007-03-04 01:12 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Antares 905
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Notes:

Very clear and pretty cold night. Arranged to meet up with John Turner at Woodland Waters to observe the total lunar eclipse. I took along my Antares 905 and a pair of 10x50 binoculars and John brought his Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M mounted on an EQ5 mount.

Saturn

From: 2007-03-03 20:10 UT
To: 2007-03-03 20:50 UT

After setting up I started out with a brief look at Saturn (given that the umbral phase of the eclipse wouldn't be starting for a short while). The first thing I noticed was that seeing seemed to be very steady. The view of Saturn in the 905 with the 6mm eyepiece was nice and sharp.

The shadow of the rings on the planet seemed obvious and I kept getting a good hint of the Cassini Division. Titan was easily visible and, off to the other side of Saturn, closer than Titan, there appeared to be another moon visible. Checking with Starry Night I suspect it was Rhea.

Total Lunar Eclipse

From: 2007-03-03 21:00 UT
To: 2007-03-04 01:12 UT

Having observed Saturn for a while I turned to observing the lunar eclipse.

At 21:04 UT I had the impression that there was less visible contrast between the highland and lowland regions of the Moon. This was especially noticeable on the side of the Moon that was heading towards the Earth's umbra. By 21:24 UT this loss of contrast had become much more noticeable and there was obvious darkening of the part of the lunar surface that was deepest in the Earth's penumbra.

At 21:30 UT the umbral phase started and, very quickly, it was obvious where the umbra was. To the naked eye it looked like part of the Moon had gone missing. Via the 905 detail was still visible in the umbra, it looked like a very dark gray shadow.

I noticed that Tycho had been fully consumed by the shadow at around 21:48 UT. I noted at this point that the umbra seemed very dark (much darker than I remember it looking during last year's partial eclipse), dark gray to almost back looking in places. I also noted at this point that the sky was obviously getting darker and that my shadow was starting to fade.

Around this time I started to take a few afocal images, via the 905, with my mobile phone. Few turned out that well but the following is an example of one of the better ones:

Total Lunar Eclipse

By 22:05 UT we were about way towards totality and I was starting to notice a slight red/brown hint to the umbra. In the 905 the umbra showed no colour, still just a dark gray.

At 22:16 UT, via the 905 and with the 10mm eyepiece, I could see a star quite close to the Moon. This star hadn't been visible before so it seemed pretty clear that a lot of the Moon's glare had gone now. Checking with Starry Night it appears that it was 56Y Leonis (HIP53449, TYC261-384-1).

By 22:32 UT I was starting to see a hint of red/brown colour in the deepest part of the umbra when viewing via the 'scope. The redness was now very obvious to the naked eye. By this point it was looking like it was going to be a reasonably dark eclipse.

At 22:44 UT it was obvious that totality had begun. Although there was an obvious hint of redness to the Moon with the naked eye it wasn't that red. There was an obvious difference in brightness between the part of the Moon that was towards the edge of the umbra and the part that was deepest in the umbra. By now the sky was a lot darker — many more stars were visible, as were the more obvious deep sky objects such as the Double Cluster and M44. I could no longer see my own shadow and, unlike earlier in the evening, I now needed a light to be able to move around safely.

Mid totality was around 23:20 UT. On the Danjon scale I would estimate that the brightness of the eclipse was L2.

At 23:32 UT I observed a short and bright meteor head south of Auriga in the direction of Orion.

By 23:35 UT it was obvious that the brighter part of the shadow had "swung" around to the edge of the Moon that would exit the umbra.

By 23:58 UT the first bright patch was visible to the naked eye, totality had ended.

Around 00:09 UT I took a few more afocal shots of the Moon, via the 905, with my mobile phone. The best of the bunch is this one:

Total Lunar Eclipse

Around 00:17 UT it was obvious that the sky was starting to brighten again. M44 was still visible but much harder to see than it had been during totality. I could also see my own shadow again.

At 00:24 UT, with the Moon about way out of the umbra, some thin cloud started to move in front of the Moon. While it didn't put a stop to observing it was a cause for concern given that thicker could cloud be seen towards the west.

Around 00:36 UT I watched Tycho emerge from the umbra. Also, around this time, I noticed a star pretty close to the lit limb of the Moon (the limb that had already emerged from the umbra). By the looks of things it seemed like it might actually be occulted by the Moon before the Moon was clear of the umbra. I decided to stay at the eyepiece and see how long I could follow the star.

Later checking suggests that I was watching 59 Leonis (HIP53824, TYC268-1064-1). From my location this star would not be occulted by the Moon but would come very close. Western parts of the UK would see an occultation.

At 00:39 UT I noticed that the objective lens of the 905 was starting to badly mist up (this might have started happening some time ago but it was now very obvious due to the glare from the brightening Moon).

The star was still just visible at 00:49 UT, although I now struggling to see it in the glare of the Moon. I carried on watching it for as long as I could and I lost it, very close to the Moon's limb, at 01:01 UT. It appeared to have been occulted (but see the note above).

By 01:04 UT the sky was now very bright again, only the brightest of stars were visible and I could no longer see the naked-eye deep-sky objects I'd been able to see earlier. I could also now walk around without the aid of a torch without any danger of bumping into anything.

I started to pack up during the final moments of the Moon exiting umbra and, at 01:12 UT, I watched the Moon finally move out of the umbra. Now cold and tired we finished packing up and called it a night.


2006-12-16


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-12-16 12:20 UT
To: 2006-12-16 12:25 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Naked Eye
Temperature: 6.9C ...
Dew Point: 3.7C ...
Humidity: 80% ...
Wind Speed: 0.8mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1017.9hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-12-16 12:20 UT
To: 2006-12-16 12:25 UT

Active area 930 was still visible although somewhat foreshortened due to getting closer to the limb of the Sun. Today I could only make out a single large spot. The penumbra around it was just about visible.

This was the first observation of 930 where I was unable to see it with the naked eye (via eclipse shades).

Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-12-16 19:00 UT
To: 2006-12-16 23:50 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Naked Eye
Notes:

Very clear and cold night. Arranged to meet up with John Turner at Woodland Waters to try it out as an observing location. I took along my Antares 905 and John brought his Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M mounted on an EQ5 mount.

A Leisurely View of Various Objects

From: 2006-12-16 19:00 UT
To: 2006-12-16 23:50 UT

We got to the observing location at around 19:00 UT to find reasonable clear skies with no sign of any cloud anywhere. Some time was spent finding a location and setting up and then the rest of the evening was spent chatting and having a leisurely view of random sights in the sky.

I started with a quick view of M42. Orion was still quite low at the time and the view wasn't very impressive. With the 32mm eyepiece and the 905 I could only just make out the glow of the nebula with averted vision. I decided to come back to it when Orion was higher.

Next I had a quick look at M45. I noticed that the seeing seemed very steady.

I then went on to have a look at M1. This was the first time I'd had a look at it in over a year and it was also the first time I'd observed it with the 905. The view was more or less the same as I remember from the last time — an indistinct patch of glowing sky that was best noticed with averted vision.

At 20:30 UT I saw a very bright and fast meteor travel north to south just below Taurus.

I then had a quick look at M36, M37 and M38 via the 905. All looked very clear and very steady with many individual stars visible. It was quite a different view from that that I've previously had in a binocular. With a binocular I'd previously noted that the clusters had the appearance of globular clusters but via the 905 it was very obvious that I was looking at open clusters.

At around 21:15 UT I returned to M42. By now Orion was higher and the view was much better. With the 905 and the 32mm eyepiece the nebula easily withstood direct vision. Quite a bit of detail was visible, it had quite a mottled appearance. I then dropped the 6mm eyepiece in the 905 and could easily pick out the trapezium.

During the next hour I kept going back to M42 and noted that the view kept improving as it got higher in the sky. Had it not been for the dampness (quite a bit of dew was forming) I'd probably have had a go at producing a sketch.

At around 22:23 UT Saturn was starting to rise above some trees near us. I had a quick look with the 905 and the 6mm eyepiece. The view wasn't that good due to it still being quite low, being viewed amongst the top branches of the trees and also due to some thin cloud started to get in the way. I could, however, easily make out the rings and a hint of the shadow of the rings. There was no sign of the Cassini Division. Titan was easily visible too.

Around 23:19 UT John suggested that I try and locate M81 and M82 in the 905. Using the 32mm eyepiece I pointed the 'scope at about the right location (working off 24 Ursae Majoris) and found them right away. The sight was far more impressive than I thought it would be. M81 had an elliptical appearance, as if I was seeing a galaxy partially tilted towards me, whereas M82 looked more like it was edge on and appeared to have a kink in it. The following evening I did some checking in a couple of books and the impression I had of them appears to perfectly fit the images.

At around 23:50 UT we started to pack up the equipment. All in all I'd say it was one of the best sessions I've had yet. While I didn't have any kind of observing plan, and while my notes weren't as detailed as they normally are when I observe alone, it was nice to share views and impressions with another observer. It was also nice to observe a largely unobstructed sky.


2006-11-19


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-19 04:29 UT
To: 2006-11-19 05:47 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Temperature: -0.1C ...
Dew Point: -2.2C ...
Humidity: 86% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1012.3hPa ...
Notes:

After getting my dates wrong yesterday, and having seen that the forecast was good again for this morning, I decided to have another go at getting up early and observing an outburst of Leonids activity that was predicted for around 04:45 UT.

The sky wasn't quite as clear as yesterday morning's session and, to start with, there was some thin cloud hanging around to the west but that cleared away during the session.

Leonids watch

From: 2006-11-19 04:29 UT
To: 2006-11-19 05:47 UT

I was set up in the garden, with chair and notebook, by 04:29 UT. I watched solidly from the chair for 1 hour. The following is a list of what I managed to catch along with the times that I saw them:

04:33 UT: Sporadic. West to east. Very short. Just south of Auriga.

04:36 UT: Leonid. Very short. Very fast. Through Auriga.

04:50 UT: Noticed the whole sky flash, just like I noted at 05:31 UT yesterday. Suspect it probably is a bird scarer in one of the fields around me.

04:55 UT: Leonid * 2. Almost together. Both short, fast and not very bright.

04:57 UT: Sporadic. North to south in Cancer. Short, fast and faint.

05:00 UT: Leonid. Short and fast. Through Auriga.

05:12 UT: Leonid. Short, fast and faint. Through Perseus.

05:13 UT: Leonid. Short, fast and bright. Left a visible trail that lasted a second or so. Just west of Leo.

05:14 UT: Leonid. Short and faint. Just south of Auriga.

05:18 UT: Satellite. Travelling roughly south/east to north/west through the zenith.

05:19 UT: Satellite. Travelling roughly south/west to north/east through the zenith. About the same speed and brightness as the previous one.

By 05:30 UT tiredness and the cold were really starting to get to me. Given that there'd been no obvious sign of the outburst I decided to pack up earlier than I'd planned and go and warm up. However, while packing up and moving things back into the office I managed to catch two more Leonids:

05:39 UT: Leonid. Short and very bright. Through Cassiopeia. Left a short wide trail that lasted a good couple of seconds.

05:47 UT: Leonid. Short and bright. Through Perseus.

If there was an outburst I didn't see any evidence of it. During this session I counted 9 Leonids — the same number as yesterday and over a similar period of time. I also counted 2 sporadics and noticed 2 satellites.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-19 12:40 UT
To: 2006-11-19 12:45 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 8.2C ...
Dew Point: 4.4C ...
Humidity: 77% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1011.3hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-11-19 12:40 UT
To: 2006-11-19 12:45 UT

The single spot in active area 923 still looked quite impressive but also even more foreshortened due to it being much closer to the limb of the Sun. I also checked with the naked eye (via eclipse shades) and, for the first time since I first observed it I was unable to see it.

I could also see 1 spot in active area 924 and 1 in active area 925.


2006-11-18


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-18 04:39 UT
To: 2006-11-18 06:00 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Temperature: 3.9C ...
Dew Point: 1.4C ...
Humidity: 84% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1000.7hPa ...
Notes:

Got up early with a view to observing the Leonids meteor shower. I'd read recently that a possible outburst of activity was predicted for around 04:45 UT but, stupidly, I'd got the wrong day (the outburst was predicted for the morning of the 19th, not the 18th). I didn't realise this until the session had ended (not that it would have stopped me if I'd realised as it started).

The sky was amazingly clear.

Leonids watch

From: 2006-11-18 04:39 UT
To: 2006-11-18 06:00 UT

I was set up in the garden, with chair and notebook, by 04:39 UT. For almost the next hour and a I just watched the skies and noted what I saw. The following is a list of what I managed to catch along with the times that I saw them:

04:47 UT: Leonid. Close to Polaris. Very bright. Very fast. Caught out of the corner of my eye.

04:51 UT: Leonid. Short, bright and fast. More or less directly overhead. I could see the resulting trail for a couple of seconds.

04:58 UT: Leonid. Very short, very bright. Just west of Leo. Resulting trail visible for a good couple of seconds.

05:01 UT: Leonid. Very short, very bright. Just north of Auriga. Resulting trail visible for a good couple of seconds.

05:07 UT: Leonid. Very short, not so bright. Straight through Auriga. Resulting trail visible for less than a second.

05:11 UT: Sporadic (I think). North to south, west of Leo. Looked just like most of the Leonids I'd seen so far.

05:13 UT: Leonid. Faint and short. West of Leo.

05:15 UT: Faint satellite seen going south to north through Auriga.

05:25 UT: Sporadic. Short and faint. No visible trail. South of Auriga going east to west.

05:31 UT: The whole sky lit up very briefly. The flash almost looked like lightening. Normally I might have thought it was a bird scarer but this was the only time I saw this happen during the whole session.

05:34 UT: Satellite. Very slow and very faint. Heading roughly south to north, just east of Auriga.

05:42 UT: Satellite. Heading roughly north to south through Auriga. Watched the brightness slowly decrease, until I could no longer see it, and then slowly increase again until it was reasonably bright. Watched it decrease in brightness again and then lost it behind the house.

05:46 UT: Leonid. Very short. Very faint. Just south of Auriga.

05:50 UT: Satellite. Faint and fast. Was going south to north and headed more or less directly overhead.

05:52 UT: Leonid. Reasonably long. Quite bright. Very fast. Seen out of the corner of my eye in the north east part of the sky.

05:55 UT: Leonid. Very faint, only just saw it. In the eastern part of the sky.

By 06:00 UT the sky was starting to noticeably brighten and the cold was starting to get to me so I decided to end the session. In total I noted 9 Leonids, 2 sporadics and noticed 3 satellites.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-18 12:50 UT
To: 2006-11-18 12:55 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 8.8C ...
Dew Point: 2.7C ...
Humidity: 67% ...
Wind Speed: 2.9mph ...
Wind Dir: West South West ...
Pressure: 1006.8hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear day, quite breezy too. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-11-18 12:50 UT
To: 2006-11-18 12:55 UT

The single spot in active area 923 was still huge and impressive, although obviously foreshortened by being much closer to the limb of the Sun. I also checked with the naked eye (via eclipse shades) and I could just about see it, although it did take more effort than previous observations.

I could also see 2 spots in active area 924 and 2 in active area 925.


2006-05-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-03 13:17 UT
To: 2006-05-03 13:24 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 20.7C ...
Dew Point: 9.2C ...
Humidity: 49% ...
Wind Speed: 1.1mph ...
Wind Dir: East North East ...
Pressure: 1011.3hPa ...
Notes:

Breezy day with lots of broken cloud about — sunny intervals were more the exception than the rule but there was a short time when a sunspot count with the Solarscope was possible.

Sun

From: 2006-05-03 13:17 UT
To: 2006-05-03 13:24 UT

With the Solarscope I could still see active areas 875, 878 and 879. Between them I counted 7 sunspots.

Using eclipse shades I checked to see if it was still possible to see area 875 with the naked eye but I was unable to detect it.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-03 20:35 UT
To: 2006-05-03 22:45 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Antares 905
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 15.2C ...
Dew Point: 9.1C ...
Humidity: 68% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1013.8hPa ...
Notes:

Another calm, clear evening, similar to a couple of nights ago but also a lot warmer. It was still light when I first stepped out, I wanted to get things set up as soon as possible and give the 'scopes plenty of time to cool down. Waxing crescent Moon, getting close to first , was in the western sky.

The main plan for the evening was to try and observe comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, with a view to trying to track down fragment B and, if possible, any other fragments. Because of this, as with a couple of nights back, I took both the 905 and the 130M out with me.

Saturn

From: 2006-05-03 20:40 UT
To: 2006-05-03 20:59 UT

While waiting for it to get dark (and while letting the 130M have plenty of time to cool down) I decided to start by viewing Saturn with the 905. After getting the planet lined up in the 'scope I switched to the 6mm eyepiece. The image was crisp and steady, much better than the last observation. Right away the shadow of the planet on the rings and the shadow of the rings on the planet stood out. The Cassini Division kept leaping in and out of view.

Noticed that Titan was obvious close by.

I also noticed that I was getting many fleeting hints of banding on the surface of the planet.

The Moon

From: 2006-05-03 21:00 UT
To: 2006-05-03 21:26 UT

To kill some more time I turned the 905 on the Moon. The first thing that stood out was, in Mare Serenitatis, Dorsa Smirnov. It stood out as a very obvious line, snaking its way up the eastern side of the mare.

Closer to the terminator from Dorsa Smirnov I could pick out a line of 5 small craters, each one casting a very long shadow. On my lunar map only the bottom two are named. The names given are (starting at the bottom of the line) Deseilligny and Sarabhai. I'll have to try and find a more detailed map to get the names for the others.

Further to the north, partly in the terminator, Montes Caucasus looked amazing in the low sunlight. It looked as if someone had thrown a huge pile of rubble onto the lunar surface — the whole thing having a very "bitty" appearance.

Even further to the north Aristoteles stood out really well. The eastern wall of the crater was nicely lit while the rest (floor and western wall) was in total darkness. Adjacent to it Mitchell could be seen with the tops of all of its walls lit but with the floor in total darkness. Close by I could also see Galle was casting a very long shadow.

A short break and a meteor

From: 2006-05-03 21:27 UT
To: 2006-05-03 21:44 UT

Noticed that the Keystone was now quite high and more or less in a good place to observe. Also noticed that the sky still looked quite bright due to the moonlight — I could easily see my shadow cast by the Moon.

Decided to have a short break for a drink before attempting to find and observe the comet.

At 21:37 UT I saw a meteor travel west through the "bowl" of the Plough in Ursa Major.

Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (plus a meteor)

From: 2006-05-03 21:45 UT
To: 2006-05-03 22:44 UT

Started out with the 10x50 binocular and found what I thought was fragment C of Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. It was much harder to make out than a couple of nights ago — I suspect this was down to the increased interference from the Moon.

Having found the right general area I switched to the 905 with the 32mm eyepiece and couldn't find it. I spent at least 5 minutes looking in what I thought was the right area but could not identify the comet.

At 21:57 UT I saw a meteor travel from the zenith to the eastern horizon, north of the Keystone. It was quite bright but I didn't manage to estimate the peak magnitude.

Finally, at 22:00 UT, I found fragment C of the comet in the 905. It was much less obvious than the last observation, less of a hint of a tail.

At 22:08 UT I switched to the 130M with the 32mm eyepiece and easily found fragment C. The view with the 130M was much better and brighter. The tail was much more obvious.

After some time looking at fragment C I went looking for fragment B with the 905 and the 32mm eyepiece. By 22:27 UT (after about 1 minute of looking) I was sure I'd found it. I had what appeared to be a faint, fuzzy patch, just outside the Keystone and in the same field of view as M13. Whatever it was I was looking at it was much fainter than M13.

At 22:29 UT I took a look at the same location with the 130M and the 25mm eyepiece and found the same object. It was much clearer and more obvious with the 130M and there was a hint of a tail visible. Given the location and the look there was little doubt that I'd located fragment B.

Around 22:36 UT I had a go at finding fragment B with the 10x50s but, due to the eyepieces constantly misting up, I failed and gave up. For a brief moment before they misted up badly I thought I saw C and possibly another fragment but that might have been wishful thinking on my part.

At 22:45 UT I noticed that there was quite a bit of cloud rolling in from the south west. Showers had been forecast for anything from 23:00 UT onwards so I decided to play it safe and call an end to the session so that I could get the 'scopes packed away.


2005-10-29


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-10-29 20:47 UT
To: 2005-10-29 22:11 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 13.6C
Humidity: 94%
Notes:

A mostly cloudy evening but I noticed that there was a good sized gap in the clouds moving in so I decided to set the 130M up and have a look at Mars while I had the chance (this being the evening of the closest approach to Earth for this apparition I wanted to try and get a view no matter how short the session might be). Due to the danger of more cloud moving in I didn't have any time to let the 'scope cool down.

Meteor

Time: 2005-10-29 20:51 UT

I'd just finished setting up the 130M and was just dropping in the 25mm eyepiece when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a meteor. It lasted long enough for my full attention to be drawn to it and I followed it for a good fraction of a second (perhaps a little more).

It moved from east to west and, as best as I could tell, it passed through the Square of Pegasus. It grew steadily brighter until it finally broke up in a shower of smaller pieces which rapidly faded from view. I might even go so far as to suggest it was a fireball.

Sadly, because I was distracted by rushing to set up the 'scope before any more cloud could come over, I didn't spend too much time making any useful notes and double checking the path it took.

Mars

From: 2005-10-29 20:53 UT
To: 2005-10-29 22:10 UT

Got Mars centred in the 25mm eyepiece's field of view and then set up and switched on the motor drive. Once I was happy that everything was set up fine and the drive was running okay I immediately went to switch to the 6mm eyepiece. By the time I'd dropped that in cloud had obscured Mars.

By 20:58 UT it had cleared again.

With the 6mm Mars looked very big and very bright. Hardly any hint of colour, looked very white. Noted that, unlike all the other views I've had of Mars this apparition, there was no hint of a phase visible to me. Even without a filter I could see a slight hint of a mark on the surface that looked like a simple dark line.

After a number of combinations I found, at 21:16 UT, that the 10mm eyepiece with the 2x Barlow and the #21 filter offered the best view so far. The dark line was very obvious but indistinct in terms of figuring out any detail and its extent. I did think about sketching it but decided not to given how little there was to make a note of.

There were some moments where the image (which wasn't that unsteady) seemed to become really steady and I thought I saw a hint of further markings. However, as quickly as I noticed them they'd disappear.

By 21:51 UT I'd tried various combinations of lens, barlow and filter but every combination failed to deliver any extra detail. Happily this wasn't a disappointing experience. There was a lot of fun to be had in trying the different combinations and also in simply comparing the view I had with previous views I've had. Mars was visibly bigger (and brighter) than any observation before this one.

By 22:02 UT I was starting to lose Mars behind some thin cloud (and I could see more cloud moving in). It was interesting to note that the thinest cloud appeared to improve the view. At the time I was using the 6mm eyepiece with the #21 filter.

End of session due to cloud

Time: 2005-10-29 22:11 UT
Temperature: 13.1C
Humidity: 95%

By now the sky was totally covered in cloud and Mars was no longer visible. Also, the wind was starting to pick up. Called an end to the session.


2005-09-02


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-09-02 19:13 UT
To: 2005-09-02 23:25 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

Quite a long observing session — probably the longest I've done yet. The evening started with trying to track down Venus and Jupiter close to each other after sunset and then carried on with me getting the 130M out for a couple of hours.

Hunting for Venus and Jupiter

Time: 2005-09-02 19:13 UT

Venus and Jupiter were just past conjunction so I headed out to the West side of the village with a view to trying to catch them just before sunset. By the time I got set up the Sun had set and the Belt of Venus was visible. Hardly any cloud in the sky although a reasonable covering on the Western horizon.

Spent a short while scanning the horizon with the naked eye but couldn't see either of the planets.

More hunting for Venus and Jupiter

Time: 2005-09-02 19:23 UT

Spent a short while trying to find them with 10x50 binocular. Still couldn't see anything. With the binocular it was very obvious that there was quite a bit of cloud all along the part of the horizon I wanted to be watching.

Failed to find Venus and Jupiter

Time: 2005-09-02 19:50 UT

Having failed to see them (defeated by cloud on the horizon) I headed back to the house. I double checked everything with Starry Night to be sure that I'd been looking in the right place at the right time — I had. Venus would have set at around 19:37 UT so both planets would have been very close to the horizon while I was looking so they were obviously obscured by the cloud.

Out into the garden with 130M — M57

From: 2005-09-02 21:02 UT
To: 2005-09-02 21:23 UT

Now that darkness had really set in I set up the 130M in the garden and decided to check everything by having a quick look at M57.

Sky appeared slightly misty and dew was forming on everything very quickly. Quite a damp feel to the air.

Initially I found it very hard to find it. The problem seemed to be that the red-dot finder was way off and, even after taking some time to adjust it I was still having problems. It seems that, for some reason, the finder itself is now sat on the 'scope such that I don't have enough "slack" in the adjustment to get the 'scope and the dot lined up. I suspect I'm going to have to try and adjust how the finder sits on the 'scope so that the fine-tuning can be done with enough "slack" in the system.

Finally found M57 after a little effort and made a point of making a mental note of how far off the dot in the finder it was so finding other objects should be a little easier.

M56

From: 2005-09-02 21:29 UT
To: 2005-09-02 21:47 UT

Decided to hunt down M56 with the 130M. Started out with 25mm eyepiece. Found it with some trouble. It appeared to be a very small, faint, fuzzy patch. Switched to the 15mm eyepiece and it still appeared to be rather faint. Quite indistinct, no real hint of any actual shape to speak of. Couldn't resolve any stars at all.

Switched to 10mm eyepiece. Although appearing bigger it was still faint, fuzzy and indistinct. There was, however, a hint of a shape now. My best description would be that it seemed vaguely triangular.

With the 6mm eyepiece it was bigger still and the description of it with the 10mm seemed to hold true for the view with the 6mm. As globulars go M56 has to be the hardest target I've looked for yet. With some extra effort and generally with averted vision there did seem to be a slight grainy appearance to it giving a hint that I was looking at something that was composed of stars. That view came and went and was very fleeting.

Strange cloud moment

From: 2005-09-02 22:03 UT
To: 2005-09-02 22:07 UT

Decided to go for M27 next. Roughly lined up the 'scope on the right area and turned my back on the sky for a few moments to check a couple of charts. When I turned back the part of the sky I wanted to look at was now apparently obscured by a cloud. There was no warning of the cloud, I didn't see it coming in from any part of the sky, it just seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Then, almost as quickly as it had appeared, it disappeared. It wasn't that it moved away, it seemed to just disappear (again, while my back was turned). Also, at the same time, I noticed that the NW part of the sky had brightened compared to a little earlier (although, in this case, it didn't seem to be cloud as I could still see stars).

Most odd.

Meteor near Cygnus

Time: 2005-09-02 22:25 UT

While looking in that direction saw a rather bright meteor head roughly East to West just North of Cygnus.

M27

From: 2005-09-02 22:30 UT
To: 2005-09-02 22:50 UT

Back to hunting for M27. Took a little effort to locate — partly down to the issue with the finder and also partly down to the fact that I was looking for a small, faint fuzzy object so I was doing a very careful sweep of the general area. When it finally appeared in the field of view (initially using 25mm eyepiece) I was shocked and amazed at how large and bright it appeared!

The initial appearance was of a large, grey/blue misty patch with a very definite "dumbbell" appearance. Although the overall effect was that it was roughly circular I could see that two opposing sides of the nebula were much brighter and more obvious then the rest of the circumference.

A stunning sight!

Switched to the 15mm eyepiece. The view was even better. Slightly brighter and the "dumbbell" appearance was more pronounced. Made the following rough sketch:

Sketch of M27

Mars

From: 2005-09-02 22:58 UT
To: 2005-09-02 23:25 UT

Finally, a reasonable night out with the 'scope and Mars is getting into a position where I stand a chance of seeing it. That said, I was still observing with a sky that was getting more and more misty while looking in the general direction of a bright streetlight, through a fair bit of atmosphere and with eyepieces that were starting to fog up.

Started with the 25mm eyepiece. All I could see was a non-pin-point bright object that had a hint of orange colouring to it. Next switched to the 10mm eyepiece. Now it started to look like a planet. It had an obvious gibbous phase to it and in brief moments of steady seeing (the image was swimming around rather badly) I thought I could detect a variation in the shading of the surface.

Added a #21 Orange filter to the 10mm eyepiece. Was impressed with how well it seemed to clear up the image. With the filter, in the moments if steady seeing, the variation in the colour of the surface was much more pronounced.

Next used the 6mm eyepiece with the #21 Orange filter. The "swimming" of the image was now much more pronounced so it was harder to get a handle on the image. However, on the odd occasion when the image did settle down the dark patch was very visible. It looked the same as with the 10mm eyepiece only more obvious.

By 23:25 the dew problem was starting to get pretty bad and more and more mist was forming at low level. Decided to call an end to the session.


2005-08-29


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-08-29 21:07 UT
To: 2005-08-29 22:30 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Tento 10x50 Binoculars
Notes:

Decided to have another night out with a chair, binoculars and naked eye. Sky was nicely dark when I went out, the Milky Way was very obvious overhead. Some haze about in parts of the sky. Temperature was reasonably warm.

Satellite in Cygnus

Time: 2005-08-29 21:15 UT

Saw a satellite in Cygnus. Moved roughly South to North along and more or less parallel with the "body stars" of the Swan. First saw it in binocular while doing a general sweep of the Milky Way and then followed it with naked eye. Was easy to see and reasonably bright. I wouldn't have put it any brighter than any of the "body stars" but I wouldn't have put it much fainter than the faintest of them.

M71

Time: 2005-08-29 21:29 UT

Tried to see M71 in Sagitta with binocular. I think I could see it. In the correct location I got the vague impression of a faint misty patch, quite small, and only noticeable with averted vision. Seems like a good candidate to hunt down with the telescope.

The Coathanger

From: 2005-08-29 21:34 UT
To: 2005-08-29 21:47 UT

By pure chance, while sweeping the area around Sagitta and Vulpecula, I stumbled upon The Coathanger. I was aware of this asterism from books but hadn't recently taken note of its location was it was a delightful surprise to stumble on it by accident. While it does sound terribly obvious it really does look like a Coathanger.

Having located it once I was very easy to locate it again in the binocular. It really is a nice sight in the binocular.

At 21:45 UT, while looking at it in the binocular, a meteor went right through the middle of the field of view.

Finished off by making a rough sketch. Note that all I did was try and draw the stars of the Coathanger itself, I didn't bother to try and draw any of the other stars in the field.

Sketch of The Coathanger

Quick look at M13

Time: 2005-08-29 21:52 UT

Had a quick glance at M13. It appeared to be stunningly bright tonight. I wanted to make a sketch of it as it appears in the binocular but, as I was getting the drawing gear together, some cloud moved into the area making it less obvious. Decided to leave the sketch for another night.

M39

Time: 2005-08-29 22:02 UT

Went hunting for and found M39 in Cygnus. Very obvious grouping of stars. Easy to find thanks to four stars, more or less in a line, close by. Best description I can give is that it looks like a loose collection of stars in a roughly triangular shape.

Double Cluster in Perseus

Time: 2005-08-29 22:19 UT

First noticed a "fuzzy patch" in the sky between Cassiopeia and Perseus with the naked eye. Check on charts what's there and realised that it's the double cluster of NGC 869 and NGC 884 in Perseus (also known as Caldwell 14).

Had a look with binocular. Excellent sight. The best description I can think of is that it's two star-rich groups of stars, close together, and made more spectacular by being in a pretty star-rich field anyway. Also noticed a really nice arc of stars heading away (roughly North I think) from the pair.

Mars, and end of session

Time: 2005-08-29 22:30 UT

By now more cloud was forming and rolling in. Decided to pack up. Just as I was packing up I noticed that Mars had risen some way above the houses to the East of me. Very bright and an obvious red tint to it. Nice to see that it's rising earlier and earlier. Just a couple of weeks back I didn't notice it until around 22:55 UT. It's starting to get to the point where there's no excuse for not getting the 'scope out and starting to observe it.


2005-08-15


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-08-15 20:24 UT
To: 2005-08-15 22:55 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

The main reason for venturing out was to give the 130M a proper "run under the stars" after center spotting the primary mirror on 2005-08-13. Also, before heading out, I use a laser collimator to try and improve the collimation. I didn't plan on doing any star-tests tonight — I just wanted to see how well I got on with the 'scope having actually had the mirror out of it.

Moon was a waxing gibbous quite low in the sky (not visible from my position). There was some thin haze in parts of the sky but no noticeable clouds. Temperature was cool but still warm enough to be out in a t-shirt.

When I started out the sky was still somewhat light.

General testing

From: 2005-08-15 20:24 UT
To: 2005-08-15 21:05 UT

Started out by pointing the 'scope at Mizar. With the 25mm eyepiece there was some obvious "flaring" of the brighter stars in the field. I could also see, from time to time, a faint "rainbow" effect in the flare. At this point I had trouble recalling exactly how bright stars used to look in the 'scope. I've always seen some flaring but — never having really made a point of noting exactly how it appeared — I didn't really have anything to compare. Lesson for the future: make notes about the really obvious things such as how stars look before you do some work on your 'scope.

With the 15mm eyepiece the flare (which, at times, looked like a very tight double image of each bright star) had a noticeable difference in appearance either side of best focus. When unfocused either side there was the impression of an oval effect to the unfocused stars. Either side of focus the orientation of the oval would rotate 90. As I understand it this is evidence of astigmatism in the primary or secondary mirror! I don't think I've ever noticed this before (not that I've ever really gone looking for it before).

I tried a few things to see if the oval effect would differ: I changed eyes (no difference), changed my orientation at the eyepiece (no difference) and rotated the eyepiece in the focuser (no difference).

I then tested with the 10mm and then 6mm eyepieces and, as best as I could tell, the oval effect wasn't noticeable. Most confusing.

The more I thought about it the more I felt that what I was seeing actually wasn't any worse than the 'scope used to be. Also, there's the fact that I don't generally know what a bright star should look like through a smallish Newtonian Reflector.

I wished that I'd had Jupiter or Saturn around still so that I could compare how things looked with a more "substantial" target.

Meteor

Time: 2005-08-15 21:01 UT

Saw a reasonably bright meteor pass roughly North to South through Lyra.

Probable Iridium Flare

Time: 2005-08-15 21:10 UT

Saw a very bright Iridium Flare in Ursa Major — just below the "handle" of "The Plough". I got the impression that it was one of the brightest flares I've ever seen. It was a lot brighter than any of the stars in Ursa Major.

M13

From: 2005-08-15 21:25 UT
To: 2005-08-15 21:45 UT

After the slight annoyance and frustration early on in the session I decided to try the 'scope out on a DSO and opted for an easy target: M13. Initial impression with the 25mm eyepiece was that it looked magnificent! While it looked like a cometary-like "blob" (as I'd noted in a previous observing session) there was, this time, the occasional faint hint that it was comprised of lots of stars. It wasn't so much that I could see stars, it was more a case of it looking slightly "grainy" from time to time.

Made a sketch via the 25mm eyepiece:

Sketch of M13

Possible "late" Perseid

Time: 2005-08-15 21:49 UT

Saw a faint meteor pass through Andromeda. Was very quick (less than a second I'd have said) and, given the direction of travel, it looked like it might have been a "late" Perseid.

Satellite between Cygnus and Lyra

Time: 2005-08-15 21:52 UT

Watched a faint satellite go roughly North to South, more or less via the zenith, and pass between Cygnus and Lyra. It seemed to occult a faint (to the naked eye) star somewhere between the two constellations. Unfortunately, at the time, I wasn't in a position to note which one it was.

M13

From: 2005-08-15 21:53 UT
To: 2005-08-15 22:01 UT

Went back to M13, this time with the 15mm eyepiece. Appeared slightly brighter. There was now a hint that it's made of actual stars with the grainy appearance mentioned above being much more pronounced. While doing viewing a thin but obscuring line of cloud (might even have been a contrail) moved into the area and made observing rather hard. Somewhat annoying as I was about to start a sketch of what it looked like with the 15mm eyepiece.

M31 (and possibly M32)

From: 2005-08-15 22:12 UT
To: 2005-08-15 22:55 UT

M31 is now in a position where I can see it with the 'scope. First looked at it with the 25mm eyepiece. M31 itself was obvious but, at the same time, indistinct. There was an obvious brightness difference between what I assume is the central bulge and between the disk. There was no hint of any sort of structure and the whole thing had the appearance of a sort of light-gray "mist". The fact that I was looking in the direction of a street-light and that there was still a very faint haze in the sky probably wasn't helping matters.

After a short while I noticed that a star in the field was actually rather "fuzzy" when compared to all the other stars. Started to wonder if what I was seeing was M32. My initial impression was that it was further away from M31 than I'd imagined it would appear to be but, that said, that impression is formed from the photographs I've seen of M31 (which obviously show a lot more of the galaxy than I'd be seeing through my 'scope).

Checking with a chart I had to hand the fuzzy object did appear to be in about the right location for M32. To be sure I went and checked with my copy of Sky Atlas 2000 and, looking at that, I convinced myself that I wasn't seeing M32 (based on the pattern of stars near it which seemed to be in SA2000 but not in the correct position for M32). Lesson here: be sure of the width of the field of view of the eyepiece so you can make good estimates of separation of objects.

Switched to the 15mm eyepiece. The "fuzzy star" still had a fuzzy appearance and still looked quite different from all other stars in the field.

Switched back to the 25mm eyepiece and made the following sketch:

Sketch of M31

At 22:55 UT I finished the session.

Mars pops up

Time: 2005-08-15 22:55 UT

As I was starting to pack up I noticed that Mars had popped up over the roofs of the houses to the East of me. I did consider setting up the 'scope again to have a look at it but given that it was still low down and given that it was very close to a street-light I decided to save that for another night when conditions were a little more favourable.


2005-05-07


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-05-07 21:31 UT
To: 2005-05-07 22:39 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

No Moon. Very breezy and very cool night.

Saturn

Time: 2005-05-07 21:31 UT

Worked up from 25mm to 10mm with 2x. With 10mm + 2x Saturn was almost swimming around, the atmosphere seems very unsteady. Could just about make out the shadow on the rings but not much else was visible.

M97

Time: 2005-05-07 22:13 UT

Went star-hopping for M97 using the 25mm eyepiece. After not too much effort managed to find it. Made a rough sketch of its location to relation to surrounding stars so I could double-check with charts later on (that check confirmed that I'd managed to get M97).

With the 25mm eyepiece it was an obvious if faint circular "smudge". No trouble seeing it with direct vision.

Tried next with the 10mm eyepiece. I could only see it with averted vision. There were moments when I wasn't sure I was actually looking at anything at all and then it'd sort of fade into view again. Noted that I could see a very faint star very close to it.

At 22:32 I switched back to the 25mm eyepiece for a wider view and in the following three minutes saw a satellite and then a meteor pass through the field.

Jupiter

Time: 2005-05-07 22:39 UT

With the 25mm eyepiece all four moons were visible. Jupiter itself was almost too bright to look at. Noted that I was getting four "spikes" off the planet (presumably from the legs of the spider holding the secondary mirror).

The two main belts were only just visible, the brightness of the planet appeared to be making it very hard to see any detail at all. As noted in another log: I should probably think about looking into some filters.

Made a sketch of the position of the four main moons.


2005-05-04


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-05-04 20:50 UT
To: 2005-05-04 21:50 UT (approximate)
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Notes:

Seeing seemed reasonable tonight. No moon.

Didn't get a chance to look at Jupiter as it was obscured by the house early on and by the time it cleared the house cloud had started to roll in from the south.

Saturn

Time: 2005-05-04 20:50 UT

With the 10mm eyepiece on the 130M I thought I could see the faint hint of a band on the planet's disk. Not really sure if this really was there or if my eye/mind was playing tricks on me.

As with previous sessions I kept getting the odd hint of the Cassini Division.

At just before 21:00 UT, while looking at Saturn with the 10mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow, had a meteor pass right through the field!

Titan was obvious and, with the 10mm and 2x Barlow, I noticed another faint point quite close to the planet (I'd estimate a couple of Saturn diameters away in the field). Wasn't sure if I was seeing another moon or perhaps a background star. Checked the following day with Starry Night and it seems that what I was seeing was Saturn's moon Rhea.

The International Space Station

Time: 2005-05-04 21:15 UT (approximate)

Naked eye this time (obviously). While having a break from the telescope for a moment saw a very bright satellite moving West to East, easily as bright as Jupiter. Saw it pass within two or three degrees of Jupiter. As it headed East it dimmed and disappeared from view as it past into Earth's shadow. Suspected at the time that what I'd seen was the ISS.

Checked the following day with Starry Night: yes, it was the ISS .

M44

Time: 2005-05-04 21:30 UT onwards

Had another look at M44 with the binoculars and then turned the 130M on it using 25mm eyepiece. Very impressive. More stars that I'd care to count.

Noticed with the binoculars, reasonably close to M44, there's an asterism of stars in a roughly straight line. Got to wondering if it's got a name.

Did some checking on the web the following day and couldn't find any mention of it. I guess it's not an asterism of note. Checking in Starry Night it seems what I was looking at is comprised of the following stars (plus some others):

If anyone reading this recognises this asterism and knows a name for it I'd love to hear about it.


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Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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