Friday, 29 March 2013

Shining Bees & Whirling Galaxies...on a cold night in March.


The sky was clear and cold, the stars were shining, and my eyes were adapting to the darkness.

Armed with my trusty 8x30's I decided to search for a few Messier open clusters....

M44 "The Beehive Cluster' high up in the South was the first target... in the 8x30's it was a breathtaking sight.
The bees were certainly busy tonight, each one a sparkling icy white.

I panned down slightly to M67, which is a somewhat vague smudge of light in the 8x30's, but still very much worth a look.

Next.... up and over to Auriga....
This constellation held my gaze for several minutes as I took in the view of M37, M36 and M38... all in the same field of view.

Across to M35 in Gemini....  
M35 was just visible to my naked eye, many stars were visible through the binoculars.

Considering it is of visual magnitude 5.2, I was really pleased to see M35 with the naked eye from my slightly light polluted village. 




Next....Over to the Double Cluster in Perseus.... They were a bit disappointing tonight in the 8x30's. 
This was mainly due to a nearby street light throwing up an orange glare towards the direction of the cluster.  

At other times of the year the Double Cluster looks wonderful.....blasted street lights...!!!!

Then a quick look at the Hyades.... 

Whenever I search out the Hyades I get side tracked into gazing at Aldebaran, such a beautiful orange, which always has a mesmerising effect...

It was very cold tonight in Simpson Cross,  I was wearing my fingerless gloves, and the tips of my fingers were suffering for being out in the open... 

Before I escaped back to the open fire of our living room I decided to give Tal1 a quick walk around the the handle of the Plough...  

Seeing that the Plough was almost on the roof of the sky, and away from much of any possible light pollution,  I was hoping to glimpse M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy.

Tonight M51 turned out to be an easy target for Tal1. With the 25mm plossl I could clearly see both M51 and it's companion galaxy, plus a slight haze, mostly around M51.

Both M51 and companion took on a comet like appearance. 

No wonder Messier made up his list of objects to avoid... 

The cold weather finally beat me.... :0)

The night had finally got the better of me and the cold was too much....

In the East I could see a faint glow in the trees, I soon realised it must be the Moon waiting to make an appearance. 

Just above the trees Virgo was tentatively tip toeing across our neighbour's treeline...... 

When the temperature rises I might be able to sit awhile and draw those clusters, for now I've added a couple of sketches from memory......  Roll on the warmer weather.....

I said goodnight to Tal1, closed up the observatory ....  and left the night to the Moon and stars....

My hands really appreciated that warming open fire.....  :0)


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Nearby.. a lone dog howls..

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