Thursday, 9 June 2016

From Messier to Barsoom.

The Plough - Join the dots..

I set the telescope up at about 10.30 p.m. and waited for Mars to show its face from behind the trees at the end of the garden.

While waiting I trained the scope on to a few Messier objects around the Plough.

It would be the first time I had used this scope (305mm/f5) from my home location.

Here are some of the observations I made last night:

M-97 - The Owl Nebula. Stands out easily as a faint fuzzy patch!, though no doubt a darker sky background will add to the overall contrast.

M-108 - Easily spotted in the 30mm eyepiece (x50) plus M97 was spotted in the same field of view.

Move M108 to one side of the 30mm eyepiece field of view and you will find M97 at the other side of the field of view.

M-51- The Whirlpool Galaxy. Considering that the sky background was not totally dark the whirlpool was easily found.
Both fuzzy patches noted, with a hints of added surrounding nebulous detail.

After spending some time circling the Plough, I slewed the scope over towards Cygnus the Swan.

M-13 - This globular cluster in Hercules looked amazing, much brighter than in the Schmidt C8. With the 9mm eyepiece the cluster filled the field of view.

M-57 - The Ring Nebula in Lyra, stood out from the not yet dark background really well.

M-29 - OMG! the open cluster in Cygnus, filled the field of view through the 30mm eyepiece. Stars were spilling out everywhere. Helen hogged the eyepiece with this Messier object, I had to wait my turn to grab a view...! haha..

Mars was now well placed for viewing and so I grabbed my chance to observe before it took refuge in the big tall trees to the west.

Through the x2 Barlow and 9mm plossl (x333)  I was able to see slight martian surface detail.

Seeing wasn't up to much, but after inserting a 80a filter in the optical path, the planet was noticeably sharper looking and more detailed.

The blue tinge of the 80a filter made Mars look like an habitable planet.
I spent the next 10 minutes lost in thoughts of Barsoom, the world of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium..!

Actual sunset on Mars.

NASA have amazing pictures of the surface of Mars, click on this link to find more:

Clear Skies


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Plough revisited.

"from that celestial Dipper, or so I thought the dews were poured out gently upon the summer world..."
B.F. Taylor

I recently acquired a 305mm/f5 "light bucket" called Oscar. It's a beast of scope!... I'm  reminded of the "Leviathan" of Birr Castle whenever I set it up in the garden!

With this larger aperture I plan to travel further out into the Universe and touch some of those elusive faint fuzzy blobs I kept seeing in my smaller telescopes.

I thought I would start this journey by taking a Messier tour of the objects around Ursa Major, specifically those near the asterism of the Plough.

Being that the nights are now shorter, and that the sky background never seems to darken, I wonder what I will see of those faint fuzzy blobs?

Hopefully over the next week or so I will be able to observe the following "Plough" Messier objects: 

M-81 - Bodes Galaxy. I've observed this galaxy within the field of my old Schmidt C8 as a distinctive, dim, interesting fuzzy image, but very little else.

M-82 - Not as impressive as M81, but then last time I saw it I was using an f10 Schmidt; plus the conditions that night weren't that good. I wonder how the extra aperture will fare?

M-97 - The Owl Nebula. I have no idea what Oscar will reveal of this nebula, having never seen it with such a large aperture.

Hopefully I will be able to see it in the same field of view as M108. I can't wait to turn the "Leviathan" onto this nebula... wonder if I'll see the owl's face!

M-101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy. I've never seen this one in a large scope.....

M-108 - Can't wait to observe this galaxy with the Owl nebula in the same field of view.

M-109 - Again, I have no idea what Oscar will reveal...!

M-51- The Whirlpool Galaxy. I know the Whirlpool isn't in the constellation of Ursa Major, but given that it's so close to the Plough I just had to add it to the list.

I've often seen the Whirlpool in smaller scopes, usually as two distinctive fuzzy patches of ethereal light. Last time was with a 150mm/f8 reflector, I wonder what the larger aperture will reveal?

Ursa Major - Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson - 1822

As soon as I have some observational notes I will post my findings on the blog. 

Clear Skies, and roll on more warm summer nights.