Club Observing Session Report: Tuesday 22 November 2022
Added at 17:22 on 24 November 2022
Observing Report: 22.11.2022
Observing Team: Gerry, Dave, Eric Visiting Member: Peter Etheridge
Late on the afternoon of Tuesday 22nd November Eric, Dave, & Gerry debated whether there was a chance of holding an Impromptu Observing Session up at the Club Observatory later in the evening.
The weather forecast seemed reasonable but thick mist experienced over previous nights made things feel a bit uncertain. The possibility of an Observing Session was posted on the Club’s WhatsApp Nebulous News group but not promoted any wider than that.
Dave went up to the Observatory just before 7pm and let us know that the skies were clear once you got to ‘the top of the hill’ - so we all set off.
Dave set up his 80mm refractor with 60mm finder scope(!), Gerry hooked up his recently purchased live-viewing video cam on to the Club’s Celestron 6” reflector, and Eric set up the main scope in the Observatory dome.
Now … Gerry found out on a previous night that we have a defective cable on the main scope which is responsible for delivering instructions from the handset to the EQ8 mount drive. This proved to be the case when Eric started operating the scope however he managed a temporary fix by giving the cable ‘a wee shoogle’. After a three-star alignment the scope was finding targets in both meridians and has enabled us to come up with a plan for sorting out a problem that has been bugging us for quite some time. Gerry is going to fix the cable connection then Gerry or Eric will precisely align the scope using a reticle eyepiece.
Peter Etheridge made the journey from Brora to see the Observatory and meet up with us ‘enthusiastic’ Club Observers and he wasn’t disappointed. Eric gave him an ‘outside tour’ of the night sky, using a laser pointer to highlight major constellations, asterisms, and objects then we viewed several favourite objects through the Club scope. Eric was testing out some of his eyepieces and the four mainly used were 1.25” Ortho 25mm & 18mm, 2” Moonfish 30mm, and the Club’s 2” 40mm.
Objects observed were M13 (Great Globular Cluster in Hercules), Albireo (double star in Cygnus), Jupiter, Mars, M27 (Dumbbell or Applecore Nebula), M57 (Ring Nebula), and M35 (open star cluster in Gemini).
Peter departed for home after about an hour when the remaining three hardy observers had a short break and chat in the Warm Room. During this time the skies had cleared a bit, although there was always a slight high haze, and we decided to continue observing.
M42 (the Orion Nebula) had risen by this time and was an excellent subject. Dave was using a Nebulosity Filter and this enabled structure to be seen and, later, using same set up, could make out faint nebulosity around one of Orion’s belt stars, Alnitak.
Gerry’s video set up was most impressive! He showed us M13, M27, M57, M82 (Starburst Galaxy in Ursa Major), and, most impressive of all, M42 - it’s ‘bat wing’ structure and colours clearly visible. This £300ish video cam setup is worthy of consideration for purchase by the Club as it can be used for outreach both at JSL Observatory and our Pop-Up Observatories.
We had another look at the beautiful curved strings of stars in M35 through the main Club scope with the 40mm eyepiece. It was beautiful, and its very faint companion NGC2158 could just be observed, although the hazy sky reduced the contrast and made it tricky.
Finally, we took a look at M1 (the Crab Nebula) with the 40mm eyepiece. Dave’s comment - ‘the best I’ve seen looking through this Club scope’. If there had been less haze, and therefore improved contrast, and/or we used a nebulosity filter, the fine structure of this fascinating supernova remnant would be revealed.
A great night, and looking forward to many more this season.