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Highlands Astronomical Society

Observing Report - Members Session 20/01/2018

Added on 20 January 2018

Time: 19:40-22:00

Location: JSL Observatory 57.48 N, -4.09 W

Conditions: Seeing: 3/5. Transparency: 2-3/5. Light breeze, -4°C. Slight haze, bad light dome from town.

Instruments: Meade LX200R 14" (40mm, 26mm, 17mm), 10×42 binoculars


  • M31T (SG, And)
  • M42B,T (EN+RN, Ori)
  • M44B (OC,Cnc)
  • M50B (OC, Mon)
  • M82T (IG, UMa)
  • M97T(PN, UMa)
  • NGC457T (OC, Cas)
  • NGC2024T (OC+EN, Ori)
  • NGC2301T (OC, Mon)
  • NGC2403T (SG, Cam)
  • C14T(OC, Per)
  • Cr70B (OC, Ori)
  • 39 OriT (DS, Ori)
  • 43 OriB (DS, Ori)
  • 48 OriB(DS, Ori)
  • 48 CncT (DS, Cnc)
  • 57 AndT (DS, And)
  • 119 TauT (CS, Tau)

B: observed with binoculars, T: observed with telescope


  • M31T (SG, Andromeda Galaxy): very disappointing due to haze and light pollution. Only the galactic core was readily visible; barely any extent outwards.

  • M42T (EN+RN, Orion Nebula): nice view, but not as much detail in the nebula without a UHC filter. Trapezium resolved to 4 stars, but mediocre conditions were evident in the view.

  • M50B (OC, Heart-shaped Cluster): fairly good resolution despite low altitude. Great cluster for binoculars, and fairly easy to locate starting from Sirius.
  • M82T (IG, Cigar Galaxy): galaxy suprisingly bright, with some structure visible. Core of starburst region seen, but no extended features.

  • M97T (PN, Owl Nebula): appeared large even in the 40mm (89×). Perfectly circular ‘orb’ of nebulosity, with an almost 3D appearance. Hint of two darker circles (‘eyes’) with averted vision.

  • NGC457T (OC, Owl/E.T. Cluster): nice to see at higher power (89× rather than 10× binoculars). Stars forming ‘eyes’ of owl prominent, but rest of image lost in the magnification - much more ‘owl-like’ in binoculars. Full resolution of the cluster though.

  • NGC2024T (OC+EN, Flame Nebula): not too tricky to see after slewing Alnitak out of the FoV. Vague shape seen with averted vision, but no obvious structure. UHC filter and better sky conditions should help.

  • NGC2301B (OC, Hagrid’s Dragon Cluster): located around 12-13° East of Procyon, and above M50. Cluster very well resolved - brighter stars formed presumed ‘dragon’ shape. Rich star field, but cluster still stood out well.

  • NGC2403T (SG, C7): first telescope view (previously seen with binoculars). Fainter than expected, quite large but only hints of spiral-like structure. Questionable sky conditions (haze) at time of observation.

  • Cr70B (OC, Orion’s Belt Cluster): loop of stars starting above and dropping between Alnilam and Mintaka was very nice. Loop appeared to extend back around on itself to end between Alnitak and Alnilam, though this part was much fainter.

  • 39 OriT (DS, \(\lambda\) Ori, Meissa): easier to split with the 26mm (137×), but a more pleasing view (likely due to conditions) and still just about a clean split with the 40mm at 89×.

  • 43 OriB (MS, \(\theta^2\) Ori): components A and B fairly easy to split, and component C was glimpsed during brief moments of good seeing.

  • 48 CncT (DS, \(\iota\) Cnc): tight double, with a golden yellow primary and a fainter slightly white secondary. Nice view at 89×, and a good ‘showpiece’ double star.

  • 57 AndT (DS, \(\gamma\) And, Almach): one of the very best telescope doubles, even in average conditions. Perfectly spaced to give the sense of a binary system, and stunning gold and blue colours.


  • Session ended at 22:00, due to freezing temperatures and worsening haze. Promising evening, but didn’t really deliver the expected seeing or transparency. Light pollution from Inverness was exacerbated by the haze and reflection from snow, extending to a much higher altitude than usual.



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