Visual this evening on the 22″ Dob. The 120 Esprit is still off the MEII so the IMT3b observatory is out of action for a few weeks whilst it is not balanced. The MyT and 120 Esprit are now packed away for the Tenerife trip which is really exciting, first time in over 2 years!
Bob came round this evening and we explored the rather bright sky given the time of year with the dob. So what what did we see?
M5 seen 23:21 31mm and 13mm better than M3
M3 resolved easily 23:17 31mm and 13mm more compact than M5
M51 massive filled fov in 13mm much smaller in 31mm
M92 seen both eyepieces and very bright
M57 13mm only very large AV central star, very big ring
So with short notice a couple of my friends booked a cottage just outside the Kielder Water park boundary in Northumberland. This was booked for same weekend that Storm Eunice and Storm Dudley hammered the UK, the drive from the South of England to the North was very gusty and interesting at times.
Suffice to say that during my short stay in a farm cottage I saw more of Pubs such as the local warm, very friendly and welcoming Star Inn and comfortable cottage fireplaces than I did clear nights.
On the first evening it was broken fast moving cloud so we settled on taking in the various views of the 17 day old moon (94.2%). Although it was very bright being just after full moon, we scoured the edge of the disc looking at the shadowed craters. The first evening’s session was cut short by the cloud and rain, which seemed to set the mood for the week.
On the next few cloudy nights, I spent the time upgrading to ASCOM 6.6, the latest NINA beta and SGPro 64bit. Of course this required me to make sure I had the latest 64bit drivers installed. Once done, I began testing the various bits of hardware within the applications.
However on my final evening whilst nestling a Talisker Single Malt in front of the fire. I just happened to peer outside and it was clear, breezy and cold but clear. So since the weather report said it would cloud up I grabbed the Baby Dob (SkyWatcher Heritage 150) and headed outside for a quick sky tour.
With Laurence and Laura we finally saw why astronomers come to the Northumberland National Park. The Milky Way was so obvious stretching from Orion in the South, through Perseus and Cassiopeia and the sheer number of stars was breath taking.
We started looking in Orion, the Orion Nebula (M42) which the 150P does not do it justice and really a 200P and decent eyepiece would be needed to show the wispy cloud structures. We looked at the stars Betelgeuse and Sirius (Canis Major) just to show the colours of these giants before moving along to view the Pleiades (M45) and the star clusters in the constellation of Auriga.
The Double Cluster (NGC 889/NGC 884) in Perseus in the 25mm wide field eye-piece was beautiful. From the Perseus/Cassiopeia border we moved through the milky way and across to Canes Venatici hunting down The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) which we saw as two misty patches, one smaller fainter patch and a larger patch with a faint core.
Moving southwards we hunted for the globular cluster M3 which was low on the horizon and effectively in the trees but we managed to locate it. Again it was a misty patch and looked like a comet. Switching to the 10mm eye-piece I tried to resolve the patch as stars but I was unable to, maybe due to it’s low altitude but Laura was able to do so with averted vision.
Of course I also forgot that objects I can see from The South Of England are higher up in the sky compared to The North Of England by almost 4 degrees altitude.
Not long after we headed in doors to warm up, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked and the snow started falling as a precursor to the incoming Storm Franklin. Such is life but at least I got a few hours under dark skies even if it was visual and not deep sky imaging.
The plan for the night (to try using the Esprit120 as the guider for the OS 12″ if it is on the West side of the Mount) was scuppered as we couldn’t connect to GingerGeek’s SX814 camera. GingerGeek checked in device manager and COM7 is missing so we suspect the USB cable has dropped out again.
Following on the the news earlier in the day of the SN in M61, I slew to it and grabbed some 300s unguided subs ( which also proves that it is the guiding that is moving the mount unnecessarily … but we knew that already !). Thare was a suggesting on the evenings group Zoom call that the drift might be due to ‘Cone Error’, but I found several posts stating that ‘Cone error does not affect guiding’. After M61 dropped into the weeds I slewed to M3 and grabbed some Luminance frames shutting down very tired at around 4am.