Sunday, January 29, 2006

Observing session: 28/01/2006

Tonight marked the first observing session in the UK after returning from my recent holiday to India. The night was cold (-2 degrees Celcius) and crisp with a slight breeze blowing. I started setting up at 10pm. I took it really slowly compared to my usual rushed set up procedure. I correctly aligned the finder scope, reset the autostar and retrained the drivers. Goto's were extremely accurate leading to a very enjoyable night of observing.

I kicked off with a new pair of 12x60 SkyMaster binoculars made by Celestron. I bought these binoculars today from David Hinds Ltd in Tring which is just north west of London near the town of Aylesbury and Wendover. The binoculars performed very well giving sharp and bright images. There was no hint of chromatic aberration, unlike my old pair of binoculars. The 5.7 degree FOV on these binoculars allowed me to view a wide area of sky. The Pleiades were comfortably within the FOV and Saturn's rings were clearly visible. I did a sweep of the sky around Auriga and Cassiopeia to pick out the rich star fields. I definitely need a deck chair or some kind of recliner otherwise it gets very painful on the neck and back when staring so high up in the sky.

After about half an hours worth of observing through the binoculars I moved on to the telescope. My first target was Saturn which I managed to image using the Philips ToUcam Pro which I currently have on loan. I captured five AVI movies between 23:30 and 23:57. I have to process them later on. Saturn is placed very close to the beehive Cluster at the moment and with a wide angle lens it's a great sight to behold Saturn and the star cluster side by side. I used the 32mm Plossl I have to view this beauty. I next slewed over to Mars which is looking very small these days compared to how large it was in the latter quarter of last year. I didn't spend too much time looking at Mars, moving swiftly on to the Pleiades. Through the 32mm eye piece the nebulosity normally associated with the Pleiades was not visible. I screwed in the Orion Ultrablock filter I have and immediately noticed an improvement in the image. The filter cut out much of the light pollution and I could then pick out faint glows of nebulosity became easily discernible, especially when using averted vision.

I picked up the binoculars again and tried to steady my hands by resting my elbows on a low table and pointed the binoculars up to the Pleiades. The table considerably steadied the shakes and I managed to observe the Pleiades for a solid ten minutes and appreciate the rich field of stars in and around the young cluster. Close by was the constellation of Auriga which had a surprise up its sleeve for me tonight. No sooner had I looked away from the Pleiades, a brilliant meteorite burned up straight through the center of Auriga at 00:22. It has been a long while since I have seen a meteor, or shooting star. What a lovely way to end an observing session.


At Mon Jan 30, 03:04:00 pm UTC, Blogger Tag said...


Terrific description of your observations. I just discovered your blog in a comment. I look forward to reading more of your posts.



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