Friday 13th July with lucky CLEAR skies.
Don (with the Critchley Meade), Warren and Mike (with Mike’s 10” Dobsonian, 15x80s and Short tube 80 refractor), Colin (with bins.) and Paul (with the 20x100s and his OMC 140) gathered at Teggs Nose at about 11pm on Friday 13th. The sky was clear and became surprisingly dark. This was the first session for some time for four of us. It became cool and very pleasant. The first target was Comet LINEAR 2001/A2. Soon found in all the instruments (Don managing with the Meade after I’d given up with the small finderscope). This became an impressive sight in Pegasus as the night became darker, shining at about mag. 5 with a large coma and tail to about 1 degree.. Colin and I were also convinced we could see it with the nakedly by about 1 am. After browsing around for a while I became very surprised at the darkness and clarity of the sky and started to work on some Herschel 400 objects low down in Ophiuchus. Initially I had a great deal of success picking off globulars and planetaries (the Box and Little Gem nebulae) in between ‘rests’ with the brighter Messiers. Colin did a few variable estimates including delta Scorpii however, his efforts to photograph the comet were frustrated when a cloud bank passed through at a critical time. Meanwhile Warren and Mike were getting some very impressive views with the 10” Dobsonian. The Dumbbell and Ring Nebulae were excellent, an OIII filter greatly enhanced the contrast between these objects and the darkened background sky. The Milky Way became brighter and could be followed down as far south as the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24). This tempted me to go for some more objects lower down in Sagittarius. Half an hour of ‘failure’ followed. No new objects but some excellent views of the brighter Messier objects. The globulars M22 and M28, the Lagoon, Triffid and Swan nebulae. During this time I missed some bright meteors and Iridium flares… My view of the night was through the 10” with an OIII filter. Mike called me over to see ‘something’. This turned out to be the Swan Nebula (also known as the Omega nebula or M17). The view was the best I’d had and when the filter was added revealed great filamentary detail as well as the obvious Swan shape. The rising last quarter Moon washed out an attempt to find the Veil Nebula in Cygnus and brought a halt to the proceedings at about 1:45. It was great to be out again under the stars. Paul Clark.
by Unknown ADAS member