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Marvelling at Machholz

LOCATION: Gradbach

INSTRUMENT: TeleVue Ranger and 25 mm Panoptic



LM: +5.9

DATE/TIME: 17th December 04 T=21:35:23:00

This was a short session tonight. I took the opportunity catch a break in the clouds and went up to The Gradbach Observing site and join Paul Clark.

The reason for this was to see Comet Q2 Machholz under dark sky's. Despite bright moonlight, we were able to see Q2 Machholz with out optical aid.

Through the TeleVue and Paul's Borg, the comet looked round and fuzzy with a tight bright nucleus. There was a one degree tail visible at 11 o'clock.

We also had a good look at M42 and I enjoyed comparing the views through my TeleVue Ranger with Paul's 4" Borg Apo and, the ADAS Binos. The views were just superb. I was able to see the Fishes Mouth and the Trapezium Stars.

NGC1980 and the open cluster CR 72 were very clear. I was also introduced to the running man with I have never seen before.

I was using a magnification of x20 and I was also able to see M1, M35, NGC 2158, M44, M78, M81/82, NGC 2244, (but not the Rosette nebula).

It was a really superb evening. Paul and I were able to trace the Milky Way from Cassiopeia up to the Zenith and down through Auriga and then Orion. This is the first time I was able to see the Galaxy at this time of the year. One reason why it was so visible was probably due to all the wet weather which has cleaned the air.

I was very impressed with Paul's 4" Borg. Is a very nice piece of kit the stars were pin sharp which you would expect from an apo.

We both had a great evening.

Aye, the moon set and a very clear rain-washed sky gave some excellent viewing around the Milky Way. The 24 mm Panoptic *is* the King of the 1-1/4" eyepieces! The comet should appear ~ 1.5 magnitudes brighter when higher and closer in a few weeks...

by Paul Brierley

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