I went to Tegg's Nose last night, (Monday 12th Feb) and had a very good time. It seems as if the problem with the skysensor has been sorted- looks like a very thorough lubrication of the mount's axes was what was needed.
Arriving at Tegg's nose around 7.30, I could see conditions were good, only a gentle breeze, and a clear sky, although I couldn't help noticing after the trip to Llyn Brenig that Tegg's nose is nowhere near as dark. I would estimate the Welsh site to be almost 2 magnitudes darker, and does not suffer from any glow on the horizon.
The skysensor seemed to behave itself while aligning and it took about 15 minutes to get the necessary 3 point alignment. Having used Sirius as the final alignment star, I moved over to M41, having never seen this open cluster before,
which just about filled my entire field of view. I spent the next hour or so going through some of the open clusters:M35, 36, 37, 38 and NGC 1647 in Taurus.
By this time, Leo was fairly well above the horizon, and I decided to carry on my previous exploration of the galaxies in this part of he sky. M65, 66,95,96,105,M65 had a very noticeable dust lane, being a 'side on' view. Using a copy of Paul C's '100 best NGC objects', I found NGC2903, a bright, mag. 8.9 spiral, and NGC 3607, in the same field of view I could definitely make out another 3 galaxies, checking on skymap later there would have been 5 galaxies in view, 3605 3608 and 3599 confirmed, missing the mag. 14.5 UGC 6296, as a result of sky glow. Then moving over to Canes Venatici , M51, large and fairly bright, and the 'bridge' between the 2 galaxies showing clearly. This was another first for me, as were M106, M63, the 'sunflower'. Again, the sky glow at this altitude causing loss of detail in the image. The globular cluster M3 was another first, and also seemed quite dim for mag.6.2, individual stars only just being resolved. I decided to try a limiting magnitude test, on a dim object that I have found once before, and from the back yard at my house. On a good night, I would say that Tegg's Nose only had a darkness advantage of perhaps 0.5 mag. definitely less than 1, anyhow. Palomar 2 is a very small (2 arcmins.) mag.13 globular cluster, in Auriga, and being almost overhead by now, would be in the best position for viewing. this object is not in the Sky sensor database and requires manual entry of the co-ordinates, which prove to be a little inaccurate, but after a little very slow moving in RA and DEC, the tiny globular was found, but really needed averted vision to see. The Moon had not yet risen, so again, I think this shows up the limitations of this site for viewing dimmer objects.
Moving over to Coma Berenices, more first sightings were M88,64, the 'black eye' galaxy, almost face-on and showing a distinct dark area; also M85, with the smaller, mag. 10.9, NCC 4394 in view as well. From Paul C's list came NGC 4147,a mag.10.3 globular, and moving over to Virgo , the mag.11 globular, NGC 5634. I spent some time looking through the galaxies in the Virgo Cluster; M84,86,87,89, and manually working the telescope along the galaxies in 'Markarians' Chain'. A lot of dimmer objects also seemed to pop in and out of view as well as seeing the brighter galaxies in this formation.
I had my eye on my watch, as I was waiting for the beginning of a transit of Ganymedes' shadow across the face of Jupiter, beginning at 22.41. It was now 10.55, moving over to Jupiter, this was another first, having never seen a Jovian shadow transit before. The shadows' black dot had just started to pass across the surface, and I must have spent a good 10 minutes gazing at this, captivated. I took some photographs, which I am reasonably hopeful about, as I took a good deal of care regarding focus, but I have already found that Jupiter is quite a hard object to take good photos of, using film. Other members, such as Mark Crossley and Paul Brierly have had better results with Digital cameras. By the time I had finished photographing, the Moon was quite well over the horizon, and I took some more photos , as had wanted to test that I could now get Prime focus after a previous adjustment error by Orion. All ok there, and after the last bout of attention from Orion, the squealing and inaccurate motor drives, skysensor problems seemed to have cleared up. All in all, this was a very good night, with a lot of first sightings for me, and all the equipment working as it should.
by Dave Timperley