LOCATION: Wildboarclough Car Park near the Crag Inn.
INSTRUMENT: TeleVue Ranger 70mm f/6.8 (light cup)
MAGNIFICATION: x20 and x13 and x40 (2x Barlow)
SEEING: ANT IV
DATE/TIME: 18:00 hrs to 23:30:hrs
I spent tonight observing the winter sky through my TeleVue Ranger. This is an excellent grab and go telescope and shows pin point stars. I started with the comet. Comet Machholz looked magnificent at x20. From this dark sky the comets dust tail was very obvious but I was still unable to see the Ion tail.
The California Nebula.
Located near the star Menkib in Perseus. NGC 1499 is a difficult nebula to see visually. Fortunately with Paul C’s H-Beta filter and my 24mm Panoptic (king of the 1 1/4 eyepiece's) NGC 1499 was easily visible, as a wisp of pale light located between the magnitude 6.39 star HD 18769 and magnitude 6.98 star HD 24747. This is the first time I have seen this nebula.
Rosette Nebula NGC 2237
I was not able to see this nebula through my TeleVue Ranger. But it was an easy target through Kevin Thurston’s 12" Dobsonian. He used a high power eyepiece and Paul’s OIII filter. The nebula is a faint haze surrounding the open cluster NGC 2244, which I did manage to see through my own telescope.
I have seen M42 before through this telescope and tonight it was as clear as ever at x20. I then added my x2 Orion Optics Barlow that gave me x40. At this magnification the nebulosity seemed to grow. I could see the dark nebula known as the fish’s mouth, together with bright wisps of nebulosity stretching out from the Orion Nebula. Inside the Orion Nebula I could see the four stars of the Trapezium. I was also able to see the faint reflection nebula NGC 1980. This nebula surrounds the star Iota Orion. It is very similar to the Merope or Thumb Print nebula in the Pleiades. NGC 1980 is visible as bright patch of grey, light with a hint of blue colour.
Through the little TeleVue both these galaxies fit nicely into my 24 mm panoptic eyepiece. Although small you can see detail in M82 and see the circular nebulous glow of M81.
Barnards Loop SH2-276
This is another first time.
I saw the faint glow of this huge nebula through my 24 mm Pan and Paul’s H-Beta filter. When you know where to look this nebula is clearly visible a ghostly white glow against the background sky.
This is one of the skies finest naked eye open clusters. Through the TeleVue and 24 mm Pan. M45 fills the FOV. You can see nebulosity surrounding the star cluster; and the brightest is of cause the Merope nebula. This surrounds the star Merope, and appears as a bright blue "Smudge".
Praesepe or M44
This is sparse open cluster in Cancer. It contains many faint stars, which are all visible through my 24 mm Panoptic.
M35 and NGC 2158
M35 is always nice to observe in any instrument. At x20 you can see M35 and the near by open cluster NGC 2158. M35 is big and bright, and is situated near the star Eta Geminorum. The best views of M35 are when it is near the meridian, which at this time of year is around 23:00.
I also spent some time just looking through the telescope and using my 35 mm Celestron Ultima that gives me a low power (x13) and large field of view. I was fortunate enough, to see the messier star clusters 36 37 and 38 and M 48.
What made tonight’s observing session more enjoyable was the company. Paul Clark and myself were joined by further members of Altrincham Astronomical Society, who were.
Don Utton (80 mm Sky Watcher), Richard Bullock (Meade LX90), Kevin and Norman Thurston (12" Callisto), Mark Crossley (80 mm Megrez) and Nick D (Tal 1).
We all returned home at 11:45 after a good night.
by Paul Brierley