I’m beginning to the Sagittarius is one of my favourite constellations. From my vantage point near Boscabel House, I’m able to get a fine view of it. There’s a great map of the area in the July 2018 Sky At Night magazine, (already out of date, Saturn has, I’ve noticed, has moved to the right of where it’s indicated in that map).
Tonight’s deep space targets were the globular cluster M22, the Lagoon Nebula (M8) and the star cloud M24. These are easily found with the 10×50 Opticrom bins, but the Lagoon Nebula needs a scope to see the nebulosity well. The little 4″ Heritage performed admirably with a 20mm wide-field eyepiece. It really is a pretty star cluster with emission nebula.
Whilst I had the 4″ on the van bonnet (true ‘grab and go’ astronomy!), I looked for the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) and it was easily found. Cygnus is right overhead now, and the 15 minute drive out away from the city lights was well worth it, I could see the Milky Way easily by 11pm.
I’m really getting on well with the red dot finder on the 4″. I easily found the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and the more difficult Bode’s Galaxy and it’s companion, in Ursa Major (M81 & M82). With its small focal length, it’s really low on ‘magnification’ with a 20mm eyepiece, but it’s obviously got the light gathering capacity to grab fainter objects, (the Opticrom binoculars couldn’t find Bode’s Galaxy tonight).
The Opticroms did find the two great globular clusters of M13 and M92 though.
The Moon was setting about 35% lit, waxing, with Jupiter to its left. I arrived too late to get a photo, but I do have a picture of Saturn taken earlier this week that’s better than my previous effort. Though I’m beginning to realise that proper astrophotography might take more commitment than I’m giving it.
The dust storm on Mars has cleared a little, and even through my clumsy DSLR/telescope combination, I can make out markings on the planet’s disc.
I’m hoping the next entry will have some news on the observatory project. I’ve got some time off in the next two weeks, but the moon will be full in a week or so, so deep sky stuff might be off the menu. But when the winter’s here, I’m holding out great hopes for some hard-core observing through a 16″ mirror.