There’s been a rotten run of weather for astronomy. For the last four or five weeks we’ve hardly had any clear skies, and when we have, I’ve annoyingly been working.
Luckily, there was an opportunity to go to the observatory last Thursday. I’ve got a new digital inclinometer, after seeing one at the society’s meeting a few Mondays ago. I used this to align the scope, and found it was more accurate than before. I only managed a half hour of ‘greatest hits’ DSOs before the clouds rolled in.
Jupiter’s dipping below the horizon now, but Saturn is still in view, swimming like a fish at this low altitude, but as always, very pretty. The Wild Duck Cluster M11 is not far away. Very bright and instantly recognisable with its shape. I found what I thought was nebula in Ophiuchus, and was unable to identify it. I made a sketch and later found it was in fact M12, a globular cluster. I couldn’t see and individual stars, and its shape is certainly unlike M13. Quite low in the sky, so I wasn’t seeing it at its best.
Oddly, the globular cluster M9 seemed brighter. I must re-visit these.
Staying with globular clusters, M13 and M92 in Hercules were easily found. And with Cygnus still high, The Dumbbell Nebula (M27) and the Ring Nebula (M57) also easily found. The Dumbbell strangely always seems to surprise me with its brightness.
M103, (which may be an asterism, according to my 1991 Cambridge Messier book), is extremely pretty with its distinctive ‘V’ shape. I checked quickly of the bright galaxy M31 before the clouds rolled in at around 8.30.
A few thoughts. I’m not pre-planning enough. I should have a list made up of observable objects beforehand. This would save me re-visiting the same ‘greatest hits’. I also need to wait till Ursa Major is in the west, and high, to find those faint Messier galaxies. There may be chance to do some observing tonight. My Cambridge Deep Sky Album gives lots of observable NGC numbers. I’ll make a list. Many NGC objects are brighter than Messier objects, yet I seem obsessed with the M numbers.
Oh yes, I’ve found a spot for the society to view the transit of Mercury in November, outside a local café. Fingers crossed for clear skies!