Archive for September, 2011

I say Jupiter’s looking sharp!

Blog Sept 15th 2011


Recently what with the Harvest Moon hanging around illuminating the countryside and the sky, admittedly with quite a degree of beauty and the remnants of Hurricane Irene blowing, observing has been either possible or attractive.

But with a fine night I set the alarm for 5am for a squint at Jupiter, after a little slapping of the snooze button, as you do I made it out into the observatory at 05.30 local time. It was a chill morning with heavy autumnal dew, the obsy weather station showing an outside temp of 3.5°C.

The telescopes were soon aligned upon Jupiter high to the SW and just to the left of the Moon, after centering I loaded the binoviewers into the diagonal on the back end of the 6” refractor and incrementally pushed the power up using different sets of eyepieces until I got to 293x using a pair of Meade 4000 12.4mm plossl eyepieces. I added and rejected a Neodymium filter as this dimmed the image too much taking away detail. The view was astonishingly sharp and detailed; this refractor really delivers amazing views on a routine basis. Unfortunately as stunning and sharply resolved as Jupiter appeared the face it showed was rather err,  I hesitate to say ‘boring’ in that the was no GRS present, no satellites close to the limb, transiting or leaving transit shadows, the belts were relatively devoid of festoons, oval, barges etc apart from a light oval in the SEB and 2 darker barge markings in the NEB. I made a rough sketch to enable me to draw up and complete later. see the finished sketch here

It was a pleasing and refreshing start to a lovely day.


Here Sun you gotta big spot on your chin!

Blog Monday 12th Sept 2011


On a compulsion I grabbed a quick White Light solar observation on Sunday afternoon using the 6” refractor and was delighted to see such a large spot which I now know to be AR1289. I made a quick sketch to record which I you can view here for your interest.


My friend Frank McCabe in Chicago tells me it is the size of Neptune, Wow! 


NGC 6760 in Aquila

Blog Sunday 4th September 2011
                                                               Yesterday was a fabulously warm and sunny one in the south east of England allowing me a short while out in the observatory after dark, shorter than I anticipated due to building cloud from the west.
 I started off by send the telescope to Altair for synchronishing and centering purposes, the intention being to take in something local to that area as I waited for Triangulum to get to a more ‘comfortable position’.
Globular cluster NGC 6760 looked an interesting proposition. I soon had it looking splendid through both the 6″ refractor & 20″ Newt both running Watec video cameras and displaying on separate b&w monitors simultaneously. I sketched the cluster and regrettably that was all there was time for before ‘cloud out’. Still one in the sketch book is worth 3 on the ‘to observe’ list.
On filing my work this morning I saw that I had last sketched it back on  Sept 19th 2009 with the old 14″ Newtonian, by comparison this is a far more detailed and impressive sketch.

A break in the cloud…at last!

Blog Friday 2nd September 2011

After what feels like forever I got a sky, or rather a window in one that allowed a deep sky sketch. Recently in writing my (advanced) Deep Sky notes for the SPA Mag Popular Astronomy (PA) I featured Triangulum, I noted quite a few less well know galaxies and whilst I had observed them with various instruments over the past 12 years, when it came to providing sketches for Peter to accompany the notes I couldn’t.

Last night, after observing Comet C2009 P1 Garradd, I centred on NGC 777 and sketch it with companions NGC 778 & PGC 74060, they made a pleasing trio with the Triangle of Triangulum. My sky condition was good to start with and by the time I made this sketch was mag 3 and deteriorating. I used the 505mm Mirror with the Watec 120N+, however I had the Watec 120N running simultaneously through the 153mm F9 refractor giving a different perspective, with considerably less clarity it set up did show all 3 galaxies nonetheless, impressive when one bares in mind that PGC is listed at mag 16.2! 
By the time I had finished at around 1am local time this morning, no stars were visible to the naked eye as I closed up, yet the 2 brighter galaxies were still detectable with the 505 Newt & Watec!
Hoping for more tonight & over the weekend when I shall return to Triangulum for more adventures & sketches.
Pax Stellarum, Dale  
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