Archive for July, 2012

Day of the Trifid

Blog for Wednesday 25th July 2012


Determined to get something down on paper for M20, I made sure that I kept awake so I could get the scope onto the nebula before it dropped too low, this was a balancing act between the altitude of M20 and a slowly darkening sky to the south. It had been a busy evening with a late return from work, number 1 son to be collected from football practice, a harmonica lesson and then watering duties at both the allotment and in the garden, by the time this was concluded I didn’t have too long to wait. Well I got it after a bit of star hoping a ‘sync’ing’, unfortunately it is a large nebula and my FOV even with a 0.5x focal reducer in place is only around 20’ x 20’  where as the Trifid nebula is half a degree (Trifid (tri-3) actually means divided into 3). I therefore concentrated on the central region which has 2 bright stars very close together and work from there, so my sketch may not be, indeed is not, reflective of your usual CCD image of the popular nebular, take a look at my sketch here.


And so to bed, again into the early hours, the sleep deficit is starting to build and make itself felt!



Going Dotty

Blog for Monday 23rd July 2012


Well the fine weather continues 28 deg c by day with clear blue skies that hold into and through the night, beautiful!

After falling asleep in front of the TV whilst waiting for dark to descend, I woke around midnight and clawed myself back to full consciousness and made a brew. I had a target in my head as earlier that day I had received an email via the website asking if I had a sketch of M20, the Triffid nebula, I didn’t and I was disappointed at that fact. Perhaps tonight I could rectify that fact and make the requester happy? Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, just above the horizon by 12.30 but obscured by trees, I had to settle more something else. I settled on M26 in Scutum, an open cluster would make a change I thought. I had to add a focal reducer to the camera nose piece to improve, or rather widen the fov, having done that and got the focus sharp, I made my sketch which you can see here (plenty of stars, hence the tittle)

I made bed by 01.30, good job done, Dale

Ride a small horse

Blog for Saturday July 2ist 2012

This has to put it bluntly been the worst run of weather for visual astronomy in the UK I have experienced in my 13+ years of interest!

An opportunity to observe came on the night of Saturday 21st July, this coincided with a visit from a very good friend who has broken off his globetrotting and returned briefly to the UK for his brother’s wedding, it has been three years or more since I last saw him. His visit to Chippingdale resulted in a lot of catching up, lubricated with more than a dash of alcohol! By 01.30 on Sunday morning Barrie took to his bed and I went out to the observatory, it was a divine night and I was keen to make a sketch, but was I capable? Well the cooler air, anticipation and desire heighted by the recent lack of opportunity to observe, cleared my head quickly and I was soon running with sharp star images on my monitor. Now what to go for? Inspiration came from Bratton’s excellent NGC book, with the diminutive constellation of Equuleus ‘the little horse’ 2nd smallest of all the constellations well placed I decided upon a galaxy there NGC 7046, a rather attractive barred spiral that was unlikely to top many observing lists. I enjoyed the view, the moment being back out in the observatory and of course I sketched, see that sketch here

And so to bed at 03.30 very tired but excited at getting back to astronomy, Dale

The Box Nebula

                                    Blog Thursday June 28th 2012
Totally Unexpectedly I was presented by a clear window on Thursday, late evening I took advantage and grabbed this observation.
NGC 6309, the Box Nebula, is a planetary nebula in the constellation of Ophiuchus. It’s a fairly dim target, having a mean surface brightness of only 11.0. I was drawn to observe this after my friend Frank McCabe had observed & sketched it 24hrs before from Chicago, that sketch can be seen in his file on this web site.
I made this sketch using the 505mm mirror & Watec 120N+ video camera on a barely dark mid summer night 28th June 2012. North is up, East is left.
Note the slightly ‘Mummy’ shape to the nebula, the mottling and dust lanes visible distinctly along the western upper edge. Also some nebulosity can be seen streaming to the east. View my sketch here
Hope you find my observation of this distant stellar remnant in our galaxy interesting?
Clear skies, Dale


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