Archive for October, 2014


I had my observatory open for over 3 hrs last night, waiting for the sky to improve, until it started to rain! I got just 2 very brief but tantalising glimpses of a lovely barred spiral in Delphinus, NGC 6956, not enough time to even think of sketching it, I was very disappointed. I couldn’t leave it any longer as I had to be up at 6am for work and when I got up the sky was pristine..grrrrr!
It was David Reynolds mention of galaxies in Delphinus in the latest Webb Deep Sky Society DSO mag which took me to NGC 6956 in the first place, I haven’t even checked my files to see if I have been there before?
This week isn’t looking good for  me observing wise either!

Addendum to “I’m Back”

After making my observation and sketch of Abell 70 I shared my thoughts and excitement with close friend and observational sparring partner, Andrew Robertson. He was at the time working with his lovely 24″ telescope at Haw Wood farm in Suffolk UK, from there he would go directly to the Kelling Heath star party in Norfolk UK, both sites can provide, good to very good skies for the UK. Andrew being the competetive soul that he is, grabbed the challenge with both hands 🙂 His report and sketch can be enjoyed below, well done Andrew.

“Hi Dale,

My Abell 70 sketch. Just filling in the text: Mag 5.5 skies – getting claggier. Blobby stars. Sketch made with 8mm Ethos at x340. Tried 13E (x208) & 8E with and without UHC and OIII filters, also 4.7mm Ethos (x575) without filter. Annularity easiest with 8mm Ethos and UHC filter. GX better without filter (8E). It was about 2 hours past the meridian and in that clagg that you get in the SSW to SW at Kelling – should have observed/sketched earlier. Sketched not at the e/p but down the ladder at a desk from (quick) memory. I then looked at Alvin Huey’s sketch and saw that it was almost identical including the position of the only two brightish stars I included except where I’ve shown the GX tilted a bit towards 7 o’clock, Alvin’s is tilted towards 5 o’clock.  I went back to look and was able to confirm it was indeed at the 5 o’clock position. The explanation being that as you know I’m not an artist and when transferring my memory of an image to paper I frequently get the scale and angle’s wrong at the first attempt. I could have corrected it but decided to leave it as it was as the first attempt was done ‘cold’ and pretty much confirms my observation of it.

The following night Owen Brazell observed it with me. The skies were claggier but we got it closer to the meridian so overall about the same transparency. Owen observed it as already described.”

Regards,  Andrew



Making adjustments

Blog Tuesday 7th
October 2014


Es Reid pings me an email during the day to say that it
looks likely to be clear tonight and he’s happy to pop over and work on my 20”
mounts polar alignment. I readily agree and we fixed a time of 19.30, giving me
time to get in from doing the weekly shopping and have my dinner.

Not only was it clear but a wonderful full Moon was rising
in the east as I opened up the observatory, during that night in the US and
other parts of the world it would go into the Earth’s shadow displaying a
wonderful total lunar eclipse

It wasn’t long before we had a line marked onto the monitor
screen and Altair, alpha star in the constellation of Aquila the eagle sitting
nicely on it, after a recorded amount of time Es measured the distance the star
had moved below the line and calculated the rough error and direction that I
needed to move the mount to remedy. After I had slackened the 4 fixing bolts
holding the mount to the concrete base I shunted the mount clockwise a few centimetres.
Altair was then recentered on the monitor and a longer time was left to measure
the shift which was far less that the first time, some 6 cm instead of 18 odd,
improvement J
We gave it another less heave ho and then retested and saw we have moved it a
little too much. We nudged the scope back a few millimetres in an anticlockwise
direction and found the star stayed put on the line, brilliant.

Next I slewed to scope to the east and Es located a star,
this was to check the declination, this showed far less deviation and after one
run and a complete revolution of the adjustment nuts this was spot on. We then collimated
on an out of focus star, collimation isn’t easy on this scope, the mirror cell
is poorly designed and despite mods from Es still doesn’t allow good mirror floatation.

With these jobs out of the way we tested the goto facility
which looked to be improved, once we actually syncd on stars that were actually
the ones we told the planetarium software they were! We then took a look at M27
in Vulpecula, the Dumbbell nebula, despite the full Moon, after fiddling we
obtained a striking image on the monitor that stayed very steady, showed the
central star and the rounded outer shell only seen in larger scopes a CCD

With the time just past 22.00, Es took his leave as I closed
up, a most successful evening and one that should pay dividends next new moon,
thanks Es 😉

Es's workings out



Here are some of Es’s calculations during the process; no I
don’t understand them either!

Pax Stellarum, Dale

Just in time

Blog Tuesday Sept 30th 2014


I got out last night and grabbed an image before the cloud front rolled in from the east about 9ish, 2nd ‘star’ hop just happened to be M2, unusual for me to use a bright deep sky object to sync on, but I’m glad I did as I would have got nowt  else!


So here is a bright Messier sketch for  your interest produced as I usually do using the 05mm F3.7 mirror combined  with a Watec 120N+ video camera I sketched onto a BAA deep sky section form  using a fine tip graphic artist ink pen.

Here is the original sketch plus a cropped and inverted view.

BAA Form

Best wishes, Dale


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