Archive for December, 2016

Fog & Adele

A bitterly cold and frosty day gave way to another clear night, but these recent clear nights have been plagued with fog! My village sits at the base of hills to the North, East & West with a gentle rise to the south consequently we suffer with heavy cold air and fog lingering when conditions are right, often remaining all day.

Anyhow last night I wanted to take a look at Owen Brazell of the Webb Societies galaxy of the season NGC 2487 in Gemini. I opened the obsy under a clear sky and star hoped to beta Genorium just a very short hop from the target, I had promised Tracey my wife I would watch a TV documentary with her about Adele the singer at 9pm local time. I was happy that when I returned Gemini would be in an even more favourable position. The fact is when I returned at 10pm the fog was that thick I couldn’t see a single star naked eye!  The Watec was showing it readily enough at a low setting so I slewed to the galaxy and ramped up the camera settings, but even the Watec video camera couldn’t gather enough light to show NGC 2487!

Frustrated Dale

On the brighter side my friend Simon Kidd grabbed a couple of cracking Mars images despite its tiny size and massive distance, sharing these below.


Boxing Day Treat

Dec 26th 2016, Boxing Day

An escape from the Christmas madness of over indulgence and claustrophobia 😉

Out in the obsy early evening about 7.30pm local time, somewhat hazy but not too bad I went after Wolfgang Steinicke’s Webb Society object of the season challenge.

NGC 1333 is a complex reflection nebula in Perseus. Size 6′ x 3′ (2 ly) distance 1000 light years.  Observed by me with 505mm mirror and cooled Watec 120N+ video cam on 26-12-16. In addition to the nebulosity sketched there was more seen to the upper right SE I think an arc or shield shaped of nebulosity very close to a tight double star.

I’m not greatly excited by reflection nebulae in general but I enjoyed this challenge, it wasn’t very easy to get the max detail on the monitor, I must have spent an hr messing with camera and monitor settings before I put pencil to paper as I had anticipated seeing more than I did with the camera! Wolfgang states a visual mag of 5.6 after all! Which should make this visible in binoculars!

NGC 1333

“In addition to the nebulosity sketched there was more seen to the upper right SE I think? an arc or shield shaped of nebulosity very close to a tight double star.”

Clear Skies, Dale

Dale Holt on Film!

Back on August 20th I was visited by 2 gentlemen Steve Goodwin & Tom Marshall with a view to making a short documentary about Will Hay the astronomer. As the custodian of the Hay, Steavenson Telescope (HST) Calver telescope, and another small Merz refracting  telescope that Will Hay used on his travels along with books and signed photographs all of interest to Tom & Steve and of course to the Hay family and wider public with appreciation of the comic genius.

The filming and interviewing took over 4hrs and resulted in an 8min documentary film that was first screened in Birmingham on November 5th 2016, following the premier it was posted to You tube where it can be enjoyed by all, so do take a look here


Back out there


30th November 2016

Tonight I went for rather brighter targets that I had on Monday night. My Messier file showed my one and only sketch of glorious M74 had been made back in 2010 using the old 14″ telescope, so tonight was going to be an opportunity to point the scope into Pisces revisit and re-sketch M74.

I was very impressed by the numerous bright Ha star forming regions which I endeavoured to capture in my sketch below



I pushed on singling out NGC 515 intense observation, this is a mag 13 galaxy forming part of the overwhelming NGC 507 galaxy cluster.

What a lovely view the 20″reflector and Watec video camera gave me!

NGC 515

NGC 515


Clear Skies, Dale


Going Deep

Monday 28th November 2016

A hazy but clear sky saw me fire the 20″ up for some action. My wife had handed me a tight roll of A4 sheets that on unfurling turned out to be some S&T pages that my good friend Frank McCabe had sent me from Chicago back in Sept 2014! The Steve Gottlieb going deep article featured some obscure interacting galaxies in my favourite hunting grounds, in and around the great square of Pegasus. Now the software that drives my telescope is Carte du ciel, I’m not very good at using it, or maybe the ancient laptop that runs it is not up to the job? Anyhow most of the galaxies in the article were UGC’s and these only seem to be ‘here and there’ on my display, anyhow enough of that. I managed to find by star hoping UGC’s 12914 & 12915, called interestingly Taffy galaxies, it has been suggested to me that the Americans term toffee as Taffy and that these galaxies were seen to resemble the thin strip of stretched toffee that we can remember playing with before we chewed it as children. I of course captured my view in a sketch

Taffy Galaxies

Taffy Galaxies

I moved on seeking another pair of interacting galaxies to the left of the square below the magnificent NGC891 but unfortunately C du Ciel didn’t offer me the same stars as the finder chart gave or recognise UGC ‘S 1810 & 1813 so I failed to locate this duo 🙁

Hubbles view of UGC1810 & 1813

Hubbles view of UGC1810 & 1813

On adding the above illustrative image I find this duo are also catalogued as Arp 273, so I certainly need to return and have another go!

Moving on I looked at what my software offering locally and sent the scope there to take a look, NGC 305 turned out to be a diminutive but rather attractive barred spiral, well worth seeing and sketching 🙂 Note the 2 super faint smudges either side of a star directly above the main galaxy, these are of course distant galaxies 🙂



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