Evening of October 4th 2010
Yippee at last, a night clear enough to promise a little deep sky observing J
It must have been around 21.00 local time when I opened up the observatory. I could see the Milky Way overhead but it wasn’t gin clear for sure and the dampness in the air made itself felt. I was intent on tracking down those galaxies in Pegasus that Andrew Robertson had put me onto.
I loaded the Watec camera into the 20” focuser and connected the cables, I left the flip mirror on the 6” refractor and fitted a wide field 23mm eyepiece.
I used the goto to find Jupiter for focussing purposes and for syncing with the planetarium program. Which Jupiter centred and sharp I went onto Uranus, it showed a nice disc on the monitor and I turned the power up a little and watched some Uranian moons pop into view, fascinating! I made a little sketch which I scanned in this morning and emailed to my friend Andrew Robertson for identification, Andrew matched up Titania, mag 13.7, Umbriel, mag 14.8 and Ariel , mag 14.2, not bad at all considering that the camera wasn’t even running at 50% sensitivity.
A few minutes in the observatory allowed me to spot Fomalhaut low in the murk of the SW, to me this means go for the Helix time! I sent the scopes to this amazing planetary nebula; nothing was showing on the monitor which was very bright with pollution glow. I went into the observatory added a UHC filter to the eyepiece in the 6”, nothing at first but when I moved the mount a little a grey mass became apparent, certainly not beautiful but it was there in what looked like an impossible section of sky looking towards London.
Right enough of this messing around, after those galaxies boy! As is my usual style I hoped via bright stars using the goto, stopping, centering and syncing the mount on each until I was within pouncing distance of my quarry. And that quarry was a delightful trio of reasonably bright galaxies within the square of Pegasus NGC 7769, 7770 & 7771. All of the galaxies appeared on the monitor and fitted readily into the 11.9’ x 11.9’ fov. I tweaked the camera and monitor controls until I got the best view possible and then made a sketch, as I worked away I noted a deterioration of the image on the screen, sure enough haze was building and things were sopping wet with dew in the obsy.
In the galaxy NGC 7770 which is, or appears to be edge on I noted a star which wasn’t shown on the admittedly dated photograph in NSOG. Sky Map pro 10 didn’t show it either, interesting! To cut a long story short I had it checked out and it is a known star, not a supernova as I had hoped, ah well another day ;¬)
Next it was onto NGC 7741 still within the Square of Peg. This galaxy turned out to be very interesting, a very unusual barred spiral. The sky by now was very poor and I had to clear my secondary mirror on a number of occasions with the trusty hairdryer. I have a heater on the secondary but it is from the old 14” and clearly not man enough for these autumnal nights.
In the end I had to use the longer ‘exposure’ facility of the newer + Watec to pull out more detail, 30 seconds worth was the most I could get and with the gain right up I could see the full shape of the galaxy with arms coming off the central bar and wrapping right around, quite something.
At this point I would like to set the scene inside the observatory office, sitting in front of my bank of monitors, OK only 1 was in use on this occasion, listening to very spacey electronic rather hypnotic music by Klaus Schultz, to which I was introduced recently by Colin Hards of the NNAS a society to whom I gave a talk on ‘Watecery’ and mentioned I enjoy listening to music as I travel distant reaches of the universe in my special room, “you must try this” I was told by Colin, so I did J
On my lap top I noted another NGC galaxy off to the left of 7741 so I sent the scope there to NGC 7745 it turned out to be very small, just a mag 14.2 smudge, I moved on, regretting instantly that I had taken the time to sketch it! OK it isn’t a show stopper but I need to record all that I observe!
Off to the other side of 7741 was another NGC this time I did stop and sketch, NGC 7735, again it wasn’t a show stopper, being small and fuzzy but slightly larger, brighter and shapelier than 7745.
Again the mirrors were dripping with dew and only mag 3+ stars were showing by now so I decided to finish off with a look at Jupiter.
I dried off the refractor with the hairdryer put in the binoviewers and tool a long look at Jupiter, no transits or GRS but it was fairly steady. I swapped the eyepieces for a pair of 15mm Pans taking the power to 235x, it still held well but I wasn’t compelled to make a drawing, nothing really jumped out at me, it was nice, very nice, perhaps I was just tired?
Anyhow I was pretty content with the evening it was now past midnight so I closed up and headed in to bed.