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Observing report 05/03/2016 21.55 - 01.10

(01.45 if I include starting to refine the two sketches and starting the report).

Paul Bertenshaw


  • EQ6 Pro mount
  • LXD55 SN10 f4 scope 
  • Various eyepieces: 
  • TV Nagler T4 17mm 82 FOV x59 mag TFOV 1.39
  • SMC Pentax XL 10.5mm 65 FOV x96 TFOV .65
  • TV Barlow x2


Made a last minute decision to go out after watching a recording of a film with Jane called 'Mr Hollands Opus', which was really good! 

21.55 It was quite damp outside with heavy dew on the grass and solid surfaces, so I was unsure of how good the seeing would be.

Set up and aligned on Betelgeuse (with the 17mm then swapped to the 10.5mm) and off to my first destination Cr69 where Meissa is the main star which I used to line up on using the Telrad finder. It had already dewed up and had to be wiped so I could see the objects I was lining up on as something other than a diffuse smudge!

I'd already decided at the end of my last observing session that I was going to sketch it, so centered Meissa and swapped back to the 17mm then started by positioning the three bright stars followed by the outer ones nearest the edge of the FOV. After lots of toing and froing I eventually completed the initial sketch in just over 1/2 hr. It's surprising how really faint stars slowly become visible during the sketching process, which not only helps add extra detail, but reinforces the view so that the next time you observe the same object (group of objects) you can recognise it/them.

Then onto M66 & M65 again. I tried the other element of the Leo triplet (NGC3628) as well and may have glimpsed it, but couldn't be sure. Never mind there's plenty of time yet, plus I had other targets to try for.

Next was M51 where the two elements were obvious with a faint diffuse flow around them. As I continued to observe (I'd swapped back to the 10.5mm) they transformed into what must have been very faint spiral structure.

Then back to the 17mm and onto NGC 2903, which looked similar to my last visit and I recognised many of its neighbouring stars.

Jupiter called and back to the 10.5mm which I eventually slotted into the Barlow. The main bands were obvious and quite detailed at times with swirls and differences in contrast and colour. The northern and southern bands popped in and out of view with the varying seeing conditions. It was too early to see the GRS yet so I moved on.

Next on my list was M29, but I soon realised that as the scope began to move down that it was far too low to see! Therefore I decided to try for a target on the list that Nick posted a while ago and chose NGC2841 in Ursa Major. For some reason I had it in my head that it was an open cluster! So when the GoTo settled down after slewing, I thought, "This isn't a very worthy cluster! It's not like Nick to recommend something so unimpressive!" There was a grey smudge near the top right of the FOV, which I decided that I'd investigate after I'd tried to find the cluster, which I'd decided must be just outside the FOV of the 10.5mm. I used the hand controller to slew slowly around the edge of the FOV to see if I could locate the cluster, without success. So I decided to try and identify the smudge.

It looked like either a galaxy or a comet and as the handset has an 'identify' function I decide to use it. After a brief search it displayed Alhuat (a star) and offset 2.2, which was a bit strange as it was way outside the FOV of the 10.5mm. I decided to sketch the object and then investigate after I'd finished via Google and star maps/charts. After centering it (the core was fairly obvious with a diffuse glow around it) I began by positioning to stars closest to it, then proceeded to add the other stars as per usual.

This took about 15 mins as there weren't that many stars in view. 

When I'd finished it was well past midnight so I slewed to Jupiter and after a while slotted the 10.5mm into the Barlow again. After a while I noticed a slight smudge near the edge of the planet, which may have been the GRS. It isn't easy identifying it when it's this close to the limb though as there's a lot of atmosphere in the way! 

By this time it was nearly 1am and everything was dripping wet and frost was forming, so I packed up and headed inside.

End 01.10.

After I'd left the eyepieces on the dining room table to dry off overnight I used Google to identify the mystery object and typed in NGC2841 with the intention of looking for objects close by and guess what? Its a galaxy!! So whilst I was faffing around thinking I was doing good detective work I was staring at the correct object all along!! DOH!

Nicks list states that it's mag 9.3 as does Wikipedia, but at least one other site lists it as mag 10.1. Luminous lists it as mag 9.2.

I started to **tidy up the sketches a bit, plus I started the observing report and noted important points and times for the morning after.

End 01.45.


*These then give reasonably accurate fixed points to enable positioning of the fainter stars moving out from the central brights stars in a logical manner.

Using recognisable shapes such as triangles, squares and oblongs and also lines of stars pointing in directions that may intersect the stars (or the gaps in between) already drawn. This helps increase the accuracy of your drawing. If you wear reading glasses and have a relatively poor memory like me, that means a fairly long session! First you take them off to observe then quickly put them back on to draw, quickly realise that you're not quite sure of the position of the star/s in relation to the main star, so glasses back on a quick check then to and fro until sure of position!

Plus there's the problem of where to put your glasses whilst observing so you don't lose them, or drop them and stand on them, or forget where you put them!! I've taken to hanging them from the loops formed by the bungee rope holding my dew/stars light shield onto the front of the scope where the corrector lens is located.

**It's usual to have occasional double dots when you aren't sure that you've dotted a particular star and so do it again. Also some stars have slight trails when the pencil has dragged a bit as its lifted on and off the paper.




Paul Bertenshaw

Drawing(I) 050316
Drawing(II) 050316
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