I was out again last night.
Observing report 07/03/2016 21.25 - 23.55
- EQ6 Pro mount with 10" Meade SN10 f4 scope.
- Various eyepieces:
- Skywatcher Nirvana 28mm 82° FOV x36 mag TFOV 2.28°
- TV Nagler T4 17mm 82° FOV x59 mag TFOV 1.39°
- SMC Pentax XL 10.5mm 65° FOV x96 mag TFOV .65°
- Fujiyama HD-OR Ortho 6mm 42° FOV x168 TFOV 0.25°
- Celestron 8-24mm zoom @ 18mm setting 47.5° FOV x56 mag 0.86° TFOV (estimates)
- TV x2 Barlow
21.25 Temp already down to 0C and apart from some wispy clouds, seeing looked good. However that can sometimes be deceiving.
After having set up I did a two star alignment on Procyon and Mizar then back to Rigel where the glare appeared to be greater than normal. By using the 6mm I was able to discern the dim companion star.
Then onto M42, using the 28mm, 17mm then the 10.5mm, which appeared dimmer than normal then I noticed some thin cloud impinging on the view, so decide to go back to Mizar and try for its double companion. I failed with the 10.5, 8 and 6mm (I didn't try too hard and there's plenty of time to try again), so moved onto Nicks list of Ursa Major NGC targets.
First with the 28 then the 17mm though I found NGC2903, which as I'd recently sketched it I found relatively easily, although it also appeared to be slightly dimmer than my previous observation.
Next up was NGC2841 (all with the 17mm with higher magnification and slightly darker background), which I'd also sketched recently.
Then in succession I tried to observe NGC3184 mag 9.8
- NGC3877 mag 10.9
- NGC3938 mag 10.4
- NGC4036 mag 10.6
- NGC4088 mag 10.5 all without success even after observing for several minutes on each one. Sometimes you think you've spotted a grey smudge, but it's easy to fool yourself.
- So then I tried for M108 (Galaxy) and M97 (faint planetary nebula), which should have both appeared in the FOV of the 28mm.
I observed for several minutes without being sure of seeing either of them, including panning around the edge of the FOV in the hope of spotting something, but then became aware (with averted vision) of an extremely faint grey smoky area near the top left of the FOV. I centered the object and observed it for several minutes, occasionally looking to the side of it to make sure I wasn't imagining it. It remained (as a roughly circular area) and I decided to sketch it. It seems to me that it was most probably M97 as firstly I would have expected M108 to be more elongated and secondly at mag 10.7 it is fainter than M97 which is mag 9.9.
The sketch took about 15 minutes (see below).
By this time you could feel that the ground underfoot was becoming much firmer as the temperature continued to fall and the hoar frost built up.
Next I moved onto some Winter targets as recommended from a December 2001 edition of Astronomy Now magazine. Among these were Galaxy NGC2146 that I failed to locate which isn't really a surprise as its mag 11.38!
Then onto NGC2403, which I did locate after a bit of scanning around and averted vision. This looked interesting as its shown in the magazine as having two stars at either end of the faint grey oval shape. It was vertical in the eyepiece whereas in the magazine image it was horizontal.
I noticed that there was a third star close to the one at the top (south) plus quite a few other dotted a round and about. The sketch took about 26 minutes (see below) and by this time the frost was really starting to build up.
I did try for NGC2683, but failed to find it. It is mag 10.6, so maybe another night.
Before finishing I decided to try for M108 one last time, but still failed to confirm that I'd seen it. There was a very faint grey smudge about halfway from the centre of the FOV which may have been it, but I couldn't be absolutely sure.
One night I will find it.
Packed up at 23.55 by which time the grass was firm and crunchy underfoot.