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All observing logs tagged with Moon

2009-03-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2009-03-01 20:10 UT
To: 2009-03-01 20:30 UT
Equipment: Monocular
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 5.6C ...
Dew Point: 2.0C ...
Humidity: 78% ...
Wind Speed: 1.7mph ...
Wind Dir: North North West ...
Pressure: 1007.0hPa ...
Notes:

After a week of cloud and other engagements I finally had some clear skies and a quick chance to have a look for Lulin. Slight hint of mist in the air and a waxing crescent Moon in the western sky.

Comet C/2007 N3 Lulin

From: 2009-03-01 20:10 UT
To: 2009-03-01 20:30 UT

Headed out with the 10x50 binoculars and started to sweep the general area that where Lulin should have been. At first I struggled to find it but, after a couple of minutes, I noticed a misty patch that was showing up with averted vision. I have my eyes a little more time to adapt and what I was seeing started to stand up to direct vision. It was obviously Lulin.

The view I had is best described as a large faint misty patch, elongated in one dimension, with no obvious "core" and with no sign of a tail. No sign of any colour was visible either (some people had been reporting that it looked green to the eye).

I grabbed my 20x60 monocular and had a look through that to see if there was any difference but it looked pretty much the same as above.


2009-02-07


Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2009-02-07 21:00 UT
To: 2009-02-07 23:34 UT
Equipment: Canon EOS 400D
Naked Eye
Notes:

Joined John at Woodland Waters for an observing session. Forecast suggested the night could go either so decided to take a chance. I decided not to bother taking a 'scope, assuming that cloud would be turning up. Instead I packed binoculars and my Canon EOS 400D.

This was never going to be a real observing session, more a case of standing in a field, chatting, and looking at stuff when it was available. I left home with clear skies and reached the site to find lots of scattered cloud so packing light turned out to be a good plan.

Random Moon shots

From: 2009-02-07 21:15 UT
To: 2009-02-07 21:30 UT

While standing around and chatting, during the gaps in the cloud, I took a number of hand-held shots of the Moon with my EOS 400D and the its 200mm Tamron lens. Nothing fancy but they turned out okay. Here's an example:

Moon

Clouded Out

From: 2009-02-07 21:41 UT
To: 2009-02-07 22:24 UT

The cloud got worse and by about 21:41 UT we were totally clouded out. This lasted until around 22:24 UT when it started to break up again.

Saturn

From: 2009-02-07 22:25 UT
To: 2009-02-07 22:30 UT

By 22:25 UT some reasonable gaps had started to appear in the cloud and John turned his 'scope on Saturn. I had a look and was immediately struck by how much the rings at closed up since the last view I had almost exactly a year ago. There was a hint of mottling on the disc of the planet but it was difficult to make out much in the way of detail due to cloud coming and going.

Titan was easily visible.

Meteor

Time: 2009-02-07 22:33 UT

While waiting for Saturn to appear from behind the clouds again I was looking in the general direction of Leo and saw a short but bright meteor head roughly west to east just below the constellation.

More Saturn

From: 2009-02-07 22:36 UT
To: 2009-02-07 22:50 UT

Cloud cleared again so back to Saturn.

John noticed what he thought was another moon or perhaps a background star near Titan. I had a look and confirmed that there was a pretty faint object in the position he'd mentioned. I made a simple sketch in my notebook with a view to checking what it was when I got home.

Checking later it would appear that the object we saw was Rhea.

John next spotted another, even fainter, object. This time around half way between Titan and Saturn's rings. Again I looked and managed to confirm the object in the position he'd been looking in. Again, I made a note on the simple sketch in my notebook so I could check what it was later.

Checking later it would appear that we'd seen either Dione or Enceladus. Starry Night suggests that Dione would have been the brighter of the two so I'm assuming that that's what we saw.

The other thing I noticed while observing Saturn, and John confirmed it, was that one side of the rings (the "right" side as seen via the view at that time in John's refractor, the opposite side to the side where Titan was) looked like they were detached from the planet's disk whereas the other side looked like they were attached. Despite the rings being very closed up now it seems that the planet's shadow on the rings was still very obvious.

Later checking confirms that this is where the shadow should have been.

Some photography

From: 2009-02-07 23:00 UT
To: 2009-02-07 23:30 UT

Did a bit of general skyscape/landscape photography, taking in Orion (including picking out M42).

End of Session

Time: 2009-02-07 23:34 UT

Even though the sky had cleared by now the Moon was whiting out the sky and, given that we'd seen most of what was worth seeing tonight, we decided to call and end to the session and pack up.


2008-08-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2008-08-01 08:19 UT
To: 2008-08-01 10:05 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 22.2C ...
Dew Point: 14.3C ...
Humidity: 61% ...
Wind Speed: 5.5mph ...
Wind Dir: South West ...
Pressure: 1005.3hPa ...
Notes:

Out to observe the partial solar eclipse (which was total in parts of Greenland, Russia and China). Weather was less than ideal. Some cloud around and very windy.

Partial Solar Eclipse

From: 2008-08-01 08:19 UT
To: 2008-08-01 10:05 UT

I set up the Solarscope before first contact (due some time around 08:30 UT). Things didn't get off to a good start when the wind blew the Solarscope off the table and, after I got it back on the table, the focus was totally messed up. I had to readjust the 'scope part to get it to work again.

While waiting for first contact I noted that no sunspots were visible on the Sun.

At 08:30 UT I got what I thought was the first hint of the Moon moving onto the Sun. Very quickly it became obvious that it was. By 08:31 UT I was also able to make out the Moon with the naked eye (via eclipse shades, obviously).

At 08:34 UT I noted that conditions weren't looking too good. In the short time since I'd set up the sky had gone from being more clear than cloudy to being more cloudy than clear.

Around 08:41 UT I took the following photographs:

Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse

At 08:49 UT a large cloud moved in and obscured my view of the Sun. At this point I took the opportunity to go into the office and find some small heavy objects which I then placed inside the Solarscope to weigh it down. This helped to keep it on the table in the increasing wind.

By 08:56 UT I had another reasonable view and noted that a good chunk of the Sun was now covered. The view lasted until around 09:03 UT and then cloud moved in again. I got a very brief view at 09:10 UT but got clouded out again.

Just after 09:14 UT I had a good clear spell and took some more photographs:

Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse

This was around the time of mid-eclipse.

I had a reasonable run of views of the Sun until 09:28 UT when more cloud moved in. A couple of very brief views came and went but, by 09:38 UT it was wall-to-wall cloud with no sign of any gaps heading my way. At 09:43 UT I decided to pack the Solarscope away seeing as how things weren't looking so good. However, I did keep an eye out for more clear weather and I kept the eclipse shades to hand just in case.

The sky cleared really well around 09:59 UT so I went back out with the eclipse shades to watch the end of the eclipse. I kept watching until, at 10:05 UT, I couldn't make out any sign of the Moon any more.

Not the best of views of a partial solar eclipse but better than the view I had back on 2006-03-29 and obviously far better than the eclipse on 2005-10-03.


2007-11-15


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-15 13:35 UT
To: 2007-11-15 13:40 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 7.6C ...
Dew Point: 2.6C ...
Humidity: 70% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1024.9hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-11-15 13:35 UT
To: 2007-11-15 13:40 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-15 19:19 UT
To: 2007-11-15 20:02 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 1.5C ...
Dew Point: -1.6C ...
Humidity: 80% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1025.6hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly clear and cold evening, some cloud around and getting increasingly misty. Waxing crescent Moon very low in the south. Decided to get the 130M out to have a look at comet Holmes.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-11-15 19:19 UT
To: 2007-11-15 20:02 UT

At first glance I struggled to see comet Holmes with the naked eye. Only after some effort, and using averted vision, could I see a faint fuzzy blob somewhere near Mirfak. By the looks of things the comet had faded quite a bit since my last observation a couple of nights ago.

The comet was easy enough to find with the 130M and the 32mm eyepiece. It appeared as a large, blueish, ghostly and distorted circle. While there was still no sign of any tail the impression I'd had from previous observations of it being an incomplete circle, with one part of the edge being much less brighter than the rest, was even more obvious.

I noticed that it appeared to be relatively bright in the middle, fading further out and then getting a little brighter again towards the edge (other than the faded edge I mention above).

The overall impression I got was of a large faint circle where most of one half had been smudged away (I'm guessing this is the side where any tail is/would be).

Switched to the 15mm eyepiece and noticed right away that the comet was pretty much too big to fit into the field of view. Moving the main part of the comet out of view, and looking backwards from the "faded" part of the edge of the comet, I did get the impression that there was "something" there. A very slight hint of blue, a hint of colour, or something, that was a little different from the background sky. Could have been a hint of the tail but couldn't say for sure.

Switched to the 25mm eyepiece and this gave a better view than with the 15mm but didn't show anything different from what I'd seen with the 32mm.

Switched back to the 32mm and added the Neodymium filter to see if it would have an effect. While it didn't reveal anything new it did remove the blueish colour (which is probably to be expected) but it also seemed to make the comet stand out from the background sky a little better.

I could get both the comet and Mirfak in the same field of view with the 32mm, a really nice sight that I'm sure would have made for a great bit of astrophotography.

The overall impression I got was that the "main event" was over. It seems, from the view I had, that not a lot is being given off by the comet now and that the main shell of debris is expanding to the point that it won't be visible to be pretty soon.

By 20:02 UT the sky was starting to get a little more hazy and it looked like it was only going to get more and more foggy so, having seen what I wanted to see, I packed up.


2007-11-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-11-01 19:21 UT
To: 2007-11-01 20:09 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Antares 905
Temperature: 12.3C ...
Dew Point: 9.6C ...
Humidity: 84% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1028.6hPa ...
Notes:

Went out with the Antares 905 to get my first view of comet Holmes via a telescope.

Fairly clear night. No Moon. Bank of cloud visible to the west.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-11-01 19:21 UT
To: 2007-11-01 20:09 UT

I quickly got comet Holmes in the 905 using the 32mm eyepiece. A very impressive sight. Large coma with an obvious bright patch in the middle, fading a little further out and then appearing brighter again towards the edge.

Despite some reports that I'd seen elsewhere I could see no hint of any sort of tail.

I added the Neodymium filter to see if it might help bring out any more detail in the comet. It did seem to reduce the "glow" of the background sky a little but I wouldn't have said I could see any more detail in the comet.

Next I switched to the 25mm eyepiece. The view didn't look that much different in terms of what I could see of the comet. The coma looked a little more "circular" with averted vision than without and I did get the impression that one side of the comet wasn't quite as bright as the other.

After a switch to the 10mm eyepiece the view was still good and it was now more obvious that the outer ring of the coma wasn't the same brightness, it was now very obvious that one side wasn't as bright as the other. This gave the impression that I was looking at something that had leading and trailing edges.

With the 6mm eyepiece (and with the Neodymium filter now removed) it was still a very impressive sight. The coma filled a large part of the field of view. The overall impression was still that there was a central bright era within a bright ring and the area between the two being less bright. I also started to notice that there was a hint of blue to the comet.

Even at this magnification, and also at the other magnifications mentioned above, there was no hint of a tail.

Looking at the comet with the naked eye I noticed that, compared to other recent views, the comet seemed a little more "fuzzy" than I'd noticed before. Also, once again, I estimated the brightness to be something close to Delta Persei.

Overall I felt that the best view was with the 32mm eyepiece. Via that there was a very definite sense of viewing a ghostly 3d ball of "smoke".

By 20:09 UT the sky was starting to get quite misty, it was obvious that the view was more "milky" as seen via the 'scope. So, given that things seemed to be going downhill and given that I'd have a good look at the comet I decided to call an end to the session.


2007-10-31


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-10-31 21:25 UT
To: 2007-10-31 21:45 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 10.6C ...
Dew Point: 8.1C ...
Humidity: 85% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1025.1hPa ...
Notes:

Another evening where I was busy with other things while it was clear out. Given that I had a little bit of free time I wandered out with the Meade 10x50 binocular to have a look at comet Holmes.

Pretty fine night, a small hint of mist. No Moon.

Comet 17P/Holmes

From: 2007-10-31 21:25 UT
To: 2007-10-31 21:45 UT

With the naked eye comet Holmes looked more or less the same it did during my previous observation. At a rough guess I'd have said that the brightness was again similar to that of Delta Persei.

With the binocular the view was a little different to that of two nights ago. While the overall view was the same the variation in brightness that I'd noted seemed press pronounced, less obvious.


2007-05-22


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-05-22 16:00 UT
To: 2007-05-22 16:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 20.4C ...
Dew Point: 10.2C ...
Humidity: 52% ...
Wind Speed: 1.1mph ...
Wind Dir: North North West ...
Pressure: 1018.4hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly cloudy afternoon. Finally started to break up late on so took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-05-22 16:00 UT
To: 2007-05-22 16:05 UT

Active area 956 was visible with 2 spots. Both appeared to be very small and faint.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-05-22 18:47 UT
To: 2007-05-22 20:29 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 18.8C ...
Dew Point: 9.8C ...
Humidity: 57% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1018.5hPa ...
Notes:

The evening got more and more clear (slightly milky sky with a few bits of cirrus about) so I decided to set up the 130M and attempt to observe the daylight occultation of Saturn by the Moon.

Disappearance of Saturn

From: 2007-05-22 18:51 UT
To: 2007-05-22 19:07 UT

After letting the 'scope cool down a little (I was rushed getting set up) I used the 25mm eyepiece in the 130M to try and locate Saturn. With the "dark side" of the Moon in the field of view I moved around a little to try and find it and, initially, failed. Thinking that a higher power might help I switched to the 15mm eyepiece and scanned some more. After a short while (at 18:56 UT) I could finally make out the planet. It was very faint and, initially, kept popping in and out of view.

Having got it in the middle of the field of view I switched to the 10mm eyepiece. It was still hard to see most of the time. As an experiment I added the Neodymium filter and that appeared to improve things a bit. Now and again the view of the planet's shadow on the rings would pop into view.

I stayed glued to the eyepiece and then, between around 19:05 UT and 19:06 UT (I had no method of keeping accurate timing and, even if I had, it would have meant looking away from the eyepiece) I noticed that a bit of the rings was missing. Very quickly more and more of the planet disappeared until, some time around 19:06 UT, it had totally gone.

I was quite surprised at how quickly it happened. It felt like it took no more than 30 seconds although I've got no way of knowing how long it actually took. The "effort" of watching it probably made it feel faster than it actually was.

Waiting

From: 2007-05-22 19:08 UT
To: 2007-05-22 20:12 UT

I spent most of the next hour talking on the phone to a couple of fellow observers while also watching some cloud roll in from the west. By 20:00 UT the Moon had been totally lost behind cloud. Although I could see a gap off in the distance it didn't look as if it would make it over me in time.

By 20:12 UT the gap had got very close and, for a few seconds, the Moon reappeared but disappeared just as quickly. It looked as if I was going to miss the reappearance of Saturn.

Reappearance of Saturn

From: 2007-05-22 20:13 UT
To: 2007-05-22 20:29 UT

At 20:13 UT the Moon finally became visible again and I acquired it in the 'scope as quickly as possible. Most of Saturn was already visible, just part of the rings was still occulted. Very quickly the whole of the planet and the rings was free of the Moon, I timed last contact to be 20:14 UT.

I carried on observing, watching the gap widen, until the Moon was lost to cloud again at 20:19 UT. I had a few extra fleeting glimpses over the next couple of minutes and then the Moon totally lost again. By 20:29 UT the cloud was heavier and I decided to call an end to the session.


2007-05-19


Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-05-19 20:20 UT
To: 2007-05-19 23:41 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Canon EOS 400D
Notes:

Joined John and Kevin at Woodland Waters for an observing session. The sky was still very light when we arrived, Venus and a crescent Moon hung over the western horizon. Some cloud scattered around but appearing to clear.

Giving Guests a Tour

From: 2007-05-19 20:40 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:00 UT

A short while after we'd set the 'scopes up and left them to cool down we were joined by a young couple asking what we were looking at. We explained that we weren't looking at anything specific and asked them if they wanted to have a look through the 'scopes.

Over the next 20 minutes or so we gave them a tour of Venus, the Moon and Saturn. As usually happens Saturn seemed to go down a treat.

While showing them Saturn I noticed that the image wasn't too good this evening. It was possible to make out the planet's shadow on the rings but that was about all that could be seen. I couldn't make out the Cassini Division.

Venus was also a bit of a problem too. While it was possible to make out the phase (it was apparent that the phase was smaller than the last time I observed it) there was a lot of false colour (the contrast booster helped a little but not as much as it has in the past) and the image was very unsteady.

Another guest

From: 2007-05-19 21:01 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:05 UT

Just after the first guests left we had another visit. This person didn't stay very long, just long enough to have a quick look at Saturn through Kevin's ETX125. That sight got a very obvious "wow!" (as it does with most people).

Photographing Venus and the Moon

From: 2007-05-19 21:10 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:30 UT

I got the Canon EOS 400D out of the car, set it on the tripod, and took some wide angle views of Venus and the Moon together:

Venus and the Moon

Venus and the Moon

Venus, the Moon and Me

Stopping for Coffee

From: 2007-05-19 21:37 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:47 UT

By 21:37 UT it was obvious that it was going to be a very damp observing session. I noticed that lots of dew was forming on everything. I covered up the log book and anything else that might suffer from getting wet and decided to stop for a short coffee break.

M51

From: 2007-05-19 21:47 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:57 UT

John had got M51 in his 80mm 'scope and I had a look at it (I would have got it in the 905 too but it was in a position that I can't get that 'scope in to — it's not very good at pointing almost overhead). At first it was difficult to see but, slowly, a very faint ghostly patch came into view using averted vision. I was impressed that I could see anything given that the sky still wasn't anywhere near fully dark.

M57

From: 2007-05-19 22:00 UT
To: 2007-05-19 22:15 UT

Given that Lyra was at a reasonable hight I decided to see how M57 looked in the 905. I found it without too much trouble using the 25mm eyepiece (in that it simply looked like a slightly out-of-focus star) and I then switched to the 6mm eyepiece

With the 6mm it simply looked like a faint disc. There was no hint of the ring structure that I've seen before in the 130M.

Given that the sky still wasn't fully dark I decided to compare the view I had with the view using the Neodymium filter. It did appear to improve things slightly although I wouldn't have said that it brought out any more detail. While I wasn't really comparing like-for-like in terms of observing conditions I'm of the impression that this is an object better left to the 130M.

Antares 905 Fogging Up

Time: 2007-05-19 22:16 UT

By 22:16 UT I noticed that the 905 was starting to fog up. Because of this I decided to cover it up and see if it would clear.

M3

From: 2007-05-19 22:20 UT
To: 2007-05-19 22:30 UT

While the 905 was recovering I had a look at M3 thought Kevin's ETX125. For some reason I've never observed this cluster globular cluster before. I was surprised at how striking the view was.

Observing with a 15mm eyepiece, at first all I could see was a diffuse patch in the sky. As my eye adjusted, and especially when using averted vision, I started to see a mottled effect in the cluster and I soon had the first distinct impression that I was making out individual stars.

Jupiter via EXT125

From: 2007-05-19 23:10 UT
To: 2007-05-19 23:20 UT

After a short coffee break we noticed that Jupiter was visible between trees, low on the horizon. Kevin turned his ETX125 onto it and I spent a short while having a look. All four moons were visible, one to one side of the planet and three to the other side. The view, however, was terrible. It was impossible to make out any detail whatsoever on Jupiter. This wasn't really that surprising given that the planet was so low down and also given that we were observing it thought some thin (and apparently growing) cloud.

Jupiter via 905

From: 2007-05-19 23:23 UT
To: 2007-05-19 23:30 UT

I uncovered the 905 and turned that towards Jupiter. Using the 6mm eyepiece and the contrast booster the view was no better than it had been via the ETX125. I spent a short while just observing but the view never improved and I never saw any detail at all on the planet. At no point could I even make out the two main bands.

End of Session

Time: 2007-05-19 23:41 UT

Over the past hour or so more and more thin cloud had been forming over is and was starting to spread out more. By around 23:41 UT it was obvious that it wasn't going to get any better so we decided to call an end to the session.


2007-04-27


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-04-27 13:15 UT
To: 2007-04-27 13:25 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Canon EOS 400D
Temperature: 15.1C ...
Dew Point: 9.7C ...
Humidity: 70% ...
Wind Speed: 0.6mph ...
Wind Dir: East ...
Pressure: 1023.4hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly cloudy all morning but started to clear into the afternoon. Although it was still a little hazy I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-04-27 13:15 UT
To: 2007-04-27 13:25 UT

New active area 953 visible with a single and reasonably large spot (this is the first sunspot I've seen since 2007-03-03). The umbra appeared quite dark and a large penumbra was visible too.

Given how large the spot was I decided to try and take a photograph with my Canon EOS 400D:

Active Area 953

Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-04-27 19:55 UT
To: 2007-04-27 22:48 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Notes:

A clear night had been forecast so John Turner and myself met up at Woodland Waters for a joint observing session. I took my Antares 905.

When we arrived the sky was mostly overcast with a lot of cirrus. It started to look like we'd abandon the session. However, it started to thin out a little so we decided to stick with it and see how it went on — it did look like it would be a shorter session though.

Venus

From: 2007-04-27 19:55 UT
To: 2007-04-27 20:15 UT

Started out with a view of Venus, even though the sky was still quite light. Using the 905 and the 6mm eyepiece the view wasn't too bad. There was some false colour and some unsteadiness at times but it was easy enough to make out the planet's phase (which had obviously changed since the last time I observed it).

I then added the contrast booster and, as I've found before, the image improved some more.

Giving a Tour of the Sky

From: 2007-04-27 20:16 UT
To: 2007-04-27 20:54 UT

Around 20:16 UT we were approached by two blokes who were part of a group of people camping in the field. They asked what was happening (apparently assuming that we were watching an "event" in the sky) and, after telling them that we were simply observing what was available, we asked if they'd like a look through the 'scopes. They said they'd love to.

Neither of them had looked thought a telescope before so between us John and I showed them Venus, Saturn and various views of the Moon. Both were impressed and, as normally happens, Saturn was the real winner with the most "wow" factor.

We also had a good chat about various things astronomical and how we'd got into observing in the first place. I also spent some time trying to explain to them what they'd been seeing when viewing Venus (the significance of Venus' phase wasn't clear to either of them and it took a little explaining).

Since getting into observing this was the first chance I've had to do this sort of thing. While it wasn't exactly sidewalk astronomy it was nice to give people a view though my 'scope and to answer some of their questions.

The Moon

From: 2007-04-27 21:35 UT
To: 2007-04-27 22:48 UT

After our two guests headed back off to their tent I had a sit down and a coffee break. By 21:35 UT it was obvious that the sky wasn't going to improve at all. There was still a fair bit of haze around and the Moon had a pretty impressive halo around it. There was no chance of any deep sky observing.

Trying to make the most of the evening I decided to do some observing of the Moon. With the 6mm eyepiece in the 905 I had a quick scan along the terminator and could see that the view appeared somewhat flat and muted.

Around 21:50 UT I concentrated on a large highlighted "wall" some distance into the Moon's shadow. Using my Moon map I quickly figured out that what I was seeing was the eastern wall of Gassendi.

I spent some more time just wandering up and down the terminator and then, at around 22:19 UT, I noticed a very strange thing right in the terminator near Delisle. What I was seeing was a perfect triangle, bright corners and obvious sides. It looked very artificial. Realising that I must be seeing some sort of optical effect I had a look at my map to try and figure out what I was really looking at.

To the west of Delisle are some mountains (unnamed on my map) which appears (according to my map) to have three peaks in a rough triangular formation. Given that the terminator was running right through these three peaks it would seem that my brain was "filling in the blanks" and joining the dots to make a triangle with actual sides. Even though I now knew what I was looking at I couldn't stop seeing what I'd initially seen.

I got John to also have a look too and he confirmed the effect.

Also, close to Delisle, I could see Mons Delisle as an inverted Y.

By 22:26 UT the sky was getting somewhat worse although the halo around the Moon was becoming more impressive. For a short while it had quite a lot of colour to it. It appeared yellowish in the inside (the part touching the Moon) and appeared to get redder out towards the edge.

Because of the deteriorating conditions I had another short break to see if things might improve again. However, they didn't and at 22:48 UT John and I decided to call it a night.


2007-03-27


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-27 12:35 UT
To: 2007-03-27 12:40 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 13.8C ...
Dew Point: 9.6C ...
Humidity: 76% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1014.2hPa ...
Notes:

The day started out very foggy but cleared somewhat into the afternoon. When it was clear enough I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-03-27 12:35 UT
To: 2007-03-27 12:40 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-27 18:50 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:45 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 9.8C ...
Dew Point: 5.5C ...
Humidity: 75% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1013.7hPa ...
Notes:

A reasonably clear but slightly damp and misty evening. Although I had to be elsewhere a little later on in the evening I decided to have a quick session observing Venus and, if there was time, a quick look at the Moon (especially given that Rupes Recta would be favourably lit).

Venus

From: 2007-03-27 18:50 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:10 UT

I first lined Venus up in the 905 using the 25mm eyepiece and then swapped it for the 6mm eyepiece. The image was very indistinct and had lots of blue fringing. I then added the contrast booster and this gave an instant improvement (I can see this becoming a more or less permanent fixture on the 905) with Venus now obviously showing a gibbous phase. There was, however, still some red fringe.

As with my previous session observing Venus I added the #80A medium blue and this eliminated pretty much all of the fringing. Those two filters appear to be a winning combination, at least for something as low down and as high-contrast as Venus.

I then added the 2x barlow and even that wasn't a terrible view. While the image was a little soft there was pretty much no colour fringe to distract from the view. Once again it was very obvious that I was looking at a planet that was displaying a very distinct phase.

I kept observing Venus until around 19:10 UT and then, given that I obviously wasn't going to get anything extra out of the planet, I decided to move on to the Moon.

The Moon

From: 2007-03-27 19:15 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:45 UT

While I had some time left I decided to have a quick look at the Moon and, in particular, Rupes Recta (something I used to observe a fair bit as a child, back when I was a member of the Lunar Section of the Junior Astronomical Society).

With the 6mm eyepiece (and keeping the contrast booster in place) Rupes Recta was immediately and obviously visible. Just as I remembered it gave the impression of being a large sharp cliff (something it really isn't). Close by I could see Brit and, in the wall of Brit, I could easily see Brit A.

I then added the 2x barlow and the view was still quite good.

Looking at the general area around Rupes Recta I noted that "wrinkles" to the West of Brit, along with other features in the area, give a very strong impression of the whole region being surrounded by the remains of a very circular ghost crater.

About way between Brit and the terminator I could see Nicollet. Further on in that general direction, more or less on the terminator, I could see Wolf.

Pretty much touching the south wall of Thebit I could see a very small crater which I could make out on my map but which didn't have a name marked.

At this point I removed the 2x barlow and carried on using just the 6mm eyepiece.

Further south Tycho looked fantastic with its floor in shadow and its central peak standing out in the sunlight. The shadow of the central peak was also very obvious.

Even further south I could see Clavius cutting into the terminator. Two very distinct craters were visible on its floor, one of which (the eastern most one) was throwing quite a long shadow. I could also make out Rutherfurd, just visible in the wall of Clavius.

Buried right in the terminator, down close to the south pole, I could just make out Newton.

At this point (19:45 UT) my time was up and I needed to call an early end to the session and pack up.


2007-03-21


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-21 13:15 UT
To: 2007-03-21 13:20 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 7.9C ...
Dew Point: 0.1C ...
Humidity: 58% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1017.3hPa ...
Notes:

Partly cloudy day. During a clear spell I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-03-21 13:15 UT
To: 2007-03-21 13:20 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-21 19:20 UT
To: 2007-03-21 19:30 UT
Equipment: Canon EOS 400D
Temperature: 4.5C ...
Dew Point: -1.6C ...
Humidity: 65% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1016.7hPa ...
Notes:

The Moon and Venus were very close to each other in the western sky this evening so I decided to have a go at photograping them with my Canon EOS 400D.

Photographing the Moon and Venus

From: 2007-03-21 19:20 UT
To: 2007-03-21 19:30 UT

I went out with my Canon EOS 400D and set it up on a tripod and ran off a series of shots. Given how bright the Moon and Venus were I didn't need to use very long expopsures. Annoyingly I appear to have got the focus slightly wrong (I do find it tricky to manually focus the kit lens for astrophotography work

I took 12 images in all but the best of the bunch appears to be this one:

Moon and Venus

While it gives a reasonable idea of how the Moon and Venus looked it's nowhere near as crisp as it should be. I can see I need to work some more on manual focusing for astronomical photography.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-21 21:25 UT
To: 2007-03-21 22:07 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Antares 905
Temperature: 1.6C ...
Dew Point: -3.2C ...
Humidity: 71% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1016.6hPa ...
Notes:

Reasonably clear evening, slightly misty and looked like it might get a little foggy. Decided to take the 130M out for a quick test of a new 2x barlow that I'd purchased a couple of weeks ago at the 2007 Society for Popular Astronomy convention.

Testing new barlow against Saturn

From: 2007-03-21 21:25 UT
To: 2007-03-21 21:47 UT

I started out by getting Saturn lined up in the 130M using the 25mm eyepiece. I then switched to the 10mm eyepiece. The image wasn't too bad — a little unsteady and a little soft but it was possible to make out the shadow of the rings on the planet and also the shadow of the planet on the rings.

Next I added the Sky-Watcher supplied barlow lens and had a look at the image with that. As has always been the case I found it difficult to find good focus and the image was very soft to the point of being unusable. I then switched to the new barlow. Focus was a lot easier to find and, while the image wasn't fully crisp, it appeared to be a huge improvement over the Sky-Watcher barlow.

After comparing them a little more I came to the conclusion that the new barlow would, without a doubt, replace the old one in my lens box. It was a very obvious improvement.

I then tried the new barlow with the 6mm eyepiece. As I expected, the image was rather dull and rather soft but it was obviously much better than with the old barlow. I've seen worse views of Saturn at lower magnifications before now.

Testing With the 905

From: 2007-03-21 21:50 UT
To: 2007-03-21 22:07 UT

Having tested with the 130M I decided to give the new barlow lens a quick test when used in the 905. The main point of this test was to see how well it worked with the diagonal. The old barlow, which has quite a long barrel, didn't work too well as it tended to bang against the mirror. The new one is rather shorter and looked like it wouldn't suffer from this problem.

Got Saturn lined up in the 905 and then dropped the new barlow into the diagonal (and it was a perfect fit, didn't hit the mirror at all). Using the 10mm eyepiece Saturn looked pretty good. Again, it was a little soft (I suspect much of this was down to the state of the atmosphere this evening) but was very acceptable. I also tested with the 6mm eyepiece and, while the image was much darker and softer, it was still better than the worst views I've had in the 130M with the 10mm and the old barlow.

Under ideal conditions I imagine that this new barlow and either 'scope will make for a reasonable combination.

By 22:07 UT it was starting to get very misty and, to make matters worse, smoke from someone's fire was being blown over my garden so, having managed to conduct some quick tests, I decided to call it an evening.


2007-03-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-03 13:00 UT
To: 2007-03-03 13:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 11.1C ...
Dew Point: 5.8C ...
Humidity: 71% ...
Wind Speed: 3.3mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1003.9hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly clear day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-03-03 13:00 UT
To: 2007-03-03 13:05 UT

Active area 944 was still visible and looked more or less the same as it did yesterday.

Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-03 20:10 UT
To: 2007-03-04 01:12 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Antares 905
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Notes:

Very clear and pretty cold night. Arranged to meet up with John Turner at Woodland Waters to observe the total lunar eclipse. I took along my Antares 905 and a pair of 10x50 binoculars and John brought his Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M mounted on an EQ5 mount.

Saturn

From: 2007-03-03 20:10 UT
To: 2007-03-03 20:50 UT

After setting up I started out with a brief look at Saturn (given that the umbral phase of the eclipse wouldn't be starting for a short while). The first thing I noticed was that seeing seemed to be very steady. The view of Saturn in the 905 with the 6mm eyepiece was nice and sharp.

The shadow of the rings on the planet seemed obvious and I kept getting a good hint of the Cassini Division. Titan was easily visible and, off to the other side of Saturn, closer than Titan, there appeared to be another moon visible. Checking with Starry Night I suspect it was Rhea.

Total Lunar Eclipse

From: 2007-03-03 21:00 UT
To: 2007-03-04 01:12 UT

Having observed Saturn for a while I turned to observing the lunar eclipse.

At 21:04 UT I had the impression that there was less visible contrast between the highland and lowland regions of the Moon. This was especially noticeable on the side of the Moon that was heading towards the Earth's umbra. By 21:24 UT this loss of contrast had become much more noticeable and there was obvious darkening of the part of the lunar surface that was deepest in the Earth's penumbra.

At 21:30 UT the umbral phase started and, very quickly, it was obvious where the umbra was. To the naked eye it looked like part of the Moon had gone missing. Via the 905 detail was still visible in the umbra, it looked like a very dark gray shadow.

I noticed that Tycho had been fully consumed by the shadow at around 21:48 UT. I noted at this point that the umbra seemed very dark (much darker than I remember it looking during last year's partial eclipse), dark gray to almost back looking in places. I also noted at this point that the sky was obviously getting darker and that my shadow was starting to fade.

Around this time I started to take a few afocal images, via the 905, with my mobile phone. Few turned out that well but the following is an example of one of the better ones:

Total Lunar Eclipse

By 22:05 UT we were about way towards totality and I was starting to notice a slight red/brown hint to the umbra. In the 905 the umbra showed no colour, still just a dark gray.

At 22:16 UT, via the 905 and with the 10mm eyepiece, I could see a star quite close to the Moon. This star hadn't been visible before so it seemed pretty clear that a lot of the Moon's glare had gone now. Checking with Starry Night it appears that it was 56Y Leonis (HIP53449, TYC261-384-1).

By 22:32 UT I was starting to see a hint of red/brown colour in the deepest part of the umbra when viewing via the 'scope. The redness was now very obvious to the naked eye. By this point it was looking like it was going to be a reasonably dark eclipse.

At 22:44 UT it was obvious that totality had begun. Although there was an obvious hint of redness to the Moon with the naked eye it wasn't that red. There was an obvious difference in brightness between the part of the Moon that was towards the edge of the umbra and the part that was deepest in the umbra. By now the sky was a lot darker — many more stars were visible, as were the more obvious deep sky objects such as the Double Cluster and M44. I could no longer see my own shadow and, unlike earlier in the evening, I now needed a light to be able to move around safely.

Mid totality was around 23:20 UT. On the Danjon scale I would estimate that the brightness of the eclipse was L2.

At 23:32 UT I observed a short and bright meteor head south of Auriga in the direction of Orion.

By 23:35 UT it was obvious that the brighter part of the shadow had "swung" around to the edge of the Moon that would exit the umbra.

By 23:58 UT the first bright patch was visible to the naked eye, totality had ended.

Around 00:09 UT I took a few more afocal shots of the Moon, via the 905, with my mobile phone. The best of the bunch is this one:

Total Lunar Eclipse

Around 00:17 UT it was obvious that the sky was starting to brighten again. M44 was still visible but much harder to see than it had been during totality. I could also see my own shadow again.

At 00:24 UT, with the Moon about way out of the umbra, some thin cloud started to move in front of the Moon. While it didn't put a stop to observing it was a cause for concern given that thicker could cloud be seen towards the west.

Around 00:36 UT I watched Tycho emerge from the umbra. Also, around this time, I noticed a star pretty close to the lit limb of the Moon (the limb that had already emerged from the umbra). By the looks of things it seemed like it might actually be occulted by the Moon before the Moon was clear of the umbra. I decided to stay at the eyepiece and see how long I could follow the star.

Later checking suggests that I was watching 59 Leonis (HIP53824, TYC268-1064-1). From my location this star would not be occulted by the Moon but would come very close. Western parts of the UK would see an occultation.

At 00:39 UT I noticed that the objective lens of the 905 was starting to badly mist up (this might have started happening some time ago but it was now very obvious due to the glare from the brightening Moon).

The star was still just visible at 00:49 UT, although I now struggling to see it in the glare of the Moon. I carried on watching it for as long as I could and I lost it, very close to the Moon's limb, at 01:01 UT. It appeared to have been occulted (but see the note above).

By 01:04 UT the sky was now very bright again, only the brightest of stars were visible and I could no longer see the naked-eye deep-sky objects I'd been able to see earlier. I could also now walk around without the aid of a torch without any danger of bumping into anything.

I started to pack up during the final moments of the Moon exiting umbra and, at 01:12 UT, I watched the Moon finally move out of the umbra. Now cold and tired we finished packing up and called it a night.


2007-01-23


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-01-23 13:10 UT
To: 2007-01-23 13:15 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 2.5C ...
Dew Point: -1.4C ...
Humidity: 76% ...
Wind Speed: 5.3mph ...
Wind Dir: West North West ...
Pressure: 1017.3hPa ...
Notes:

Partly cloudy and breezy day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-01-23 13:10 UT
To: 2007-01-23 13:15 UT

Active area 939 was still visible although, unlike yesterday, only two spots were visible.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-01-23 19:30 UT
To: 2007-01-23 20:37 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: -0.6C ...
Dew Point: -3.8C ...
Humidity: 80% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1014.9hPa ...
Notes:

Clear, still and cold evening. Although cloud was expected later I decided to take the Antares 905 out so that I could test a couple of new filters I'd recently acquired (a Neodymium filter and a contrast booster).

The Moon

From: 2007-01-23 19:35 UT
To: 2007-01-23 20:05 UT

Decided to start by looking at the Moon. Viewed via the 905 with the 10mm eyepiece and no filter the usual flaring was obvious — depending on the location of my eye at the eyepiece or the location of parts of the Moon in the eyepiece the flaring would either appear bluish or yellowish.

Next I fitted the contrast booster to the diagonal of the 905 and viewed the Moon again. The first thing that was noticeable was the fact that the Moon now had a slight yellow/brown tint — not so bad as to be annoying but very noticeable. The filter did, however, appear to do a very good job of removing any fringing from the view. While it wasn't obvious that any more detail was visible on the Moon (I'd have needed a way of flipping the filter in and out of view to do that) it did seem to tidy up the view.

Next I dropped the 6mm eyepiece into the 'scope and had a quick look around. Given that this wasn't really intended to be a serious observing session (more of an equipment test) I wasn't really aiming for anything in particular. However, the crater Stiborius caught my eye. In the lighting conditions, with it being close to the terminator, I could see what appeared to be a raised terrace within the crater, close to the western edge. It was quite a striking sight and really stood out.

I also noticed, touching the northern edge of Piccolomini, what looked like a set of three small craters, touching each other, and all within another crater. While I could see this crater on my map it wasn't marked with a name so I'll need to find a more detailed map and work out what I was looking at.

At 20:05 UT I lost the Moon behind the house next to me so I decided to take a short break before moving on to something else.

Saturn

From: 2007-01-23 20:15 UT
To: 2007-01-23 20:35 UT

Next I decided to turn the 905 on Saturn. Using the 6mm eyepiece (without any filter in place) the view wasn't that good but the planet was still quite low in the sky and I was also viewing it above the roof of an adjacent house.

The rings were obvious although it was hard to tell if there was any sign of a shadow. I could not detect the Cassini Division. Close by I could see Titan.

I then added the contrast booster and looked again. My impression was that the view didn't really appear that much different, it was hard to tell if I could see more with or without the filter. The fact that Saturn was so low and in such a bad position probably meant that any shortcomings in the 905, that would be reduced by the filter, were masked by the general lack of detail that was available anyway.

At 20:28 UT I noticed that some of the forecast cloud was starting to show up to the west and to the north. Given that some snow was forecast too I got ready to pack up pretty soon.

With the filter still in place I carried on watching Saturn for some time with a hope to getting a few good steady moments. While the view did appear to slowly improve as the planet got higher I didn't see any extra detail. I switched back to the view without the filter and still couldn't see any obvious difference. About the nearest I could come to seeing any difference was that the view without the filter appeared slightly "softer" than with but, at the same time, in the odd very steady moment I also felt that there was little difference without or without the filter.

End of session

Time: 2007-01-23 20:37 UT
Temperature: -0.8C ...
Dew Point: -4.0C ...
Humidity: 79% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1013.5hPa ...

By now I could see even more cloud to the north and west and, overhead, it was starting to look rather hazy too. Having at least managed to test the contrast booster I decided it was time to pack up before it got really cloudy and there was a chance of snow starting to fall.


2006-11-02


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-02 13:00 UT
To: 2006-11-02 13:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 8.6C ...
Dew Point: 2.3C ...
Humidity: 65% ...
Wind Speed: 0.4mph ...
Wind Dir: North ...
Pressure: 1031.8hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear, cool and breezy day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-11-02 13:00 UT
To: 2006-11-02 13:05 UT

Active area 921 appears to have developed even more when compared to yesterday. Today I counted 11 spots of varying sizes. The spot that I saw yesterday, that appeared to be developing a penumbra, now appeared to be two spots sharing a common penumbra.

Active area 922 appeared to have developed a little more and now contained 3 spots.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-02 19:30 UT
To: 2006-11-02 21:00 UT
Equipment: 10x50 Binoculars
Antares 905
Temperature: 3.6C ...
Dew Point: -0.1C ...
Humidity: 77% ...
Wind Speed: 1.5mph ...
Wind Dir: West North West ...
Pressure: 1032.1hPa ...
Notes:

Another clear night with an 82% waxing Moon. Despite the extra moonlight the sky actually seemed slightly better than last night. Decided to head out and have another look for comet Swan.

Tracking down comet M4 Swan

From: 2006-11-02 19:30 UT
To: 2006-11-02 19:37 UT

First I stepped outside with my 10x50 binoculars to see if I could find comet Swan. It took a minute or two of sweeping around the right area but I finally managed to find the comet. It was quite hard to see, just a small, faint fuzzy patch. When compared to M13 it looked to me like the comet and the cluster were equally hard to see and both about the same brightness.

Comet M4 Swan with the 905

From: 2006-11-02 19:40 UT
To: 2006-11-02 20:02 UT

At 19:40 UT I took the Antares 905 out into the garden to let it cool off for a short while.

At 19:52 UT I found the comet using the 32mm eyepiece. As with the view by the binocular the comet looked small, faint and fuzzy. I also found that it was almost impossible to see with direct vision. There was no sign of a tail.

I next switched to the 15mm eyepiece and the view didn't seem any different. It was just visible with averted vision but generally disappeared when using direct vision. I could no longer make out the central brightness that I could easily see a few nights back.

I switched to the 10mm eyepiece and the view seemed much better (but sill nowhere near as good as the previous views). The comet now withstood direct vision although averted vision still gave the best view. The best description was still that of a "faint fuzzy patch".

Finally I used the 6mm eyepiece. The view was pretty much the same as that via the 10mm. In all the different eyepieces there was no hint of the tail at all.

Given that conditions were far from ideal for the comet I decided to give up on observing it for this session and to take a short break.

Attempt at imaging the Moon

From: 2006-11-02 20:32 UT
To: 2006-11-02 21:00 UT

After the short break I decided to have a go at imaging the Moon, via the 905, using a little digital camera I'd recently purchased (an Olympus FE-115). I wasn't expecting anything spectacular but I was interested to see how well it might work using afocal projection.

I spent the next 25 minutes or so trying different combinations of settings on the camera and different eyepieces in the 905 and found that the 32mm eyepiece along with maximum optical zoom on the camera gave the best results. Sadly even these results weren't terribly good.

The main problem seems to be with the fact that the camera is auto-focus and it was failing to get useful focus on the Moon. I could see, as it was seeking focus, a nice sharp image and then disappear as it finally settled in the wrong place. Ideally it would have a setting that would force it to focus on infinity. To the best of my knowledge it has no such setting (I'll have to go and read the manual again to double check).

Sadly even the best image acquired is pretty terrible so there's little point in including any of them in this log.


2006-11-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-01 12:40 UT
To: 2006-11-01 12:45 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 9.1C ...
Dew Point: 2.6C ...
Humidity: 64% ...
Wind Speed: 5.2mph ...
Wind Dir: North West ...
Pressure: 1027.5hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear, cool and breezy day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-11-01 12:40 UT
To: 2006-11-01 12:45 UT

Active area 921 appears to have developed even more when compared to yesterday. Today I counted 9 spots of varying sizes, at least one of which seemed to be developing a penumbra.

Active area 922 was sill visible with a single small spot.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-11-01 19:15 UT
To: 2006-11-01 19:25 UT
Equipment: 7x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 4.9C ...
Dew Point: 1.1C ...
Humidity: 77% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1029.5hPa ...
Notes:

Clear night but the sky was washed out by the light of a 75% (approx) waxing Moon. Despite the conditions I decided to get the 7x50 binoculars out to have a quick look for comet Swan.

Comet M4 Swan

From: 2006-11-01 19:15 UT
To: 2006-11-01 19:25 UT

I swept around the general location of comet Swan with the 7x50 binoculars but failed to find it. This wasn't that surprising given how washed out the sky was. I struggled to see the Keystone in Her with the naked eye and, with the binoculars, M13 was almost impossible to see.


2006-10-31


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-10-31 15:30 UT
To: 2006-10-31 15:35 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 11.1C ...
Dew Point: 6.2C ...
Humidity: 72% ...
Wind Speed: 2.9mph ...
Wind Dir: North West ...
Pressure: 1005.5hPa ...
Notes:

Overcast and stormy for most of the day but started to clear a little into the late afternoon. While I had the chance I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-10-31 15:30 UT
To: 2006-10-31 15:35 UT

Active area 921 had developed quite a bit and looked a lot stronger than yesterday. I counted 5 sunspots, all quite small.

Close by I could also see another single spot but I wasn't sure if this was in a separate active area or was part of 921. Checking later it turned out that it was part of new active area 922.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-10-31 19:15 UT
To: 2006-10-31 19:20 UT
Equipment: 7x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 7.6C ...
Dew Point: 1.6C ...
Humidity: 66% ...
Wind Speed: 6.5mph ...
Wind Dir: North West ...
Pressure: 1012.5hPa ...
Notes:

Reasonably clear evening, if a little hazy. The view of the sky was made worse by a 61% waxing Moon.

Comet M4 Swan

From: 2006-10-31 19:15 UT
To: 2006-10-31 19:20 UT

Annoyingly I didn't have the available time to do a proper observation of comet Swan so I quickly grabbed by 7x50 binoculars and went outside for a few minutes to see if I could still find it.

I found it almost right away, a small fuzzy patch just off the bottom left hand corner of the Keystone in Her. I compared it with M13 and I would say that the comet still looks brighter.


2006-09-07


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-09-07 15:30 UT
To: 2006-09-07 15:35 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 19.3C ...
Dew Point: 8.3C ...
Humidity: 49% ...
Wind Speed: 4.9mph ...
Wind Dir: North East ...
Pressure: 1022.5hPa ...
Notes:

Quite a breezy and cloudy afternoon but during an extended gap I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-09-07 15:30 UT
To: 2006-09-07 15:35 UT

I could see three active areas (actually, I thought it was just two but later checked showed it to be three — two being rather close to each other). Active area 907 had two faint spots and, close by, active area 909 had three faint spots.

The spot in active area 908 (which is the return of active area 904) still looked pretty large, a penumbra was still visible. Also, the umbra appear to have a slight "tail" coming off one side of it.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-09-07 18:56 UT
To: 2006-09-07 19:44 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 15.8C ...
Dew Point: 7.8C ...
Humidity: 59% ...
Wind Speed: 3.8mph ...
Wind Dir: North East ...
Pressure: 1025.1hPa ...
Notes:

A nice clear evening so a perfect chance to observe this evening's partial lunar eclipse. Given that the Moon wouldn't be visible from my garden so soon after it had risen I headed out to the east side of the village to get a clear eastern horizon.

Partial Lunar Eclipse

From: 2006-09-07 18:56 UT
To: 2006-09-07 19:44 UT

I got to my observing spot at just before 18:56 UT which meant that I managed to catch a view of the maximum phase. At this point I estimated that the Moon was around 1 above the horizon. The Moon had a nice visible "chunk" missing due to the umbra of the Earth's shadow. The umbra seemed very dark when compared to the rest of the surface of the Moon.

After a short while just viewing the eclipse I used a small digital camera to try and capture some shots. This was never going to work out that well as I hand-holding the camera and it's just a little "snapshot" device. Using full optical and digital zoom I did manage to get one image that more or less gives the impression of what the Moon looked like at the time (I finished taking these around 19:02 UT).

Partial Lunar Eclipse

Around 19:07 UT I used the 10x50 binoculars to have a better look, it was a very impressive view. The umbra still looked very dark when compared to the rest of the Moon and the features within the umbra were difficult, but not impossible, to make out. The rest of the Moon appeared to have a reddish colour although I assumed at the time that this was down to it still being quite low on the horizon.

By 19:22 UT I estimated that the Moon was about 2 above the horizon. In the 10x50 it was obvious that the area covered by the umbra, when compared to the previous view, was smaller.

Around 19:28 UT I finished taking a few more pictures. Again, they didn't turn out very well but one of them gives a reasonable hint of the phase of the eclipse around this time:

Partial Lunar Eclipse

I then had another look with the 10x50s and noticed that the earlier reddish colour had pretty much gone so I think this confirms that it was down to the Moon's distance above the horizon.

By 19:36 UT the eclipse wasn't that obvious to the naked eye any more and it was difficult to see in the 10x50s. If I hadn't known that an eclipse was still happening I probably wouldn't have noticed anything unusual.

At 19:41 UT I couldn't see anything of it with the naked eye any more and, even with the 10x50s, there was just a vague hint of a shadow visible.

At 19:44 UT I couldn't see anything in the 10x50s either so I packed up and headed home.


2006-07-12


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-07-12 12:55 UT
To: 2006-07-12 13:00 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 27.5C ...
Dew Point: 11.8C ...
Humidity: 38% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1021.1hPa ...
Notes:

Warm, clear and calm day. Took the Solarscope out to do a sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2006-07-12 12:55 UT
To: 2006-07-12 13:00 UT

No visible sign of active area 899 today. No markings of any kind were visible on the surface of the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-07-12 21:20 UT
To: 2006-07-12 22:25 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 21.4C ...
Dew Point: 12.2C ...
Humidity: 56% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1020.0hPa ...
Notes:

Clear night but with a good hint of haze about. Quite warm. The sky was still light but I decided to get the 905 out to have a look at Jupiter.

Jupiter

From: 2006-07-12 21:20 UT
To: 2006-07-12 21:56 UT

Using the 905 with the 6mm lens I had a pretty good view of Jupiter right away. All of the four main Jovian moons were visible, all on one side of the planet. Ganymede was furthest out and Io, Europa and Callisto were closer in to the planet, bunch up in a line that ran diagonal to the planet. Also close by, "above" Jupiter, I could see TYC5575-473-1.

Detail on the planet itself was pretty good with both the main bands showing some mottling and colour changes towards both the poles standing out.

I spent some time just observing, watching and waiting for very steady moments. At no time did the view get any better than my initial view but there were times when the image would deteriorate quite rapidly.

Starting at 21:43 UT, and given that the view was generally pretty good, I decided to test some of my filters to get a feel for what difference they made. The #15 yellow/orange didn't seem to given any improvement, neither did the #21 orange. In both cases they appeared to make it harder to make out any detail.

I next tried the #56 green filter and this appeared to give a slightly improvement. The contrast of the two main bands against the rest of the planet seemed to be improved.

Finally tried the #80A medium blue filter. This gave a very obvious improvement. The variation in the shades over the whole disc really stood out. Much better than with the other filters (or without a filter).

At 21:56 UT I decided to have a short break.

A Hedgehog, and end of session

From: 2006-07-12 22:10 UT
To: 2006-07-12 22:25 UT

During the break, while sitting with a drink and just admiring the sky, I kept hearing odd sounds on the lawn. While I'm used to hearing my cat playing in the garden while I observe, this was different. I kept listening and finally hunted down the source of the noises:

A Hedgehog

A hedgehog was having a wander around the lawn, probably on the hunt for something to eat. Sadly the only thing I had with me to take an image was my mobile phone, and it's not terribly good at taking pictures at night.

After being distracted by the visitor for some time I noticed that the sky seemed more hazy and was becoming quite washed out (probably due to the just-past-full Moon rising) so, given that and the fact that I needed to be up for work in the morning, I decided to call it a night.


2006-05-11


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-11 13:00 UT
To: 2006-05-11 13:06 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 21.6C ...
Dew Point: 7.4C ...
Humidity: 40% ...
Wind Speed: 3.5mph ...
Wind Dir: North North West ...
Pressure: 1017.2hPa ...
Notes:

Very warm, clear day. No real haze to speak of and no clouds visible. Did a quick sunspot count with the Solarscope.

Sun

From: 2006-05-11 13:00 UT
To: 2006-05-11 13:06 UT

With the Solarscope I could only see a single active area (880) which only contained a single spot.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-11 20:45 UT
To: 2006-05-11 22:51 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Antares 905
Temperature: 14.1C ...
Dew Point: 5.7C ...
Humidity: 57% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1015.8hPa ...
Notes:

Reasonably clear evening, no cloud visible, although the sky did look a little murky towards the horizon. Moon close to full (about 95% waxing gibbous) so moonlight was bound to make for a pretty awful sky.

Having read in a couple of places that fragment B of 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 was in outburst (even to the point of claiming that it was visible to the naked eye in moonlight) I decided to have a session to see if I could find it.

Saturn

From: 2006-05-11 20:50 UT
To: 2006-05-11 20:59 UT

Sky not quite properly dark yet so I decided to start with another look at Saturn. Using the 905 with the 6mm eyepiece I had a view that wasn't one of the best I'd ever had. The image wasn't very crisp and was often unsteady. Despite this most of the usual detail could still be seen. Both shadows were very obvious and there was a hint of banding on the planet itself. The Cassini Division kept popping in and out of view but was mostly hard to see.

Titan was visible although, with direct vision, would pop in and out of view (first time I've ever seen that happen). With averted vision I could see it with little problem.

State of the sky

Time: 2006-05-11 21:05 UT

By this point the sky was still very light, it was very hard to see all but the brightest of stars. Looking at Ursa Minor, for example, I could only easily see the three main stars (Polaris, Kochab and Pherkad).

Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

From: 2006-05-11 21:07 UT
To: 2006-05-11 22:35 UT

From 21:07 UT to around 21:18 UT I did an initial sweep for either fragment B or fragment C of 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 with the binocular but failed to locate either of them. This seemed to confirm that the sky was pretty terrible.

After double checking the location of fragment B (it was located about way between Deneb and Sulafat) I did another sweep that ended around 21:34 UT but I'd still not found it.

Finally, after a third attempt, at around 21:45 UT I was sure I'd finally found fragment B. It was in exactly the right location but very hard to see. All I could detect was a faint, ghostly patch with no definition to it. It was right on the edge of my vision with direct vision and only a little better when using averted vision.

To be sure that I had located it I made a mental note of the pattern of stars close by and popped into the office to check the location with Starry Night. This check confirmed that I had located fragment B.

Between around 22:15 UT and 22:35 UT I made further observations, comparing the view in the binocular with the view in the 905 using the 32mm eyepiece. It appeared to be easier to see with the binocular than with the 905.

By the time I stopped attempting to observe fragment B the sky hadn't improved, if anything I'd have said that it had got a little worse. Even as late as 22:35 UT I could still only easily see the three main stars in Ursa Minor.

Jupiter

From: 2006-05-11 22:40 UT
To: 2006-05-11 22:51 UT

I noticed that it was now possible to have a look at Jupiter from round the side of the house so I moved the 905 into position, lined it up on the planet and dropped in the 6mm eyepiece. The view was very impressive, possibly the best view I've had yet (which is saying something considering how low down it is this apparition). Not only could I see the two main bands, they both had a very mottled appearance that was always visible. Also, the rest of the disc had very obvious variation with hints of detail to them. The polar regions were obviously very different in colour from the rest of the planet.

All four of the main moons were easily visible. When I had the planet in the middle of the field of view Callisto, which was furthest out, didn't actually fit in the field.

At 22:51 UT I decided to call an end to the session. Conditions were far from ideal and I needed to be up at a reasonable time the following morning.


2006-05-10


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-10 14:41 UT
To: 2006-05-10 14:45 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 20.1C ...
Dew Point: 8.0C ...
Humidity: 46% ...
Wind Speed: 4.4mph ...
Wind Dir: North North East ...
Pressure: 1018.1hPa ...
Notes:

Very clear day, free of any serious haze and not a single cloud visible. Did a quick sunspot count with the Solarscope.

Sun

From: 2006-05-10 14:41 UT
To: 2006-05-10 14:45 UT

With the Solarscope I could see active areas 880 and 882. 882 is now quite close to the edge of the Sun's disc and is very foreshortened — I counted 2 spots in that AA. 880, sort of near the middle of the disc, only had one spot.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-10 21:20 UT
To: 2006-05-10 21:30 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Temperature: 12.1C ...
Dew Point: 5.4C ...
Humidity: 64% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1019.1hPa ...
Notes:

What looked like a clear evening turned into a very hazy night with some thin cloud floating around. I had hoped to have another stab at observing the comet but there was no way the conditions would have allowed that.

Moon and Spica

From: 2006-05-10 21:20 UT
To: 2006-05-10 21:30 UT

While wandering around the garden to check the conditions with a view to getting the 905 out (which I didn't as the conditions were pretty bad due to high-level haze and some thin cloud) I noticed that the Moon and Spica were very close together. I'd have said that they were separated by about 1. A really nice sight.


2006-05-05


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-05 12:50 UT
To: 2006-05-05 12:54 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 22.8C ...
Dew Point: 8.8C ...
Humidity: 41% ...
Wind Speed: 7mph ...
Wind Dir: South South West ...
Pressure: 1018.2hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly clear, just a few clouds about, slight breeze. Nice and warm. Did a quick sunspot count with the Solarscope.

Sun

From: 2006-05-05 12:50 UT
To: 2006-05-05 12:54 UT

With the Solarscope I could only see two active areas (as best as I can tell they were 878 and 880). Could only see a single spot in each area giving a total of two spots for today.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-05 19:34 UT
To: 2006-05-05 21:45 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Antares 905
Temperature: 18.3C ...
Dew Point: 8.2C ...
Humidity: 52% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1019.1hPa ...
Notes:

A clear, warm and calm evening. The sky was still very light (the Sun hadn't long set). I decided to set up the 905 to have a session observing the Moon (which was just past first ). I also intended to observe Saturn and, if I was out late enough and the position was right, Jupiter.

All being well I also wanted to try and further observe 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 although I didn't hold out too much hope given how bright the Moon was going to be.

Searching for Saturn in a light sky

From: 2006-05-05 19:34 UT
To: 2006-05-05 19:41 UT

Although the sky was still very light I did a quick sweep of the area to the west of the Moon with the binoculars to see if I could spot Saturn. Pretty quick I spotted it.

Having found it with the binoculars I tried to get it in the 905 but, even using the 32mm eyepiece to give me a fighting chance, I just couldn't track it down. I guess, if I'd persisted, I'd have got it in the end but I decided to give up and move on to the Moon.

Imaging the Moon with a mobile phone

From: 2006-05-05 19:51 UT
To: 2006-05-05 19:55 UT

I lined the Moon up in the 905 and, because I had my mobile phone in my pocket, I decided to try taking some shots. I knew they weren't going to be anything clever but I thought I'd have a try anyway. All attempts were using afocal projection while simply holding the phone in my hand.

I took a number of images but most of them were really terrible and were deleted on the spot. The following were the best of the bunch (which gives a good idea of how terrible the others were).

Moon with mobile phone

Moon with mobile phone

The Moon

From: 2006-05-05 20:14 UT
To: 2006-05-05 21:00 UT

After taking the images shown above, and after a short break from "proper" observing to show my wife the Moon via the 905, I stayed with the Moon to work my way along parts of the terminator and areas close to it.

The first features that really stood out were Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus and Arzachel. While Ptolemaeus was mostly fully lit by the sunlight (the floor looking very smooth except for a couple of small but obvious craters within it) Alphonsus and Arzachel both had their floors in shadow but with their central peaks lit.

Further south I could see (running east to west) Nasireddin, Huggins and Orontius. The latter was mostly in shade, in the night side of the terminator, but the "back" wall (in relation to the direction of the sunlight) was fully lit. I could also very clearly see a small crater in the wall (which is unnamed on the map I had with me).

To the north, on the eastern side of Mare Imbrium, I could clearly see Mons Piton casting a very long shadow which seemed to have a conical shape about it.

Over in the night side I could clearly see the peak of Mons Pico. Near it, just to the south, I could see another sunlit peak. The mountain in question is on my map but isn't named (I can see I'm going to have to get a more detailed map of the Moon some time soon).

The next thing I saw, clearly cutting a path through Montes Alpes, was Vallis Alpes. Although I've seen plenty of images of this feature I was still quite taken by how striking it was. This is a good candidate for further observations and possibly a good candidate for a lunar sketch at some point in the future.

The shadows from Montes Alpes were very striking — I counted 6 distinct shadows stretching out into the floor of Mare Imbrium. One of them appeared much longer than the others and I took this to be the shadow of Mons Blanc.

Other mountain ranges that stood out were Montes Spitzbergen (which could be seen just north of Archimedes and more or less on the terminator) and Montes Archimedes (which was also more or less on the terminator, south of Archimedes).

The next thing I noticed, in the terminator, was the eastern wall of Plato. Above it, in Mare Frigoris, I then noticed what looked like some sort of ridge running more or less east to west. I could see a hint of the feature on my map but no name is given. While the impression on the map is that it isn't a very distinct feature the view I had was one of a feature that was very significant (not very surprising really given its proximity to the terminator — the western end of it seemed to disappear into the terminator). To some degree the view I had reminded me of Rupes Recta, except this feature more or less runs east/west (unlike Rupes Recta, which runs more or less north/south). The "higher" side (the side that appeared to be sunlit) was the north side — the south side seeming to be in shadow.

At 20:52 UT the seeing suddenly deteriorated and for the first time this session there seemed to be a breeze about. Given that the image in the 'scope seemed to be getting worse I finally decided, at 21:00 UT, that it would be a good time to take a short break.

Assessing the viewing conditions

Time: 2006-05-05 21:10 UT

By now the sky had got quite dark but the moonlight was visibly causing problems — making the sky look quite washed out. Conditions were so bad that I couldn't actually make out the Keystone. Conditions didn't look good for viewing the comet.

Although it was hard to tell at this point there was a hint of some cloud moving in on the eastern horizon.

Brief look at Saturn

From: 2006-05-05 21:15 UT
To: 2006-05-05 21:25 UT

Had a brief look at Saturn with the 905 and the 6mm eyepiece. It wasn't anywhere near the best view I've had of it this apparition but I was still able to make out both of the shadows, a hint of handing on the planet's surface and, from time to time, the Cassini Division would pop in and out of view.

A quick hunt for Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

From: 2006-05-05 21:20 UT
To: 2006-05-05 21:30 UT

Used the binoculars quickly hunt for fragments B or C of 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 but failed to find them. I did note that M13 was only just visible so it didn't come as any surprise that I failed.

Assessing the chances of observing Jupiter

From: 2006-05-05 21:33 UT
To: 2006-05-05 21:34 UT

Wandered around the house looking for a possible vantage point that would give me a good view of Jupiter but couldn't find a location that would give a clear view with the 905. I did have a quick look with the binoculars and could briefly see a hint of the Jovian moons but the eyepieces misted up and put a stop to that.

Increasing cloud — end of session

From: 2006-05-05 21:35 UT
To: 2006-05-05 21:45 UT

Just after checking on Jupiter I noticed that it was starting to fade and, shortly after that, it totally disappeared. I quickly became obvious that a bank of cloud was moving in from the east. Within a couple of minutes it was almost overhead and I could see no stars all the way down to the eastern horizon. Because it looked like there wasn't going to be a break in this (and the forecasts for the evening had it clouding up with a chance of rain) I called an end to the session.


2006-05-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-03 13:17 UT
To: 2006-05-03 13:24 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 20.7C ...
Dew Point: 9.2C ...
Humidity: 49% ...
Wind Speed: 1.1mph ...
Wind Dir: East North East ...
Pressure: 1011.3hPa ...
Notes:

Breezy day with lots of broken cloud about — sunny intervals were more the exception than the rule but there was a short time when a sunspot count with the Solarscope was possible.

Sun

From: 2006-05-03 13:17 UT
To: 2006-05-03 13:24 UT

With the Solarscope I could still see active areas 875, 878 and 879. Between them I counted 7 sunspots.

Using eclipse shades I checked to see if it was still possible to see area 875 with the naked eye but I was unable to detect it.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-03 20:35 UT
To: 2006-05-03 22:45 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Antares 905
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 15.2C ...
Dew Point: 9.1C ...
Humidity: 68% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1013.8hPa ...
Notes:

Another calm, clear evening, similar to a couple of nights ago but also a lot warmer. It was still light when I first stepped out, I wanted to get things set up as soon as possible and give the 'scopes plenty of time to cool down. Waxing crescent Moon, getting close to first , was in the western sky.

The main plan for the evening was to try and observe comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, with a view to trying to track down fragment B and, if possible, any other fragments. Because of this, as with a couple of nights back, I took both the 905 and the 130M out with me.

Saturn

From: 2006-05-03 20:40 UT
To: 2006-05-03 20:59 UT

While waiting for it to get dark (and while letting the 130M have plenty of time to cool down) I decided to start by viewing Saturn with the 905. After getting the planet lined up in the 'scope I switched to the 6mm eyepiece. The image was crisp and steady, much better than the last observation. Right away the shadow of the planet on the rings and the shadow of the rings on the planet stood out. The Cassini Division kept leaping in and out of view.

Noticed that Titan was obvious close by.

I also noticed that I was getting many fleeting hints of banding on the surface of the planet.

The Moon

From: 2006-05-03 21:00 UT
To: 2006-05-03 21:26 UT

To kill some more time I turned the 905 on the Moon. The first thing that stood out was, in Mare Serenitatis, Dorsa Smirnov. It stood out as a very obvious line, snaking its way up the eastern side of the mare.

Closer to the terminator from Dorsa Smirnov I could pick out a line of 5 small craters, each one casting a very long shadow. On my lunar map only the bottom two are named. The names given are (starting at the bottom of the line) Deseilligny and Sarabhai. I'll have to try and find a more detailed map to get the names for the others.

Further to the north, partly in the terminator, Montes Caucasus looked amazing in the low sunlight. It looked as if someone had thrown a huge pile of rubble onto the lunar surface — the whole thing having a very "bitty" appearance.

Even further to the north Aristoteles stood out really well. The eastern wall of the crater was nicely lit while the rest (floor and western wall) was in total darkness. Adjacent to it Mitchell could be seen with the tops of all of its walls lit but with the floor in total darkness. Close by I could also see Galle was casting a very long shadow.

A short break and a meteor

From: 2006-05-03 21:27 UT
To: 2006-05-03 21:44 UT

Noticed that the Keystone was now quite high and more or less in a good place to observe. Also noticed that the sky still looked quite bright due to the moonlight — I could easily see my shadow cast by the Moon.

Decided to have a short break for a drink before attempting to find and observe the comet.

At 21:37 UT I saw a meteor travel west through the "bowl" of the Plough in Ursa Major.

Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (plus a meteor)

From: 2006-05-03 21:45 UT
To: 2006-05-03 22:44 UT

Started out with the 10x50 binocular and found what I thought was fragment C of Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. It was much harder to make out than a couple of nights ago — I suspect this was down to the increased interference from the Moon.

Having found the right general area I switched to the 905 with the 32mm eyepiece and couldn't find it. I spent at least 5 minutes looking in what I thought was the right area but could not identify the comet.

At 21:57 UT I saw a meteor travel from the zenith to the eastern horizon, north of the Keystone. It was quite bright but I didn't manage to estimate the peak magnitude.

Finally, at 22:00 UT, I found fragment C of the comet in the 905. It was much less obvious than the last observation, less of a hint of a tail.

At 22:08 UT I switched to the 130M with the 32mm eyepiece and easily found fragment C. The view with the 130M was much better and brighter. The tail was much more obvious.

After some time looking at fragment C I went looking for fragment B with the 905 and the 32mm eyepiece. By 22:27 UT (after about 1 minute of looking) I was sure I'd found it. I had what appeared to be a faint, fuzzy patch, just outside the Keystone and in the same field of view as M13. Whatever it was I was looking at it was much fainter than M13.

At 22:29 UT I took a look at the same location with the 130M and the 25mm eyepiece and found the same object. It was much clearer and more obvious with the 130M and there was a hint of a tail visible. Given the location and the look there was little doubt that I'd located fragment B.

Around 22:36 UT I had a go at finding fragment B with the 10x50s but, due to the eyepieces constantly misting up, I failed and gave up. For a brief moment before they misted up badly I thought I saw C and possibly another fragment but that might have been wishful thinking on my part.

At 22:45 UT I noticed that there was quite a bit of cloud rolling in from the south west. Showers had been forecast for anything from 23:00 UT onwards so I decided to play it safe and call an end to the session so that I could get the 'scopes packed away.


2006-05-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-05-01 20:10 UT
To: 2006-05-01 22:17 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Antares 905
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 8.9C ...
Dew Point: 2.8C ...
Humidity: 66% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1003.3hPa ...
Notes:

Calm, clear evening. Still light when I first stepped out. Some high-level haze was visible but it seemed to be patchy and didn't look like it would cause much of a problem. Waxing crescent Moon (about 12% illuminated) in the western sky.

The main plan for the evening was to try and observe comet 73P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. With this in mind I set up both the 905 and the 130M — the idea being that the former would be useful for locating the comet and the latter would be better for actual observing once I'd located it.

The Moon

From: 2006-05-01 20:14 UT
To: 2006-05-01 20:30 UT

While waiting for it to get dark (and while letting the 130M have plenty of time to cool down) I decided to turn the 905 on the Moon. I started with the 25mm eyepiece. Right away the earthshine looked very impressive, good enough to see plenty of features on the night side of the Moon.

Mare Crisium was fully illuminated with the terminator running through Mare Fecunditatis.

I spent a little time using different eyepieces and quickly running up and down the terminator, enjoying the sights of the various craters and mountains that could be picked out. I made no serious effort to do any real lunar observing as that wasn't the main point of the evening.

I then spent a bit of time trying to get a couple of images, through the 25mm eyepiece, using the camera in my mobile phone. Sadly the day-side of the Moon was always too washed out and none of the images were any good.

Saturn

From: 2006-05-01 20:37 UT
To: 2006-05-01 21:00 UT

Next, while waiting for it to get dark enough to look for the comet, I decided to have a look at Saturn. I started with the 905 and the 10mm eyepiece. Right off the planet's shadow on the rings was obvious. The image was sharp but often unsteady. There was no obvious hint of the Cassini Division.

Next I switched to the 6mm eyepiece and there was a good view of the shadow of the rings on the planet. There was also a faint suggestion of banding on the planet's surface. The image wasn't as steady as previous sessions but, with the 6mm, I did start to get the odd hint of the Cassini Division in steady moments.

One thing that was very obvious was, when compared to the last couple of views I've had of Saturn with the 905 (2006-03-24 and 2006-04-03), the planet was looking smaller than I recalled.

Next, as a comparison test, I turned the 130M on Saturn. Using the 6mm eyepiece the image was (obviously) much bigger than with the 905 but it was also much softer too. At no point could I get as sharp a focused image as I could with the 905. I'd say that the 130M didn't give me any more detail on Saturn than the 905 did, perhaps even a little less. The image was, obviously, much brighter with the 130M.

I find it hard to believe that there'd be that much difference between the two, this suggests to me that I really need to give the 130M a good check-up and redo the collimation (it has been a long time since I checked the collimation).

International Space Station

Time: 2006-05-01 21:08 UT

Noticed a very bright satellite heading west to east, just below Leo. Watched it head down into Virgo and then fade. Given the look, location and speed I suspected that it was the International Space Station.

Checking later, it was the ISS.

Haze starting to form

Time: 2006-05-01 21:12 UT

Noticed that some thicker high-level haze was starting to form. This was causing a slight halo around the Moon and, looking over to Hercules, I could see that it was difficult (but not impossible) to see the Keystone asterism.

Satellite

Time: 2006-05-01 21:18 UT

Watched a satellite pass south to north just west of Botes.

According to `stella' on the SPA BB what I saw was a rocket body called Resurs 1-4.

First look for Comet 73/P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

Time: 2006-05-01 21:27 UT

Despite the fact that conditions were less than ideal I decided to have a first go at looking for Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. Using the 905 with the 25mm eyepiece I started out at Epsilon Herculis and worked my way to the general location of the comet (actually, fragment C of the comet — that's all I was concentrating on this evening — mostly because I ran out of time and good conditions). With no effort at all I found the comet.

The general impression was that it was faint, fuzzy and conical shaped. With direct vision it was almost impossible to see but with averted vision it was easy enough to detect. At times there was a hint of blue/white colour to it.

Next I dropped the 32mm eyepiece in the 130M and located the comet with that. This time I could see it with direct vision and there was a very obvious hint of a tail — even more so when averted vision was used.

Still on the 130M I then switched to the 25mm eyepiece and then the 15 mm eyepiece but found that, the shorter the focal length I used, the worse the image became. The 32mm eyepiece was easily giving the best view.

At this point, using the 130M and the 25mm eyepiece, I made a mental note of the location of the comet in relation to the stars close by with a view to seeing if I could detect movement with a later observation.

Comet 73/P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 with 10x50 binocular

Time: 2006-05-01 21:45 UT

I grabbed my Meade 10x50 binocular and quickly located the comet without any effort. It was very obvious — impossible to miss. When compared with M13 the comet appeared bigger and more diffuse.

Jupiter with the naked eye

Time: 2006-05-01 21:55 UT

From the bottom of the garden I noticed, through some trees over the road from me, that Jupiter was up and looking very bright. Sadly, given the position, it was almost impossible to use either of the telescopes to have a look. Given that Jupiter is going to be rather low to the horizon for this apparition there's a good chance that I won't get to observe it (at least not from home) as it'll probably be obscured by the house most of the time.

Second look at Comet 73/P-C Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

From: 2006-05-01 22:10 UT
To: 2006-05-01 22:17 UT

After a short break I went back to the 130M with the 25mm eyepiece to see if I could detect any movement (based on the earlier mental note). It was instantly obvious that there had been movement in that time. Given the rate of movement I saw in such a short period of time I noted that it would be interesting to see how the location compared on subsequent nights (assuming, of course, that the weather plays ball and I get the chance to observe it again any time soon).

By 22:17 UT thicker haze had moved in from the west and it looked like it was more or less horizon to horizon. At this point I decided to call an end to the session.


2006-04-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-04-03 14:25 UT
To: 2006-04-03 14:30 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 12.4C ...
Dew Point: 0.7C ...
Humidity: 45% ...
Wind Speed: 7.9mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1016.2hPa ...
Notes:

Partly cloudy, quite breezy afternoon. Some moments of clear sunshine between the clouds. Got the Solarscope out to have a quick look at the Sun. It was hard to make a really good observation as the wind kept blowing the Solarscope around.

Sun

From: 2006-04-03 14:25 UT
To: 2006-04-03 14:30 UT

With the Solarscope I could see that area 865 had developed some more on yesterday. I counted fewer obvious spots but cloud see significant dark lines.

Area 866 seemed a little more developed and area 867 seemed to have developed a second spot.

Using eclipse shades I was able to see the main spot in area 865 with the naked eye.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-04-03 19:05 UT
To: 2006-04-03 20:07 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 7.4C ...
Dew Point: -0.9C ...
Humidity: 56% ...
Wind Speed: 1.1mph ...
Wind Dir: West North West ...
Pressure: 1017.3hPa ...
Notes:

Reasonably clear night, just the odd cloud floating about, quite breezy with the occasional strong gust. Waxing crescent Moon. Although the Sun hadn't long set and the sky was still quite light I decided to take the 905 outside and set it up with a view to having a look at the Moon — this would also give me the chance to get the finder aligned.

Further testing of the Antares 905

From: 2006-04-03 19:05 UT
To: 2006-04-03 20:07 UT

Spent a little time setting up the 905 and aligning the finder using the Moon as the target. Once that was done I settled down to look at the Moon with the 6mm eyepiece (which I'd finished up with in the holder during the alignment process). The detail along the terminator was excellent, very sharp and no hint of any false colour. Along the limb facing the Sun a lot of violet flare was visible, not so much to be annoying or a problem but it was very noticeable.

Something I was starting to notice was that the gusts of wind were causing a fair bit of vibration in the 'scope. I don't know if it's the mount or the tripod that's the problem (possibly both) it's obvious that this is more of a fair-weather setup or, if it were to be used for critical observations in windy conditions something would have to be done to firm it all up.

Had a look at Saturn next. Even though conditions weren't ideal, seeing wasn't that good and vibrations in the 'scope weren't helping, banding could be seen on the planet and the Cassini Division kept popping in and out of view.

I spent a fair bit of time watching Saturn, it was quite something to see the detail pop in and out of view as conditions improved and then got worse.

Using the 32mm eyepiece I went back to have a nice, wide-field view of the Moon. The flare on the sunward limb was very obvious (but, again, not distracting) and I also noticed that as I moved my eye closer to the eyepiece the flare appeared violet yet when I moved further back from the eyepiece it became obviously yellow. I'm not surprised by any of this, it is to be expected. Like I say above, it isn't at all distracting and lunar observing isn't the main intended use for this 'scope — I purchased it more for cluster observing and things like that.

Couple of things of note during the evening (not via the 'scope): the Moon was very close to Mars and Elnath. In fact, when I first stepped out and the sky was still light enough that only the very brightest stars were visible I thought the Moon was close to Castor and Pollux. It was only as the sky got darker that I realised that I'd been a little disoriented due to Mars' position.

The other thing I noticed during the evening was how many satellites I saw. During most of the winter months (not that I've been out that much this last winter) I don't recall seeing many satellites at all (other than the ISS) — this makes sense of course and the fact that I saw so many during this little session shows that days are getting longer.

By 20:07 UT the sky was getting very hazy and the gusts of wind were making it harder to view much though the 'scope. That, and the fact that I had a streaming nose due to a cold, meant that I packed up. A short session, but a worthwhile one in that it was another useful test of the 905.

I'm still pleased with the purchase.


2006-03-29


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-03-29 09:45 UT
To: 2006-03-29 11:20 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 12.4C ...
Dew Point: 3.5C ...
Humidity: 56% ...
Wind Speed: 1.3mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1003.5hPa ...
Notes:

Attempt to observe the partial solar eclipse (which was total in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe). Weather was less than ideal. Despite the day starting totally clear conditions were more or less overcast by the time of first contact.

Partial Solar Eclipse

From: 2006-03-29 09:45 UT
To: 2006-03-29 11:20 UT

At the time of first contact the Sun wasn't visible. I got my first glimpse of the Sun, with the naked eye via a pair of eclipse shades, at 09:51 UT. At this point I couldn't make out any hint of the Moon in front of the Sun.

At 09:54 UT I managed to catch a better view of the Sun and, this time, the Moon was visible. The cloud was starting to thin out a little so at this point I got the Solarscope out and set it up ready in case I could get a view through it.

Around 10:00 UT I finally got a good view of the Sun via the Solarscope and I managed to take a quick image with the camera in my mobile phone:

View of the partial eclipse

Around this time I also noticed that active area 865 (which I first noticed yesterday) had appeared to develop a second spot and that there was another spot visible, further away towards the trailing limb of the Sun, and that this appeared to be part of a different active area (later checking confirmed that this was a separate area with ID 866 ).

By 10:10 UT I'd lost any view of the Sun and could see that the cloud was getting thicker all the time. At 10:15 UT I packed up the Solarscope and table but kept them close to hand on the off chance that a hole might appear. It never did.


2006-03-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-03-01 13:07 UT
To: 2006-03-01 13:10 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 6.0C ...
Dew Point: -5.4C ...
Humidity: 42% ...
Wind Speed: 4.9mph ...
Wind Dir: North West ...
Pressure: 1001.5hPa ...
Notes:

Crisp, cold, clear afternoon. Very little cloud around. Decided to have a quick look at the Sun with the Solarscope with a hope of catching a glimpse of sunspot 856.

Sunspot 856

From: 2006-03-01 13:07 UT
To: 2006-03-01 13:10 UT

Quickly dragged the Solarscope outside to see if I could see sunspot 856. There was no sign of the spot. I could see a faint hint of brighter markings in the general area of where I knew the spot should be.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-03-01 14:05 UT
To: 2006-03-01 14:08 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 5.9C ...
Dew Point: -6.1C ...
Humidity: 42% ...
Wind Speed: 3.5mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1001.1hPa ...
Notes:

Quickly popped out to try and view the crescent Moon.

Crescent Moon

From: 2006-03-01 14:05 UT
To: 2006-03-01 14:08 UT

Quickly popped outside again, this time with 10x50 binocular, to see if I could find the crescent Moon. There was a little bit more cloud around than earlier on in the day so it took a little bit of effort.

I positioned myself in the shadow of my garage so that there was no chance of me accidently looking at the Sun and then I started to scan around. A short while later I saw the very thin crescent of the Moon. I think this is probably the youngest Moon I've ever knowingly seen.

I also had a quick look to see if Mercury was visible (it is quite close to the Moon at the moment) but cloud kept getting in the way so I gave up.


2006-01-11


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-01-11 16:51 UT
To: 2006-01-11 16:57 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Temperature: 5.5C ...
Dew Point: 1.5C ...
Humidity: 75% ...
Wind Speed: 2mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1021.8hPa ...
Notes:

Mark Smith alerted me to a pass of the ISS that was about to happen so I ventured outside to watch it go over.

International Space Station

From: 2006-01-11 16:51 UT
To: 2006-01-11 16:57 UT

The sky was still light, although the Sun had set. I managed to pick out the ISS when it was something like 20 above the horizon (perhaps a little more). At its maximum altitude (around 69) it was very bright, brighter than I've ever seen it before. I also watched it pass about way between Mars and M45.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-01-11 21:22 UT
To: 2006-01-11 23:00 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 2.0C ...
Dew Point: -0.1C ...
Humidity: 86% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1024.8hPa ...
Notes:

First clear night this year and the first clear night I've had free to observe in a month. The Moon was quite high in the sky, phase was waxing gibbous (about 89% of full). The main aim for this session was to observe Saturn (this would be the first telescope observation of the planet since 2005-05-07.

Saturn

From: 2006-01-11 21:22 UT
To: 2006-01-11 22:10 UT

Got Saturn in the field of view of the 130M, using the 25mm eyepiece with no trouble. Even at such low power the rings were quite obvious. I could also easily see Titan and Rhea. The image was a little unsteady (with some blurring and false colour) but, at this point, the 'scope hadn't really had much time to cool down so I wasn't expecting too much.

Switched to the 6mm. The image wasn't very sharp and was mostly unsteady. However, in steady moments, I was sure I was getting a hint of the Cassini Division.

Decided to play with some of the filters and see what effect they had. Started with the #15 Yellow/Orange filter. With it I thought I could see a good hint of a couple of dark bands on the surface of the planet.

I next tried the #21 Orange and then the #56 Green filters. In both cases I didn't notice any obvious improvement over the view without any sort of filter.

Finally I tried the #80A Medium Blue filter. When using this I'm sure I got a better hint of the Cassini Division than I'd had with any other view.

As a quick test I tried the 6mm eyepiece with the 2x barlow. The view was terrible. This was to be expected as this provides slightly more magnification than the 130M can handle.

I next tried a view with the 10mm eyepiece and the 2x barlow. The view was reasonably good but didn't really seem to show any more detail than any other view I'd had.

A good view of the Cassini Division still eludes me.

Saturn and The Beehive

From: 2006-01-11 22:28 UT
To: 2006-01-11 22:35 UT
Temperature: 1.6C ...
Dew Point: -0.4C ...
Humidity: 87% ...
Wind Speed: 3.5mph ...
Wind Dir: West South West ...

Used the Meade 10x50 binocular to view Saturn and M44 in the same field of view. Looked fantastic! Having spent the best part of the previous hour observing Saturn through the 130M (where the planet was a significant feature in the field of view), this view, with M44 in the field, seemed to make Saturn look very small.

Also noticed that Asellus Australis was nicely framed in the field too. All in all an excellent sight and right in the middle of Cancer.

Moon and Elnath

Time: 2006-01-11 22:36 UT

While looking at the Moon with the naked eye I noticed a bright star close by (about 1 or so away). Against the Moon's brightness it was hard to make out but it was simple to see with the binocular. A quick checked showed that the star in question was Elnath in Taurus

One last view of Saturn

From: 2006-01-11 22:54 UT
To: 2006-01-11 23:00 UT

Decided to have one last look at Saturn before packing up. Used the 6mm eyepiece on the 130M. Had some very steady moments in which I thought I could see a very good hint of the Cassini Division. Also, in this view, the rings stood out really well against the planet.

Also experienced a couple of moments of really bad seeing. This little observation was a really nice example of the "watch and wait" approach to viewing planets. One moment the view was awful, the next it was the best I'd seen it all evening.


2005-12-11


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-12-11 19:50 UT
To: 2005-12-11 20:48 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 4.6C
Humidity: 82%
Notes:

First reasonably clear night for quite a while. But, as seems to be happening lately, a bright Moon (in this case a day or so past 1st ) meant that deep-sky work was pretty much out of the window.

Because of this I decided to carry on with my long-term project to get to know the Moon again using just a binocular and a lunar map.

There did appear to be some thin, high-level cloud kicking about but at the start of the session none was obscuring the Moon.

Moon

From: 2005-12-11 19:50 UT
To: 2005-12-11 20:48 UT

The most striking feature when I started observing was the terminator running just west of Montes Jura, on the edge of Sinus Iridum.

Next to stand out really well was what appeared to be two peaks, on the night-side of the terminator, but catching the Sun. Checking my chart it would appear that what I was seeing was Mons Gruithuisen Gamma and Mons Gruithvisen Delta. Given how small these features seem to be (I read a figure of about 12 miles by 12 miles) I'm left wondering if I identified them correctly, but given the stark contrast of the peaks when compared to the darkness of the night-side of the Moon I suppose it's possible that I've got it right. I could see no other named peaks on my chart in the correct location.

Just to the north of the above, and into the day-side, I could clearly see a crater which, while shown on my chart, didn't have a name given (which seemed odd for such a visible feature). I'll need to check this further.

Another feature that stood out rather well was Mons Vinogradov. Nearby I could clearly see the crater Euler.

Around 20:24 UT I could see more thin cloud forming and heading my way. It wasn't obscuring the Moon yet but it looked like it could become a problem soon. By 20:26 UT it started to move in front of the Moon. At that time it wasn't thick enough to be too much of a problem.

The next thing I noticed, in the terminator, was the crater Kepler. Encke also seemed to be visible. Further down the terminator I could see Gassendi on the north "shore" of Mare Humorum. On the south "shore" I could clearly see Doppelmayer.

By 20:35 UT the cloud was starting to get thicker, making it harder to observe the Moon.

Noticed the crater Knig. It was quite a striking sight, apparently sat within a ray coming from Tycho. I followed the same ray and noticed it running by the side of Bullialdus and Lubiniezky. Agatharchides could be seen on the other (western) side of the ray.

I next noticed, in the mess of craters south of Mare Humorum, Hainzel and Mee.

At 20:48 UT, while making the above observation, the cloud got too thick to be able to see anything very well any more so I decided to call an end to the session.


2005-11-17


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-17 14:28 UT
To: 2005-11-17 14:40 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 5.0C
Humidity: 60%
Notes:

A very clear day today, no visible clouds. Decided to have yet another quick look at the Sun with the naked eye and with the Solarscope to see how sunspot 822 was getting on.

Sunspot 822 with naked eye

Time: 2005-11-17 14:28 UT

Just like yesterday, sunspot 822 was immediately visible — no effort was required to find it. It was a very clear, dark spot.

Sunspot 822 with Solarscope

From: 2005-11-17 14:33 UT
To: 2005-11-17 14:40 UT

As seen in the Solarscope, 822 had more or less the same appearance as yesterday. However, the biggest pair of spots now looked like they had merged — I could see no gap between them. This made them look even more like a Mandelbrot set. There also appeared to be more small spots between the big pair and the smaller pair of spots (I first counted seven and then managed to make out eight while doing the sketch that follows).

Did the following sketch:

Sketch of Sunspot 822

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-17 20:35 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:53 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 0.2C
Humidity: 64%
Notes:

Very cold, very clear night. The Moon was just past full. Given that it was washing out the sky I decided to carry on with getting to know the Moon with binoculars.

General observing of the Moon

From: 2005-11-17 20:35 UT
To: 2005-11-17 21:30 UT

The first feature that really stood out, just a little in from the terminator, was the crater Langrenus. I could actually see the central peak through the binocular.

The next thing I noticed, north and east of Mare Crisium, is what looked like some sort of "channel" running SW to NE. It appeared to be a "slot" of shadow that seemed to cut into the sunlit part of the Moon, coming out of the terminator. I checked on my Lunar map but couldn't be sure what was causing it. I suspect it might have been something to do with Mare Anguis.

I then noticed that I could still clearly see the dark patches that I noted a couple of nights ago. I could count five "patches", they appeared to run round the "headland" that contains the crater Schrter. The last of the patches (working counter-clockwise) seems to be near or in Sinus Medii.

Noticed another crater with a visible peak that stands out well: Petavius. Also very visible, near Petavius, due to their floors being in shadow, are Hase, Adams and Legendre. The latter seemed to be almost touching the terminator.

Went back to Langrenus in Mare Fecunditatis. Near it I could easily make out Barkla, Kapteyn, Lohse, Lam and Vendelinus.

Warm-up break

From: 2005-11-17 21:31 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:01 UT
Temperature: 0.0C
Humidity: 64%

Getting bitterly cold. Decided to take a warm-up break.

More general observing of the Moon

From: 2005-11-17 22:02 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:26 UT
Temperature: 0.0C
Humidity: 65%

Having warmed up a little I went back to viewing the Moon some more through the binocular. Spent some time working my way north from Mare Crisium. Cleomedes was very obvious, as was Geminus. I also thought I could make out Berosus, right in the terminator.

A quick warm-up break

From: 2005-11-17 22:27 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:41 UT

Getting bitterly cold again — decided to take a short warm-up break.

Saturn, Procyon and end of session

From: 2005-11-17 22:42 UT
To: 2005-11-17 22:53 UT
Temperature: 0.0C
Humidity: 65%

Came back out again after having warmed up but it was feeling very cold now. To the east I noticed that Procyon, in Canis Minor had risen above the roofs and, to the north of it and about as bright, I could see Saturn. Not too long now and it should be high enough at a reasonable hour that I can get the telescope on it.

I had a quick look at Saturn with the binocular. I obviously couldn't see any actual detail but I could see that it was very elongated when compared with a star.

By 22:53 UT the cold was really starting to get to me so I decided to call an end to the session.


2005-11-15


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-15 14:18 UT
To: 2005-11-15 14:36 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Solarscope
Temperature: 10.0C
Humidity: 68%
Notes:

Reasonably clear sky, some cloud about. Decided to have a quick look at the Sun with the naked eye and with the Solarscope because a new sunspot had come into view.

Sunspot 822 with naked eye

Time: 2005-11-15 14:18 UT

Before setting up the Solarscope I used a pair of eclipse shades to have a look at the Sun to see if sunspot 822 was visible with the naked eye. It wasn't obvious at first but with a little bit of effort I could clearly see a small, dark dot in the correct position on the face of the Sun.

I think this is the first naked eye sunspot we've had since sunspot 798.

Sunspot 822 with Solarscope

From: 2005-11-15 14:28 UT
To: 2005-11-15 14:36 UT

Set up the Solarscope for a better look at 822. I could see one very large spot which appeared to have a reasonably large companion, both of them were surrounded by a sizable penumbra. Next to that I could see three small spots. Next to them I could see two more spots, again, both surrounded by a penumbra.

Did the following sketch:

Sketch of Sunspot 822

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-15 22:17 UT
To: 2005-11-15 23:32 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 4.8C
Humidity: 79%
Notes:

Cold and mostly clear night with some patches of thin cloud. Sky more or less washed out by a near-full Moon which was quite close to Mars.

Given that the Moon was washing out any chance of any DSO observing I decided to make the Moon and Mars the targets for this session.

The Moon

From: 2005-11-15 22:23 UT
To: 2005-11-15 22:51 UT

I initially lined the Moon up in the 25mm eyepiece and found that it was far too bright to look at. I could just see a hint of a terminator.

To combat the brightness I added an ND13 filter to the eyepiece. While the image was still quite bright it was far easier to look at for any period of time.

The surface of the Moon looked very two dimensional, the only features that stood out right away were the ray systems, the ray system of Tycho being the most striking.

After a short while I noticed what I'd describe as "dark patches" in and near Sinus Aestuum. They looked like large, more or less circular, darker patches when compared to the surrounding terrain. Initially I thought it might have been a problem with the filter, eyepiece or the 'scope itself but a simple tap on the 'scope (to make the image move) confirmed that what I was seeing was a lunar feature and not some effect brought on by a problem with my equipment.

Roving around a little more I noticed a reasonably prominent darker area towards the south eastern limb. Checking on a Lunar chart I'm pretty sure that what I was looking at was Mare Australe. I switched to the 15mm lens, with the ND13 filter attached, and carried on looking. The impression I got was that I was seeing part of a dark ring that surrounded a dark circular area (heavily foreshortened, obviously). It reminded me a little of images I've seen of Mare Orientale — it wasn't, I double checked.

At 22:51 UT an area of cloud moved in front of the Moon. One nice thing about this is that it was thin enough that you could still easily see the Moon and, better yet, it gave the Moon a double halo effect that had a hint of "rainbow" effect about it. The cloud cleared again at 23:04 UT

Mars

From: 2005-11-15 23:21 UT
To: 2005-11-15 23:32 UT
Temperature: 4.2C
Humidity: 80%

Decided to move on to Mars. Lined it up in the 130M with the 25mm eyepiece then quickly went to the 15mm and then 6mm eyepiece, centering as I went. There was no obvious detail visible and the image was very unsteady. What I could see right away is that the planet appeared much smaller than it had when I looked at it near the closest approach.

At 23:24 UT a load of cloud moved in. Decided to give it a short while to see if it would move away again.

End of session

Time: 2005-11-15 23:32 UT
Temperature: 4.4C
Humidity: 80%

Cloud was now more or less horizon to horizon so decided to call an end to the session.


2005-11-09


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-11-09 21:30 UT
To: 2005-11-09 23:30 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 4.0C
Humidity: 75%
Notes:

Reasonably clear night, some haze obvious closer to the Moon (which was just past first ). Felt rather cold. Decided to have a session out with chair and binocular, mostly with a view to having a good look at the Moon and also hunt down the clusters in Auriga.

The Moon

From: 2005-11-09 21:35 UT
To: 2005-11-09 22:11 UT

Started out by having a look at the Moon with the binocular mounted on a tripod. Lots of very obvious features were visible on or close to the terminator.

Noted that the terminator was running more or less through the middle of Mare Imbrium and that the shadows of Montes Apenninus looked long and very obvious. Also noticed that Archimedes, Aristillus and Autolycus were standing out really well too. The terminator also seemed to be running pretty much through the middle of Plato.

Towards the Moon's North Pole I could see what appeared to be a rather deep looking crater, in the terminator, with the back wall (this being in relation to the direction of the Sun) brightly lit but with the floor in shadow. Looking at my Lunar map I got the impression that I was looking at Anaxagoras.

Noticed quite a striking ray running diagonally — from "top right" to "bottom left" — through Mare Serenitatis. I could see that it seemed to be heading away from (or towards) a crater which, after looking at my map, appeared to be Atlas.

By 22:11 UT the Moon was heading out of sight behind some trees and it was also being lost behind haze towards the horizon.

M42

From: 2005-11-09 22:16 UT
To: 2005-11-09 22:23 UT
Temperature: 3.7C
Humidity: 77%

By now Orion had mostly risen and it was possible to see M42. Decided to have a look with the binocular mounted on the tripod. At first glance it simply looked like a sparse grouping of stars but, with averted vision, there was a definite hint of nebula. It might just have been my imagination but there did seem to be a hint of the "fan" shape that is so well known from drawings and photographs.

Clusters in Auriga

From: 2005-11-09 22:27 UT
To: 2005-11-09 22:37 UT
Temperature: 3.6C
Humidity: 77%

Swept Auriga for M36, M37 and M38. Found them all with no problems. Each one of them was a very obvious hazy patch — they all look like good targets for the telescope.

Given their appearance in the binocular, if I hadn't known they were all open clusters, I'd have assumed that they were actually globular clusters.

M35

From: 2005-11-09 22:38 UT
To: 2005-11-09 22:47 UT
Temperature: 3.4C
Humidity: 77%

While sweeping around the area near Auriga with the binocular I stumbled upon M35, another open cluster — this time in Gemini. This one looked very much like an open cluster. Again, this looks like it might make for an interesting telescope target.

M45

From: 2005-11-09 22:49 UT
To: 2005-11-09 22:56 UT
Temperature: 3.3C
Humidity: 77%

Given that they were now quite high in the sky I decided to have another look at M45 (AKA The Pleiades). They were too high up to comfortably view them with the binocular on the tripod (it's only a medium-height tripod) so I decided to try my monopod instead (it's actually taller than me when fully extended). This actually worked rather well.

The field looked very rich with stars, some seeming to pop in and out of view as I moved my eyes around. I also noticed something that I don't think I've noticed before: a striking line of stars that have a sort of "dog leg" look to them. For some reason they sort of reminded me of a small, bent version of Kemble's Cascade.

Mars

Time: 2005-11-09 22:59 UT

While taking a little break from the binocular I say and just looked at Mars with the naked eye. I realised that this must be the highest and brightest I've seen it in the sky for this apparition. I was tempted to go and get the telescope out to have a look but by the time it would have cooled down enough I'd probably be ready to call it a night. Also, the air wasn't terribly steady anyway so I wouldn't have expected a good view.

NGC 1528

From: 2005-11-09 23:11 UT
To: 2005-11-09 23:24 UT
Temperature: 3.6C
Humidity: 78%

Started sweeping around Perseus and stumbled on what seemed to be a small, tight, hazy cluster. It seemed similar in appearance to the views I'd had of M36, M37 and M38 earlier on in the session. I checked on my Messier and Caldwell charts and couldn't see anything close to the location of the object. I next checked with a more detailed chart and noted that there were a number of NGC objects in the general location. NGC 1444 seemed like the most likely candidate based on location alone.

Knowing that I'd need to do some checking later on I noted that the object was about two binocular field widths away from the "middle" of Perseus (taking the middle to be the area around Mirfak) and at a angle of around 8 o'clock if the general direction of the Double Cluster in Perseus is taken to be 12 o'clock.

Later on, I did some searching on the internet and found a couple of observation reports of NGC 1528, through binoculars, which seemed to have descriptions which matched what I'd seen. I did, however, also find a binocular observation report which suggested that NGC 1545 was a reasonable candidate too. Further checking with Starry Night, and looking at DSS images of the two clusters, suggested that NGC 1528 is the best fit for what I saw — both in its look and also in the look of the field of stars around it.

End of session

Time: 2005-11-09 23:30 UT
Temperature: 3.7C
Humidity: 78%

Cloud was starting to roll in so I decided to call an end to the session.


2005-10-19


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-10-19 21:40 UT
To: 2005-10-19 22:11 UT
Equipment: Cheap Telescope
Temperature: 7.9C
Humidity: 89%
Notes:

A fair bit of cloud about with the sky washed out by a waning gibbous Moon (around 96% illumination). This wasn't really a problem as the purpose of this little session was to see how well a little telescope would perform against the Moon.

Test of telescope against the Moon

From: 2005-10-19 21:40 UT
To: 2005-10-19 22:11 UT

Doing another test of a rubbish little telescope that I first tested back in July this year. The 'scope has been sat doing nothing for quite some time and, having recently purchased a sheet of Baader solar filter, I've been thinking about making a filter for it and using it as a cheap little solar telescope.

I mounted the 'scope on a photographic tripod, lined it up on the Moon and worked through each of the lenses. With the 17.5mm, 12mm and 9mm the Moon easily fitted in the field of view (obviously increasing in size with each lens). In all three cases the image appeared to be sharp with no fringing or false colour.

Next I tried each lens with the 3x barlow that came with the 'scope. In this case there did appear to be fringing and false colour in the image and the focus never seemed to be very sharp. The 17.5mm plus barlow combination gave an image of the Moon that was still fully visible, the 12mm gave an image that more or less filled the field of view and the 9mm gave an image that exceeded the field of view.

Given that a filter for this 'scope wouldn't use up much of the Baader sheet (the objective is just 50mm in diameter) I think I'll have a go at making one and seeing how it performs. Even if the images aren't that good with the barlow in place the size of the images without it are acceptable. It might work out to be a handy tool to have alongside the Solarscope when doing some solar observing.


2005-10-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-10-03 07:36 UT
To: 2005-10-03 10:18 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Notes:

Annular solar eclipse — partial from my location in the UK. Sadly, a total no-show.

Partial solar eclipse

From: 2005-10-03 07:36 UT
To: 2005-10-03 10:18 UT

The morning started totally overcast and this never changed during the period of the whole event. Sometime around 08:43 UT until about 09:19 UT (around the time of maximum coverage here) I did note that light levels seemed to drop outside but I'm not really sure if this was down to the eclipse or if it was just a coincidental thickening of the cloud.


2005-07-16


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-07-16 21:27 UT
To: 2005-07-17 00:15 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Notes:

Another reasonable night's observing. Sky seemed quite clear, I think I'd have rated the transparancy as "pretty good" and seeing seemed "very good". The temperature was cool but pleasant. Waxing gibbous Moon.

Moon

From: 2005-07-16 21:27 UT
To: 2005-07-16 21:40 UT

With the naked eye I noticed that on the terminator of the Moon there was an obvious and significant feature jutting into the night-side. For some reason I don't think I've ever really noticed something as obvious as this before.

Using the 130M and a 25mm eyepiece I could see that it was part of Montes Jura, which partly surrounds Sinus Iridum.

I was contemplating trying to make a sketch of the scene when I started to lose the Moon behind a neighbour's house.

Albireo

From: 2005-07-16 22:00 UT
To: 2005-07-16 22:24 UT

Turned the 130M on AlbireoCygnus) and companion. Started with the 25mm eyepiece. Reasonably wide pair. Noticed that there seems to be a faint difference in colour but I couldn't quite tell for sure exactly what it was. One of the pair seemed to be slightly more blue in appearance (the fainter of the pair) whereas the other seemed much more white.

Switched to the 15mm eyepiece. Now the brighter of the pair appeared to have a faint orange tint to it. The fainter of the pair had a slight blue tint.

With the 10mm eyepiece the effect was the same as with the 15mm but the colours were more pronounced.

With the 6mm eyepiece the colours were even more pronounced. My impression was that the brighter of the pair has an orange/white appearance to it and the fainter of the pair has a blue/white appearance.

Attempt to find M29

From: 2005-07-16 22:31 UT
To: 2005-07-16 22:52 UT

Decided to have a go at finding M29 in Cygnus. Pointed the 'scope in the general location of the cluster. Using the 25mm eyepiece I thought I'd found it after discounting a couple of candidates. I found this very hard-going given that this is a very star-rich part of the sky due to it lying in the "thicker" part of the Milky Way.

Finding it hard to tell if I'd got the right object or not I grabbed my copy of Neil Bone's Deep Sky Observer's Guide to see if that could help me check if I'd got the right object. Sadly there was no illustration for this object but the text described it as a "south-pointing triangle". The collection of stars that I'd finally settled on seemed to fit the bill but I was still unsure that I'd really found M29.

Made a sketch of what I'd found so I could check later against any images I could find:

Sketch of object

Checking afterwards with Starry Sky I found that what I'd sketched wasn't M29. Annoyingly, I had actually seen M29 but had discounted it as what I saw didn't seem to match the description I'd read. What I had drawn (ignoring the brighter star that I'd marked) was, from what I can tell, the following stars: TYC3152-1679-1, TYC3151-955-1, TYC3151-757-1, TYC3151-1782-1, TYC3151-1591-1, TYC3151-478-1, TYC3151-1573-1, TYC3151-1237-1 and TYC3151-550-1. The bright star I marked was 34 Cygni. Seems I was about 1 off.

It strikes me that there are two useful lessons here: the first is that I should do a little more preparation before going hunting for an object such as this (one that could be easily confused in a star-rich area); the second lesson is that when you're unsure about something you think you've found doing a sketch for later comparison is a good thing.

M31

From: 2005-07-16 23:10 UT
To: 2005-07-16 23:20 UT

Noticed that M31 had risen enough to clear the murk of the eastern horizon (not to mention the roofs of the houses near me). Couldn't quite see it with the naked eye (then again there is a street light in that direction and it was still reasonably low down) but found it very easily with 10x50 binoculars. Could see the central bulge rather well with a faint hint of the rest of the galaxy.

I would have turned the 130M on it but, annoyingly, it was obscured by my Pear Tree from where I was set up and I didn't want to get into moving the 'scope and realigning it and everything at that point. I'll save M31 and the 130M for another night when it's higher in the sky.

M51

From: 2005-07-16 23:25 UT
To: 2005-07-16 23:50 UT

Decided to have a go at M51. It wasn't very favourably placed given that it was off in the Western part of the sky and given that that part of the sky wasn't anywhere near fully dark. Using the 25mm eyepiece, after a little bit of effort, I found it. Although all I could see was two faint fuzzy blobs it seemed pretty obvious that it was M51. There was no hint that I was actually looking at a spiral galaxy. With averted vision the blobs did seem a little more extended.

Dropped the 15mm eyepiece into the 'scope and had another look. The impression I got was that it looked a little brighter and, with averted vision, there was the vague impression that the "extensions" to the blobs mentioned above appeared to overlap.

The really enjoyable part about seeing M51 was the realisation that I was looking back in time somewhere in the region of 30 million years or more.

M57

From: 2005-07-16 23:55 UT
To: 2005-07-17 00:15 UT

Decided to have another look at at M57. Given that Lyra was better positioned than the last time I observed it I wanted to see what would be visible with the 6mm eyepiece (I'd tried using it during the last observing session but couldn't see much at all). Also, the sky seemed a lot darker and clearer that the last time (for example, I could now easily see the Milky Way with the naked eye, something I couldn't do the other night).

First located M57 with the 25mm eyepiece, centered it in the field of view and then immediately switched to the 6mm. Noticed right away that the "hole" was very visible, I could more or less detect it with direct vision. Also noticed something that I'd not noticed in the previous observing session: a faint star just to the side of the nebula. I also thought I could detect a faint variation in brightness in the ring but it was hard to pin down exactly where this was and what form it took (this was only really noticeable with averted vision).

Made a sketch:

Sketch of M57

As an experiment I've taken the above, converted it into a gray-scale image and then inverted the colours. This is the result:

Inverted sketch of M57

At 00:15 UT I finished the session.


2005-07-12


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-07-12 20:17 UT
To: 2005-07-12 23:23 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

Reasonable evening's observing. Started out while the sky was still very light (not even sure that the Sun had set when I first set up) because I wanted to align and test the new Red-Dot Finder that I'd purchased from Scopes'n'skies.

Also wanted to try the chance to test out a set of Lunar Filters that I'd recently purchased.

Despite there being a fair bit of high-level "misty" cloud kicking about I stayed out for quite a while with a view to trying to see M57.

Align and test Red-Dot Finder

Time: 2005-07-12 20:17 UT

It took a while to get the finder properly aligned — I originally made the mistake of trying to use a reasonably distant object on the horizon but when I then tried to use the finder to line up on the Moon I just wasn't getting it. Finally gave up on that I used the Moon as the alignment target. That worked a treat.

After the alignment I slewed the 'scope away from the Moon and used the finder to get me back on it. The Moon was in the eyepiece (25mm) first time.

Very impressed with the finder, it's so much easier to use than the finder that came with the 130M.

The Moon and aborted filter test

From: 2005-07-12 20:27 UT
To: 2005-07-12 20:42 UT

Started to have a proper look at the Moon with the 25mm eyepiece. Noted that the image was quite unsteady even at this low magnification. This probably had as much to do with tube-currents as anything else given that the telescope was still very warm and I'd not been out that long.

Around 20:42 UT, just as I'd attached the ND25 filter to the 25mm eyepiece and reinserted the eyepiece into the telescope, I started to lose the Moon behind the house nextdoor so I had to give up on that test.

Jupiter, testing new finder and ND25 filter

From: 2005-07-12 20:50 UT
To: 2005-07-12 21:11 UT

Noticed that I could now see Jupiter with the naked eye so decided to use this as a second target for testing the new finder. Lined up with the finder and then looked through the 25mm eyepiece. Almost spot on first time! Took the opportunity to fine-tune the alignment against Jupiter.

Switched to the 6mm eyepiece but found it hard to get reasonable focus and the image was very unsteady (again, probably tube-currents combined with unsteady air in general and seeing not being terribly good).

Added the ND25 filter to the 6mm eyepiece and, surprisingly, found that it seemed easier to pick out a good point of focus.

At 21:11 UT Jupiter was obscured by a cloud.

Summer Triangle

Time: 2005-07-12 21:12 UT

Noticed that, while the sky was still quite light, and while there was some thin cloud above me, I could now clearly see the Summer Triangle.

Also noted that Arcturus was easily visible.

Jupiter

From: 2005-07-12 21:20 UT
To: 2005-07-12 21:22 UT

Jupiter became visible again. Went back to it with the 10mm and 2x barlow. This time the image was reasonable. The two main belts were obvious and I also noticed a moon very close to the planet.

At 21:22 UT I started to make a sketch of Jupiter and its moons but I lost it behind the house nextdoor so the sketch didn't get finished.

Testing effect of filters on a star

From: 2005-07-12 21:37 UT
To: 2005-07-12 21:50 UT (approximate)

Decided to test the effect of the ND25 and ND13 filters on a bright star. Selected Deneb as a suitable target.

Using the 10mm eyepiece on its own the star seems to be "too bright" to see well. There is an obvious four-pointed flare caused by the spider in the scope.

With the addition of the ND25 filter things get a lot better. While I can still see the flare caused by the spider it is nowhere near as obvious as it is without the filter.

With the ND13 there is no flare at all. It is, however, obvious that I'm not seeing a pin-point of light. I suspect that this comes down to a number of things: collimation (still need to get around to making a habit of doing this), possible lingering tube currents, a general unsteadiness of the atmosphere and the fact that there is still a hint of high-level haze around.

Based on that little test I get the impression that the ND25 and ND13 filters might come in handy when trying to split a reasonably close and reasonably bright binary.

Mizar in Ursa Major

From: 2005-07-12 22:00 UT
To: 2005-07-12 22:26 UT

Had another look at Mizar again. While doing so I noticed a 4th star very close that I'd not noticed last time. Checked with Starry Night it seems that it is TYC3850-257-1, a magnitude 7.56 star. I noted this down because it's interesting that I didn't seem to notice it last time

Did a rough sketch of what I saw:

Sketch of Mizar

Also note the faint star to the far right of the sketch. Not sure what that is; I need to check. It would estimate that it is somewhat fainter than TYC3850-257-1. Checking later with Starry Night it is TYC3853-654-1, a magnitude 9.56 star.

At 22:26 UT, just as I was finishing up the above and removing the 10mm eyepiece from the telescope, I managed to drop the eyepiece onto hard paving! Blast! As best as I could tell it didn't damage the eyepiece although it did leave a rather nasty looking scuff mark on the metal barrel.

Finding M57

From: 2005-07-12 22:31 UT
To: 2005-07-12 22:44 UT

Decided to go looking for M57 (the Ring Nebula) in Lyra. First lined up in the general area using the new Red-Dot finder then looked through the telescope itself with the 25mm eyepiece. Nothing immediately stood out. However, while initially looking, a satellite passed right through the field of view. I turned round to look with the naked eye but couldn't see it at all.

Back at the telescope, I moved the field of view around a little and almost immediately saw what I thought must be M57. My initial impression was that, in contrast to the stars in the field, there was a faint, ghostly gray "blob". Noted that I could only see it with averted vision. With the 25mm eyepiece there didn't appear to be any hint of it being an actual ring (this might not have been helped by the fact that the sky still wasn't fully dark and that there was still some high-level haze about).

Made a rough sketch of what I could see, marking some of the brighter stars I could see in the field. This was made a little difficult by the field being partially obscured from time to time by some of the cloud/mist:

Sketch of M57

M57 with 15mm eyepiece

From: 2005-07-12 22:52 UT
To: 2005-07-12 23:01 UT

Switched to the 15mm eyepiece. With averted vision a good hint of the ring structure could be seen. A couple of minutes into looking at it another satellite went through the field.

There's no obvious hint of any colour to the ring, although with the 15mm eyepiece (compared to the 25mm eyepiece) it did seem to be more of a faint "bluish gray" rather than just gray. Also noticed that the nebula seemed to be very elongated in one direction.

At around 23:01 UT I made the following sketch of what the nebula looked like with the 15mm eyepiece (note that, again, I simply marked some of the more obvious stars in the field for reference):

Sketch of M57

M57 with 10mm eyepiece

From: 2005-07-12 23:08 UT
To: 2005-07-12 23:23 UT

Switched to the 10mm eyepiece. The ring structure was now very obvious (again, with averted vision). It seemed much less "blueish". The center doesn't seem as dark as the background sky but it is obviously darker than the edge of the nebula.

Around 23:14 UT started the following rough sketch:

Sketch of M57

By 23:23 UT it was starting to get very misty so started to pack up for this session.


2005-06-18


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-06-18 21:25 UT
To: 2005-06-18 23:00 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

Very light sky plus Moon just past first quarter. The reason for venturing out so early was that this was the first clear night I'd had for a while and I'd just acquired 6mm and 15mm eyepieces from Scopes'n'Skies and I wanted to give them a try out as soon as possible.

Jupiter & 6mm eyepiece

Time: 2005-06-18 21:25 UT

Tried the 6mm first. Jupiter showed up quite nicely. Based on first impressions and a quick at-the-'scope comparison I found that the 6mm gave a more pleasing image than the SkyWatcher-supplied 10mm with the supplied 2x barlow. Made a sketch of what I saw with the 6mm -- noted that I could see a faint star quite close to Jupiter (it obviously wasn't a Jovian moon as they were obvious and the star itself was in the wrong location for that).

Tried the 6mm with the 2x barlow. It was hard to get good focus with this combination. While the image was obviously bigger I couldn't see any obvious increase in detail on the planet -- but I was fighting a warm 'scope, a light sky and a lack of collimation (I must get round to this).

Jupiter & 15mm eyepiece

Time: 2005-06-18 22:16 UT

Jupiter looked excellent in the 15mm eyepiece. Although I could only see the two main bands (no hint of the mottling that I've seen on previous nights but see above regarding what I was working against) the image was bright, crisp and clear.

The Moon

Time: 2005-06-18 22:31 UT onwards

Finally got round to having a good look around the Moon for the first time since getting the telescope.

The first thing that really stood out was the top of the rim of the crater Reiner being highlighted even though the bulk of the crater itself was behind the terminator. Quite an amazing sight. I spent some time trying to have a go at sketching this but after a couple of false starts gave up. I need to do some more practice and, more to the point, I should probably plan my observing of the Moon ahead of time and make up a template or two of what I want to look at.

Spent some time taking in the ray systems of Copernicus, Kepler and Tycho.

With the 15mm eyepiece I got an excellent view of Aristarchus, Herodotus and Vallis Schrteri. With the 6mm the view was even better. Vallis Schrteri looked very detailed. I could also clearly see what appeared to be two small craters in what looked like higher ground to the North of Aristarchus. I noted that these craters appeared to be shown on my Moon map but they were not named.

Iridium Flare

Time: 2005-06-18 23:00 UT (approximate)

After packing up, while heading back into the house, noticed a rather bright Iridium flare high up and around due South.


2005-05-19


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-05-19 18:39 UT
To: 2005-05-19 19:06 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Naked Eye
Notes:

Moon very close to Jupiter but cloud rolling in so decided to give it an early look while I had the chance.

Moon and Jupiter

Time: 2005-05-19 18:39 UT

Jupiter was about 1 degree from the Moon this evening. At the time of first viewing the sky was still very light. First looked to see if I could see Jupiter with the naked eye but couldn't make it out. Took a look with the 10x50 binoculars and saw it easily. Once I knew where it was I looked again with the naked eye and saw it with no problems.

With the binoculars I couldn't make out Jupiter's moons but the planet did have a very elongated look so I suspect I was seeing two or more moons but was failing to separate them.

Moon and Jupiter — Pictures via Mobile Phone

From: 2005-05-19 19:00 UT
To: 2005-05-19 19:06 UT

With the 10x50 binoculars mounted on a tripod I thought I'd try something silly and attempt to take some pictures via it with the camera in my mobile phone. No surprise that the pictures aren't very good but, at the same time, a couple of them turned out better than I'd expected. Here's one of the best:

Image of Jupiter and the Moon

Around this time the cloud started to really roll in so that was the end of the session.


2005-05-07


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-05-07 21:31 UT
To: 2005-05-07 22:39 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

No Moon. Very breezy and very cool night.

Saturn

Time: 2005-05-07 21:31 UT

Worked up from 25mm to 10mm with 2x. With 10mm + 2x Saturn was almost swimming around, the atmosphere seems very unsteady. Could just about make out the shadow on the rings but not much else was visible.

M97

Time: 2005-05-07 22:13 UT

Went star-hopping for M97 using the 25mm eyepiece. After not too much effort managed to find it. Made a rough sketch of its location to relation to surrounding stars so I could double-check with charts later on (that check confirmed that I'd managed to get M97).

With the 25mm eyepiece it was an obvious if faint circular "smudge". No trouble seeing it with direct vision.

Tried next with the 10mm eyepiece. I could only see it with averted vision. There were moments when I wasn't sure I was actually looking at anything at all and then it'd sort of fade into view again. Noted that I could see a very faint star very close to it.

At 22:32 I switched back to the 25mm eyepiece for a wider view and in the following three minutes saw a satellite and then a meteor pass through the field.

Jupiter

Time: 2005-05-07 22:39 UT

With the 25mm eyepiece all four moons were visible. Jupiter itself was almost too bright to look at. Noted that I was getting four "spikes" off the planet (presumably from the legs of the spider holding the secondary mirror).

The two main belts were only just visible, the brightness of the planet appeared to be making it very hard to see any detail at all. As noted in another log: I should probably think about looking into some filters.

Made a sketch of the position of the four main moons.


Page last modified: 2013-04-09 09:19:19 UT
Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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