Observers Log – October 29 – Our Wide Sky

Observers Log – October 29

It has been a long time between clear nights here We’ve had a lot of glorious days that tease us to think that a clear night is ahead, but around 5pm the wispy clouds come in, and then at 7 pm they spread across the sky. Sunset is around 7:15pm and the sky is well overcast by the time it is properly dark.

Sunday night it stayed clear, and it was a beautiful sky, with little haze and almost no twinkling. The Moon was bright and washing out a lot of the overhead sky, but to the south west it was clear.

So I got the telescope out!

Meade LX 90 Telescope

63% Waxing Gibbous Moon

I started at around 5:30 pm to take some images of the waxing gibbous moon. It was getting high in the sky. With the day still bright I wanted to image it with a light sky background. I also wanted to try out stacking techniques.

With my camera on the back of the telescope I started snapping. I processed these through registax and then into lightroom to bring out the features, but it didn’t turn out well.

I needed a better focus.  So I got our my best focusser, my husband, and he made it pin sharp.

The next 6 shots looked much better and I used the defaults on Registax, processed in light room, and ended up with the result that is the feature image on this post. I am very happy with that result, and it encourages me to learn more about Registax, and image the Moon more often. So stay tuned.

Saturn

At last a clear night and the opportunity to view Saturn disappears over the western horizon for a few months.

I didn’t use the AutoStar tracking on the telescope to drive or to find objects. Moving scope in the fork mount is a little bit tricky, and works well enough unless you are making a study of the object. We had plenty to easily find without the tracking.

Saturn was easy, at about 30 degrees above the horizon. It was bright and yellow, and through the telescope it was spectacular as usual.

If Saturn is in the sky, I will always take a look. It is one of the most beautiful objects, and the observational history of Saturn has been so important to astronomy that it is always special to see it.

A bright spot at around 10o’clock in our view was likely a moon of Saturn.

M7 – The Ptolemy Cluster

Over the past few weeks we’d been checking out the cloudy sky with binoculars whenever there was a gap in the clouds. A bright open cluster had caught our attention and it was first on our list for the next observing night.

The two stars close together at the end of Scorpius tail point straight to it. These stars make the Scorpion’s sting and are called Lesath and Shaula. They are following Scorpius over the horizon in the evening.

Messier7

M7 was clearly visible through the binoculars like a sparkling bowl of diamonds. Through the telescope it was spectacular.

I don’t have wide field eyepieces, but my 40mm does a fair job of picking up all the stars. The cluster is about 1.3 degrees across, and my eyepiece is 1.25.

Within the cluster the stars are mostly blue and white, with some yellow. We could easily imagine some tending to orange or red, but not with any certainty.

This cluster was first recorded by Ptolemy in the second century , and labelled M7 by Messier.

NGC6441 - Globular Cluster

While I popped inside to check on dinner Husband was out there scanning the sky. Not far from M7 he found a fuzzy spot in the sky. It was very faint and surprising to see in our city sky.

Using Cart du Ciel I figured out that it was NGC6441. Identified by Scottish astronomer James Dunlop in 1826 when he was observing from Parramatta which is not far from here.

NCG 6441 - Globular Cluster

This is one of the most massive globular clusters in our galaxy. All the stars together have the equivalent mass of 1.6million of our Suns. From here, 44,000 light years away, it has the faint apparent magnitude of 7.2!

NGC 6752 Globular Cluster

The Southern Sky has some lovely globular clusters. 47 Tucanae is one and Omega Cetauri is  another. When of these is visible from my place they are always on my observing list, but not at the moment. So I went on a search for other faint fuzzy objects.

At magnitude 5.4 NGC6752 is considerably brighter than NGC6441.

The sky was incredibly clear for a windy night and with careful focus through my best eyepiece (Meade 26mm Super Plossl) it resolved into a clear globular cluster with points of light and a bright core.

Summary

A long awaited clear night, and a still sky toward the south west created a very satisfying observing night. The moon was bright and washing out most of the sky above, and the city in the East finished off the rest of the sky. But we were able to find and view some beautiful celestial objects.

The treasure hunt, the away,  and the stunning beauty – this is why we do it.

Then to follow with learning about these objects and documenting the observations. This is really the best hobby on (and off) Earth.

Image Credits

Moon and Telescope: Lisa Harvey

NGC6441:  http://hla.stsci.edu/hlaview.html

NGC6752: Hubble

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