Last updated: 24 August 2004

Subject:	Observations from Northern England
Sent:	Saturday, August 21, 2004 11:51:51
From:	Mark and Alison Kudlowski (
Glad to have found your site.
I live in a part of the world not noted for its sky conditions, 10 miles
from Manchester (UK), with all the light pollution it brings. I have
still managed to produce some reports for August, and I must say I'm
impressed with the performance of the ETX 125 ! I have only experienced
occasiona problems with Autostar, and one of them was my fault. I slewed
the ETX to Arcturus, but when it looked for Altair, our house wall was
in the way. It thus asked for Alioth, and Mizar and Alcor appeared in
the finder. I'd forgotten that the finder reversed the image, and that
I'd centred on  Alkaid instead of Alioth !

I have put together four viewing reports for your interests:
Date : 6 Aug 2004 Lim. Mag.(zenithal): 4.4
Time (UT) : 2045-2315
Location : Bury, Lancashire, UK suburban
Seeing (out of 10) : 7
Weather : Clear spells, calm

This being the first night of proper viewing with the scope, I decided
to put it through its paces. After aligning Autostar, I decided to try
out some Messier objects for first glancing at 73x power. M3 and M5 were
both getting low in the light-polluted sky, so appeared only as misty
patches, as did M10 and M12 in Ophiuchus. I then decided to try M13, and
it began to show hints of resolution, or was it wishful thinking ?

I then thought of trying some other Messier objects, so I went for the
Ring Nebula M57. The GOTO worked well, as there was a faint ring-like
object in the field, totally unlike any star, and doubling the power
revealed the shape clearly. The dim M56 in Lyra was next, and the ETX
had no difficulty finding it - it looked like M13 as seen in 7x50
binoculars. The galaxy pair M81 and M82 in Ursa Major were next on my
hit list, and were both just about visible in the same field at 48x.

Emboldened, I tried to find some objects in Sagittarius, but I drew a
blank at both M17 and M22. Either the GOTO was inaccurate, or the light
pollution / high cloud killed the images.

I then went double star hunting, choosing some well-known textbook
targets. Beta Cygni of course showed up beautifully at 48x, gold and
cyan. Mizar was likewise easy at the same power. The Double-Double
(epsilon Lyrae) was split into its four components at 146x, though with
a little difficulty, as was Epsilon Bootis, where the companion appeared
as a bump rather than being clearly split. Two other coloured doubles
came out well at 146x: Alpha Herculis (orange / green) and 70 Ophiuchi
(yellow / magenta). I tried to find Gamma Delphini, but the GOTO
software went cuckoo and slewed randomly. I decided to call it a day at
midnight, and try for more the following night.

Date : 7 Aug 2004 Lim. Mag. (zenithal): 4.5
Time (UT) : 2100-0000 Lim. Mag. (low south) : 3.6
Location : Bury, UK suburban
Seeing (out of 10) : 7
Weather : Clear spells 

Repeated most of the Messier observations of the previous night, but
this time M3 and M5 showed up rather better and looked close to
resolution at 146x. I was also able to see the cluster M16 though not
the nebula, and could resolve parts of M11 into stars. M13 looked better
than before, as I could get definite resolution at 146x with averted
vision. Again, increasing haze from the south stopped me from looking at
Sagittarius, so I tried some non-Messier objects out of curiosity. One
such object was NGC6633 in Ophiuchus, a large and bright open cluster
which showed up well at 48x. IC4756 in Serpens was more scattered and
less impressive.

As the sky started to haze up a bit more, I went for some more doubles
in Bootes before they sank too low. Kappa, Xi and Pi were all easy at
73x, and Epsilon was definitely separated at 146x. The other
'double-double' (Struve 2470 / 2474) in Lyra was also attractive.

At 2230 UT, the sky haze appeared to lessen a little, and so I went back
on my Messier hunt. The two open clusters in Cygnus were next. M29 was
rather obscure at 73x, drowned out by field stars, but M39 was very
attractive at 48x - a triangular grouping of bright stars against the
very rich Milky Way. Whilst in the Cygnus region, I looked at M27, and
it really did look like a dumbbell at 73x.  M71 was next, and easily
visible, though not resolved, at the same power. By now, Pegasus and
Aquarius had become visible past our wall, and so I pointed the ETX to
M15 and M2. I could not resolve the latter, but I did spot some
granulation in M15 at 146x with averted vision. By 2300, I thought that
Uranus might be visible, but using GOTO only got a neighbour's roof into
view, so I had to wait. I thought, let's try some non-Messier
planetaries and see what the ETX could do. NGC6543, the Cat's Eye in
Draco, was easily visible as a greenish disk with a brightening in the
centre at 146x. The biggest surprise of the night was NGC7009, the
Saturn Nebula in Aquarius, as it showed up as a bright greenish oval at
146x, despite its low altitude. By contrast, I could not locate M30 in
Capricornus, even with the broadband filter. Evidently planetaries can
'stand' light pollution better than globulars.

I tried again for Uranus at 2330 UT, and by then the ETX had slewed to
an area of sky rather than a roof. When I looked in the scope at 48x, I
spotted what looked like two stars, one above the other. Was one of them
Uranus ? At 73x, the lower star remained pointlike but the upper star
looked like a tiny green disk. Doubling with the Barlow revealed the
Uranian disk without doubt. (The star below it, incidentally, was Sigma

Next, I slewed the scope north to another double, Gamma Delphini. Very
pretty at 73x - yellow and cyan. I would have packed up for the night,
but for the appearance of Cassiopeia's W in a narrow gap between our
wall and the neighbour's. I typed in NGC869, let the scope slew, and
WOW! - it was pointing at clear sky, not brickwork ! The Perseus Double
Cluster was a mega-hit at 48x - I could resolve innumerable stars
against a glorious background. Sadly, this only lasted for another five
minutes, as the Earth's rotation caused the clusters to go out of view
behind our wall.

Session ended at 0000UT

Date : 10 Aug 2004 Lim. Mag. (zenithal): 4.2 (high
Time (UT) : 2045-2230 Lim. Mag. (low south) : 3.2 
Location : Bury, UK suburban Seeing (out of 10) : 7
Weather : Clear spells, but high cloud

The high cloud kiboshed any chance of decent deep sky viewing, and so I
decided to do an extensive double star hunt using SAO numbers on Bootes,
Corona, Hercules, Aquila and Cygnus before conditions became really bad.

As an aside, I prefer using SAO numbers, as scrolling through the the
double star list on Autostar can be very tedious.

In Bootes, I was able to split 39 Boo, Struve 1838, Struve 1835 and
Struve 1850 at 146x, but 44 Boo remained indistinct. Zeta Coronae was
easy at 73x.

Touring Hercules, 95 Her split very colourfully at 73x (red/green),
Kappa was very easy at 48x, 100 Her and Struve 2063 were clear at 146x,
but I could not see the companion to Gamma, and that of Delta was
difficult due to magnitude difference.

Next I 'did' Aquila, and 57,15 and 5 Aql were all easy at 73x. Struve
2489 and Struve 2644 were separated at 146x.

Cygnus was the final tour, again with very rich pickings. 61 Cyg was a
very easy yellow pair at 48x, as were Struve 2578 and 2486. Struve 2671
and 2762, and Psi and 49 Cyg required higher power but revealed
themselves at 146x. I was unable to see the companions to Gamma (too
faint) or Delta (too close). I therefore looked at Beta again for
feelgood reasons !

Before the clouds became any worse, I had another look at the disk of
Uranus - it was clearly visible again.

Date : 14 Aug 2004 
Lim. Mag. (zenithal): 4.0  (low south) : 3.0 
Time (UT) : 2100-2200 
Location : Bury, Lancashire, UK suburban
Seeing (out of 10) : 7-8, with moments up to 9
Weather : Clear spells, but high cloud and mist

I'd received a high power (253x) inexpensive eyepiece (TAL 7.5 mm Super
Plossl) in the post this morning. I figured that I would use the
eyepiece very rarely, its magnification being bang on the recommended
observing limit of 50x per inch (2x per mm) of aperture.

I thought, let's try some tough doubles tonight.

First was the celebrated Epsilon Lyrae. I had managed to split it easily
enough at 146x, but at 253x, all four components showed distinct Airy
disks and steady diffraction rings for short spells. I thought, so far
so good, so I went for 44 Bootis. I was unable to split it the other
night at 146x, but to my satisfaction I could see the components in the
TAL. Epsilon Bootis was very fine indeed at 253x, with clear sky between
the yellow and blue Airy disks - surprisingly good for the declining
altitude. Struve 2052 Herculis was similarly successful.

Finally, I went for Delta Cygni, known to be a tough test, where I had
already tried and failed. At 253x, it showed a crisp Airy disk and
diffraction rings, but no companion. I rested my eyes for a minute, and
suddenly I saw what I thought was a faint companion outside the first
diffraction ring for a second or two. I kept looking at the diffraction
rings, and the companion reappeared for a few more seconds, nearly in
the 9 o'clock position. I checked with my Norton's Star Atlas, which
gave a position angle of 246 degrees, or WSW. I was worried for a while
until I remembered that the ETX gives a mirror-reversed image !

I can honestly say that this was the first big test of the capabilities
of my own eyes and the optical equipment, and that I passed it !

Mark Kudlowski

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