Last updated: 10 November 2004

Subject:	User Observations for October
Sent:	Sunday, November 7, 2004 11:03:35
From:	Mark and Alison Kudlowski (
Here are two observing reports from October. The weather really has been
that terrible in England !

Date : 8 Oct 2004
Lim. Mag. (zenithal): 4.8, improving to 5.1 as night progressed
Time (UT) : 2100  0140 (9th)
Lim. Mag. (low south) : 4.3 improving to 4.6
Location : Bury, Lancashire, UK suburban
Seeing (out of 10) : 8-9, slightly worsening as night progressed
Weather : Clear spells but broken cloud early on
Instruments: Meade ETX-125EC



This looked to be another promising night, with long clear spells
forecast. It proved to be quite fruitful, with a good look at the cast
of the Andromeda legend.

21.00 UT (22.00 local)

The first target to determine the night's seeing was Delta Cygni. I
suspected the companion at 146x, but a slight increase to 173x made it
definite, and barlowing to 345x (70x per inch !) revealed a textbook
image, with a white primary and a steel-blue companion at 8-9 o'clock,
easily past the first diffraction ring. This had the hallmarks of a very
good evening's viewing.

21.05 UT (22.05 local)

My next choice was one of the most insignificant of the 'original'
groups, the dim triangle of Equuleus. 1 Equ was a pale yellow / bluish
pair, easy at 73x, but 2 Equ needed the barlow with the same eyepiece 
it looked like a dim Zeta Aquarii, but slightly wider. STF 2786 was a
rather tough white pair, again at 146x.

21.15 UT (22.15 local)

Time for another scout around Aquarius, where I revisited the favourites
of M2, the Saturn Nebula, doubles Zeta and 94 Aqr, and Uranus. I also
observed the doubles S808 (white and reddish) and 41 Aqr (yellow and
blue), at 146x, reducing to 73x for the wider orange and bluish optical
double of Tau.

21.35 UT (22.35 local)

I went for a quick look at M15 and NGC 7331 in Pegasus before going for
the doubles in that group. Epsilon was very wide at 73x (yellow-orange
and bluish), despite the 6 mag difference, and 1 Peg was another very
wide pair. STF 2841 was yellow and greenish, again easy, and STF 2877
was yellowish and bluish, but with a faint companion. STF 2799 was much
closer and needed 173x to split it. The session was interrupted by cloud
at 2155 UT, but it passed away from the area within ten minutes. I
continued with the white pair STF 2878, but 173x was barely enough, and
I had to barlow it up to 345x to get a clean split. Much easier was STF
2978, a yellow / orange pair split at 73x. 57 Peg was also easily split
at the same power as an orange / blue pair, although the companion was
faint at mag 10. I had to barlow up to 146x again for STF 3007, a yellow
/ orange pair with a faint companion.

22.20 UT (23.35 local)

I revisited Cepheus, having a casual sweep around the southern part,
with its rich Milky Way fields and the 'Garnet Star' Mu. I then followed
up with NGC 7243 in Lacerta, before looking at some multiples in the
same small group. 8 Lac revealed its two brightest components at 73x,
whilst HJ 1823 revealed a triple system. I would have aimed at more
targets in this group, but the GOTO accuracy was failing badly on
near-zenith objects, making identification in the finderscope difficult.

22.40 UT (23.40 local)

After a quick look at the 'King', I thought, it's time for the 'Queen'.
I revisited the best cluster in Cassiopeia, NGC 457 (the 'ET' or
'mini-Aquila'), before looking at four top doubles. Eta was yellowish
and mauve, easy at 73x, whereas the fine triple Iota (yellow / bluish /
bluish) needed 173x to split it, particularly the closer pair. Sigma was
another yellowish / bluish pair split at 173x, in a very rich region. I
have found that the Meade 26mm and the Televue 11mm were practically
parfocal, which was a great help for viewing near-zenith targets.

23:00 UT (00.00 local)

Having explored 'Mum' and 'Dad', it's time to examine the 'Princess' in
detail before her husband-to-be rises to the zenith ! The Andromeda
Spiral at 73x and its two companions were again impressive, though maybe
slightly less clear than two weeks ago. Gamma was still to come into
view, but Pi was a fine white / blue pair, STF 2985 was all-white, and
STF 40 was an attractive pale orange pair, again at low power. I needed
173x (11mm) to split STF 3050 (all-yellow), STT 514 (companion faint at
10th mag) and STF 24 (white).

23:35 UT (00.35 local) I was waiting for the eastern part of Andromeda
to come into view, so I tried my luck with two targets in Pisces. Alpha
Psc, said to be challenging, just revealed its dual nature at 173x, with
bluish-white components. Barlowing to 345x made it even clearer. Having
tried with M74 two weeks ago and being unsure, I had another stab at
this elusive galaxy, to be found halfway between a line joining Eta and
105 Psc.  This time, using spiral search and averting my gaze, I noticed
a very faint glow beneath a trapezium of 10th and 11th mag stars. I put
the light pollution filter in and the   glow was slightly more obvious,
due to darkening of the sky background . I therefore drew a sketch of
the field stars and galaxy for future checking.

23.55 UT (00.55 local)

The GOTO accuracy was beginning to wane, so I re-aligned the scope and 
would you believe it !  apart from Vega, all the chosen Easy Guide stars
were in the wrong part of the sky, so I had to do a two-star align on
Vega and  Markab (Alpha Pegasi), which worked well.

I returned to Andromeda to tour the doubles in the eastern part of the
constellation, and that included the orange and blue showpiece, Gamma,
which showed up brilliantly at 73x. The same power also easily showed
the white and reddish 59 Andromedae, the yellow / bluish STF 79 and the
all-white STF 245. Higher power (173x) was needed to show the faint
reddish companion to the yellowish STF 108.

00:20 UT (01.20 local)

Is it the ferocious sea-monster sent to gobble up Andromeda, or has it
been re-invented as a benign whale? My next target was another large but
rather dim group  Cetus.

I I tried to find the 9th-magnitude galaxy NGC 247, one finder field
radius from Beta Ceti, but the search failed, mainly due to the target's
low altitude. The western part of Cetus was host to several interesting
doubles. 37 Cet was very wide and easy at 73x, and 26 Cet showed a
yellow / lilac colour contrast. I was also able to split HJ 2036 with
difficulty at 173x (low in the sky), and STF 147 was equally tough for
the same reason. 42 Cet was higher up but tighter, and I could only see
it as elongated at 173x. I suspect that the seeing had worsened a little
in the last half-hour or so.

00:50 UT (01.50 local)

I slewed the scope north again to look at two (or should I say three)
favourite objects in Perseus, which was very close to the zenith by now.
The Double Cluster was awesome again at 48x, but M34 to the south was a
fine gathering of some 50 stars, containing a double one (HJ 1123) near
its centre. I gave my eyes a rest whilst waiting for the eastern part of
Cetus to come into view.

01:20 UT (02.20 local)

The next double in Cetus, 66 Ceti, has been described as 'topaz and
violet'. My personal interpretation of the colours was more
'orange-yellow and lilac', but it was still very pretty at 73x. Nu
required barlowing to 146x to show its faint bluish companion clear of
the primary. The same power showed the yellow and reddish 84 Ceti, but
Gamma Ceti was like another Delta Cygni. The whitish-lilac companion to
the yellowish primary was visible without too much difficulty outside
the first diffraction ring at 173x, positioned at about 10 o'clock.

01:35 UT (02:35 local) A quick look at the Pleiades for a feelgood

01:40 UT (02.40 local) The night was getting rather chilly now  parking
the scope.

02:00 UT (03:00 local) Back home, I checked the sketch of M74 and its
neighbouring stars with the SkyMap software, and the two agreed !


Date : Various  Oct 2004
Lim. Mag. (zenithal): See notes
Time (UT) : Various
Lim. Mag. (low south) : See notes
Location : Bury, Lancashire, UK suburban
Seeing (out of 10) : See notes
Weather : Very fleeting breaks !
Instruments: Meade ETX-125EC


The middle and end of October were almost a total wash-out, with the
British Isles in the firing-line of vicious Atlantic depressions, gales
and foul skies. The observations below were all that was possible with
the ETX in the four weeks after October 9  that's how bad it was !

Thursday 22 Oct 20:00 - 20:30 UT (21:00  21:30 local)


It was too cloudy to align the ETX with any guide stars, and so I
thought it a good opportunity have a quick look at the Moon, now 8 days
old. The seeing was poor at the Moon's altitude (16), but 73x still gave
a reasonable view.

Mount Pico and Plato were just emerging into the lunar dawn, and
Archimedes and the Apennines provided an impressive view. Further south
the eastern wall of Eratosthenes and its central peak were receiving the
first rays, giving the appearance of a crescent and star.

The Ptolemaeus crater trio was striking, and the Straight Wall's shadow
was very long and prominent, with the crater Birt just emerging into the
sunlight. The battered south polar region was a splendid sight, with
Maginus on the terminator.

Tuesday 26 Oct 05:30 - 05:50 UT (06:30  06:50 local)


This was my first view of Jupiter in the ETX. I was able to see Europa
to the west, Ganymede and Io closer to the west, and Callisto well to
the east. The planetary disk was disappointing due to bad seeing  in
fact it looked like a luminous amoeba most of the time. I could only
resolve two cloud belts during fleeting better moments. The low altitude
of 10 did not help !

Tuesday 26 Oct 21:00 - 23:15 UT (22:00  00:15 UT next day)


A fairly clear evening at times with good seeing but marred by the Moon
only 30 hours from Full, and high cirrus cloud. Only Polaris and the
Guards were visible in Ursa Minor, so DSOs were an emphatic no-no. I had
little choice but  to go on a double star hunt in Cassiopeia,
Triangulum, Aries and Perseus.

My first test double was Zeta Aquarii, now descending in the west. I
could not separate it as well as on previous occasions, implying a 2''
resolution limit on the evening.

(21:20 UT)  Cassiopeia was near the zenith, so I had another look at
Eta, Iota and Sigma before trying a few others. STT 254 was very easy at
73x, and appeared reddish and bluish, and STF 3053 was a yellowish /
whitish pair, still easy at the same power. Two other doubles, STF 3057
(white) and 3062 (yellow), were also visible in the same eyepiece field
at 73x, but the former revealed its duplicity at 173x, whilst the latter
still appeared single. Clouds began to obscure the group, so I had to
slew south to Aries

(22:00 UT) A frustrating hour or so of variable cloud cover, but I still
managed to observe some doubles in the western parts of Aries and
Triangulum. In Aries, 1 Ari was a fine gold / blue pair at 146x, whilst
STF 178 was a fainter all-white even pair. Gamma was a fine all-white
pair, again seen well at 73x, and Lambda  was very easy, coloured yellow
and lilac. On to Triangulum, STF 239 was a yellow / blue pair, again
well seen at 73x. Higher power (146x) was needed to bring out the best
in the brighter but closer yellow / blue pair of Iota Tri. STF 232 was
by contrast evenly-matched and yellowish at 146x.

Returning to Aries and lower power revealed 30 Ari to be a wide
all-yellowish pair and 33 Ari to be yellowish and bluish, fading in the
eyepiece as I was observing. I looked up and saw the reason  the
thickening cirrus clouds were blotting out all but the brightest stars.
It was becoming futile to search for any other targets, so I parked the
scope at 23:15 UT after a last glimpse at Gamma Andromedae ! The rest of
Cassiopeia, Aries and Perseus had to wait until the next clear night.

Looking forward to the lunar eclipse on Thursday morning  if the Met
Office has got its data wrong !

P.S. Thursday 28 Oct 0330 UT

The Met Office had not had its data wrong, more's the pity. I woke up to
a 100% overcast sky without hope and promptly went back to sleep again.

Mark Kudlowski

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