While Binbrook was fogged out, November 24th, Grimsby did not suffer the same fate. Interestingly, I recently acquired a set of three gauges that give my observatory readings on temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity.
When I started observing at 7pm that evening, the humidity was just over 70% and the limiting magnitude was about 4.5. By 9:30pm, the humidity was nearly 80% and only stars brighter than mag. 3 (and higher than 50 degrees) were visible to the naked eye. Between those two readings, however, I did manage to do some useful viewing.
I spent a little while pushing my 6" reflector through Pegasus and Andromeda, but after checking my log realized I had no entries for Lacerta. Although Lacerta was barely visible to the naked eye, the area bordering Cepheus was easy to locate and the following objects were new finds for me:
IC 1434 - a fairly circular open cluster of about 3 dozen 10-12 mag. stars with about the same amount showing dimly among them. Near the centre of this cluster is a tiny binary that I only noticed with a barlow at 114X. Increasing the magnification to 171X allowed a clean but narrow separation.
IC 1442 - just over a degree NE of IC 1434, this open cluster of about 40 stars has an interesting rectangular shape to it. It also features a bright "waistband" of 3 stars reminiscent of Orion's Belt.
NGC 7245 - with a 21mm eyepiece, this open cluster almost fits in the same 1 degree FOV with IC 1442. More compact, and richer with stars than 1442.
NGC 7235 - I crossed the border into Cepheus for this one. An elongated open cluster spanning at least 2 degrees, it features a tiny but very appealing carbon star in the middle of the "stream". There is a whiter star that may catch your eye but tight focus will bring out the beauty in the carbon one.
HD213306 - AKA Delta Cephei. If you're into pretty double stars then you should have this attractive yellow and blue pair on your list.
LATER THAT NIGHT: Finding myself awake at 5am I toyed with the idea of going out again for, after all, the Clear Sky Clock was reading near perfect conditions - Wrong. The fog had made it to Grimsby.
Clear skies and an opportunity to go to Binbrook for observing - but of course it couldn't be that easy. Yes, the sky was quite clear, but down closer to the ground we had a slight fog/haze and the half dozen or so of us observing were overcome by dew in just over an hour - despite a wind that was somewhat stronger than forecast and making stars jump around at any higher power. I managed to get about 20 minutes of imaging in before my telephoto camera lens dewed over - and even my Tuthill heated dew shield on my main scope couldn't keep the dew away. But the sky was clear.
The following (drastically reduced) image of the Pleiades (M45) was taken with a Canon Digital Rebel XTi using an f/5.6 400mm apo telephoto lens piggy-backed on my main scope. A combination of 2x2min, 2x4min, and 2x6min at ISO800.
Today was a great day of astronomy for me. I started the day with my Coronado PST with some sun watching early this morning. As has been the case for the last while, the sun is a very dull place with no sunspots, however, there was a great solar flare on the edge of the sun's disk. After spending about a half an hour gazing at the sun in Hydrogen Alpha light, I put things away and waited for dark.
According to the weather reports, there will be several days of clear sky at night! As you all know, that has been very rare recently. I am sure someone must have gotten a new telescope as it is well known that the purchase of a new scope will cause weeks of cloudy skies. OK, fess up, who bought a new scope?
Well, tonight, I hauled out the LXD-750 mount for a night of stargazing in my backyard. Jackie Fulton came over to join me with her little 80 mm Nexstar scope. She even had a charged battery in her car to make sure she did not run out of juice. She was well-prepared for every eventuality... except, she forgot her telescope on the balcony in Hamilton.
Since she had let me use her scope in the past, I decided that fair was fair and I shared mine. Of course, I only had my 6 inch refractor for her to use, not her usual scope.
After a quick alignment, we started seeing objects in the cold clear skies. Mike Spicer's Skychart in the Event Horizon came in very handy to pick objects for our tour of the night sky. Very quickly we found M42, M45, M35, M37, M36, M31, M103, and M38.
I was especially impressed with the clear view of M42. The Trapezium was clear and the nebulosity was very evident in the views we got. I have left the mount set up for my observing sessions tomorrow night and I plan to do some imaging with both my ToCam Pro and my DSI. I might even try my hand at getting my autoguider to work so I can take some long exposures.
What a great night. I can't wait for tomorrow evening's session. I hope to get started early enough to get some good views of Uranus and Neptune.
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