Great evening’s observing at Wellow

M92 Globular Cluster in Hercules Credit: Hubble, WikiSky

Thursday night’s impromptu observing at Wellow, south of Bath was very successful. The cloud and rain from earlier in the day cleared up and as the high cloud cleared a good autumnal vista opened above us. Wellow is not the darkest of sights due to proximity of Bath light pollution and local residents ‘security’ lighting but within minutes of commencing dark adaptation our eyes were treated to the broad arc and subtle features of the Milky Way directly above our heads.

8 members were able to visit during the 4 hours from 21:00 until 01:30 so thank you to  Jenna, Stephen, Charles, Deepali, David, Margaret, Steve and Simon for coming along with red torches, binoculars, appropriate clothing and footwear, and huge enthusiasm. The high humidity and recently wet ground meant that dewing was a risk for all the optical equipment exposed. The Celeston SCT soldiered on until 23:30 when even the dew shield submitted and the corrector plate fogged over. The Dobsonian was made of tougher stuff and finished the night. Perhaps a lesson on keep it simple stupid or one on bringing a dew heater/unpacking it from the car.

This was a first observing evening for several members and so learning constellations and use of binoculars was the primary activity…. For those attending the recent workshop with homework on Ursa Major, we tried to view the Messier objects there and had limited success due to light pollution from Bath. The next constellation for homework will be more autumnally themed.

As there was a little coming and going and we operated over two scopes, not all seen every object but the full list is here for reference:

  • M13 globular cluster in Hercules
  • M92 globular cluster in Hercules
  • Almach double star in Andromeda
  • M31 Andromeda /M32/M110 galaxies in Andromeda
  • M81/M82 galaxies in Ursa Major
  • M108 galaxy in Ursa Major
  • Veil Nebula (supernova remnant) in Cygnus
  • Albireo double star in Cygnus
  • 61 Cygni double star
  • M27 Dumb Bell Nebula
  • Double Cluster in Perseus
  • M37 Open Cluster
  • M1 (Crab Nebula)
  • Failed to get M97 (due to Sun/Bath glow)
  • M101 galaxy (faint due to Sun/Bath glow)
  • Mizar/Alcor double in Ursa Major
  • M57 Ring Nebula in Lyra
  • Failed to get C/2017 O1 comet
  • Pleiades in Taurus
  • Hyades in Taurus
  • Epsilon Lyrae double star
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune

Not a bad haul for one evening. The aim was to take people on a tour of the objects available and engage that enthusiasm. Hopefully we succeeded. One of Charles’ favourites with the dobsonian was to point it generally at the band of the Milky Way and allow people to just roam with the eyepiece exploring the myriad of pin pricks of light to a monologue of each dot potentially being a solar system and the vastness of it all. Neil deGrasse Tyson would be proud.

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