Sunday, 13 May 2012

Woodpecker Cider Astronomy

Just back from a trip to Lincoln to watch the Lincoln Grand Prix Cycle race. On the way, a couple of kestrels demonstrated their amazing hovering technique. And on the way home, I saw my first swifts of the year flocking over the A46 as if they'd just arrived in the area.

And then, I watched one swooping over the roofs by my home, a lonely single swift in town, flying like a knife through melted cobalt.

Last night, went for a run by twilight, venus still bright but sinking back into the twilight ready for its transit next month. Many things were flying on this lovely evening, but alas not feathered but small insectoidal and very bitey things!

And very late, when all nice proper english gentlemen are in bed, I was outside on a chilly evening with a can of Woodpecker Cider for fortification. The sky was clear, and the moon not yet risen.

I'd not been able to do this for a while, and how the sky has changed! Arcturus starting to sink, tree leaves blocking the south and east. Red Antares blinks scraping rooftops. With binoculars, I picked up Messier 13, Messier 5 and Messier 3 really quickly, the prime globular clusters of spring, and probably the whole northern sky. I had a look for Messier 51 again, the Whirlpool Galaxy, trying to relax my twitching eyes. Perhaps there was a quick ghostly glimpse of a galactic disk and a starlike satellite.

I observed Ophiuchus, picking up IC4665 again, but none of the globulars which at the moment are a bit faint for me 10x50s from town. Further east, I think there was another open cluster, trees hindering navigation. Wonder if I've found Messier 11? 

I jumped across to Lyra, and observed the diamond blue vega, which looks fantastic in binoculars, and the Epsilon Lyrae double double, which in my 10x50s is a mere attractive single double! Messier 57, forget it, and I lost my bearings for Messier 56.

Messier 39 in Cygnus was easy to find, among many attractive milky way starfields, and then although I cannot see the companion, I drank in the sight of the golden star Albireo, Beta Cygnae.

Finally, I found Sagitta and picked up Messier 71, but not as easily as I thought I would. The loose globular was still low over the roof of the building next to me though, maybe it will be easier as it rises.

By now, my god I was cold. It was time for indoors, but it had been a good little observing session.

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