Tuesday 6 August 2013

Autumnal Skies are on the Way

0130 am last night, or rather this morning, and I found myself outside with a drink and my trusty 10x50s to do a spot of observing. The skies were sharp and clear, and the milky way arced from Sagitta to Cassiopeia.

This is a transitional time of year, observed at transitional time of the night. The stars of spring are all but gone, Arcturus fights on in the West, but Virgo and Saturn are long gone. The Scorpion's all too brief visitation is over; Sagitarrius never really appeared. Even the Summer Triangle is dipping down into the South East.

I began with a whisk around the major summer binocular objects - Messier 13 and Messier 92 the two bright globular clusters in Hercules, Messier 11 faint and low in Scutum, Messier 29 and big Messier 39 in Cygnus, and my favourite open cluster, dinky but distinct IC4665 in Ophiuchus, with IC6633 prominent nearby;


But rising in the East are the objects of Autumn and the yellow orb of Capella is starting to make its long climb back up towards the zenith. Two globulars were first on this cold weather list - Messier 15 in Pegasus and Messier 2 in Aquarius, both of which are easily visible in my 10x50s and are easy to find near prominent stars. Of course the Andromeda galaxy was there, filling my field of view like a misty teardrop not far from the firey orange Beta Andromedae. The double cluster in Perseus is easily seen, Messier 34 the open cluster less so, and the galaxy Messier 33 in Triangulum not observable alas.

I always enjoy looking at the Mirfak cluster of hot blue white stars, with its faint but unmissable orange interloper. Unlike the Hyades, which this cluster always reminds me of, I don't remember this cluster even being treated as such until fairly recently; it is certainly a wonderful sight in binoculars.

I finished up in the vicinity of Cassiopeia - Messier 103 visible, and then a look at Kemble's Cascade, which just never looks as amazing from my urban site as all the reports I read about it. NGC 1502 the small open cluster was visible at it's end was just apparent. A brighter cluster was visible some degrees away to the South East, I have not been able to identify this.

Colder weather is on the way. Soon it will be time to switch to Rum, rather than Pimms.

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