Friday 2 August 2013

Fine Skies Amid the Trees

Surprising as it has been in these incredibly sultry, sticky nights we have been having, there have been some gorgeous skies to see from my urban garden.

Well I call it a garden, it's more of a sort of driveway, surrounded by tall sycamore trees that leaf out in spring to take out most of my view of the south and east, as my flat takes care of the west. But even still, the skies have been clear enough the last few nights to allow me to see the milky way clear overhead, and follow it from Cassiopeia, across Lacerta, through Cygnus where the famous rift has been visible, and finally through Sagitta towards Scutum.

Binoculars reveal a glittering carpet of stars, a single field of view in my 10x50s may contain stars anywhere between 20 and 6,000 light years away, and blurry knots of light indicate the presence of star cluster after star cluster both genuine and co-incidental.

Messier 39 in Cygnus is probably the best of these, easily resolved overhead even from my sulfur tinged skies, but my particular favourite has always been to the west of the milky way, little IC4665 in Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. Ophiuchus has always been a great mystery to me, reminding reminds me of the black sail of a satanically posessed oriental junk, a great void in the sky.

I understand that a twitter star party is taking place tonight. Enjoy whatever clear skies you can, whether you have a telescope, binoculars, or just your plain old eyes! I shall be joining you later for a naked eye session, looking out for meteors and Iridium Flares, perhaps with a small swig of rum if I have any left!

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