Darkness of the background sky: 3
Weather: Clear sky, windy, snow has already melted away
Objects observed: NGC 5033
I was observing at the Ulvila observatory with three other active members of Porin Karhunvartijat in the night between 27th and 28th of March. Snow had already melted away, and that’s why the sky was already darker than in the mid winter.
All the other observers were astrophotographers, and there was all kinds of hustle and activities going on at the observatory during the night! So the situation for visual deep sky observing was challenging because of that, but nevertheless I managed to do at least one observation. This time I observed NGC 5033, which is a galaxy in Canes Venatici, less than four degrees SE from Alpha Canum Venaticorum. This galaxy is nearly edge-on spiral galaxy. Of this galaxy, I wrote following notes:
This galaxy was visible as a N-S direction elongated nebulous patch. The galaxy is pretty faint, but it has a considerably bright, almost star-like core. In the galaxy, there is a 13th magnitude star just 1′ north of the core.
So that was it for now..next time I’m going to be writing about my observations in Tenerife! So you can expect some new posts in the later half of April..
This winter has been excessively busy and hectic time. I have been working in my current job since April 2015, actually I have been working with my father in his steel trading company – the idea is that as my father is retiring during 2016, I’ll be continue running the business. It’s a great challenge, as I don’t have any education or experience from steel industry or anykind of commercial work. But I see many opportunities ahead of me too, and that’s why I’m now on this road!
And there has been also other things going on in the context of my new dayjob. Because I don’t yet have necessary economical and commercial skills to run a business succesfully, I’m attending to a enterprenourship -course in one of the vocotional schools in Satakunta -region. This course is luckily not very time consuming, but there are teaching days onece in a month and besides this, also some homework.
Besides working with my father and studying, I have also been teaching elementary astronomy in Harjavalta community college. It has been a very laborous and time-consuming project to do as a side-project with my dayjob – but it has been very rewarding too! There has been nearly 20 participants on that course, and so far I have been getting good response from the participants! The course itself is pretty much over, there is only one more meeting in the context of the course, and it will be thursday next week, then we are going to Ulvila observatory, and I’ll be presenting the observatory for the students, and also showing some astronomical objects if weather permits.
In astronomy there are also some things going on besides the course. I have been an active member of my local astronomy club Porin Karhunvartijat since ~1998, and I have also been in the council of the association almost continuously since 2002. During all this (and longer, Kari has been president about ~25 years) time the president of our association has been Kari Laihia, who is now retiring from the “office” of the president. We have made agreement that I will be continuing as the president of the association starting from the beginning of 2016. Also the members of the club supported this arrangement in the autumn meeting of the association in november 2015. So now I’m the president of the association, and I’m actually the 4th president of the history of the association. This means some responsibilities ans work to do.
Besides being now also the president of our local astronomy club, I’m also the chief editor of Zeniitti -amateur astronomy magazine of Ursa astronomical association. It is a new publication started in early 2014. I’m doing it with assistant editor, but because it is a new publication, and it has not yet stabilized it’s position among the publications in it’s field, there is lots of work to do and many challenges. The work is also quite time-consuming, and laborous..
And that wasn’t yet all of it. Beause of all this hustle, I’m now forced to narrow down my astronomical pursuits even more. This means, that I have to focus even more, and I have made the hard and difficult decision to focus only and solely in visual deep sky observing, which means that I have to quit (visual) variable star observing altogether – at least for now. The only exceptions will be rare and exceptional atmospheric phenomena, eclipses and transits which I will be observing and reporting. I’m don’t like to do this decision, but because of my limited time I have to do this now. But on the other hand, I can now use all of my time available efficiently in the most important thing in astronomy for me – visual deep sky observing. And regarding visual deepsky observing, I’m going to do one more trip to Canary islands to do some visual observing of the southern objects! I’m travelling to Tenerife, Canary islands in april 2016, less than a month from this moment! I’m already looking forward to it!
And then one more thing: as I have decided to narrow down my focus in astronomy almost solely to visual deep sky observing, I also decided to upgrade my observing instruments little bit: I have now purchased some Baader Hyperion oculars – the oculars I purchased are 24 mm, 17 mm and 10 mm. The 24 mm ocular has already arrived, I bought it second hand from another Finnish amateur. The 17 mm and 10 mm oculars are on their way from Germany to Finland, I bought them from German telescope equipment seller Telescope Service.
And finally I have arrived to the end of writing this blog post! This observing season is soon over, there will be still the rest of the March and the full April left before the next mandatory summer break from observing. Now I have observed 63 deep sky objects visually during this season, and I anticipate that I can achieve 100 observations during this season! My goal is to achieve 1000 visual deep sky observations within five years from now (I currently have 450 observations in the Finnish Deep Sky Archive), and in terms of this season it looks very good now! It is possible for me to achieve 100 observations in this season in the Canary trip only, if conditions are good enough and everything goes as planned (or even better than that).
I’ll be post reports from my Canary islands -trip as soon as I have time to write, so keep on watching the blog for more posts,
SQM: 19.70 – 19.30
Darkness of the background sky: 4
Weather: Clear sky, calm, snow on the ground, -4C to -9C
Objects observed: NGC 2266, 2304, 2395 and 2355
In the early days of March 2016, I had two observing sessions during two nights in a row. During the latter of these sessions (2.-3.3.2016) I was observing in my Friitala observing site. During the night conditions were OK winter conditions, altough there was som cloud interference in the later part of the session. Eventually the clouds forced me to stop observing. Nevertheless, I was able to observe four objects: NGC 2266, 2304, 2395 and 2355. All of these objects are open clusters in the constellation of Gemini.
My first object of this evening was NGC 2266, a small open cluster located 2 degrees north from epsilon Geminorum. My notes of this object are as follows:
@160x: A small, compact and faint-starred cluster. The cluster is well concentrated and detached. The cluster is mostly visible as a starglow, only some of the brightest stars of the cluster are visible straight.
The second object of this session was NGC 2304, which is a faint and small open cluster in the constellation of Gemini, located 3 degrees SW from Zeta Geminorum. Of this object, I wrote following notes:
@80x: Very faint, small and compact open cluster. Some of the brightest stars were visible at times at the threshhold of visibility, but mostly the cluster is visible just as a round, unresolved, hazy patch of dim light.
My third object of this observing session was NGC 2395, just another faint, small and pretty unknown open cluster in Gemini. It is located 3,5 degrees SE from Lambda Geminorum. Of this object, I wrote following notes:
@80x: A small, faint and rather scattered and poor cluster, not very well concentrated.
The last object of this observing session was NGC 2355, faint and small open cluster in Gemini. It is located 3 degrees south from Lambda Geminorum and 2,5 degrees west from NGC 2395. Of this object I wrote as follows:
@80x: A small, faint and compact cluster. The cluster is mostly visible as a glow. Only handful of the brigthest stars were resolved.
SQM: 19.20 – 19.60
Darkness of the background sky: 4
Weather: Clear sky, calm, snow on the ground, -2C
Objects observed: NGC 2281, 2158, 2129, 2440
In the night between 1st and 2nd of March 2016 after the club meeting of Porin Karhunvartijat at the Ulvila observatory, I stayed in the observatory after everyone else had already left as the sky was clear. During this session, I observed four objects: NGC 2281, 2158, 2129 and NGC 2440.
During my session, conditions were OK winter conditions. Moon was absent, and it wasn’t too cold. During this session, I was also able to test the recently bought Baader Hyperion Zoom ocular of our club. I was quite satisfied with the Zoom -ocular, image quality is good, stars are sharp and the overall quality of this eyepiece seems to be solid and good. I cannot find anything to complain about this eyepiece, not at least in the course of a short session like this.
My first object of the night was NGC 2281, an open cluster in the constellation of Auriga. The object is located near the psi -stars of Auriga, in the eastern part of the constellation, 10 degrees ESE from Beta Aurigae and less than degree SW from Psi 7 Aurigae. Of this object I wrote following notes:
@69x: A rather small and pretty cluster. The brightest stars of the cluster seem to be in a shape of an arc. The cluster is somewhat concentrated and detached. The cluster seems to have a large brightness range.
After having observed that not-so-well-known open cluster in Auriga, I went on to observe another often overlooked object in the constellation of Gemini. This object is NGC 2158, which is located just 30′ SW from Messier 35, a famous open cluster in Gemini. NGC 2158 is a very faint object, and it is overshadowed easily by the large and bright-starred Messier 35. But it is still a nice object to observe for the owners of larger telescopes. Of this object, I wrote following notes:
@172x: A small, faint and compact, well detached open cluster. The cluster lies just 30′ SW from M35. Most of the stars are barely visible, even with averted vision. The cluster is mostly visible as a glow. The cluster seems to be elongated in W-E direction.
My third object of the session was NGC 2129, another open cluster in Gemini. This object is located just at the border between Gemini and Taurus, 3 degrees WNW from eta Geminorum. Of this object, I wrote following notes:
@138x: A rather small, compact and well detached cluster. Not very rich, but still pretty. Brightest stars of the cluster are in shape of a triangle.
The last object of this night was NGC 2440, a small but bright planetary nebula in the northernmost part of constellation of Puppis. The object is located 9,5 degrees SE from Sirius. Of this object, I wrote following notes:
@229x: A small and bright planetary. It appears as a bright, glowing disk, that I suspect to be little bit elongated in NW-SE direction. It looks like as if there were some details visible just in the threshold of visibility, but I can’t be sure. OIII didn’t improve the view much.
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Weather: Clear sky, calm, snow on the ground, -13C
Objects observed: NGC 2126, NGC 1857
In late February, between the 28th and 29th of February i had a short observing session in Friitala. During the session, I observed two open clusters in the constellation of Auriga: NGC 2126 and 1857. During the session, conditions were OK winter conditions, and Moon wasn’t interfering this time. For this session, I had been able to collimate my telescope well enough, and bad collimation wasn’t problem anymore. This time though tube currents were causing some problem, because I didn’t have enough time to let the telescope cool down.
My first object was NGC 2126, a small open cluster in Auriga, 5 degrees north of Beta Aurigae.Of this object, I wrote following notes:
A small, faint-starred, rather poor cluster, no obvious concentration.
My second object of this session was another small and faint open cluster in Auriga: NGC 1857. This object is located 3 degrees SE from eta Aurigae, in the middle of the “box” -asterism of Auriga. Of this object, I wrote following notes:
A small, rather faint and poor but still obvious cluster. Misplaced on Skymap Pro 9.
SQM: 19.30 – 19.00
Darkness of the background sky: 5
Weather: Clear sky, calm, snow on the ground, first quarter Moon in the sky, -10 C
Objects observed: NGC 1535, NGC 2539
In the night between 15th and 16th of February 2016 me and three other active members of Porin Karhunvartijat (Jarkko, Tomi and Santeri) drove to Leistilänjärvi, Nakkila to do some observing.
Leistilänjärvi is located in municipality of Nakkila in central Satakunta region, just 20 km SW from Pori. The place is a very large field, that has originally been a lake, but it has been dried out and transformed into agricultural land. The horizon is really open to all directions, there aren’t virtually any obstacles in any direction, se there is a true zero -horizon in that place. The downside of the place is that it is located in the immediate vicinity of the urban conglomerate of Pori-Ulvila-Nakkila-Harjavalta, which means that the place is very light polluted. In the middle of the fields, there aren’t any street lights of course, but the sky is not dark at all. The Bortle class of the place is perhaps 5 (subruban sky).
During the night when we were out observing there, the conditions were far from being optimal, and that was partly caused by the everpresent lightpollutedness of the sky, and also by 1/4 Moon that was shining at high altitude in the southern sky. Also there was snow on the ground, which was degrading the conditions even more. During the night, I also was having problems with the collimation of the mirrors of my telescope, and that’s why I couldn’t use high magnifications at all.
During the night Jarkko and Tomi were observing planet Jupiter, that had already risen above the horizon, and Santeri as a newcomer was learning by watching the pursues of the others.
During the night, I had some deep sky -objects on my list, even though the conditions weren’t optimal. During the night I observed two objects: NGC 1535 and NGC 2539.
NGC 1535 is a planetary nebula in the constellation of Eridanus, which is best visible in midwinter. It is located at pretty low altitude in Finland, but nevertheless I tried to observe it. Here are my notes from NGC 1535:
@75x: Large and bright planetary, the shape of the nebula appears to be a round and symmetrical disc. The center of the nebula seems to be a little bit brighter than the outer parts.
After I had finished observing this winter-planetary, I went on to observe an open cluster NGC 2539 in constellation of Puppis. The object is located in the northernmost part of Puppis, and it is located 8 degrees south from Alpha monocerotis. Of this object, I wrote following notes:
@80x: Faint-starred, a little bit scattered cluster without any significant concentration. Because of low altitude and poor conditions, only the brightest stars of the cluster were visible. The cluster is located next to 4,7 mag star 19 Puppis.