Observing 28./29.3.2014

Date: 28./29.3.2014
Time: 00:00-02:00
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L 102/1000mm

NELM: 6.4
SQM: 21.21
Darkness of the background sky: 1
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 1
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, no snow, dry air, -3 °C

Objects observed: SS Cyg, Messier 5

In the end of March I finally had a chance to do some deep sky -observing again! In the night between 28th and 29th of March I headed to my observing site in Parainen. Observing conditions during that night were perfect: the sky was absolutely clear, the Moon was absent and it was calm and the air was dry, so there was no condensation problem as usually is the case! It was also pleasently warm, temperature was only 3 degrees below zero! During this winter we haven’t had much winter at all, and that has been the case also during March 2014. During mid March, there was snow on the ground for couple of days, but in late March all snow had melted away!

During this wonderful night I observed dwarf nova SS Cyg and globular cluster Messier 5 in Serpens. This time I noticed SS Cyg to be in outburst, and it’s brightness was about 8,6 magnitudes.

Messier 5 is a famous globular cluster in the constellation of Serpens, and more precisely Serpens Cauda, the Head of the Snake. I observed this cluster with my 4” refractor. With my instrument, the cluster appeared as a bright, concentrated cluster, which gets brighter towards the core. The cluster is resolved nearly to the core. There is a relatively bright star in the western edge of the cluster. The apparent visual diameter of the cluster is roughly 10′. This is a great target for visual observations, also with smaller telescopes!

Messier 5 observed with 4'' refractor
Messier 5 observed with 4” refractor
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Observing in Ulvila observatory 31.3.-1.4.2013

Date: 31.3./1.4.2013
Time: 19:00-21:00
Observing site: Ulvila observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 5,7
SQM: 20,28
Darkness of the background sky: 4
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -2 °C, calm, snow still on the ground, faint aurora arc in the northern sky at low altitude

Objects observed: Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) (visual, sketching), NGC 5053 (visual, sketching), NGC 5466 (visual, sketching), SS Cyg (visual), R Cyg (visual)

When March was turning to April, I was doing some observing in Ulvila observatory, Finland. This time I observed comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS), NGC 5466, NGC 5053, SS Cyg and R Cyg. Observing conditions were OK, it’s not very cold anymore, the temperature was only 2 °C below zero. The nights are though getting shorter already, and the beginnig of the summer time means that the observing sessions are now starting even later.

The comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) was still visible, and it was now approaching the Andromeda galaxy. During this night, the apparent distance between the comet and the galaxy was less than 3º. I observed the comet with the large binoculars of Ulvila observatory (25×100), the binoculars have a FOV of 2º. The comet itself fitted in nicely in the field, but I wasn’t able to see both the comet and the galaxy in the same field. The comet wasn’t anymore visible with naked eye, but it was easy to see with the binos. The length of the tail seems to be about 45′ and it is pointing to position angle 340º. The coma is still very condensated, the DC is 8, the diameter of the coma is about 3′.

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) 31.3./1.4.2013
Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) 31.3./1.4.2013

Besides observing and sketching the comet, I did also some deep sky -sketching. This time I observed and scketched globular clusters NGC 5466 and 5053. NGC 5466 appeared as a round, faint and fuzzy nebula. The cluster has pretty even brightness distribution. The cluster appeared to be granulated, some individual stars were also resolved.

NGC 5466 observed with 11'' Catadioptric
NGC 5466 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 5053 appeared as a very faint and vague nebula, which was visible only with sweeping and averted vision. No hope of resolving any stars. I think this should have been visible better with my instrument, but the poor background sky darkness could explain the fact that it was visible only barely.

NGC 5053 observed with 11'' Catadioptric
NGC 5053 observed with 11” Catadioptric

After having done some deep sky -sketching, I observed also variable stars SS Cyg and R Cyg. Both stars are in their minimum brightness now, SS Cyg about 12.0, and actually I couldn’t even see R Cyg, so I made a negative observation of it, the magnitude of the star was <14.0.

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Variable star observations:

Date Time Star Mag. Comp.
31.3./1.4.2013 02.53 SS Cyg 12.0 10.9/11.9
31.3./1.4.2013 03.12 R Cyg <14.0 14.0

Deep sky observing in Parainen 10./11.3.2013

Date: 10./11.3.2013
Time: 21:00-23:20
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Refractor)

NELM: 6,0
SQM: 20,91
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -19 °C, calm, snow on the ground, no Moon, no aurora, zodiacal light visible in NW sky

Objects observed: Messier 3 (visual, sketching)

This was my second trip to my observing place in Parainen now in March 2013! Also this time the zodiacal light was visible, and this time I was also able to photograph this phenomena! Also now the zodiacal light was visible in the NW sky as a faint, southwards tilted, diffuse glow of light that was following the line of the ecliptic. And just like last time, it was best visible with averted vision and sweeping. Winter Milky way was somewhat visible, and the conditions were pretty much the same than last time two nights ago.


Besides photographing this light scattered by interplanetary dust, I made also one deep sky -sketch. This time I observed Messier 3, a globular cluster in Canes Venatici. I made the observation with my 102/1000mm refractor (4” refractor).

Messier 3: with 102/1000mm refractor @67x this cluster appeared as a bright, round nebula. The brightness of the cluster increases inwards, and it seems to be well condensed and concentrated towards the center. The cluster is clearly granulated, and some individual stars can be resolved. @133x several individual stars can be seen.

Messier 3 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 3 observed with 4” Refractor

Deep sky sketching and zodiacal light 8./9.3.2013

Date: 8./9.3.2013
Time: 21:15-00:25
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Refractor), N250/1200mm (10” Newton)

NELM: 6,0
SQM: 20,84
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -12 °C, light wind, snow on the ground, no Moon, no aurora, zodiacal light in NW sky

Objects observed: Messier 53 (visual, sketching), NGC 2506(visual, sketching)

This was my first observing session in Parainen since September 2011! When I arrived at the site, I noticed that the winter Milky way in the Monoceros-Orion region was visible as well as it ever can be here in the conditions of Finland. Unfortunately winter is not so good time to make deep sky -observing in Finland because of cold temperature and snow, which is reflecting light in the sky. This can be observed with SQM, which gave values of ~20,8 around zenith. This is low value when compared with the good values in autumn, that can be as good as 21,2 in this site! NELM was barely 6,0 in Orion and about 5,7 in Ursa minor.

Besides Milky way and the ugly light pollution domes, I was able to see also another faint glow of light in the NW sky close to horizon. This light was rising from the horizon as a wedge -like glow of light that was following the line of ecliptic. This light was better visible with averted vision and sweeping. This light is better seen in the southern latitudes, but it can be seen also here in high latitudes around vernal- and autumnal equinox. This light is the zodiacal light! This was my second time to observe this phenomena from Finland. I observed this light for first time from the same site in March 2010. The zodiacal light can be seen almost every night in southern latitudes, but it is not common sight here in the high latitudes like Finland. The angle of the ecliptic is steepest around the time of the equinoxes, and that makes it possible to observe this phenomena!

Below you can see an excerpt with a sketch of the phenomena from my note book:

Zodiacal light observed 8.3.2013 in Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Zodiacal light observed 8.3.2013 in Stormälö, Parainen, Finland

This time I was making deep sky -observations with two of my telescopes: N250/1200mm (10” Newton)  and L102/1000mm (4” Refractor). This time I observed NGC 2506, an open cluster in southern Monoceros and Messier 53, a globular cluster in Coma Berenices.

I observed NGC 2506 (Caldwell 54) with my 250/1200mm Newton. With this instrument, this open cluster appeared as a small, relatively condensed and concentrated cluster. The brightness range of the stars of the cluster is rather large, some brighter stars are clearly visible, but the fainter stars appeared only as a starglow in the background of the cluster.

NGC 2506 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 2506 observed with 10” Newton

I observed Messier 53 with my both instruments. With 102/1000mm refractor @67x, this globular cluster appeared as a round, fuzzy nebula, whose brightness increases slightly inwards. No single stars were visible.

Messier 53 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 53 observed with 4” Refractor

With 250/1200mm newton @80x, the cluster appeared to be granulated, and few individul stars were resolved.

Messier 53 observe with 10'' Newton
Messier 53 observed with 10” Newton

Deep sky observing in Friitala, Ulvila, Finland 13./14.9.2012

Date: 13./14.9.2012
Time: 19:30-21:15
Observing site: Friitala, Ulvila, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm

NELM: 6,2
SQM: 20,85
Darkness of the background sky: 2
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 3
Weather: Mostly clear sky, light wind, no Moon, humid air, +6 °C

Objects observed: Messier 76 (visual, sketching), Messier 92 (visual, sketching)

During this session, I was doing some deep sky- observing in Friitala, Ulvila. This site is located close to towns of Pori and Ulvila, and it means that the light pollution domes of these urban areas are destroying northern and eastern sky. The background sky is not really dark, but dark enough for doing some deep sky observing. This time I observed and sketched Messier 76, a planetary nebula in constellation of Perseus and globular cluster Messier 92 in constellation of Hercules. Although the sky was clear and conditions were ok, I had to go sleeping early because I had been awake for long time already.

Messier 76: @133x, this planetary nebula was visible as a small, SW-NE oriented, fuzzy and greatly elongated nebula. The nebula is also known as the little dumpell nebula, and the characteristic wings of the nebula were also visible. The southwesternmost one of them was brighter than the opposite one. The wings are best visible with averted vision. The nebula is pretty small and dim, but it is in easy place and thus it is easy to find. This object is nice and interesting object to observe visually, also for smaller instruments.

Messier 76 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 76 observed with 4” Refractor, @133x

Messier 92: @67x, bright globular cluster, which was easily resolved almost into the core! The brightness, and hence the density of stars of the cluster increases clearly towards the core. The core is dense and much brighter than the outer parts of the cluster. This is visually very impressive object, also for small instruments.

Messier 92 observed 13.-14.9.2012 in Friitala, Ulvila, Finland @ L102/1000mm, 67x.
Messier 92 observed with 4” refractor, @ 67x.

Observing in exceptionally warm weather 11./12.9.2012

Date: 11./12.9.2012
Time: 23:00-00:40
Observing site: Länsi-Aure, Kuru, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” refractor)

NELM: 6,5
SQM: 21,21
Darkness of the background sky: 2
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 1
Weather: Partly cloudy sky, light wind, no Moon, 12°C

Objects observed: Messier 71 (visual, sketching), U Umi (visual)

During this session, I had opportunity to observe in exceptionally warm weather, this time temperature was +12C, which is pretty good for a night time temperature in this time of the year!This time clouds were interfering, but still I was able to do some observations. This time the sky was truly dark, but humidity was high. This time I observed star U Umi and sketched globular cluster Messier 71 in constellation of Sagitta.

Messier 71: @62x, fairly bright globular cluster, which was visible as a fuzzy sphere. It seems that there is a W-E -oriented bar in the cluster that is brighter than the rest of the cluster. When gazing the cluster with averted vision, the cluster looks granulated and it is possible to see glimpse of some individual stars of the cluster.

Messier 71 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 71 observed with 4” Refractor

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Variable star observations:

Date Time Star Mag. Comp.
11./12.9.2012 23.35 U Umi 10.6 10.6

Observing in really good conditions 22./23.8.2012

Date: 22./23.8.2012
Time: 00:15-02:20
Observing site: Visitor Centre, Seitseminen National Park, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” refractor)

NELM: 6,6
SQM: 21,27
Darkness of the background sky: 1
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, humid air, 10°C

Objects observed: SS Cyg (visual), U Umi (visual), Messier 56 (visual, sketching)

This session was again really dark, actually it was the new darkest session so far this season! During this session I recorded the best SQM -reading so far, 21,27! Also NELM was really good, 6,6. This time it wasn’t luckily so cold as it was last time, during this session temperature was about 10°C. The sky was mostly clear during the session, although there was some clouds in the sky, but they weren’t causing any major disturbance.

During this session, I was observing SS Cyg again, which is now showing signs of declining brightness. Í estimated that it’s brightness was about 9.2. Another variable star that I observed was U Umi, and i estimated that it’s brightness was about 10,4. Also this star is getting fainter now.

Besides variable stars, I observed deep sky too! It would have been a shame to not observe any deep sky objects because the conditions were so great! This time I observed and sketched Messier 56, a globular cluster in constellation of Lyra.

Messier 56: @ 133x, round, fuzzy nebula, not resolved into stars. Pretty even brightness distribution, no obvious central brightening.

Messier 56 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 56 observed with 4” Refractor

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Variable star observations:

Date Time Star Mag. Comp.
22./23.8.2012 00.39 SS Cyg 9.2 9.2/9.8
22./23.8.2012 02.10 U Umi 10.4 9.6/10.6