Observing 17./18.2.2017 in Stormälö

Date: 17./18.2.2017
Time: 22:00-00:15
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: N250/1200 mm (10” Newton)

NELM: 6.4
SQM: 21.22 – 21.35
Darkness of the background sky: from 1  (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Seeing: 2 (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, calm, no Moon, only very little snow, aurora arc in northern horizon

Objects observed: NGC 2232, 2251, 2286 and 2311

During the night between 17th and 18th of February, I was able to do some visual deep sky observing in Stormälö, Parainen. During the night, observing conditions were rather good! Sky was clear, Moon was absent and there wasn’t much snow on the ground. During the night I observed following objects: NGC 2232, 2251, 2286 and 2311. All of these are open clusters in Monoceros and all of them are also listed in Herschel 400 observing list.

NGC 2232

My first object of the observing session was NGC 2232, an open cluster in SW corner of Monoceros. This cluster is rather large, it’s diamterer is 30′ which is comparable with diameter of full Moon! Of this object I wrote following notes:

@32x: Relatively large open cluster, moderately concentrated and detached, rather large brightness range, not very rich.

170217-18_NGC 2232
NGC 2232 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 2251

My next target was yet another open cluster in Monoceros. This cluster was NGC 2251, which is located near the famous Cone nebula, less than 2 degrees SW from it. I wrote following lines about this cluster:

@50x: a rather small, faint open cluster, the cluster has triangular shape, moderately detached, not very well concentrated.

170217-18_NGC 2251
NGC 2251 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 2286

My third object for this night was NGC 2286, yet another open cluster in Monoceros. This cluster is located about half way from beta Mon to delta Mon. About this cluster, I wrote following notes:

@50x: a faint-starred, scattered cluster, not very well detached, in rich star field.

170217-18_NGC 2286
NGC 2286 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 2311

My fourth and last object for this night was NGC 2311, an open cluster in Monoceros. This cluster is located about 5 degrees SW from delta Mon. This cluster is rather small and faint-starred. About this object, I wrote following notes:

@71x: a small, faint-starred open cluster, quite compact, well detached.

170217-18_NGC 2311

So this was my first observing session in February 2017. In february, I was able to do one more short observing session besides this, more about that later!

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Observing 27./28.1.2017 in Stormälö

Date: 27./28.1.2017
Time: 20:30-22:30
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: N250/1200 mm (10” Newton)

NELM: 6.6
SQM: 21.03 – 21.00
Darkness of the background sky: from 2  (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Seeing: 2 (a scale from 1 to 5, 1 best, 5 worst)
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, calm, light breeze, only very thin layer of snow on the ground, no Moon, +2C – -3C, some mist rising from the sea at the end of the session

Objects observed: NGC 1980, 2215

This was my last observing session in January 2017. This time I was able to do some observing in my Stormälö observing site in Parainen. During the night conditions were relatively good, but dew and frost were causing problems in the later part of the session. During this session I observed two objects listed in Herschel 400 list: NGC 1980 and 2215.

NGC 1980

This object is a small bright nebula immediately to south from famous Orion Nebula Messier 42. The cluster is also known as Collinder 72. NGC 1980 refers to the nebula. I tried to observe the nebula, and I was quite convinced that I was able to see it. Of my observation, I wrote following notes:

@50x: a small, poor cluster, that is located immediately south of M42, the cluster is relatively well detached. Not very well concentrated. Some weak nebulosity is visible around the brightest star of the cluster (iota Ori) and slightly SW from that star. The outer edges of M42 are extending all the way to iota Ori. The nebulas were visible without filter, UHC filter enhanced the view only slightly. No moisture observable on optical surfaces, good conditions.

170127-28_NGC 1980
NGC 1980 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 2215

My second and last object for this session was NGC 2215, an open cluster in Monoceros. This object is located 2 degrees WSW from beta Mon. About this object I wrote as follows:

@71x: an obvious open cluster, pretty well concentrated, well detached, relatively faint-starred.

170127-28_NGC 2215
NGC 2215 observed with 10” Newton

So, that was my last observing session in January 2017. Next time I was making observations in February, I’ll post something about the February observing sessions later.

Observing 19./20.1.2017 in Ulvila Observatory

Date: 19./20.1.2017
Time: 20:15-00:00
Observing site: Ulvila Observatory, Finland
Instrument: C280/2750 mm (11” Catadioptric)

NELM: 5.7
SQM: 19.85-20.05
Darkness of the background sky: 3-4
Seeing: 2
Transparency: –
Weather: Some high clouds in the beginning of the session, later the sky cleared up, fresh breeze, surprisingly warm and dry air, only thin layer of snow on the ground, no Moon, surprisingly good conditions considering the time of year

Objects observed: NGC 2194, 2261, 2024, 2175

This was my first observing session in year 2017. During this session, I made four observations, all observed objects were listed in Herschel 400 list. Conditions were relatively good considering the season.

NGC 2194

My first object of this session was NGC 2194, an open cluster located in northern part of Orion, near Gemini border. The cluster can be located 1,5 degrees SE from xi Ori. Of this object, I wrote following notes:

@117x: faint-starred open cluster, which is moderately detached, the cluster is mostly visible as a starglow, some individual stars were visible.

170119-20_NGC 2194
NGC 2194 observed with 11” Catadioptric

NGC 2261

My second object of this night was NGC 2261, the famous reflecting nebula known as Hubble’s variable nebula. Of course the nebula itself is not variable, but the star illuminating it is. The illuminating star is R Mon, a variable star of type T Tauri, varying from 10 to 12 magnitudes. This nebula is located in Monoceros, very close to famous Cone nebula, and it can be located ~1 degree SW from the nebula. Of this fascinating object I wrote following notes:

@165x: this famous nebula is known as Hubble’s variable nebula, it appeared surprisingly large and bright, the shape is clearly wedge-like or comet-like, the nebula extends northwards from star R Mon. The star R Mon is like the nucleus of the comet, and the nebula is like the tail of the comet. The nebula was easily visible without filters. Nice object!

170119-20_NGC 2261
NGC 2261 observed with 11”Catadioptric

NGC 2024

My third object of this session was very challenging in thse observing conditions, but nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. This object was NGC 2024, also known as Tank Track Nebula, a famous bright nebula in Orion. This nebula is located very close to Alnitak, zeta Ori. About this challenging object I wrote following lines:

@117x: This nebula was poorly visible in these conditions. The nebula appeared as a very faint, diffuse glow of light slightly east from Mintaka. The nebula was weakly visible without filter, UHC filter enhanced the view slightly. The nebula was visible all the time only with averted vision and sweeping.

170119-20_NGC 2024
NGC 2024 observed with 11” Catadioptric

This observation left me hungry for more, and I need to observe this one again in better conditions!

NGC 2174/2175

My fourth and last object for this session was NGC 2174/2175, an open cluster/nebula in northernmost part of Orion, near Gemini border. This cluster can be located ~1,5 degrees ENE from Chi2 Ori. The name of this object is quite ambiguous, and it is not very clear, which designation is for the nebula and which one is for the cluster. The nebula is also widely known as Monkey Head nebula. Of this object, I wrote following notes:

@117x: a rather scattered, poorly concentrated, poor open cluster. The cluster is weakly detached, with OIII filter I suspected very faint nebulosity around the brightest star of the field.

170119-20_NGC 2175
NGC 2175/2174 observed with 11” Catadioptric

So know I had finished this observing session. There were two objects, that left me a little bit unsatisfied because of poor observing conditions. These objects were NGC 2024 and NGC 2174/2175. I need to re-observe these objects during next season!

After this, there was one more observing session in January 2017. More about that later!

 

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

Comet hunting and deep sky observing 12./13.11.2012

Date: 12./13.11.2012
Time: 23:05-00:40
Observing site: Länsi-Aure, Kuru, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm

NELM: 6,6
SQM: 21,23
Darkness of the background sky: 2
Seeing: 3
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -2 °C, light wind, no snow, no Moon, faint aurora arc at low altitude in northern sky

Objects observed: Messier 39 (visual, sketching), Messier 77 (visual, sketching)

During this session, the sky was relatively dark, although there was some aurora in the northern sky, and thus I decided to try to observe the comet Hergenrother once again. This time I had very accurate maps with me, and I was looking for the comet carefully in the right place, but still I couldn’t find it. I deduced from this, that the unvisibility of the comet is caused only by the low magnitude of the comet itself.

Because I couldn’t find the comet and the sky was dark, I changed my plan and decided to observe some deep sky objects instead. This time I observed Messier 77, a galaxy in constellation of Cetus and Messier 39, an open cluster in constellation of Cygnus.

Messier 77 was found easily, and it was well visible with my instrument. The galaxy appeared as a round, little bit oval fuzzy spot. A notable feature of this galaxy is it’s significantly bright core. It is much brighter than the outer parts of the galaxy. This is a good object also for small telescopes.

Messier 77 with 4'' Refractor
Messier 77 with 4” Refractor

Messier 39 is a rather large, loose and poor open cluster in the constellation of Cygnus. A wide field and low magnification is required to observe this object. This cluster is clearly triangular in shape. There isn’t any observable concentration towards center in this cluster. There are some brightness differences between the stars of this cluster. This object is well suitable for small telescopes, and actually it is best observed with large binoculars or small telescope because of its large size.

Messier 39 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 39 observed with 4” Refractor

Deep sky -sketching, comet hunting and observing planet Neptune 8./9.11.2012

Date: 8./9.11.2012
Time: 19:30-22:30
Observing site: Länsi-Aure, Kuru, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm

NELM: 6,2
SQM: 20,80
Darkness of the background sky: 2
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 3
Weather: Mostly clear sky, -8 °C, calm, thin, discontinuous layer of snow on the ground, no Moon, no aurora

Objects observed: Neptune (visual, sketching), Messier 35 (visual, sketching), Messier 77 (visual, sketching)

During this session, I tried to find and observe comet Hergenrother, but I wasn’t succesfull in my attempts. Perhaps the comet was too faint for my instrument. Instead of observing comet, I then decided to observe some deep sky objects.

This time I observed open clusters Messier 35 in Gemini and Messier 37 in Auriga.

Messier 35 is really a pretty nice looking open cluster with my small refractor! @31x, the cluster is fairly large and rich and it is well detached from it’s background. The cluster isn’t very concentrated, and the center of the cluster even looks pretty empty! There is an arc consisted of stars on the NW edge of the cluster. This starry arc is one of the most prominent features of this cluster when observing visually. This is a really good target for visual observing, especially for telescopes with smaller aperture. Because of the relatively large size of the cluster, small magnification and large field are preferred for this object.

Messier 35 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 35 observed with 4” Refractor

@67x, Messier 37 appears to be a compact, bright and rich open cluster, which is well detached from it’s background. The cluster is elongated in W-E direction, and it is a little bit wedge -like in shape, getting narrower eastwards. The brightness range of the cluster is pretty even, although there are some brighter stars in the cluster. Messier 37 is a really good target for visual observations and especially for smaller telescopes!

Messier 37 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 37 observed with 4” Refractor

After observing two deep sky -objects, I decided to come back to the outskirts of our Solar system, and to try observe planet Neptune, which I actually haven’t observed ever before! So this was my first time to see the outermost planet of our solar system! The planet appeared totally star-like, and I actually even didn’t exactly know, which of the stars of the field was Neptune, but I knew that I was in the right field. Then I checked the location of the planet afterwards from Sky Map Pro.

Planet neptune observed 12.-13.11.2012 in Länsi-Aure, Kuru, Finland with L102/1000mm @ 25x.
Planet Neptune observed with 4” refractor @ 25x.

Deep sky -observing in Seitseminen National Park, Finland 17./18.9.2012

Date: 17./18.9.2012
Time: 00:30-02:30
Observing site: Visitor Centre, Seitseminen National Park, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm

NELM: 6,6
SQM: 21,35
Darkness of the background sky: 2
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 1
Weather: Clear sky, moderate wind, no Moon, humid air, +3 °C

Objects observed: Messier 36 (visual, sketching)

The sky got clear just in time and I was able to try some observing. The sky was relatively dark, and I tried to observe some a little bit more challenging objects. This time I tried to observe emission/reflection nebula IC 405 (Flaming star nebula) in Auriga and emission nebula NGC 1499 (California nebula) in Perseus, but even after trying O III and UHC filters, I couldn’t see the objects, not even with sweeping and with averted vision.

Because I had to go sleeping soon, I decided to observe at least something, and I ended up observing and sketching open cluster Messier 36 in Auriga, because my telescope was already aimed at that direction.

With my 4” refractor, Messier 36 appears to be bright and pretty well concentrated open cluster. Many stars of the cluster seems to be in pairs. The cluster is well detached from it’s background and it has mediocre brightness range. There is a glow of fainter stars visible in the background of the cluster. The cluster is easy to find and is a really good object to observe visually, and it is excellent target for small instruments.

Messier 36 observed 17./18.9.2012 in Seitseminen National Park with L102/1000mm @ 67x
Messier 36 observed with 4” refractor @ 67x