Observing 29./30.3.2014

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Date: 29./30.3.2014
Time: 21:00-02:00
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: N250/1200mm

NELM: 6.4
SQM: 21.25
Darkness of the background sky: 1
Seeing: 3
Transparency: 1
Weather: Clear sky, calm to light breeze, no Moon, no snow, humid air, -4 to 0 °C

Obects observed: SS Cyg, R Tri, R Cas, T Cas, NGC 4567-8, NGC 6229

After a wonderful night in Parainen, I went again for observing in Parainen during the following night! During this observing session, observing conditions were nearly as good as they were last night. Only problem during this night was condensation of moisture to all optical surfaces. Otherwise conditions were good: sky was clear, and it was nearly calm all the time. Sky was dark and Moon was absent!

I started this night by observing zodiacal light, which was well visible in the NW sky. Observing zodiacal light is a popular pursuit nowadays in Finland, because now everyone know what to expect and how to observe this phenomena! So now we know for sure, that zodiacal light can be observed at latitude 62, or even higher! My observing site is located little bit north of latitude 60.

Zodiacal light observed 29./30.3.2014 from Parainen, Finland
Zodiacal light observed 29./30.3.2014 from Parainen, Finland

After observing zodiacal light, I went on observing some further-away targets, meaning variable stars and deep sky! First, I tried to observe Leo I, a dwarf galaxy in Leo, near Regulus. I gazed at the right spot, I sweeped around it and tried to catch it with averted vision. Nevertheless, this time I have to make a negative observation of this target. I just couldn’t see it. Sometimes I could see glimpses of something, but I’m not sure that I really saw the dwarf galaxy. I also tried to observe NGC 3115 in Crater, but I decided to give up on it because it was just at too low altitude.

After two not so lucky observing attempt, I decided to observe something I could surely be able to catch! I observed an interacting pair of galaxies, NGC 4567-8 in constellation of Virgo. This pair of galaxies is easy to find, it is located very close to Messier 58 and 59. The galaxies appeared as small, fuzzy elongated patches. This pair of galaxies were connected at their northern edges. The opening angle of the galaxies was about 60 degrees southwards. It was quite easy to separate the galaxies visually. The apparent visual diamater of the galaxy system is about 5′. This one is a really interesting target!

NGC 4567-8 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 4567-8 observed with 10” Newton

After this pair of galaxies, I aimed my telescope towards constellation of Hercules. In the northern part of this constellation, lies a small globular cluster, NGC 6229. For some reason, I had never observed this target before! At my ocular, this object appeared as a small, round, fuzzy spot. The cluster was not resolved. There isn’t much to see of this object with instrument of this size.

NGC 6229 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 6229 observed with 10” Newton

After doing some wandering in the realms of deep space, I returned to our own Milky way to do some variable star observations. I observed dwarf nova SS Cyg also this night, and it’s brightness seemed to be same than last night, 8,6 magnitudes. I observed also R Tri, R Cas and T Cas. All of these stars are now close to their minimum brightness, and it would have been impossible for me to observe these stars with my small refractor. R Cyg was so faint, that it wasn’t visible at all with my instrument!

After observing these stars, I decided to go home and get some sleep. I think I just had one of my best observing experiences during this season! Observing conditions were only inch away from being perfect and I could observe many interesting targets! I could also enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of nights of early spring here in Southwestern Finland!

Now it’s April and nights are getting quickly shorter, and phase of the Moon is also getting bigger. It means, that is observing season is soon over. But there are still some observing opportunities in late April and early May!

 

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Zodiacal light 10./11.3.2013

Observed phenomena: Zodiacal light
Date: 10./11.3.2013
Time: 21:00-23:20
Observing place: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Camera: Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Samyang 8mm fish eye

Description: during a deep sky –observing session, I was able to observe the zodiacal light again, but this time I was better equipped! I had a camera and tripod with me, and I was able to photograph the phenomena this time!

Also this time the light was visible in the NW sky as a faint, southwards tilted, diffuse glow of light that was following the line of the ecliptic. The light was best visible with averted vision and sweeping. The phenomena and observing conditions were similar than last time.

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

Zodiacal light 8./9.3.2013

Observed phenomena: Zodiacal light
Date: 8./9.3.2013
Time: 21:15
Observing place: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Observing method: Visual

Zodiacal light observed during a deep sky –observing session. A faint, diffuse, wedge-like glow in the NW sky at low altitude, close to horizon. The light dome is following the line of the ecliptic, and it is tilted with angle about 45-50°. Intensity of the light seems to be strongest around the constellation of Aries. Colour of the light is pale white. The light is scattered in rather large area, and it is best visible with averted vision and sweeping.

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