Session 52 – A New Dawn

Sunday 28th October 2018 – 20:00-20:24

First light at the new site of the West Addiscombe Observatory (which, more accurately is now the West Kenton Observatory, but the name isn’t going to change).

This evening’s session was mainly to test the new site and to see what could be seen.  I aligned on Vega and Capella before slewing to Uranus.

Probably my favourite of the two ice giants, I’d not seen Uranus for several months, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to view it again.  It appeared quite bright through the eyepiece, with a slight disk visible.

Continuing the theme of objects that have been absent from the skies for a while, the Double Cluster came next.  Arguably the most stunning open cluster (technically two clusters adjacent to one another) in the sky, it really is a sight to behold.  Tonight was no exception and it was breathtaking.

The Andromeda Galaxy – M31 – is high in the sky at this time, and the galactic nucleus was very evident.  I was unable to see M32 or M110, but this session was mainly a quick test run, so I didn’t spend much time trying to see them.

Mars still graces the skies, and it looked decent through the telescope although it was too bright to pick out any surface features (and I left the moon filter indoors – again due to the fact that this was a quick test session).

I finished the session on Albireo, another of my favourites.  It looked very bright and the colours were very apparent.

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So Long, Farewell

It is often said that “all good things must come to an end”, and the West Addiscombe Observatory sadly has come to that point.  Relocation is on the horizon, as I am be moving to North London.  I’ve luckily secured a suitable replacement site, so the observatory will continue once I’ve settled in.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been following the observatory’s activities, and I look forward to continuing observing and being able to share it with you all.

Wherever and whenever the observatory resurfaces, it will be keeping its original name (mainly because I like it, and I don’t want to change the logo either – but also to remember where it all began).  Until the relocation is done, I wish each and every one of you, clear skies!

Session 51 – Old Friends

Saturday 20th October 2018 – 19:04-19:24

I had an old friend visiting tonight, who I’ve known for 20 years, but not seen for months.  It was the perfect opportunity to show him a few astronomical highlights as the sky was clear.  I aligned on Vega and Altair, and we started off with a view of the moon.

The moon showed a waxing gibbous phase, with lots of impressive craters, and my friend enjoyed it immensely.  Mars came next, and although it is getting smaller, it is still a good sight.

Sadly clouds were beginning to appear, so the final observation for this short session was Albireo, that beautiful multi-coloured double star in Cygnus.

Session 50 – An Astronomical Birthday

Thursday 18th October 2018 – 20:26-20:56

As you have probably guessed from the title, today is my birthday, and I was lucky enough to be given clear skies!

I started by aligning on Vega and Altair, and hoped to see Uranus, but there was light wispy clouds and so I was unable to identify it.  Looking for the Double Cluster proved similarly fruitless (it was behind the tree).

Mars on the other hand, was close to the moon (with an angular separation of under 4 degrees), and it looked great.  Surface features were visible (slight dark patches), which were brought out by the 9.7mm eyepiece and moon filter.  Its gibbous phase was also clear to see through the telescope.

M34 – the Spiral Cluster was next, and this really is a great little open cluster, with a nice array of stars.

Finally, I observed the moon.  Currently showing a waxing gibbous phase, and as in a previous session, several mountain peaks with a sunrise were visible, which was stunning.  In terms of craters, Copernicus was along the terminator.  As one of the biggest and most prominent craters on the moon, it looked superb.  The other crater of note along the terminator was Clavius – arguably my favourite crater.  It was beautiful, especially the arc of smaller craters inside it.

A short session, but a special birthday one, and I really enjoyed it!

Session 49 – Silent Night

Monday 24th September 2018 – 04:00-04:45

Tonight’s session is a first, as it didn’t involve the telescope at all, instead being conducted entirely with the naked eye.  I sat outside and looked up at the dark starry sky.  I was treated to a sneak peak of the winter sky, and Orion immediately caught my attention.  I could see a lot of the stars of the constellation, including the bow on his right hand side.

Procyon and Sirius were prominent too, while Capella shone at the zenith and the twins of Gemini and the princess Cassiopeia also shone overhead.  Aldebaran and Taurus, close by Orion were easily visible, and as such the wider Hyades Cluster too.  The ever beautiful Pleiades were also visible, and I was able to discern five of the Seven Sisters (which I was pleased with, especially given London’s light pollution)!

It was a very peaceful night, and very enjoyable.  To finish it off, I was treated to a couple of shooting stars that streaked through the darkness.

Session 48 – A Lunar Sunrise

Monday 17th September 2018 – 18:32-18:38; 19:52-20:32

I set up the telescope while the sun was still up.  The moon was quite prominent, so I spent some time observing it, although the view wasn’t great as the sun was still up.  Saturn was quite close to the moon, so I viewed this too, but (once again) owing to the sun still being up, it was very faint.

I returned to the telescope a while later, and started once more with Saturn.  The view was much better now that the sun had set, and the rings were very prominent.  Titan was also visible.

I aligned on Vega and Deneb, and slewed to Albireo – the beautiful blue and red double star, which looked like a pair of different coloured eyes looking down on you.  Sticking with stellar observation, I turned my attention to SAO 67870 – the double-double star, and it is always a delight.

M57 – the famous Ring Nebula followed next.  It was very faint, not helped by the bright moon, but still visible, and I could see its ring structure (just)!  Moving back to stars, M29 was next, which is a good open cluster.  The central part of it looks a bit like a cup.  Continuing to view a diverse array of objects, M13 – the Hercules Globular Cluster was looking brilliant tonight – large and bright, and in my opinion, this was the best view I’d ever had of it.  Its smaller sibling M92 was also looking good tonight.

Returning to planetary observations, I pointed the telescope at Mars.  Smaller than it was at opposition several weeks ago, it is still pretty large, and its orange colour that is visible with the naked eye was great to see (although sadly no surface features on the planet were visible tonight).

Finally, I returned closer to home, with some observations of the moon.  Along the terminator, there were two peaks within a crater where the sun was just rising (ie the crater was in shadow, but the peaks in the crater were illuminated).  It was fantastic to see, and I managed to get a photo (although it’s not the best photo I’ve ever taken to be fair)!

Lunar_Crater_Sunrise

You can see the peaks in the crater as two bright dots on the bottom right of the image in the shadowy area