Monday, January 22, 2007

Sunday I woke at 5.00am and having looked outside I noticed it was clear, so I decided to avoid the temptation to get more sleep and wait up for Jupiter to rise. By 6.30am the sky had clouded over :o(

Today, at 4.30pm the sky was perfect, but I had work to do, I thought I'd be OK for a couple of hours and anyway Saturn would be a while to rise. By 8.30pm when I had finished working, guess what? More clouds!

I have to get up early in the morning to catch a train at 7.00am so will soon be off to bed as it will be a long day.


Friday, January 19, 2007


Sitting here at just after 5.00pm on a Friday evening and more clouds, we've had some bad weather across the UK this week culminating in some gales on Wednesday and Thursday. On my way home yesterday I had to go through some flooding and past a large uprooted tree that thankfully had just missed the house next to it and the road!

So no chances for getting the scope out, but this morning it was clear as I left for work at 7.00am and Jupiter looked very grand to the south. If it's clear tomorrow I might get up early and get the Skywatcher out for it's first encounter with an old friend of mine!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Yep, should have done my homework before trekking off.

Just checked here and it seems I've missed out, the comet would have been too low for me to see it.

Last comet I saw was Hale-Bopp back in 1997.
Comet hunting!

At 4.00pm we still had blue sky but there was a lot of high Cirrus clouds that would make seeing conditions pretty poor.

While it was still clear I decided to jump in my car and go find somewhere where I could get an unobstructed view of the sunset from the comfort of the car! I had to drive several miles before I found somewhere to pull over without getting in anyones way.

The objective was to get a glimpse of Comet McNaught near Venus.

The sun went down and I got some nice views of the clouds near the horizon, should have taken the camera! At approx 4.40pm Venus popped into view and I waited until after 5.00pm but no sight of a comet!

It must be too low in the sky now, I had heavy clouds across the horizon just below Venus.

I need to read up on the viewing prospects, if I get up early for work I'll see if I can see it then.

Mission failed!
Clear sky

OK, so it's only 2.30pm but we have blue sky for the first time in what seems like weeks.

Fingers crossed!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Well, travelling home from work at 5.00pm today things were looking promising, lovely clear sky.

So, got in fed the dog etc and generally rushed around to get changed and get the scope set up. Polar alignment was a breeze, set the scope aimed at Capella and started tracking while I dashed back into change again, I'd bought some thermals just after xmas so wanted to try out the long sleeve vest (just like my grand father used to wear!).

Rushed back outside again and Capella was still in the centre of the FOV!

Then I noticed the clouds....managed to get a lovely view of the Pleiades with the 40mm EP (25x mag). Then the clouds were everywhere :o(

I only had an hour or so tonight free as I have to do some work after supper!

What a let down, will try to get out later if I get the time and if it clears up of course!


Saturday, January 06, 2007


So I decided to not be lazy and went out to see what I could of Saturn. First I just took out the Opticron MM2 with my camera tripod, Saturn was low to the East quite near to the moon but not as close as it appeared with Stellarium. The Opticron zoomed in at max magnification (40x) showed the planet quite clearly, the rings quite easily discernible and overall quite a sharp image.

So tempted I swapped for the Skywatcher, the 40mm EP showed a similar view to the Opticron but as I increased mag the image quality dropped off considerably. I tried the 40mm (25x), the 25mm (40x), 10mm (100x) and the 10mm with the Barlow (200x), next I tried the 25mm with the Barlow (80x) this seemed to be the best combination but the sharpness wasn't a patch on the Opticron. However the Opticron doesn't give a large enough image to be useful.

Having said all of this the seeing conditions were nothing short of attrocious, although I'm not now so impressed with the Skywatcher for Planetary observing. Even taking into account the conditions it will obviously not perform as well as the Opticron for image sharpness at higher mag's. Of course this could well be down to the quality of the standard EP's which themselves seemed to be far better than Meade's.

The standard series of EP's for the Skywatcher seem to cost in the order of £40, the EP for the Opticron (albeit a zoom EP) was £90. So I guess I might need to invest in some higher quality EP's (some sell for £200 or more!).

Anyway, back inside now, I was about to say in the warm, but of course we have been having a very mild winter so far. Hardly any frosts that I can recall, our cricket team should have stayed home rather than tour Australia where we just suffered a 5-0 series defeat in the Ashes series! Worst performance for over 80 years apparently! But that's another story.

More later.
Well, first post of 2007 so Happy New Year to all!

First post because we've had nothing but cloud all over the Christmas break, I had been hoping to get some clear skies while I was off work.

Just noticed that it is clear at the minute but quite misty, we've had rain all day so everywhere is wet, could turn quite nasty if we get a frost!

Due to the poor seeing I thought I'd wait until later to get my first decent view of Saturn through the Skywatcher. Checked with Stellarium to see what time Saturn will be in a nice part of the sky. Guess what? It turns out that Saturn will be very close to the moon for most of the evening :o(

It will probably turn out cloudy soon anyway, the drawback that I've found with having a large scope on a decent mount is that you need to be pretty certain that by the time you get outside and align the scope that it hasn't clouded over.