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Observing report NEAT Q4 and deepsky

Tonight I observed together with Leo, a fellow observer who lives just down the road. We used the my Vixen 15 x 80 binoculars mounted on the Sky Window and his 8-inch f/4 Vixen R 2200SS newtonian mounted on an equatorial mount from Lichtenknecker Optics. We started our session around 20.30 hrs UT and ended at 23.30 hrs UT.

1. NEAT C/2001 Q4

I started with comet NEAT C/2001 Q4. At 20.45 I centred the big binoculars

on M 44. I was not really dark yet, but I could already see many chains, triangles and pairs of stars. The sky seemed to be very transparent.  A little more than 4 degrees to the north of M 44 I found Q4. The core looked like a globular cluster, bright at the centre and diffuse towards the edge. As you can see on the sketch below, Q4 was just east of four 9th / 10th magnitude stars.


The next day I checked the sketch with SkyTools2. The stars you see are:

1. SAO 80381, magnitude 9.04
2. SAO 80363, magnitude 8.31
3. PPM 98959, magnitude 9.54
4. SAO 80364, magnitude 9.10

With averted vision we could see a broad short tail of 0.5 to 0.75 degrees long, pointing into the eastern direction. The coma and the tail seemed to be “folded” around the bright core lake a blanket. After 30 minutes the comet disappeared behind some buildings.

2. The spectrum of Vega

Next on our list was testing my new spectroscope from Rainbow Optics on Vega in Lyra. We used the 8-inch Vixen and a 7mm Nikon eyepiece. We could see two clear absorption lines, one on the border of the green and blue part of the spectrum, and one further into the blue-violet part. The one on the green-blue border is the H-beta line. The other has not been verified yet. After observing the spectrum for a few minutes we also detected a dark line in the orange part of the spectrum. This first spectrum I have ever seen with my own eyes looked very interesting and promising. I will keep you updated.

3. T Lyrae, a really red (carbon) star

At 22.00 UT we had a look at T Lyrae, one of the reddest stars to observe. T Lyrae is an irregular variable carbon star, its magnitude ranging from 7.5 to 9.4. We centred the telescope on the area where T Lyrae should be, but didn’t recognize it at once. Only at higher magnifications the red color came out really good. You could see the red color at its best with a magnification of 200x. This star looks really red against a black sky. Be sure to put this one on your observing list!

4. Cygnus and some double stars

Around 22.30 UT I started to scan the constellation Cygnus with the big binoculars. The sky looked much darker than it usually does from our hometown (suburbs). We could see the seven stars in the little dipper, Eta UMi being the faintest with magnitude 4.95.

When I turned the sky window to the area around Gamma Cygni, I could see hundreds of stars in the 3.5-degree field of view. M 29 was very easy to detect, just 2 degrees south of Gamma. The star cloud between Gamma Cygnus and Albireo is one of my favourite objects for the big binoculars. It is stuffed with hundreds of stars of different magnitude and color. Albireo was clearly split with the 15x80 into a bright yellow and a faint white-blue component. Through the telescope the fainter star looked even more bluish.

Next on the list where Omicron 1 and 2, a pair of bright orange stars 1 degree wide. Omicron 1 also makes a beautiful visual triple with two other stars. One of the visual companions is bright blue and makes a great contrast with the orange colored Omicron 1. This is a fine object for binoculars, even for 7x50.

Last on my list was 61 Cygni. The two orange stars are only 29” apart, which is much closer than the two components of Albireo. However, they are separated much easier than Albireo because the two stars of 61 Cygni differ only 0.8 magnitude from each other.

Posted by Math on 05/18 at 09:44 AM
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