Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.

Open Clusters, Double Stars and a Nebula

Sightings of lots of new objects tonight

By , 10th December 2013 in Observations

Last night I literally dusted off my 200mm (8") Newtonian reflector and set about imaging some more of the winter nights sky.

I had forgotten how big and heavy my 200mm Newtonian was, and setting it up again after nearly 5 years I was reminded why I had bought a lightweight refractor, but unlike back then, my wrist is a lot better now, although far from perfect.

The first quarter moon was high in the sky tonight, so that meant that nebula and deep sky observations were out until the moon had set so I set upon some easier open clusters, to begin with.

Since Auriga was already high in the sky, I took the opportunity to add M35, M36, M37 and M38 to my Messier Objects collection. These were nice and easy to locate and image so having captured some images, I had another go at the M1, the Crab Nebula (I was in the neighbourhood!) and managed to get a little better than last time, despite the Moon. The increased aperture and focal length of my Newtonian made a huge difference. I'm looking forward to taking it out on a clear, dark, moonless night to get best results.

Finally, because the camera battery was running low and the clouds were starting to move in I started imaging some stars for my article on star colours on Perfect Astronomy. I Imaged Vega, Betelgeuse, Capella and Polaris. I spent a bit extra on Polaris as I was keen to capture the multiple star system. Polaris A and Polaris B, as well as the much smaller, fainter Polaris Ab.

Polaris A is an F7 supergiant, 4.5 times the mass of our Sun, while Polaris B is an F3 main sequence star 1.39 times the mass of our Sun. Polaris Ab orbits Polaris A at a distance of 2,400 AU (2,400 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun).

After Polaris, the clouds rolled in, signalling game over for the night, just as Jupiter and M43 came into view.

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