Another clear night – the fourth in the last five nights and I’m beginning to feel quite knackered. I suppose I shouldn’t complain as I have been moaning for the last few months on how it would be nice to get more clear nights.

This evening all the technology seemed to be working flawlessly. I’m now able to turn on and off the recorder at the right points 🙂 and the orientating of Skytools 3 screen view to match the eyepiece FOV is proving to be quick to do. This means  I’m not spending too much time staring at the screen and stuffing my dark adaption, which has got to be a good thing.

‘m now starting to use the planning aspects of the software now, and  sort my observing list so that only objects that are above the horizon and better than x2 air masses are displayed  at the start of the session.

I then sort this list by the ‘Optimum’ column which then allows me to observe the objects listed in sequence. It’s a pity Skytools doesn’t allow you to also display only unobserved objects as well as that would reduce the screen clutter a little.

Session Data

  • Date: 30/04/2013
  • Time: 21:18 – 23:03 UT
  • Temp: 5.7c, 
  • Air Pressure: 1013Mb,
  • Humidity: 95%,
  • Dew point: 5.0c,
  • Wind Speed: 6.0 MPH .
  • Seeing: I Perfectly Stable,
  • Transparency: Clear 


Object fills Altair Astro 250mm, Plossl 40mm, 51 X, 50.8′ to about half the FOV.  Field filled with mostly 10th to 11 mag stars and form what looks to be a 5 sided star or perhaps a side on view of a running man.  The area around the feet form a circle of stars and the voice encompassed by this circle appears blacker and more dense than the surrounding field. The sky at this point is still not fully darkened.


Unlike M36, the stars here are much more numerous and look a lot smaller. The name Salt and Pepper cluster is quite apt. As you get towards the core the stars are more concentrated. In Altair Astro 250mm, Plossl 40mm, 51 X, 50.8′ the diameter is about a half to two thirds the FOV.  The shape has spiral galaxy features with arms that radiate and curve outwards from the centre. At the core is an eye shaped void standing up on its end oriented East/West. At the centre is a single star  ( GSC2410-01600) . This looks to be cooler with a hint of Yellow when compared to all the other stars in the cluster.


A very open cluster. The first most obvious feature is a line of 5 bright stars in the centre of the cluster oriented SW/NE. On either side of this line and running perpendicular to it, are two open C shaped arcs back to back with the opening facing away from the centre. Couldn’t detect any cooler stars other than the white/blue colours. Cluster fills the FOV of Altair Astro 250mm, Plossl 40mm, 51 X, 50.8′.


FOV North up and oval galaxy is oriented NW/SE. Very faint, which brightens up with averted vision in Altair Astro 250mm, Plossl 40mm, 51 X, 50.8′
Changing to the Altair Astro 250mm, UWA 18mm, 113 X, 43.6′ There is a grouping of fours to five stars which seem to be surrounded with a faint glowing nebulosity. At first this glow is the look you get when you see bright stars through high thin cloud. However on checking Skytools shows this to be a Galaxy Cluster Abell1499. While I can only just make out the brightest 5 stellar like galaxies, the blurb says this grouping contains some 50 to 70 members – Wow.
NGC1486 also appears in the FOV and could have been one of the nebulous objects that I thought made up Abell 1499.

Abell 1499

Notes made while Observing M98.  See M98 observation above


In the Altair Astro 250mm, Plossl 26mm, 78 X, 38.4′ this oval galaxy oriented NE/SW. Moving to the SW is a 9.5 mag star. If I place this in the centre of the FOV the very faint 11.8 mag Galaxy NGC4312 comes into view. It’s shape is only visible with averted vision, but stare straight at it and you can just make it out. Using the Altair Astro 250mm, UWA 18mm, 113 X, 43.6′ I can just make out the few 13.0 mag stars, which looks to be tonights visual limit. Looking at the M101 again the core appears bright and the surrounding area within the spiral appears to be granulated. Almost as if if was looking at a slightly oval Globular Cluster.


Brighter than M100, but smaller. To the NW are two stars 8.0 and 10.0 mag. On checking the chart later the 10.0 mag star is indeed a galaxy NGC4292, but I didn’t see it as such. LIke M100, this looks a little like an unresolved Globular with a bright core in Altair Astro 250mm, UWA 18mm, 113 X, 43.6′, After a while those two Stellar like stars to the NW, when seen with three more that are now starting to appear, now take on the shape of a Rennie Mackintosh high backed chair 🙂


This one is quite tricky. Comes and goes with direct vision. Oriented NE/SW in Altair Astro 250mm, UWA 18mm, 113 X, 43.6′. After a lot of averted vision staring, my mind starts to think the the NE end of the Galaxy almost looks like the tail of a Comet. I get a sense that the Core is slightly offset to the SW and it’s this offset that produces this aberration….Wierd!