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1  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Monaghan 11/2/11 on: February 13, 2011, 11:25:23 pm
Andy, the scope was originally bought as a C6-SGT, so it was on a CG5 mount. But the mount was really far too big for the scope, after all, the same mount is sold with the C11! I remember reading the review in Astronomy Now when the C6-SGT first became available, and the reviewer described it as like looking at a sparrow sitting on a fence. The CG5 was taking me about 20 minutes to get put together and aligned, and I was a bit naffed off with it. But then a mate , who owns a Nexstar 8SE, suggested we do a swap, as he wants to get into serious astrophotography. So it all worked out well in the end. Normally I wouldn't take it to Monaghan, I usually take the lightbridge instead, but I just wanted to give it a good try out.
As for the broadband filter, I occasionally use one at home, but it wouldn't have made much difference on this session. I'm not really a great filter fan to be honest.
2  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Monaghan 11/2/11 on: February 13, 2011, 06:03:38 am
Here's a short report from Monaghan on Friday night.
3  General Category / Photography / Re: Kirkstone Pass Lake District on: January 13, 2011, 07:00:17 am
i took my Mother to the lake district a few years ago for a holiday, and I remember going over this way on a bus trip. It was distinctly dodgy in places, and that was in high summer. Beautiful part of the world.
4  General Category / General Forum / Re: BBC Stargazing live 3rd - 5th January 2011 on: December 22, 2010, 11:24:01 pm
If anyone wants to send in images, send them to the following email. Hopefully there will be a fair chance that your image will be used.

5  General Category / General Forum / BBC Stargazing live 3rd - 5th January 2011 on: December 16, 2010, 09:02:49 pm
As some of you may know, the BBC will be showing a series of programmes over the above dates. The presenter will be Prof. Brian Cox. To tie in with these programmes, the BBC is inviting amateur astronomers across the UK to participate in various ways. The two local amateur societies in Northern Ireland will be organizing various events, see their websites for details, but members of this forum may be particularly interested in this press release from today;

Dear Colleagues,
You may be aware of the forthcoming BBC Two Stargazing Live series which airs in the first week of January, coinciding with the Quadrantid meteor showers and the partial solar eclipse.
The call to action to our audience is to get involved by uploading their own pictures of the nightsky to our Flickr group ( BBC Sky at Night with Stargazing Live ). Professor Brian Cox will ask the audience for images during the show and some of the best examples will be shown on-air.
The BBC Stargazing Live website directs viewers to the Flickr pool and lists the 'house rules' regarding their use by BBC. I would be enormously grateful if you could inform your organisations members, colleagues or fellow amateur astonomers/astrophotographers of the Flickr pool and encourage them to add to it.
I have noticed that the current photograph featured on our website ( BBC Stargazing Live ) was taken in Donegal by Brendan Alexander.
If you have any queries do please contact me.
Kind regards,

David Reid

BBC Learning

Broadcasting House

Ormeau Avenue



Tel: 02890 338834

Hopefully some of you will take the opportunity to send in samples of your work to the BBC. I know Paul has been very busy organizing things at the IAA, as I have been at the NIAAS. So why not join in?


6  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: M1 Crab Nebula on: December 08, 2010, 10:26:47 pm
Absolutely first class. Well done to you all.
7  General Category / Weather & Atmospherics / Re: Tonight's nice Moon Halo on: November 24, 2010, 08:06:34 pm
Lovely images John. The halo was very prominent over Belfast for a couple of hours.
8  General Category / Weather & Atmospherics / Re: Cold Spell - Late November on: November 22, 2010, 07:56:32 pm
The Sunday Times was talking yesterday about another severe winter on the way. Bu**er, I hate snow.
9  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Moon & M45 on: November 22, 2010, 07:52:57 pm
Top class John. No. 1 is superb.
10  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Barnard's Loop area in Orion on: November 20, 2010, 03:15:52 am
Sorry I didn't get round to commenting on this elsewhere Andy. That is a first class image, almost as good as the last one you posted of this area on A/C a couple of years ago. As I remember, that one was a smaller field, with M78 clearly seen. Great stuff mate.
11  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Giant Meteors over UK 15/11/10 on: November 17, 2010, 01:16:08 am
To be fair to the ordinary media, it is their job to exaggerate these things. However, even the astronomy mags do it. Every year without fail, there are articles entitled "Get ready to observe the spectacular Perseids" or suchlike, and every year without fail, they're c**p (the meteors that is, not the magazines, although...........)
12  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Bragan 5/11/10 on: November 09, 2010, 06:53:52 pm
Thanks for the kind comments chaps. You are absolutely right Martin, I would have been more than happy to stand all night just gazing around. The view of Canis Major and Lepus was memorable, and the view of Monoceros, one of my favourite constellations, was outstanding. They are never well seen from Killylane, and invisible from my house.
13  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Bragan 5/11/10 on: November 07, 2010, 10:32:46 pm
Here's a report from a session at Bragan on Friday night. One of the Bobs Knobs from the Lightbridge has broken, so I used the Celestron C6.

This was one of those nights when a little patience, mixed with persistence and optimism, paid off to give a memorable experience. Simon had been at Bragan since about 9.00pm, but I was delayed and did not arrive until 9.45, to find a totally overcast sky, with gentle drizzle falling. We decided to wait it out, as we could see on the satellite images that there were clear skies on the way. We waited, and waited, until 11.45, at which point, the sky started to clear from the northwest. We decided to set up our scopes, and the clouds finally cleared, to reveal a stunning sky. The Milky Way was as bright and clear as I have ever seen it, and it could be traced all the way down into Monoceros. The stars themselves were bright, with very little twinkling, transparency was superb, and the night was dry with only a gentle breeze, although a little cold.

Due to the continuing problems with the Lightbridge, I had brought the Celestron C6 with me. Because of this, I decided to spend some time hunting down star clusters and a few double stars, while leaving the galaxies to Simon and his 14" dob. But, after setting the goto, I decided to have a look at a couple of favourite galaxies, just to see if I could see anything, and to test the goto itself. First was M74, and, amazingly, it was quite large in the 17mm Hyperion, although very faint. M77 was next, and the bright core was easily seen, although not much more than that. It looked like a bright, slightly unfocused star, embedded in some surrounding nebulosity.

I had picked up a couple of pointers from Sue French in the last couple of copies of Sky and Telescope, and decided to try for some of her recommended targets. Since I was already in the area, I headed for Gamma Ceti. This is a very close double star, rather like Epsilon Bootes, and I needed to add the 28mm ring to the 8mm Hyperion in order to split it cleanly. The secondary star had a hint of blue colour in it, while the primary was white, with a hint of yellow. A lovely sight. Next came the planetary nebula NGC246. The was tiny in the C6, although described by some texts as being quite large. There was little or no detail to be seen.

I then moved on to the constellation Cepheus, in search of two clusters, NCG7261 and NGC7281. The guide star in the goto for these was another lovely double, Xi Cephei (Kurah). NGC7261 was an open cluster, which consisted of about 20 fairly bright stars, arranged into three distinct groups, with a large darker area in the centre. NGC7281 was a bit odd. There were three stars in a straight line, surrounded by a dozen or so tiny little stars. It did not really look like a cluster at all. Oddly, as I was looking at it. I noticed that on the edge of the field of view, there were another three stars also forming an almost straight line.

We took a break at this point, and just looked around. The southern sky was absolutely superb, and the whole of Canis Major could be seen easily, an unusual sight at this latitude. Also clearly visible was the whole of the constellation Lepus, below Orion. We could even distinguish the two stars which mark the ears of the hare. We also traced the constellation Eridanus from its beginning near Rigel in Orion, all the way down to the point where it disappeared below the horizon. Orion itself was stunning, M42 and the surrounding areas were quite brilliant. Monoceros was also excellent, as was Cancer. M44 was quite obvious to the naked eye. The whole of Cetus and Pisces could be seen to the west, and Jupiter was very bright. The whole of Leo had risen in the east, and it was fantastic to see the great spring constellation at the beginning of November. Gemini and Taurus were now high in the south, almost overhead, and the Hyades were superb. Cygnus was diving into the horizon to the northwest, although Sadr and Deneb, with Vega in Lyra, did not actually set while we were there. It was one of those nights when I would have been quite happy to have no scope with me at all, but just spend hours viewing the sky with the naked eye, and I will remember it for a long time.

I decided to take advantage of the conditions to search for the rarely seen M79 in Lepus. The globular cluster was ok in the C6, but
Simon then turned the dob on it, and it was superb, taking up much of the field in the eyepiece, and resolvable to near the core. I then viewed a few old favourites, beginning with M41, and this was stunning in the 17mm Hyperion. I used the 40mm eyepiece to widen the view, and it was a superb sight, one of the absolute highlights on a night full of them. Next was M67, and this was possibly even better. Again, I used both eyepieces to view it, and it was a magnificent sight. The stars were very steady and very bright, with no twinkling. I also had a short look at the lovely wide double star Iota Cancri. Next was my beloved M35, and yet again it was fantastic in the 17mm Hyperion.
I then moved to Taurus, and had a long look at the lovely cluster NGC1647, before moving on to NGC1750. This was enormous, and again I used the 40mm eyepiece. There are another two clusters very close to it, and I found it difficult to distinguish between the three, as they all rather merge into one huge group. This is one to come back to another time.

It clouded over overhead for a while, although the horizons remained clear, so we had another short break. The cloud only remained for about 15 minutes. We discussed the constellation Draco, which could be clearly followed along almost its full length. This of course led to a viewing of Caldwell 6, the Cats-eye nebula. It was quite well seen in the C6, and had an obvious blue colour, but it is really an object for the dob. Time was getting on now, and it was very cold, so I finished off in Monoceros with a look at the cluster M50, and then the Christmas Tree cluster NGC2264, which was excellent. Finally, and I had been saving it all night, the spectacular triple star Beta Monoceros. I put the 28mm ring into the 8mm Hyperion to view this, and it was absolutely wonderful.

Simon had also been getting some fantastic views, Especially memorable was the galaxy NGC891, which was brilliantly seen. As Simon said, it was almost like looking at a photograph. The view of M79 in the dob, as already mentioned, was memorable, and the view of M42 was breath-taking.

We finally finished off at 4.45am, very cold and tired, but both with inane grins all over our faces. it was a superb night, probably one or the best this year, and I won't forget it for a long time.
14  General Category / Introductions / Greetings from a rather damp Belfast. on: November 07, 2010, 10:00:54 pm
Hi everyone, it's good to be here. I see there are plenty of old friends around, hello to you all. My name is Stevie, and I have been interested in astronomy for as long as I can remember, all the way back to the moon landings. I am mainly interested in deep sky observing, particularly double stars and clusters, although I also enjoy hunting down obscure galaxies.
I manage to get out observing as regularly as the weather permits, and use mainly a 12" Meade Lightbridge and a Celestron C6-SGT. Most of my observing nowadays is done at Bragan Mountain in Monaghan, and, to a lesser extent, at Killylane reservoir in County Antrim, near Larne. Unfortunately, the light pollution at Killylane is now quite bad. My skies at home are so badly light-polluted that I rarely bother observing there. Hopefully some of you may be able to come down to Monaghan some time, it is a superb site, with a 360 degree panorama and quite dark skies. I enjoy writing up observing reports, and I will put a few up in the astronomy forum for your comments and, hopefully, enjoyment.
One thing I will not be posting are photographs, I am generally regarded as being the world's worst photographer, and my daughter flatly refuses to let me near her Nikon D40. Although I have to say, after watching John McConnell taking images of Comet Hartley at Bragan a couple of weeks ago, I am now seriously considering giving it a go. Hi John, and thanks for the masterclass.
Catch you all soon.

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