Observation Report 2/2/2011

Not the clearest of skies this evening, with some bubbles of cloud drifting across the sky, but you have to take what opportunities you’re given.

I thought I’d do a bit more Messier Object hunting this evening. First on my list of targets were M77 and M79, but I think they’d got too low in the sky to pick out with either binoculars or scope, so after half an hour’s fruitless searching I moved on.

M78 took some finding, but I eventually got there by using Stellarium and star-hopping. I’ve looked for it previously without success. Now I’m a little more used to what to look for it was easier, but still quite hard to find in the scope.

Following that I stayed in the Canis Major/Monoceros/Cancer area and found M50, M35, M46, M47, M93, M44, M67 and M48 in relatively quick succession. I was surprised to discover how bright and easy to find M44 (the Beehive cluster) was. It’s hard to believe I’ve never picked it up with the naked eye.

Moving around to the East and North I then completely failed to find any of M65, M66, M95, M96, M105, M81, M82 or M51. Possibly that’s just because they’re not particularly bright and the seeing was far from good.

Not wanting to end on a disappointment I had a scan across the western horizon with the binoculars in time to see M31 just before it disappeared into the murk. There wasn’t time to find it in the scope, so that’ll be something I save for another day.

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