Observation Report 26/2/2011

Despite not being a great night in terms of seeing, this was the first time I’d been able to give the ST102 a good try out so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.

Initially I skipped a few Messier targets in Andromeda and Cassiopeia because the sky wasn’t sufficiently clear, but eventually managed to locate M34 in Perseus. The wind was rising and began to make viewing tricky from my usual site in the field in front of the house, so I decided to leave things for a while to see if they’d improve.

An hour or so later there was still a strong breeze, so I moved into the lee of the house where the view of the sky is far more restricted. By this time my original targets had set or moved sufficiently far to be obstructed by trees, so I moved around to targets to the east and north-east. First up was M65 which I’d tried unsuccessfully to find with the ST80. This time I found it surprisingly easily, getting both M65 and M66 into the same frame in a V shaped group, two elliptical fuzzy patches.

Pleased by finding these two I scanned the sky between Virgo, Leo and Coma Berenices for other Messier objects, but failed to find any after fifteen minutes or so search, so took a break and attempted M64, the Black Eye Galaxy instead, which proved to be far less elusive. I’ve not yet worked out why this is so-named, and the view didn’t really enlighten me.

It was getting towards 1am by now and the temperature was dropping, so I made one final attempt to locate another failure in the ST80 — M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. After some hunting around off Alkaid this time I found it, though sadly it wasn’t clear enough to see more than a fuzzy egg-shaped blob.

Not unexpectedly I guess, the ST102 is just like a “big brother” to the ST80, but I’m very pleased that I’ve been able to find objects with it that I struggled to see with the 80mm version.

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