Observation Report, 18 Feb 2012

My plan for this evening was to spend a bit of time collimating the 127 Mak having had it in pieces a week or so back and then attempt some imaging of Mars, but strong winds made that completely impossible.

So, having wasted a fair amount trying I decided to bring out the ST120 and do a little Messier hunting instead. The season has turned sufficiently that Virgo is getting nicely above the horizon before I start to fall asleep at the eyepiece and I’ve had two targets remaining in this area for quite some time.

The first was an easy star-hop from Zaniah a short distance towards the zenith, M61. Nothing more than a faint fuzzy patch in this scope, but the last of the Messier objects in that whole cluster above Virgo.

The second was M104, the Sombrero galaxy. I spent several nights looking for this last winter, but it completely escaped me. This time, somewhat to my astonishment, I found it in about thirty seconds, star-hopping my way back towards Corvus from Virgo. Once found I really understood why I’d failed so many times last year. Even with the ST120 and with a year’s more experience at recognising these objects, it was nothing more than the faintest possible sliver of grey fuzz.

Once I get my observatory up and running I really look forward to going back to visit all of these objects with my 200P. I know newts aren’t supposed to have the contrast of a refractor, but it does have at least two and a half times more aperture.

Anyhow, barely discernable fuzzy blob or not, it’s still two more Messier objects taking my current total up to 77.

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