I’m just in from a very productive observing session. Tonight was the first time in a long time that I’ve been in the country side (at my parent’s place in Cavan) on a clear moon-free night. I’ve just come in now because the moon is starting to rise but before the sky started to brighten too much I was able to get some good observing in. I had set myself the challenge of finding Uranus since I said it would be easy on the IFAS Podcast and then, if I had time, I was going to try to find Neptune as well.

[tags]Uranus, Neptune[/tags]

Uranus turned out to be very easy in Binoculars where as Neptune was a lot harder. At magnitude 6 Uranus is just about at the limit of naked eye visibility and hence well within the reach of my 10×50 binoculars. Neptune, on the other hand, was a lot lower in the sky and also only magnitude 8. I’d say it took me a good 10 minutes to pick my way through Capricorn with binoculars till I was able to pick out the spot Neptune should be at. I could JUST make it out with my binoculars. Had it been any lower or any dimmer it would have been invisible.

With those two successes under my belt I also decided to try my own binocular challenge for the month, M33, and was relieved to find it quite easily despite the fact that the moon was already starting to brighten up my north-eastern sky. I also got a good look at M31, M13, the Coat Hanger and M39. I tried a few times for M92 and M27 but didn’t find either. I guess I’m out of practice because I used to be able to get both quite easily in binoculars back in my teenage years! Mind you not finding M92 may also have had a lot to do with looking in the wrong place! When I went in and checked KStars later it turns out M92 is not quite where I thought it was!

I ended with a look at the double cluster and noticed another small cluster not far below the pair which KStars tells me is NGC957. All in all I think this has been my best night’s observing in a long time. also the first time I’d seen the Milky-way properly in years!