Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

“I can even see Arcturus” …

… that quote sums up the conditions on this clear night. Transparency was horrible. Mag 5 stars where hard to detect and so doing an easy starhop was nearly impossible. (I do not have a finder scope, just a Telrad)

Monique, Berrie and Frans where there. Frans has a very cool F4.9 18″ DIY truss dobsionian telescope. I have an 8″ DIY oldskool dobsonian, Monique has a 10″ Skywatcher and Berrie has a 12″ Lightbridge. This made for some nice comparisons. For example on NGC 2903 which was one of two objects that were actually worth looking at today. Only the 18″ showed a little bit more of the pretty large halo of this galaxy.

Then I checked out NGC4485+4490 which is an Arp interacting galaxy set in Canes Venatici. A showpiece interaction and it did not disappoint. Monique and Berrie did not know this object so that was a nice bonus, showing something for the first time. The 18″ showed the tiny NGC 4490 much, much easier than in my 8″ where it only popped-up with averted vision. Again, the transparency was horrible and I think on a proper night these two won’t be a problem in even my modest telescope.

In Leo I checked out Leo’s Triplet and M95 + M96 were also an easy catch. Hickson 44 was located by yours truly in Frans’ 18″. Again, only three out of four showed up. I have only once managed to see the elusive fourth member in Hohen Woos through the 12″ Lightbridge I owned back then. In the same weekend I bagged Palomar 14 so that was in fact an excellent night.

Back to Leo and The Needle and The Blob (NGC 3501+3507). The names promised some detail but none was seen in both the 8″ and 12″. Two cores were easily visible, and that was that.

In Leo Minor I tried Arp galaxy NGC3395+3396 but I couldn’t manage those. Nothing there. NGC3344 remains to be seen as the mag 6 star needed for the starhop was invisible. Around this time Monique, Berrie and myself called it a night. By now Monique did catch M106 so I tried that one too and had a right struggle. Once I payed attention to where I was going ^_^ it was of course an easy object. No detail, just a bright oval smudge.

All in all we had a good night out not watching TV. But boy, are we in need of a proper observing session. It’s been too long! Oh, and I need a new low magnification eyepiece so I can use that as a finder scope basically.

Image by Stephen Leshin.

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