The usual clouds that seem to be permanently situated above the UK parted for a few days, which finally coincided with a few evenings I had spare. The LX90 hasn’t seen the night sky since way back in March, when I last had it pointing skyward for my first real attempts at collimation.

The seeing over the last few nights, has being poor, with stars twinkling away making achieving critical focus very difficult. The collimation adjustments from March do seem to have improved things, although I still think finer adjustments will be needed on a night with better seeing.

On the first nights outing, Polar alignment was woeful and gotos were constantly 14 fov in the finder off. Still, I managed to image a few objects, the two most notable being a double star cluster in Persei and M33 a spiral Galaxy in Triangulum.

h Persei - Open Cluster

Setting Value
Exposure Time 6x60s Avg
Date 2007-09-08 02:44:37 UTC
CCD Starlight XPress MX716
Scope LX90 8”
Dark Frames 7x60s Avg
Apparent Dimension 30 arc min
Visual Brightness 4.3 mag

This is h Persei (NGC 869), which along with Chi Persei (NGC 884) forms a double cluster. The full double cluster was a little too large to fit into the tiny fov of my CCD camera,I’ve not calculated the exact fov yet, but it’s somewhere around 30 to 60 arc minutes.

Open clusters are interesting objects as they contain hundreds, sometimes thousands of stars, all of which were born around the same time and are still gravitationally bound (however loosely) to each other. This is in contrast to Globular Clusters (such as M15 which I imaged on Monday and will upload later) which are strongly bound and often contain millions of stars in a tightly packed ball, making them stunning visual objects.

M33 - Spiral Galaxy in Triangulm

Setting Value
Exposure Time 15x60s Avg
Date 2007-09-08 02:12:17 UTC
CCD Starlight XPress MX716
Scope LX90 8”
Dark Frames 7x60s Avg
Apparent Dimension 70x45 arc min
Visual Brightness 5.7 mag

I’m quite pleased with the M33 image, the stars are reasonably well focused and the spiral arms are fairly visible. It’s far from a perfect image, with a good proportion of the outer arms not visible, but considering the skies were a little hazy and how blurry my previous images have turned out, I think this is a huge improvement.

Also just about visible on the edges of M33 is NGC 604 a diffuse nebula.

I also imaged M31 the great Andromeda Galaxy, however after underestimating the sheer size of it, the image ended up containing only the bright core and a few dust lanes.

At the start of this week I also managed a third night imaging several objects, M15, M101, NGC7780, NGC 281 (Pacman Nebula) as well as a poor image of M42 taking during early dawn. I should have these processed and the best uploaded to this post later this week.

M15 - Globular Cluster in Pegasus

Setting Value
Exposure Time 15x60s Avg
Date 2007-09-10 23:48:16 UTC
CCD Starlight XPress MX716
Scope LX90 8”
Dark Frames 15x60s Avg
Apparent Dimension 18 arc min
Visual Brightness 6.2 mag