June 16, 2012

Pre Monsoon Binocular Observing!

On June 16 at midnight the sky was very transparent with broken clouds. The Summer Triangle was well up and was eye catching! So I decided to do some observation with the binoculars as I will not have clear skies for almost three months of monsoon. As I picked up my 10x50 binoculars I remembered my days as a beginner 10 years ago when I used to observe through my old 20x50 binoculars. This time I wanted to cherish those moments and as addition, this time I was having a tripod so I can trace the summer Milky Way more accurately than hand-held observation.

After fixing the binos to the tripod I pointed to the Gamma Cygni Region, one of my favorite sights since the time I entered the observational astronomy. Really, observing with tripod was making big difference here than observing hand-held. I could easily glimpse the tiny open cluster NGC 6910 as a fuzzy object. With averted vision I could resolve it into stars but couldn’t count. The more beautiful Messier 29 was in the same field of view. Then, while scanning the Cygnus Milky Way I saw many fine Open Clusters and Group of Stars but a few I could identify are NGC 6871, NGC 6883 and NGC 6885 (Caldwell 37). Although there are two clusters, NGC 6885 and NGC 6882 but observing them with more detail requires a telescope but I liked the whole area surrounding the star 20 Vulpecula, which also known as Collinder 416. Then I pointed towards the Scutum Milky Way and of course to observe the rich and compact Open Star Cluster Messier 11, The Wild Duck Cluster. In the 10x50s it appeared like a misty patch. Most of the stars of this cluster are beyond the reach of small binoculars. From here I went back to Alberio, the most colorful double. It was high in the sky so was little bit difficult to observe for a longer duration but I could easily see the resolved pair with different colours. From here, while trying to locate the Dumbbell Nebula I met with the Coathanger asterism (Collinder 399). The entire shape was nicely fitting in the 6 degree filed of the binocular and was really worth observing for long stretch of time. This cluster is also known as the Broccchi’s Cluster and is believed to be an asterism rather than a true cluster.

After this I located the Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 27) which appeared like a small, round fuzz ball like what faint comets appear in telescopes. I also tried for the Globular Cluster Messier 71 in Sagitta but couldn’t because it requires dark skies to see through binoculars. Then the last object of the session was Messier 57, The Ring Nebula in Lyra. Through 10x50s I could see a star-like dot between the stars Beta and Gama Lyrae. I could identify it because I knew its exact location. I have seen this even when observing hand-held.
That’s all! Even I could have observed many more interesting objects but as I was observing from my home’s balcony I cannot see the entire sky. Most of the constellations were behind the building so I missed them! Will get chance to photograph the deep-sky objects of this region after monsoon. 

June 7, 2012

Transit of Venus

The transit of Venus for public organized by the Kutch Amateur Astronomers Club went successful! We could show the rare phenomena to more than 700 people through filtered binoculars and telescopes. We also showed live video on a TV by the handy cam. The clouds perturbed in the morning until 7:30am but then we had no problem of taking photographs and watching the transit until its end. Here I am sharing some of the pics from the event.

transit of venus live video streaming