Gain’s scope draws a cluster

Orion in pre-dawn skyThe camp is steadily filling up as more and more amateurs arrive for the star party. Contrary to expectations, last night was pretty clear throughout, with occasional high cloud drifting over, and many observers stayed up until dawn.

One of those hardy individuals was Gain Lee from Huddersfield who has swopped the hi-tech scope he was using last year for an 18-inch Dobsonian which will allow him to indulge more in visual observing.

He tells me he has a project going to observe and sketch galaxy clusters. He managed to observe 60 objects last night, despite being approached frequently by a cluster of campers wanting to see some of the more spectacular sights.

I tagged along on one of these sessions, getting superb views of M13, the globular cluster in Hercules, M31 and its companion galaxies in Andromeda and the Ring Nebula looking quite brilliant in Lyra.

Gain's image of the crescent MoonGain tells me the faintest galaxy he observed last night was NGC7326 which is catalogued at magnitude 16. One fine target that he was pleased to observe was Staphan’s Quintet in Pegasus – a combination of four close interacting galaxies and a fifth unrelated a bit further away.

The brightest two galaxies in the quintet were “easy”, says Gain, shining at 12th and 13th magnitude.

Gain’s tent looks a bit like Nasa mission control with a computer and all sorts of other gadgets. He is clearly a well-organised observer.

His other achievements during the night were a beautiful image of the crescent Moon, complete with earthshine, and lovely wide-angle view of Orion and its neighbours in the brightening dawn sky.

Gain with his 18-inch DobsonianThe other photo is mine of Gain with his 18-inch Dobsonian telescope.

Tonight is already clear and dark too so another good session seems to lie ahead. The wind has died down too after a very gusty day which had me worrying about the tent. I mean I always wanted to be out standing in my field but I’d prefer to have the tent stay up too . . .

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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