Backyard astronomy in the suburbs

Bird's nest in Cygnus

A few years ago I bought Sue French's latest book, Deep-Sky Wonders. There are some very intriguing objects which I want to observe, one of them the "Bird's Nest" in Cygnus. Last week I did a full night observing of open clusters in Cygnus. Here is a map of the observed objects (from SkySafari). The cluster NGC 6996 give's the location of the Bird's Nest.

As I live in a light polluted area (Bortle 5) I always was in doubt if I could find this birds nest at all. The Bird's Nest is situated on the edge of NGC 7000, the North America Nebula. I saw it on images many many times (here is an example from the website Pixabay). If you look closely you can see the Bird's Nest as a dark oval around an oval of stars on this image .

So on the 7th of september 2021, around 23:00 local time (Landgraaf Netherlands), NGC 7000 was near the zenith. To locate the Bird's Nest you can either try to find the dark nebula Barard 353, which forms the eastern border of the Bird's Nest, or you can locate it by finding the open cluster NGC 6996, which forms the southern part of the area called "Bird's Nest". I was out with mij 300mm Dobson. With the the 35mm Panoptic (magnification 46x, fov 1.5 degrees) the object was already pretty obvious. I never expected it to be so easy to see this visually. I clearly saw an oval, elongated group of stars, detached. With the 22mm Nagler (magn. 72x and fov 1.13 degree) I counted about 60 " Eggs" in the nest of the Swan. Very pretty sight. The southern part, NGC 6996 and the nortwestern part were a bit detached, I saw a more or less starless void in the middle of the nest. The northwesternpart looked elongated with a little asterism at its tip, looking like a small version of Cepheus, made up of 6 stars

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STF 2010 (H V 8) in Hercules

I love to observe double stars, and one of my favourite lists is to observe is the Herschel 500 by Bruce MacEvoy. On the night of the 12th of June 2021, around 23:30 local time (Landgraaf, Netherlands), I observed Marsic, a beautiful and colourful double star in Herculis, with my 150mm Newtonian. Marsic has a separation of 27" and a position angle of 159 degrees. The view was at its best in the 25mm Zeiss eyepiece, with a magnification of 30x and a 1.7 degree field of view (approx). The magnitude 5.1 A-component looked definitely yellow. The magnitude 6.2 B companion looked yellowish as well, but with 3mm at 250x I found it more orange, especially when I slightly turned the view out of focus. It's colour was somehow deeper at this magnification. I also noticed a trapezium-like or keystone-like asterism to the north of the double. A very pretty view.

The sketch below was made with pencil and paper at the telescope, and later processed with Affinity Photo. South is up and west is to the left.


Messier 3, a beautiful stellar city

In Canes Venatici you can observe one of the most beautiful globular clusters visible from the Northern hemisphere, Messier 3. On may 30th 2021, around 00:15 hours, M3 was visible high in the southwestern sky. The seeing was good, the transparency excellent (4 out of 5). Of course, by the end of may, the nights are more or less grey instead of black. However, the view of Messier 3 through the Dobson on this evening was simply beautiful. The sketch below is just a very basic impression of what I saw, a shimmering ball of light in a triangle of brighter stars, with stars spread out all over the cluster, from the outer rims right into the clusters centre. What a view! The cluster was well resolved into individual stars, but many weaker ones kept popping in and oud of view, especially when using averted vision. It also grew about 1/3 using averted vision. M3 clearly showed a bright core surrounded by a halo of stars that gradually got weaker towards the rim of the cluster.

Apart from the glorious Messier 3, the deep yellow star (HD119081, K3III Giant) at the top left was quite beautiful to see, as was the little arc of stars going from M3 towards the brighter star bottom left.

In the sketch South is up and west is to the left. The instrument used was a f/5.3 300mm Dobson, combined with a 17mm Nagler eyepiece. This results in a magnification of 94x and a field of view of 52 arcminutes. The sketch was originally made at the telescope with pencil on white paper, and later scanned and processed in Affinity Photo.

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