April 12th 2010 GMT Betelguese
Betelguese was still above the horizon, as was Procyon, one of the main comparison stars. The other, Aldebaran, was blinking in and out of cloud, so I had to disregard it. Pollux was in a clear patch of sky but higher up than Betelguese but it was the best I could do. Rigel was just above some trees but, due to extinction near the horizon, appeared fainter than Procyon.
Whilst, it was not the most reliable of estimates, I figured that Betelguese was about magnitude 0.7.
April 12th Auriga and Taurus February 3rd reprocessed
April 11th Moon February 3rd reprocessed
April 11th 1530 GMT Sun
April 10th Moon January 5th reprocessed
April 6th 0600 GMT Moon
April 5th 2035 GMT Beehive (M44)
April 5th 1930 GMT Betelguese
April 5th 1230 GMT Sun
April 4th 2340 GMT Binocular Scan
It was back to the time of year when it was daylight savings. It was after midnight (BST) but before 0100. I recorded the date as April 4th, although it was only 2340 GMT. So it had “today’s date” but “yesterday’s time”. To make matters even more confusing, my attempts at catching meteors “on film” had drained my battery and I was unable to perform my planned photo shoot of the Beehive Cluster (M44).
Not wishing to waste a clear night, I fulfilled a promise to myself to scan the night sky with my 7x30 binoculars that I inherited from my grandfather. Not having used them for a while, I focussed on the Beehive. It was interesting to see its stars, most of which were on the edge of visibility, twinkle in and out of view and not all at the same time. This was not something I could get with the larger binoculars, nor capture with my camera. It had zero scientific value (as do 99.9999% of my observations and photos) but was nice entertainment value. I also saw the star cluster Melotte 111 but I could only see its brighter members, losing the effect that I get with my larger binoculars. I could not detect any other star clusters nor galaxies, having failed to capture M13.
I turned my attention to Lyra. Epsilon Lyrae split clearly but the effect of seeing the two stars (which each show as doubles in my large telescope) close made a pleasing sight. By contrast, Delta Lyrae is a wider double, so not so exciting. I could split Nu Draconi but not Albireo (Beta Cygni), probably as it was low in the sky and the fainter component was too faint to show until later in the night or with a larger instrument.
For my last observation, I nearly fell backwards! Alcor and Mizar were near the zenith and, by looking at them, I nearly fell over backwards. They are quite well-known but not especially outstanding to view. They are not a “true” double star because they do not orbit a common centre of gravity but they are related. They are members of the Ursa Major Moving Group of stars that share a common motion through space and were probably born in the same cluster a few million years ago and are of similar distance from us in space.
I enjoyed my session but hoped that I would be able to get another chance to do a good photo shoot of the Beehive another evening.