Deep Sky Update – February 2024

February has been another month of poor weather on Orkney – though I am not sure other parts of the UK have fared much better. I see that the Kelling Spring Star Party is soon upon us – much earlier than previous year – I hope that the weather gods cooperate but I am not sure I would like to be camping out in March whatever the weather. Good luck to all those attending.

Deep Sky Section Annual Meeting

Arp 1 by Paul Downing

The Section meeting is all set to go on March 16th. There are still a few tickets available.
The programme is below – I was not able to get a ‘Pro’ speaker this year so I will be giving a short talk on Globular Clusters instead.
Full meeting details and the link to book tickets can be found at:

10:30 Callum Potter – Welcome and Section update
10:50 Paul Downing – An Arpist’s Journey
11:40 Martina McGovern – Orion and beyond: First Steps in Astrophotography.
12:30 Lunch
13:45 David Boyd – Spectroscopy of the Deep Sky
14:35 Nick Hewitt – The most important Astronomy image?
15:15 Tea
15:45 Bryan Lawrence – Sightseeing in Cygnus
16:20 Callum Potter – A Fascination of Globulars
17:00 Concluding remarks and close

Telescope for Sale

Dale Holt is selling his 24 inch motorised Dobsonian telescope. It is a very fine instrument built by Andrew Robertson. If you are interested you can contact Dale via his advert on UK Astro Buy and Sell:

Double Star Observers Sought

I have been contacted by some observers wanting to measure the Struve double star STF216 in Cassiopeia, but it is only about 0.3 arc-seconds separation so may need a 14 or 16 inch telescope to split it. If anyone would like to have a go at this, let me know and I can put you in touch with the observers.

February Object Of Interest

February’s target was NGC 1579, the Northern Triffid. Images from Philip Terry, Alan Thomas, Ivan Walton and Richard Sargent. Jim Latham in North Wales observed it visually with his 14 inch Newtonian, and found it ‘easy’, but filters (OIII or UHC) did not improve the view. Here is Philip’s image:

NGC 1579 by Philip Terry

Object Of Interest for March

For March my pick is the Planetary Nebula Abell 31 in Cancer. Quite a large object (16.2 arc minutes diameter), but low surface brightness makes it a challenge. There is a lovely image of it by Peter Goodhew in the Members Albums, but it is the only one. Peter used 43 hours of integration time on his image, but it will be interesting to see how much is picked up on shorter exposures.

Abell 31 by Peter Goodhew

Picture of the Month

For this month’s POTM there has been much to choose from, but I have selected this image of M35 by James Weightman – an unusual combination of an image of the cluster superimposed with startrails of the cluster which brings out the colours of the stars.

M35 Trails by James Weightman

And Finally

Now that March is here we can look forward to the start of Galaxy Season. Leo is available at a nice time of night, and Coma and Virgo are hard on its heels.
But, whatever piques your interest I hope March will be a good observing month for you.

Clear, dark skies

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