Well another year has passed so welcome to 2014.

It was difficult to judge how successful 2013 was for observational astronomy at the DBO, but fortunately Astroplanner can display all sorts of interesting stats. The one thing the table doesn’t show are the number of clear nights that I was able to open up though. Manually counting those came to 33 nights or 9%. While that doesn’t sound a lot,  it’s more that I thought we had, so maybe 2013 wasn’t all bad. I’ve included data for 2012 for comparison.

Comparing the two years, it’s obvious to see that running  a targeted observing programme got me looking at many more previously unseen objects. I guess without a plan one would be tempted to revisit the same old objects time after time, so I’m glad to see I’ve observed 98 objects for the first time.
The two new Delos eyepeices are getting lots of use, but I see my trusty Meade 18mm SWA is still making the lions share of the observations .  I’m tempted to replace it with a Delos 17mm  which will give a similar FOV – and a better quality one – but for 2014 I think my hated Meade 40mm just has to go. I’m rather taken with Televue’s 31mm  Type 5 Nagler so it looks like this will have to go on the shopping list come the Astronomy Fair in Warwick.

I’ve also managed to observe many more galaxies in 2013 – objects which were rather neglected in 2012. Most of these really were just fuzzy blobs but of all the observations I made , one Galaxy was given a ‘WOW’ status – M82.  My log entry for the night of 2, May reads

‘Tonight ended a run of what has been the best week of observing to date. 5 nights at the scope in 6 days. I’m Knackered.  Conditions were pretty good, although the session was cut short when a bank of ground hugging fog rolled in.

M82:  Wow! . This time I can see a dark vertical band running perpendicular the the width. This bar appears to be to the East of what looks to be the core of the Galaxy. The galaxy itself appears to be asymmetrical in the that the Western side is longer that the other. This might be an illusion caused by the vertical bar being offset from the core.

The galaxy itself appears to cover say 1/2 to 1/3 the diameter of Altair Astro 250mm, Plossl 26mm, 78 X, 38.4′

Observation Stats for 2013

Observation Stats for 2012

2013 didn’t end well, as in the last three months of the year, I was only able to open up on three nights. If  you count the fact that January 2014 has been crap as well, means I’ve only been able to get out three times in fours months – not good. Let’s just hope the weather improves soon, so I can make the best use of all these cold dark nights.

The other new interest for me in 2013 was my first tentative steps into Radio Astronomy. Progress has been made with the Meteor back scatter work, but it has taken a hell of a lot of reading on the web just to get this far.  The actual electronic side of things is completely baffling and I wonder without getting to grips with this, how much further I will be able to make it in the field. A trip to Leicester and the BAA’s RAG meeting in May will hopefully provide a bit of a boost to my understanding so I’m really looking forward to that.  In the meantime, I would like to try some meteor work at 50 MHz using the BRAMS transmitter in Belgium and run that concurrently with my Graves observations at 143MHz. The acquisition of another FCD and the constructions of a new antenna should get me up and running quite quickly.

A new toy ( which isn’t even mine) arrived a few weeks ago and I’ll post the results from this in a couple of days time.