10th November 2020

Tuesday, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm & 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm

M2 and failed attempts at M33 and the Helix Nebula

The sky was cloudless and stars were there, but it was not exceptionally clear. The haze is still there. I had turned off all the lights and even had to turn off the street lights twice. I tried to locate M31 with my naked eyes, but I couldn't.

My first target after turning off all the lights was the Helix Nebula near the star Fomalhaut. I was able to star hop from ε Piscis Austrini and even located all the asterisms near to where the nebula was supposed to be located, but was not able to see teh nebula itself. This reminds me of hunting the Crab Nebula back in 2014, but I must say I have really improved in the art of star hopping by now.

So anyway, I leave the idea of finding the nebula today and try to locate M2. Finding M2 was fairly easy today as the stars near Enif which were not that visible yesterday were pretty visible today (β Aquarii). I centered my scope at Sadalsuud, β Aquarii and confirm it using the nearby asterisms. Star hopping to M2 was pretty easy and I was able to do it in about 1-2 minutes.

It was almost apparent that the object was a glubular cluster from 20x. The individual stars at the center were not visible though. It looked more like a smudge. At 40x, it is more evident and the center stars are somewhat resolvable. At 67x, more stars at the center of the cluster can be resolved. The square pattern of stars at the center of the cluster can almost be made out. I should check this another day again.

After I observed M2, I decided to spot the Triangulum Galaxy, M33. This too I tried multiple times, star hopping from different asterisms but to no avail. The tetra shaped asterism was easy to identify among other stars, and the distance was larger than I expected when comparing the atlas to what I see in my scope's field of view. This too reminds me of how I took like a solid week to find M1 back in 2014, which I checked and found is a magnitude 8.4 object! On the bright side, I know my way around Triangulum now and can easily hop through the asterisms another day while looking for the galaxy.

PS - I also took pictures of Saturn and Jupiter with the smartphone mount that arrived today. Trying to shoot M31 and M45 was a failure though. The Saturn pic came out better looking that anything I have even shot by holding the phone with my hands. I will try to edit it and bring out more details.