11th November 2020

Wednesday, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

M71 in Sagitta

Sky is clear and cloudless. I could see Jupiter, Saturn, Mars; a handful of stars like Altair, Deneb, Vega. There were also a couple of stars near Fomalhaut. I could barely start seeing the stars of Sagittarius by 6:33 pm. Pointing my scope at this area revealed a lot more stars but I couldn't confirm them with the star atlas as the sky wasn't completely dark at this point. The Sun has set but the sky is still gray-violetish. Hence I couldn't see the more fainter stars near the naked eye stars in the scope. I realised that being out early helped in getting my eyes dark adapted pretty fast and by the time it would be dark and all the stars would be visible, I would be fully ready to observe.

Another thing I noticed is the that the position of Sagittarius is around 30° - 40° above the horizon in the South-West part of the sky. Although there are trees, I could see the stars of the constellation without any obstruction. I couldn't locate M22 and M25 today, I should try again tomorrow after moving a bit more to the left. I had tried hopping around Sagittarius for some time but couldn't locate the objects. The two open clusters below Sagittarius, the Ptolemy Cluster and the Butterfly Cluster was also on my list. But by the time I had tried my hand at the clusters above, it had gone down. Tomorrow I shall try to locate these two first instead. By the time I finally decided to stop searching for M22 and M25 for the day, the constellation had gone down considerably low. Not to mention the sort of haze around that part of the sky due to light pollution because of all the people living there.

I saw in the sky map app that there is a cluster near Saturn and briefly scanned that part of the sky including the planet. Then I decided to locate M71, the globular cluster in Sagitta. It is near to the star Altair, which was easily visible in the sky. As the stars of Sagitta were barely visible with my naked eyes, I decided to star hop from Altair instead. Using the Pocket Sky Atlas as my reference, I was able to star hop from Altair to the constellation of Sagitta fairly easily. After confirming the constellation, I tried to locate the cluster inside the constellation using some asterisms. But since the atlas wasn't that details, I couldn't figure it out. I was sure that the cluster had gone through my FOV while I was scanning that area. I was able to locate a paw shaped asterism near to the bright stars of the constellation. I came back inside and checked Stellarium and realised that the cluster is right beneath the second smaller paw asterism beneath the first larger paw. I came back outside and found the area covered in clouds. I spent some time sketching the stars around and above Fomalhaut.

Once the sky cleared, I starhopped back from Altair and reached the constellation. I examined the area under the paw asterism and I found a smudge there! I could notice it more with averted vision or when the point of focus of my eye was moving. I sketched the object at 20x and 40x magnifications and also the path to starhop from the stars of Sagitta. Once I was satisfied with my observations of M71, I tried locating M15 without the help of the atlas. I used the red dot finder to locate Enif and since I remembered the way so well, thanks to the detailed observations and sketching this log books is making me achieve, I was able to locate the cluster almost immediately. Observed M15 at 20x and 40x. After this, I saw Perseus in the North-Eastern sky and observed it for some time with my naked eyes. I tried randomly aiming my scope at the constellation to see M34, a star cluster near Perseus, but I couldn't locate it due to the lack of planning. I will plan the journey and try again tomorrow. I did see a string of bright stars near Mirfak though! I only realised this while referring to the atlas later on. I should try to sketch them as well sometime.