14th November 2020

Saturday, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

M22 and M25 in Sagittarius, Dumbbell Nebula and Brocchi's Cluster!

I started out at around 6:30 pm when the sun had set, but the sky was still in twilight. The lights and the street lights were switched off and one of the very first things I noticed was the sky being extremely clear with no clouds and close to zero haze. I only had to turn off the street light only once during the entire night :P

My first targets were in Sagittarius, M22 and M25. I had failed to locate these the other day. With the help of the star atlas, and after a little moving the telescope around to the left, I found M22 first. The sky was a little 'backlit' in this area due to the lights from all the houses of people who live there. If only there was a power failure around then 😂

But I was still able to make out the cluster as a blob of graynessas per the location described by the map. If I was able to locate the cluster even under light polluted skies, it would be more easier to locate under perfectly dark skies I guess. The night was colder today and there was an occasional breeze too. After locating M22 and sketching down the position, making sure that I would be able to locate it easily another day, I moved on to finding M25 relative to the position of the cluster I just found. M22 being an open cluster, was more easier to find. Thanks to the disctinct pattern of stars and double stars surrounding the cluster, I was able to find it easily and the cluster was more evident in the backdrop of the sky. I sketched it down as well. M22 and M25 were two objects I have been planning to locate for quite some time now. Today I finally was able to find them successfully. Although the views of these two weren't that splendid, I did locate it with proper star hopping and have drawn my own charts so that the next time I can find Sagittarius at a more favourable spot in the sky, I can find these 'more evident' objects in the constellation more easily, with juts my own charts. Now that they have gone even further down West, I decided to switch to my next target, M27, the Dumbbell Nebula.

The Dumbbell Nebula blew my mind away. It was relatively easier to find than some other lesser evident planetary nebulae I have observed, like the Crab Nebula or the Helix Nebula, which I have been looking for a couple of days now and still haven't seen. M27 although of magnitude 7.4, is pretty evident in the aky due to its large size. Also tonight was a very clear night (I wasn almost able to make out the Andromeda Galaxy with my naked eyes), so that would've helped too. I suppose I could've able to see stars of upto magnitude 10 through my scope but I had no way of confirming this as the Pocket Sky Atlas only shows stars upto magnitude of 7.5.

So about how I found M27, I started from the constellation of Sagitta as it was easily visible with my naked eyes. I spotted the constellation with my red dot finder, unlike the day I found M71 where I started from Altair instead. Starting from Sagitta, I was able to locate M71 easily as I had sketched it the other day. My initial approach involved going below (with respect to the FOV of the scope) γ Sagittae and taking an almost semicircular approach, to be able to confirm the positions of the different stars before moving on, instead of randomly going left in the supposed direction of the nebula (Which in this case might've worked thanks to the nebula being so large and bright as I discover in a moment) Adter a point, realising that I'm near to the location, I decided not to refer the atlas and just scan the area. As I moved the scope a bit upwards, I found this huge circular grayish blotch, which was so bright and distinct than even many of the globuar clusters that I've seen till now. On a closer look, the 'dumbbell' shape or the 'eaten apple core' is clearly evident. M27 is one of those hard to miss objects in the area.

I was able to observe the nebula at 40x and 67x without any problem. Thanks to the clear skies, even the 6mm eyepiece yielded really good views without any atmospheric disturbances. Now that I discovered the nebula is near to M71, I also sketched the details and the star hop chart.

After being totally satisfied with observing M27, I tried to find Helix Nebula once again and still wasn't able to. While scanning around the Sagitta area, I came across a very distinct cluster of stars down west. At this point it was almost the trees. With the help of the star atlas, I found out this to be the Coathangar Cluster, or Cr 399, aka Brocchi's Cluster. I found it to be quite a remarkable sight in the sky. I suspect it might even be a wonderful target for binocular astronomy.