Deep Sky Summer/Autumn Observations September 2017

Conditions | Observation Overview | Remarks | References

In September 2017, I did simple "deep-sky summer / autumn observations", which might be of interest to other beginners and are therefore described here. They took place in Sumène, Haute Loire, France, and were carried out with my 10 x 25 binoculars and my Sky-Watcher Heritage 100 Dobsonian telescope, that is, with simple means.

List of observed deep sky objects (the links lead to pages describing the DSOs):

I selected the observation objects primarily on the basis of my literature (see references).



Sky Region and Objects

I confined my observations to the sky area in the south with Hercules, Cygnus, Lyra on the one hand, and to the area between Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Perseus on the other hand, as well as Pegasus in between, and Ursa Major in the North.

Overview Map

The following map shows approximately the sky area that I primarily browsed during my observations:

Click the map for a larger version - it opens in a new window

And here is the section of the sky in the East with Cassiopeia, Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus a.s.o.:

Click the map for a larger version - it opens in a new window

Observation Time

The observations were done in September 2017, mostly after 9 p.m..

Observation Location

The observations took place in Sumène (close to Saint Julien-Chapteuil), Haute Loire (France):

Devices Used

I used my Leica Trinovid 10 x 25 BC binoculars (LT binoculars), which are by no means "night binoculars," and my Sky-Watcher Heritage 100 Dobsonian telescope. With the latter, I used my UWA eyepieces (16 mm, 7 mm, 4 mm) and a 24 mm Televue eyepiece for a maximum overview.

General Conditions

The sky above Sumène, Haute Loire (France) is relatively dark (the Betz observatory used by the Orion43 group is near-by). In part, the observations were done around new moon, later under increasing (and rising) moon. Initially, the milky way could be seen very well. Regrettably, we had only a few days with clear skies, and later the moon reappeared.


Observation Overview

Observation Dates

Observed Objects Details, Remarks Further Observations and Remarks Devices Used Eyepieces Used
Sep 10 or 11 GC: M 13 (Hercules Cluster)   I was unable to find M 92 in Hercules. LT binoculars  
Sep 13 G: M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy)
GC: M 13
Access to M 31 via three brighter stars in Andromeda (the last and closest one is ny Andromeda)   LT binoculars  
Sep 18 G: M 31     LT binoculars  
Sep 20 G: M 31
P: Cr 399 (Coat Hanger)
Access to Cr 399 via Cygnus and Albireo (head)   Heritage 100P, LT binoculars UWA 4, 7, 16 mm, WA 24 mm
Sep 21 G: M 81/82 (Bode Galaxies)
OC: NGC 457 (E.T./Owl Cluster), NGC 884/869 (Perseus Double Cluster), Mel 20 (Alpha Persei Cluster)
GC: M 15
DS: Mizar as double star, Double Double
  NGC 663 and M 103 not found; Double Double only seen as pair Heritage 100P, LT binoculars UWA 4, 7, 16 mm, WA 24 mm
Sep 22 G: M 31
OC: NGC 457, NGC 884/869, Mel 20
DS: Double Double, Albireo
P: Cr 399
  NGC 663 and M 103 not found; Double Double only seen as pair Heritage 100P, LT binoculars UWA 4, 7, 16 mm, WA 24 mm
Sep 29 G: M 31
OC: NGC 884/869, Mel 20, perhaps NGC 457
P: Cr 399
  Half moon, therefore the milky way was hard to see with the naked eyes; for the same reason, M 31 not as large and bright as the nights before LT binoculars UWA 4, 7, 16 mm, WA 24 mm

Bold: First observation during this observation period; G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, P = star pattern

Observed Sky Objects (Mostly Objects Found)

DSO Details
Name Constellation Type Bino* 100P Remarks
M 13 Hercules Cluster Hercules GC yes   prime object
epsilon Lyrae Double Double Lyra DS   yes seen as a pair only, not as "double pair"
Cr 399 Coat Hanger Vulpecula P yes yes in binoculars, the shape is better to recognize than in the telescope
beta Cyg Albireo Cygnus DS   yes nice color difference; leads the way to the Coat Hanger Cr 399
M 15   Pegasus GC   yes smaller than M 13
M 31 Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda G yes yes in the North-East; seen as bright and large as never before, particularly with binoculars
NGC 884/869 Perseus Double Cluster Perseus OC yes yes in the North-East, already visible to the naked eye
Mel 20 Alpha Persei Cluster (Mirfak) Perseus OC yes yes beautiful, even with the naked eye
NGC 457 Owl/E.T. Cluster Cassiopeia OC   yes? relatively small, the eyes stand out
M 81/82 Bode Galaxy/Cigar Galaxy Ursa Major G   yes in Sumène, both galaxies were easily visible
zeta UMa Mizar Ursa Major DS   yes the pair was easy to see

*) 10 x 25 binoculars (LT = Leica Trinovid); G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double star, P = star pattern

Searched for, but not found: M 57, M 56, M 92, M 103, NGC 663




When looking for deep sky objects, a good preparation is mandatory - you can read this, and I can confirm it. "Good preparation" basically means that you compile a list of the objects that you would like to observe, and to find out where and how the objects can be found.

Is it it or not?

If you point your telescope with the help of the red dot finder approximately to the desired sky object, look into the eyepiece and see nothing or only "nebulous clouds," but not something that resembles the object in question, the question arises: Is the sky too light-polluted that I can recognize the object or does the telescope point in the wrong direction? Admittedly, I was - even after repeated attempts - not able to clarify this question for some of the objects that I tried to observe manually.



All the star maps were created with SkySafari Plus for Apple Macintosh.


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