Deep Sky Summer/Autumn Observations September/October 2018

Conditions | Observation Overview | Remarks | References

In September 2018, 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 Omegon Photography Scope 72/432 telescope and with my binoculars, 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/Aquarius in between, and Ursa Major in the North.

Overview Map

The following inverted 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 inverted section of the sky in the Northeast to East with Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Triangulum and parts of Pegasus:

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

Observation Time

The observations were done in September/October 2018.

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), my TS 10 x 60 binoculars, my Omegon 2.1 wide field binoculars (OM21), and my Omegon PS 72/432 refractor. With the latter, I used my UWA eyepieces (16 mm, 7 mm, 4 mm) and a 24 mm Televue eyepiece for a maximum overview.

So this time we observed "manually" without any GoTo control!

General Conditions

The sky above Sumène, Haute Loire (France) is relatively dark (the Betz observatory used by the Orion43 group is near-by). The milky way could be seen very well at times.


Observation Overview

Observation Dates

Date Observed Objects Further Observations and Remarks Devices Used Eyepieces Used General Remarks
Sep 16, 2018 G: M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy)
GC: M 13 (Hercules Cluster)
P: CR 399 (Coat Hanger)
DS: Double Double (Lyra)

Sagitta: constellation fits the field of view well in the OM21
Vulpecula: CR 399 (Coat Hanger) easy to find from Sagitta; can be seen nearly complete in the OM21, very good with TS
Andromeda: M 31 small, but visible with OM21, good with TS
Hercules: M 13 only a spot with OM21, three spots with TS, the center spot "shimmering" = the globular star cluster
Lyra: Double Double seen "simple" in both binoculars (OM21, TS)

OM21 binoculars, TS binoculars

  All in all, nice sky despite about half moon
Sep 17, 2018 G: M 31
GC: M 15, M 56, M 71
PN: M 57 (Ring Nebula), M 27 (Dumbbell Nebula)
DS: Double Double, Albireo, Alcor & Mizar
Lyra: Double Double seen as 4 stars at a magnification of 100 x four stars seen (just visible...); M 57 not found; M 56 probably seen
Sagitta: M 71 probably seen faintly
Vulpecula: M 27 (Dumbbell Nebula) seen quite well at different magnifications
Cygnus: Albireo (DS) seen well
Andromeda: M 31 seen well, but only the core (different magnifications)
Perseus: M 15 seen well at different magnifications, but small
Lyra: Tried M 57 (Ring Nebula) once more, the nebula only seen at larger magnifications (60/108 x)
Ursa Major: Finally, I was able to separate Alcor & Mizar easily, Mizar itself only at higher magnifications
PS 72/432 UWA 4 mm, 7 mm, WA 24 mm Perseus: I first thought that M 15 was a star and therefore I did not find it; after looking at a star map, I found it and saw it well, but small at different magnifications (that is why I thought that it was a star at the beginning and did not find it...)

Lyra: Another approach to M 57 (Ring Nebula); not found using low magnification (like a star), only at larger ones; with 60/108 x good to see; Astrid also saw the "hole" in the ring, I guessed it at least...

Sep 19, 2018 G: M 31
GC: M 13
OC: NGC 663, Mel 20 (Mirfak Cluster), NGC 884/869 (Perseus Double Cluster)
Hercules/Andromeda: Then I observed M 13 and M 31 at the smallest and largest magnification
Cassiopeia: Tried to find three OCs; M 103 probably not found, NGC 654 doubtful (unclear what was to be observed...), NGC 663 probably seen (a glow in TS, as Karkoschka writes)
Perseus: Mel 20 (Mirfak Cluster) seen well, particularly with the TS; acceptable with the PS72, less well with the OM21; NGC 884/869 (Perseus Double Cluster) seen well with TS, guessed with OM21; seen well with PS72, also at somewhat higher magnifications
PS 72/432, TS binoculars, OM21 binoculars UWA 4 mm, 7 mm, WA 24 mm Later in the evening, the moon made the Milky Way invisible...
Sep 20, 2018 G: M 31
GC: M 13
OC: NGC 884/869, NGC 663, M 103
Hercules/Andromeda/Perseus: M 13 and M 31 seen well again, NGC 869/884 (Perseus Double Cluster) as well
Cassiopeia: Tried to find NGC 281, 457, 581 (M 103), 654, 663, 559, only seen one of them (a lot of small stars and star pairs, also with 7 mm; a glow in the TS bino), very probably NGC 663; probably also seen three stars of M 103...
PS 72/432, TS binoculars UWA 4 mm, 7 mm, 16 mm, ...  
Sep 22, 2018 Mond
G: M 31
OS: M 103, NGC 663, NGC 457 (E.T./Owl Cluster), NGC 884/869, Mel 20, M 34, NGC 752
Moon: Already close to full moon (Sep 25 very early)
Cassiopeia: M 103 (3-4 stars), NGC 654 not found, NGC 663 (a lot of small stars and star pairs, also with 7 mm; a glow in the TS bino), NGC 457 (E.T., also with 7 mm), M 52 not found
Perseus: M 34 (a glow in the TS bino), seen well with PS72; NGC 884/869 (Double Cluster) and Mel 20 (Mirfak Cluster) observed only briefly, because I looked for other objects...
Andromeda: M 31; NGC 752 large, many small stars
Triangulum: M 33 not found
Ursa Major: M 101 not found
PS 72/432, TS binoculars UWA 4, 7, 16 mm, WA 24 mm

No galaxies found except for M 31, probably because of the moon light

Sep 27, 2018 GC: M 92, M 13
OC: M 11
Scutum: M 11 (Wild Duck Cluster), Astrid discovered it with the bino, seen with both LT and TS binoculars, with the PS72 as well: with 24mm only a glow, with 4 mm many stars
Herkules: M 92 seen well with PS72 and 4 mm, bright and small; M 13 ditto, but larger
PS 72/432, LT binoculars, TS binoculars UWA 4, 7, 16 mm, WA 24 mm M 11 in the Scutum cloud, a special section of the Milky Way
The moon appeared after 9 p.m., before that the Milky Way was good to see
Sep 28, 2018 G: M 31, M 33
OC: M 11, IC 4665, M 8/NGC 6530, M 39, M 52
GNE: M 8/NGC 6530
Cassiopeia: Came across NGC 663 again and again (also with the TS bino); M 52 probably found, seemed rather small (12'); nothing else found in Cassiopeia
Andromeda: M 31 seen (TS, LT, PS72)
Triangulum: M 33(Triangulum Galaxy) probably guessed in PS72 and LT; very faint glow, framed by stars; rather large (50')
Scutum: M 11 found again (PS, TS, and LT)
Aquila: Further OC found there (LT, TS, PS72), probably IC 4665, because found and visible with binoculars as well
Sagittarius: Close to Saturn saw M 8 (Lagoon Nebula) with OC NGC 6530 (probably only seen the OC)
Cygnus: Seen OC above Deneb (PS72 and LT/TS), obviously M 39

PS 72/432, LT binoculars, TS binoculars UWA 4, 7, 16 mm, WA 24 mm The waning moon made the Milky Way slowly disappear again
Sagittarius: OC with glow on the left side close to Saturn; obviously, this was M 8 (Lagoon Nebula) with OC NGC 6530; the glow was, according to SkySafari a very bright spot; basically, I just saw stars, that is NGC 6530, and not the nebula M 8...
Cygnus: Seen OC above Deneb (like a triangle); I first assumed that it was NGC 6996, according to SkySafari in the mid of a nebula cloud close to NGC 7000 -> but actually, it was M 39
Oct 4, 2018 G: M 31, M 33
GC: M 2, M 15
OC: M 103, NGC 663, M 52, NGC 457, St 2 (Muscle Man), Mel 20, NGC 884/869, M 45, M 11, M 17/NGC 6618 (Omega Nebula), M 16/IC 4703 (Eagle Nebula)
Cassiopeia: M 103 (3-4 stars), NGC 663, M 52 (seen better this time), NGC 457 (ET), St 2 (Muscle Man); not found: NGC 654, 559?
Perseus: NGC 884/869 (Double Cluster), Mel 20 (Mirfak Cluster)
Andromeda: M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy) seen beautifully, the glow was larger this time
Triangulum: M 33 (Triangulum Galaxy) seen better, nevertheless a faint glow...
Taurus: M 45 (Pleiades) seen beautifully, with TS und OM21 binos as well
Pegasus: M 15 (KS) seen well
Aquarius: M 2 (KS) seen even better than M 15
Scutum: M 11 (Wild Duck Cluster), with 24 mm just a glow, with 7 mm and 4 mm resolved into stars
Close to Saturn: Saw a glow above Saturn, then saw two OCs, one of them with a glow:
Sagittarius: M 17 (Omega/Schwan Nebula), saw a glow and a star cluster (no nebula filter)
Serpens Caput: M 16 (Eagle Nebula), only seen the star cluster (nebula IC 4703 should only be visible with a filter)
PS 72/432, TS binoculars, OM21 binoculars    
Oct 5, 2018 G: M 31
GC: M 134, M 92, M 56
OC: CR 399, M 34, M 45, Mel 20
PN: M 57
GNE: M 27
Betz, Orion43: M 13, M 92, M 56, M 57 (Ring Nebula), M 27 (Dumbbell Nebula), M 45 (Pleiades)
Sumène (TS and LT): M 31 (seen larger than ever...), M 34 (seen well, single stars), M 45 (Pleiades), Mel 20 (Mirfak Cluster), CR 399 (Coat Hanger)
TS binoculars, LTbinoculars   Betz: Diverse telescopes; M 57 with hole at the center, M 27 large, globular star cluster M 13 resolved into stars, M 45 nice; also observed M 31 and M 45 in Betz with LT binoculars

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* PS72 Remarks
zeta UMa Mizar Ursa Major DS   yes pair seen well
M 52   Cassiopeia OC   yes found after initial problems
NGC 457 Owl/E.T. Cluster Cassiopeia OC   yes rather small, the eyes are seen best
M 103   Cassiopeia OC   yes 3-4 stars, recognized after initial problems
NGC 663   Cassiopeia OC TS yes recognized well, a lot of small stars and star pairs
St 2 Muscle Man Cassiopeia OC   yes found after initial problems
M 13 Hercules Cluster Hercules GC TS, OM21 yes demo object; seen very well in Betz
M 92   Hercules GC   yes Smaller than M 13, harder to find (for me); seen very well in Betz
epsilon Lyr Double Double Lyra DS TS, OM21 yes seen as a pair in binoculars (no "double pair"), seen as "double pair" in the telescope from a magnification of 100 x on
M 57 Ring Nebula Lyra PN   yes Seen in Sumène only at higher magnifications, thought it was a star at lower magnifications; seen well in Betz including the "hole"
M 56   Lyra GC   yes seen only faintly
IC 4665   Ophiuchus OC TS, LT yes visible also in binoculars
beta Cyg Albireo Cygnus DS   yes nice color difference, leads the way to the Coat Hanger CR 399
M 39   Cygnus OC TS, LT yes close to the zenith, close to Deneb - a wide, triangular field of stars
CR 399 Coat Hanger Vulpecula P TS, LT, OM21 yes nearly better in binoculars than in the telescope; easy to find via Sagitta or Cygnus
M 27 Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula PN   yes seen well
M 71   Sagitta GC   yes M 71 probably seen faintly
M 11 Wild Duck Cluster Scutum OC LT, TS yes visible also in binoculars
M 16+IC4703 Eagle Nebula (OC: M 16/NGC 6611, GN: IC 4703) Serpens Cauda OC/GN   yes M 16 denotes the star cluster, IC 4703 surrounding GN
M 8/NGC 6523 Lagoon Nebula (OC: NGC 6530, GN: M 8/NGC 6523) Sagittarius OC/GN   yes nowadays, M 8 denotes the GN named NGC 6523, Stoyan includes the OC NGC 6530 in M 8
M17 Omega/Swan Nebula (GN: M 17/NGC 6618) Sagittarius GN   yes saw a glow and a star cluster (no nebula filter)
M 15   Pegasus GC   yes not as large as M 13; initially not recognized because I thought that it was a star
M 2   Aquarius GC   yes seen even better than M 15
M 31 Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda G TS, LT, OM21 yes in the North-East; seen large and bright as never before, particularly in binoculars
NGC 752   Andromeda OS PS 72/432 yes large, many small stars
M 33   Triangulum G LT yes only a very faint glow
NGC 884/869 Perseus Double Cluster Perseus OC TS, LT, OM21 yes in the North-East; already seen with the naked eye
M 34   Perseus OC   yes  
Mel 20 Alpha Persei Cluster, Mirfak Cluster Perseus OC TS, LT, OM21 yes very nice, also with the naked eye
M 45 Pleiades/Seven Sisters Taurus OS TS, OM21 yes seen beautifully (late)

*) LT = 10 x 25 binoculars, TS = 10 x 60 binoculars; G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double star, P = star pattern, GN = galactic nebula, PN = planetary nebula

Searched for, but not found: NGC 281 (GN), NGC 654 (OC), NGC 559 (OC)




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 Pro for Apple Macintosh.


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