Deep Sky Summer/Autumn Observations August/October 2016

Conditions | Observation Overview | Remarks | References

From August to October 2016, I conducted simple "deep-sky summer / autumn observations," which might be of interest to other beginners and are therefore described here. Please note that this page primarily serves as a preparation for the respective observations in summer and fall 2017.

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).

Note: This is more a "preparation page" for observations that I hope to conduct in 2017. I list here already the most important deep sky objects that I would like to observe and that I already tried to observe, but for different reasons in part was not able to find.



Sky Region and Objects

I first confined my observations to the sky area in the south with Hercules, Ophiuchus, Cygnus, Lyra.... Later, I extended my observations to the area between Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Perseus, as well as Pegasus.

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. that I observed mostly in France:

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

Observation Time

My observations started in August and ended in early October (apart from one exception); I began observing some time after dusk (which is late in summer, often only after 9 pm) and before midnight.

Observation Location

Most observations were conducted in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (Germany):

I conducted further deep sky observations in Erkerode (near Braunschweig, Germany) and later in autumn also in France (Sumène, Haute Loire, France).

Devices Used

I tried all my telescopes and, as far as possible, also used them on the Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo mount:

That was in the making, however, so I did not use the GoTo control often. Moreover, I used my 10 x 25 Leica binoculars, which are not all night glasses. I used all kinds of eyepieces, but preferred my UWA eyepieces (16 mm, 7 mm, 4 mm) as well as a 32 mm Plössl eyepiece for maximum overview.

General Conditions

In general, the sky above Mühlhausen/Kraichgau is "light-polluted" and does not invite you to search for Deep Sky objects. This is certainly one of the reasons why I found some of the Deep Sky objects that I wanted to observe only sometimes or not at all. Often, the sky was not yet dark enough for observing deep sky objects ...

I conducted further deep sky observations in Erkerode (near Braunschweig, Germany) and later in autumn also in France (Sumène, Haute Loire, France).


Observation Overview

Observation Dates

Observed Objects Details, Remarks Further Observations and Remarks Devices Used Eyepieces Used
End of August GE: M 8 (NGC 6523; Lagoon nebula), M 20 (Trifid nebula) Erkerode   Heritage 100P various magnifications
End of August GC: M 13 (Hercules cluster), M 92 Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (MH)   Heritage 100P, Heritage P130, GSD 680 various magnifications
Sep 1 GC: M 13, M 92 MH   Heritage 100P, Heritage P130, GSD 680; Heritage 100P and Heritage P130 also on GoTo mount various magnifications
Sep 3 G: M 31 (Andromeda Galaxy) MH   Heritage 100P ?
Sep 6 G: M 31
GC: M 92
MH   Heritage 100P on GoTo mount, Heritage P130 on GoTo mount ?
Sep 7 PN: M 57 (Ring nebula)
OC: IC 4665, M 16 (NGC 6611) + IC 4703 (Eagle nebula), M 17 + NGC 6618 (Omega nebula, Swan nebula), M 11 (NGC 6705; Wild Ducks cluster)
GC: M 13, M 92, M 10, M 12
MH M 5 not found (low, behind tree)
Eagle and Omega nebulae not found
Skymax 102 on GoTo mount ?
Sep 9 PN: M 57
G: M 31
OC: M 11 (NGC 6705)
GC: M 13, M 92
MH NGC 6633 too low, not found
M 5 not found (low, behind tree)
Heritage P130 on GoTo mount ?
End of Sept/Beg. of Okt G: M 31
OC: NGC 884/NGC 869 (Perseus double cluster), M 103, NGC 663, NGC 654
GC: M 13, M 15
France (Sumène), M 13 also in binoculars M 57, M 56 not found Heritage 100P, binoculars various magnifications
Oct 31 OC: M 45 (Pleiades)
GC: M 13, M 15
MH, M 13: faint in bino, M 15 with 100P, not with binoculars   Heritage 100P, binoculars 16 mm, 7mm, 4mm UWA

Bold: First observation during this observation period; all observations in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau; GE = galactic emission nebula, GR = galactiv reflection nebula, PN = planetary nebula, G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster

Observed Sky Objects (Mostly Objects Found)

Details can be found by clicking the links to the respective deep sky objects.

DSO Details
Name Constellation Type Bino* 100P 100P
GSD 680 Remarks
M 13 Hercules Nebula Hercules GC yes yes yes yes yes yes prime object
M 92   Hercules GC yes yes yes yes yes yes harder to find than M 13
M 29   Cygnus OC              
NGC 6960/6992/5 Cirrus/Veil Nebula Cygnus PN              
NGC 7000 North America Nebula Cygnus GE              
M 27 Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula PN             glow, but no dumbbell seen (nothing documented apart from this)
Cr 399 Coat Hanger Vulpecula SP             not found
M 57 Ring Nebula Lyra PN   no   yes yes   a hint of the ring at best
M 56   Lyra GC             a small sphere
M 71   Sagitta GC             very loose
M 10   Ophiuchus GC       yes     a faint glow
M 12   Ophiuchus GC       yes     a faint glow
IC 4665   Ophiuchus OC       yes     only relatively distant stars
NGC 6633   Ophiuchus OC             already too low on the horizon
M 5   Serpens Caput GC             already too low on the horizon
IC 4756   Serpens Cauda OC             probably not found
M 16/IC 4703 Eagle Nebula Serpens Cauda OC/GE       yes     appeared as a very wide open star cluster; did not see the nebula IC 4703
M 17 Omega/Swan Nebula Sagittarius GE       yes     saw only stars and, at best, a faint glow
M 8/NGC 6530 Lagoon Nebula Sagittarius OC/GE   yes   yes     saw only stars, maybe some faint glow in the Lagoon Nebula
M 20 Trifid Nebula Sagittarius GE   ? ? ?     not found
M 21, 23   Sagittarius OC, OC             not observed?
M 24   Sagittarius SC              
M 11 Wild Duck Cluster Scutum GC       yes yes   saw stars and some nebula around them
M 31 Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda G yes? yes yes   yes   in the North-East; a glow, no details
NGC 884/869 Double Star Cluster Perseus OC   yes         in the North-East
M 15   Pegasus GC   yes          
M 103   Cassiopeia OC   yes         looked more like a small asterism
NGC 663   Cassiopeia OC   yes          
NGC 654   Cassiopeia OC             not found
NGC 457 Owl Cluster, ET Cluster Cassiopeia OC             probably not observed
St 2 Muscle Man Cassiopeia OC             not observed

*) 10 x 25 binoculars; GE = galactic emission nebula, GR = galactic reflection nebula, G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double star, SP = star pattern, SC = star cloud




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. If you, as I did this time, observe the same objects three days in a row, this introduces a certain routine, and searching for the objects is faster and safer. At some point in time, boredom may set in, but this is much more the case if you are not prepared and only observe your "prime objects"...

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 am often - even after repeated attempts - not able to clarify this question for some of the objects that I try to observe "manually."

Using my Sky-Watcher Synscan AZ GoTo mount, I now have the possibility to access sky objects correctly (this does not always work as intended, though...). If I nevertheless should not recognize anything in the eyepiece, then there is not more possible with the given telescope under the given conditions...



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


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