Back to observing.
It shames me a little to say that I've not hauled my telescope outside for ages. However gripped with a small dose of Comet fever I decided to aleviate my symptoms with Comet Lovejoy.
It was one of those evenings where the sky was different each time you looked out the window. Stars sparkling and calling you out or a bank of browny orange clouds. Once I had my tea (or dinner to certain folk) I looked out once more to see the clouds. I said that I'd check again in half an hour. Yes stars and no clouds. I proceded to get ready. Fleece, trainers, telescope, eye-pieces Check. Cats! This is the first session since we got kittens (Charlie & Mollie) earlier in the year. They seem to think that whenever we're outside with them it's playtime. I didn't know how they were going to re-act.
I Manoeuvred the scope out the back door, the cats slipping past in the process. I looked up and the all to familiar bank of clouds greeted me. Letting out a small curse under my breath I proceded to set up the scope upon the lawn. Looking around I could see a few breaks and a clear patch heading my way. 'Just wait it out' I thought. Using the patches to line up the old winter favourite of M42 I just had to wait to make the finer adjustments. The cats either played chase with each other or watched me curiously from the rims of the plant pots.
Finally the clear sky came along and I soon had M42 in my scope. The trapezium was an easy resolve and sparkled from it's grey cocoon. The whole nebula reminded me of a dagger with most of the blade missing. The curve of the northern extent forming the hilt. The hint of M43, the handle. Next up was M45. It blazed through the eyepiece. As it appeared upsidedown in my scope it looked like a baseball cap. Never failing to impress this cluster wowed me again. As it had shone down on me from every clear patch during the cloud cover I decided to reward it with a view. I swung the scope towards the bright yellow star. Jupiter. The only details my 4.5" scope really pics out are the two bands. They were in eveidence again alongside the chain of satellites. Yes I had set out for the comet, but it was un-obtainable at this time. I would have to move the scope into the range of the neighbour's security light. So with some good views under my belt I decided to retire the scope till morning and a better chance of the comet. Whilst viewing Jupiter Mollie decided it would be a good idea to catch whatever was on the bench she saw. All she did was scatter the boxes for my eyepices across the grass. Chasing her off I proceded to pick them up, only to find that the cap to my barlow lens had rolled away from it's open box onto the grass somewhere. Time to fetch the torch to find it before packing up. (Don't worry no eyepices were harmed in the making of this report. They were nestled on the tripod shelf of the scope.)
3:30am and the alarm on my phone wakes me up. Bleary eyed I reach for my glasses and look outside. Stars! Yes it stayed clear. I get dressed and once more deposit my scope in the garden. And yes the cats sneaked outside again. Most likely wondering why I wasn't feeding them. The sky had changed though. In the evening the sky was the familiar dark blue/ black. The colour in the morning was the orange of Light Pollution. I live towards the edge of the suburbs and luckily the direction my garden faces is out of town. I consider my night sky to be towards the better edge of the urban scale. But with any night sky there is still variation. Still even with a poor sky I aimed the scope in the right direction. It didn't take long to find it. A grey dual tone smudge. Comet Lovejoy. A whitish circular core section and a fainter stubby fan shaped smudge off to one side. Smiling I just watched it for a few moments and then changed eyepices from my wide angle to my 10mm. Whilst I zoomed in I lost contrast a little. Still I enjoyed my spot of Lovejoy. At least comet season rewarded me in the end as ISON decided to bow out early. It's only my third comet visually. Hale-Bopp in 1997, Holmes in 2007 and now Lovejoy. At least I didn't have to wait ten years this time. Though I still hope a comet can mark 2017 for me. No pressure!
Thanks for the read and I hope I didn't ramble on too long.