Last night stayed clear: no heavy cloud moving relentlessly over the sky, no rising sea mist, no cellular blanket of altocumulus full of sucker holes.
Out came the 10″ scope and there began a race to look at the Messiers in Scutum in the short interval between the sky darkening and the constellation setting. If the 5″ is nippy, it has to be said that the 10″ lumbers about the sky, but I have M11 (Wild Duck) pretty much taped for instant finding, and my hop down to M26 is secure now.
I navigated on to M16 (Eagle), faffing about to check its relationship to stars on the chart – the first time I’ve been sure of this object, and definitely the first time in the 10″. In spite of its name, it seemed more starry than nebulous, though averted vision extended what I could see. I re-found M17 (Swan/Omega) quite readily too. What is it with all these fowl? None of them ever look very ornithological to me.
Next, on to locate M18, again checking charts to be sure of a modest scatter of stars, which remained underwhelming even in the larger aperture scope.
The star cloud of M24 showed in the finder scope, but of course that is mounted a few inches higher than the tube proper, which was unable to see past the hedge. Bother bother bother. There must be something I can do apart from chopping the whole hedge down.
So I cranked laboriously from horizon to zenith and looked at Albireo for a treat, the colours fine in the big scope, and then reluctantly lugged the kit indoors at half past midnight.
By then it was getting properly dark, so I paused to scan the rising eastern sky with binoculars, saw an early Perseid scoot through Pegasus, and basked luxuriously, standing bang smack centered under the arch of the Milky Way.