Constellation: Auriga, Cepheus
Conjunction: Moon-Venus (Refer to Lunar Session - May 18, 2018)
Messier Objects: M36 (Pinwheel Cluster), M37 (NGC 2099), M38 (Starfish Cluster)
Mekbuda in Gemini
 Jupiter (in Libra)

Location: Home
Date: 2018-05-18
Time: 8:30 PM - 11:00 PM ADT
Instrument: Visual + Binocular 10x30 IS + 10" Meade SCT with 30 mm eyepiece
Transparency: Good (3)
Seeing: Good (3)
Temperature: 9º C - 3º C

Clear skies, no cloud, no wind. Hazy near the horizon. Part of this session was for lunar observing, especially with the conjunction of the Moon with Venus and Mekbuda (in Gemini). 

Auriga & 3 Messier Objects ( M36, M37, M38)
Time: 9:37 PM - 10:35 PM ADT
Equipment: Visual + Binoculars + Telescope
S&T Ref Chart: 12, 23, 14, (25)
I could make out all the stars of Auriga and knew that 3 of the Messier Catalogue objects were in the constellation and were basically in a line from west to north but not in numerical order.

M37 / NGC 2099 @ 10:00 PM
Now that I know M37 is an open cluster (not a globular), I had a better chance of finding it. Using my binoculars, I discovered it was very loose! There was a brighter central star with 5 other bright st are. The haziness near the horizon made for difficulty in finding more stars of the cluster. After a few tries at it, I drew the cluster as I saw it. Jerry then used the go-to on our 10" Meade SCT to confirm this was indeed what I was looking at.

M36 / Pinwheel Cluster @ 10:20 PM
Having found M37 20 minutes ago, it took almost all of that time to locate it then sketch it. I first located a grey fuzzy to the north of M37 in my binoculars. Due to the haziness of the sky that close to the horizon, I couldn't make out any one star that was bright. However, in slewing the telescope from M37 to M36, I was able to detect 10 bright stars. The remaining star field was diffuse.

M38 / Starfish Cluster @ 10:28 PM
I knew M38 was the furthest north. Having found M36, I moved my binoculars just a little to the north (~ 1 FOV). It was very faint in binoculars so tired to locate it with the telescope. I slewed the scope from M36 to M38 and found it! Still a bit faint and very diffuse in the eyepiece; only 4 definitive stars were seen. The rest of the star field was diffuse enough, perhaps because of haziness closer to the horizon, that the "cross structure" I had read about wasn't truly visible.

M37 / NGC 2066
M36 / Pinwheel Cluster /
NGC 1960
M38 / Starfish Cluster

Jupiter (in Libra)
Time: 10:43 PM ADT
Equipment: Visual + Binoculars + Telescope

Visual: Jupiter was getting closer to the α-β line of Libra.

Binoculars & Telescope: Easily found the planet and saw its 4 Galilean moons.

Telescope: Could make out the bands but not the giant red storm (GRS) on the planet. The bands were almost perpendicular to the visual horizon.

Jupiter and its Galilean moons (in Libra)

Time: 11:17 PM ADT
Equipment: Visual + Binoculars
S&T Ref Chart: 71, 73
All 8 main stars of the constellation could be found in the northern sky above our neighbour's trees. My target for tonight was δ Cephei. After blocking out their street light, I located the area of δ Cephei visually and then with the binoculars. I found the variable Cepheid but could not make out the 2 stars of the double, just a single bright star. Will need to go out again and confirm this find with binoculars and then with the telescope.


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