I haven't contributed much to this board since I joined (it's a bit difficult in some ways, being marooned up here at 50°N!
), so I thought I'd dig out a few observations from past visits to Australia. I'll post some observations from my 1997 trip soon, as well.
I was in Australia for a brief visit in 2009 and, while I was in Sydney, I did a bit of binocular observing from the courtyard of the Travellers' Rest backpackers hostel I was staying at in Victoria St. I managed to find a dark corner away from the lights and, with the help of my Pocket Sky Atlas, I did some poking about with my binoculars at whatever was visible.
24th May 2009
Equipment: 8x42 binoculars with a 7.4 degree field of view
Seeing: Excellent, Antoniadi scale I
Transparency – not too bad but some drifting clouds interfering.
NELM – pretty bad, 3.5-4.0 at best.
Location: King’s Cross area, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Time of observations: 2005 EST to 2100 EST (10 hours ahead of GMT).
, open cluster in Crux: Easy to see, the ‘Jewel Box’ was visible as an ‘A’ shaped group of 5 stars in a sparse field. Crux itself fits perfectly into my binoculars’ 7.4 degree field of view.
, open cluster in Carina: Large, elongated north-west to south-east. There is one bright foreground star, plus four or five more visible with direct vision. With averted vision many more stars are seen.
(Omega Centauri), globular cluster in Centaurus: Easily seen against the light-polluted sky as a round, almost uniform, glow. Averted vision shows more of the outer area of this but no granulation or individual stars can be seen because of the light pollution.
, open cluster in Carina. Also known as the ‘Southern Pleiades’, this is a beautiful cluster. It is a large, loose group of stars split into two parts. The north-western group (nearest the Southern Cross) consists of five stars in a butterfly pattern while the south-eastern group is a bow stretching south-west to north-east, bending in the middle towards the butterfly group. The second star from the bottom of the bow is the brightest member of IC 2602 while the others are a couple of magnitudes fainter but are all of the same brightness. Many more, fainter stars can be seen with averted vision despite the chronic light pollution. Not as good as the 'real' Pleiades though, a rare example of a southern object not being as good as a northern one!
, open cluster in Vela: This was surprisingly easy to pick out from the sky glow. It forms a trapezium pattern with 3 stars and appears initially as a bright knot or clump. With averted vision I can pick out four or five stars.
Unfortunately the doors were being locked early, due to past antisocial behaviour from hostel residents upsetting the neighbours (probably not suspicious-looking Poms with binoculars!
), so I had to pack in.
I'm going to be back in Oz next year - all things being equal - so I'll be doing a lot more than just a bit of urban binocular observing, as next year's trip will be a proper observing trip (like my 1997 trip was) unlike my 2009 trip.