Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Ring and a Cigar!

Friday evening, we had a break in the rainy weather.  Yay!

And the sky was dark with excellent transparency. 

So, I loaded up on coffee and rolled the Cat out into the driveway.  It sure is nice to have it on wheels.  It is a little tough negotiating it through the doorway to the garage and down the ramp, but I think I've got the procedure down now.

Love the wheels.

This is not the droid you are looking for...
The astronomy session started out as just an opportunity to wring out some new equipment and software, but I did get to observe a new (to me) planetary nebula and an oddly shaped and colored galaxy!

So, what did I see?  A couple of highlights are below.


"But wait," you say. "M46 is not ring shaped."

And you are correct.  M46 is an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Puppis and was discovered by Charles Messier in 1771.

However, in front of M46 is NGC2438, a ring shaped planetary nebula, discovered by William Herschel on March 19, 1786. 

So, I got to see both for the price of one!  M46 with NGC2438 in front of it. Click to see a bigger version of the image.

M46 with NGC2438
I love planetary nebula.  They are always a treat to see.  Especially the ring shaped nebula with stars shining through their center!


M82 is also known as the "Cigar Galaxy" and was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode on 31 December 1774 together with M81. It gets many of its characteristics from interaction with the neighboring galaxy, M81.

New Equipment?

Aren't you curious about my newest piece of astronomy equipment?  Amusingly, it is probably one of the least expensive and useful piece of gear that I've purchased it a while.  I bought it online for eleven bucks and made an excursion into town to pick it up.

Xbox Gamepad
It's an Xbox gamepad.  The left joystick slews the scope.  The x-axis of the right joystick operates the focuser.  It works rather well.

Support for the gamepad made its appearance with the latest release of Celestron PWI (CPWI) Telescope Control Software.

Even more cool, CPWI, running on the laptop, can completely control the scope.  It provides alignment, tracking, and focuser support.  The handheld controller no longer is needed.  It also acts as an ASCOM server so other software can be used with the scope, too.

Exciting, huh!



  1. I love the M46 with NGC2438 image. I bet using the Xbox controller is fun.:-)

    1. Just wait until I get the laser attached to the front end of the scope. Using the Xbox controller will be really fun then!


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