I’ve been hunting for Neptune. I think I’ve found it.
It’s been on my to-do list, but I haven’t been at this very long, and there are so many obstacles, from early bedtime on school nights to clouds to full moon to the pernicious and ever-growing light pollution…but during the last few nights, about 9:30 to 10 PM, there it’s been, about forty-five minutes of arc to the northeast of Hydor (λ Aquarii) –in other words, below and to the left.
The first night, I had the 6×30 finderscope in, rather than the red-dot finder I favor. I meant it as a personal growth challenge, but it addled my brain: the finder shows things inverted, the telescope shows them reversed. (I could solve this by removing the diagonal and crouching all night long.)
But through the finder it was clear enough, “above” the star, a small bluish body about 45′ of arc distant. It’s barely seven minutes away from an 8th-magnitude star, HIP113231–Neptune is close to magnitude 8 itself, and the two made a good match.
Thereafter, I went back to the red-dot, which suits me well, and found it again with little trouble. It’s not much to see, really. Perhaps a larger scope is in my future.
For some reason, my fourth-grade illustration of “the other blue planet” gives it banding like Jupiter’s in fanciful yellow and green. Not sure why I went from scientist to expressionist there. Anyway, Neptune is blue.
Other things spotted last evening: Sualocin and Rotanev, those palindromic double stars in Delphinus. (Spelled backwards, they become Nicolaus and Venator, the Latin form of the name of Niccolò Cacciatore, assistant to Giuseppe Piazzi at the Palermo observatory. Cacciatore succeeded Piazzi, who is credited with the discovery of Ceres.) They are very close binaries, but I separated them.
I also caught the Blue Snowball nebula in Andromeda.
Not bad for a light-polluted location, a busy schedule, and a chronically cloudy sky.