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About Astroman

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  1. Very sad news-I received news today that Brian Marsden, master of the shallow sky and most other things astronomic, passed away today of complications of lukemia. His knowledge, charm and wit will be sorely missed.
  2. Helen, I have used many filters in attempting this object, H-A, H-B, UHC, OIII, colored glass, aka Wratten, Johnson V, Johnson B, Johnson R and so on ad nauseum. Scopes used have been everything from my trusty C8, 10" Lourie-Houghton, (in which we were easily seeing globulars in M31), 12" Newt, 6" Takahashi, 17" F/6 Newt, on up to a 22" Dall-Kirkham, (SP?) and a 25" F/5 from the Naval Observatory outside Flagstaff, not to mention a couple other professional scopes. It's quite clear to me now that I have seen it, probably many times, but have managed to overlook it. As I describe in my report, it's a matter of noticing it as the tiny break in brightness in that strip of glowing gas, rather than the well-defined object seen in photographs. I doubt I'll try it again unless conditions are perfect.
  3. Andrew, I've heard of observations of the HH with small scopes too, but I remain somewhat skeptical of these, especially having failed myself in larger instruments. I suppose "averted imagination" plays a part. The naked eye limiting mag here at Stone Haven is ~6th magnitude. I haven't done a careful estimate through the 20" eyepiece yet. Janos, if you know what to look for, I'd imagine the HH is possible in a 16". I think Andrew got it right, though, "One of those things you see for what it is rather than what it looks like".
  4. Weather conditions were just about ideal one weekend late in Jaunuary. A cold front had passed through on Thursday with rain and high winds. Clouds were threatened for Sunday, but that was no problem as I'd intended to try again for the horsehead nebula on Friday and Saturday. Friday was great, but Saturday was better. When storm systems line up over us as they do, the time between can bring amazingly steady skies, even on the desert floor. I set up the 20" F/4.5 newt on the platform just to the south of my garage. I only had one target, so it didn't seem useful to move it all the way over to the dome. After an easy alignment I was ready to go. Started off with the 40mm just to gain the frame of reference. (The details were teased out with the 19mm Ortho and an 8.8mm Meade UWA.) Yup, Alnitak, the Flame nebula, and the arc of stars that frame the HH. These start at Ngc 2023, a reflection nebula east and slightly north of the HH. (Incidently, the HH is known as Barnard 33, or B33, and the emission nebula behind it is IC 434.) From Ngc 2023 the stars are SAO 132451, SAO 132438, SAO 132 437 and SAO 132452. These are just east of the multiple star Sigma Orionis and north of SAO 132 441. IC 434 extends south from Alnitak, starting out wide and narrowing as it extends south. On the eastern edge is a denser region that forms a sharp boundary between IC 434 and B33, which actually contains more dark dust and molecular hydrogen than just the HH. The gas is quite bright when compared to the dust, but extremely faint when compared to the glare of Alnitak and most of the other stars I've mentioned. Following this knife-edge of gas south, I see what looks like a gap in the brightness. Just a tiny little notch. This notch is the HH. Smaller than expected, I am still unable to detect the horsehead shape. All I can see is an indistinct break in the brighter gas, and the two stars that appear in photographs on either side of the neck. Not the neck itself, just the stars The best I can do is say yes, I've seen it now. But it was almost as exciting a target as M40. And, even if conditions were excellent, perfect, stupendous, I wouldn't bother with it again. Well, maybe from Mauna Kea, next time I'm there. It's much, much better in pictures.
  5. When I say, "pressed", I simply mean I ask "Which direction did you move from Alnitak when you made this observation?" It's not like I interrogate them. I could believe someone could photograph this object with a 6" Newt, given an excellent mount etc, but I refuse to believe they could actually see it with one. It's flat impossible, just from a resolution aspect. A 6" is simply incapable of resolving it sufficiently for the eye to detect. Go ahead and suggest it's me, but it's not just me. Have you been observing from Arizona? Anywhere? If I can't see it through a 22" Newt with excellet optics from Kitt Peak, I doubt an observation from, well, anywhere, with a 6". Sorry.
  6. TBH, I can't understand why you've never been able to see the Horsehead... my friend Jeremy (in Flagstaff AZ) has bagged it using a 6" Newtonian. I often hear from folks that claim to have seen the HH, (Barnard 33 and IC 434). When pressed, they almost always discover they've actually seen the Flame Nebula, (Ngc 2024). 2024 is east of Alnitak, HH is south. And it's not just me. It's the operator of the respective scope as well. We can all recognize the field stars, but none see the actual nebula. I tried it once again Saturday night with the 20". Freshly cleaned mirror, meticulously collimated, nebula filters in hand, (I suppose it would have been better to put them on the EP's, er, uh), rock solid seeing, transparency an 8 of 10. No luck. But maybe it's me. I'm just sayin'... Here's a link that shows both: http://www.randybrewer.net/images/FSQ-Images/HorseHead.jpg
  7. There's an old saying re details on Venus: "If you think you see them, you don't". The composition of the atmosphere of Venus causes it to reflect light almost entirely in the ultraviolet. I can see, (and have) how you may think you see details, and a #47 violet filter may help, but I find it interesting that people here confirm what others may be imagining they see. I believe myself to be a very experienced and careful observer, and try as I might, I've never seen two things: the horsehead nebula and details on Venus, and I've tried through instruments ranging from small refractors to large, professional instruments of various configurations, including the 24" Clarke at Lowell and the .9 m SARA telescope on Kitt Peak. True, I didn't have a violet filter, but I doubt it'd make a difference. No offense intended.
  8. That's a great feeling, isn't it? I still get it every time I locate something new. If we were to observe together, you'd hear, "THERE you are!" virtually every time. Clear skies.
  9. ChrisEdu and lightbucket are correct-it would take thousands of years for the Earth to "freeze solid". The oceans would remain liquid for millions of years for reasons stated, just as Europa and Titan's oceans are believed to be liquid, even further from the Sun. Orbiting bodies do so because of their relative masses. The Sun influences the Moon's orbit about the Earth comparatively little. Currently, the Moon is moving away from us at about 2cm/yr. If "something bad" happened to the Sun, that rate may increse measurably, but not noticable. (We'd surely have bigger fish to fry!) I like to ask people what would happen if, hypothetically, the Sun turned into a black hole, suddenly. Their answer is, invariably, "We'd be sucked in!" Actually, practically nothing would happen, except it'd get very cold. This part falls directly onto this discussion. In darkness, we'd get very cold in weeks. Weather would go bonkers, practically no predicting what would happen. Weather satellites would die quickly, deprived of the solar energy for batteries. Fossil fuels would generate power and heat and so on for some time, but I'm fairly sure humans would expire in a few decades. (There was an interesting program on US public broadcasting about how the Earth would look if humans disappeared. I didn't get to see it, but hope to catch it sometime.) Anyway, life would continue for probably centuries, but we fragile humans would soon expire, imho. Good question!
  10. I think the coffee grinder noise of a slewing LX200 is rather a trademark, much like the "potato-potato-potato" rumble of a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Best of luck.
  11. Or, just sell it and buy a Celestron. There's a reason my wife calls hers "T-Rex".
  12. Just happened to observe Ngc 3628 in the 20" New Year's Eve, (actually, well into New Year's Day). Got all three in the 40mm EP, with tons of detail in M65 & 66, and a faint smudge across 3628. The 8.8mm SWA showed oodles of structure, but not the entire galaxy. The most pleasing view was in the 19mm SWA. Lovely! i like the way it's perpendicular to the nearly parallel M65 & 66. It was a great target at Grand Canyon last year, too. (The triplet, that is.)
  13. M79 is a bit smaller and denser than M56, but yes, they are fairly close in dark skies. This was one of the last Messier's I found first time through, so it can be tricky. I use the two central stars in Lepus as a guide. They point almost directly at M79, which is just about the same distance from the bottom one as the stars are from each other. Just a tad east, and there you are. In the C8, about 220x shows a nice dense core with a cloud of outlying stars. The 20" shows it resolved to the core at 350x and very complex, 3d type viewing. Go get it!
  14. Great report, Davo! Next time you're looking at Algeiba, swing straight east about 1/2 degree. There are two, very faint, interacting galaxies there. I've seen them in my C8 and now the 20". They should be pretty good in a 12". Good luck, and let us know how you do.
  15. The book I mentioned is Satellites Of The Outer Planets:Worlds In Their Own Right by David A. Rothery. ISBN 0-19-512555-X Published in 1999, it was state-of-the-art and I found it a great read.
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