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About scarp15

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Astronomy , cycling and hill walking
  • Location
    Newcastle Upon Tyne
  1. Variations on the California

    Thanks everyone, it holds its appeal due to gaining a high elevation, as Shane mentioned a night of dry air is required. I had been fortunate in my recent spate of dark sky trips due to breezy or light windy conditions. On Saturday there was also the rare luxury for not being concerned of incoming cloud, so could choose my time, later in the session to gain an observation. The temperature at least whilst I was out, did not plummet to the anticipated sub zero forecast either, but it was good to have my walking boots on. Yes give it a go Neil and if you do consider an 8" dob in the future, the filter will become yet more useful.
  2. Stephan's Quintet

    Very interesting thread, I have only attempted Stephens Quintet with my 14" dob and my short-coming was perhaps in not applying enough magnification. A good heads up to revisit NGC 7331 and to perhaps give this a go, as I have placed little emphasis for a dedicated attempt to observe this galaxy cluster. Therefore, in response to Gerry's suggestion, I would not really know how an 8" F6 in UK conditions would perform, I expect though that it would be challenging. You do have access to some of the best of UK skies David, perhaps it might be worth your while considering joining the dob mob next time they plan on venturing across to Elan Valley as and when Stephens Quintet is still prominent. As indicated by your approach to observing particularly challenging subjects, although the 200p is capable of a great deal, perhaps it requires to be complemented with a 12-14-16 or 18" dob at some point. Seeing difficult objects in a larger aperture scope enables you to go back to the smaller instrument and competently successfully observe. An aspect, I consider that at times can assist is to sit or perch in comfort on an adjustable observers chair. A final thought, probably a trip to Gerry's, the problem is there's a chance you may not want to come home.
  3. There are several designated locations mentioned on the dark sky discovery site Doug, that you may perhaps already be aware of such as Beacon Fell, Slaidburn visitors car parks. Follow the links. http://forestofbowland.com/Star-Gazing Advice such as the two posted contributions (near Dunsop bridge / Caton Moor Wind Farm) might be preferable for more remote locations. A good few years back I would occasionally go into the Forest / Trough of Bowland walking, running, I have family that live near Poulton close to the River Wyre, so can see the hills and often thought that on a visit I could maybe take a scope.
  4. I pulled up in the Northumberland National Park car park some way up the valley, I had last visited back in September, I leapt out of the car, clear sky, immaculate milky way overhead ...and wind, which was funnelling briskly. Just not feasible to set up here, I headed to a dependable spot twenty minutes back the way I'd come. This session was going to involve my 350mm dobsonian and 76mm refractor, which later in the evening when Perseus has climbed due South, apply them to observing the California nebula. To begin, I split Almach and drifted downwards towards Triangulum to pick up a nicely formed open cluster NGC 752, which seems to consist of some colourful carbon stars, to the east there is also a nice double star (59). Then to the Triangulum galaxy, M33 and the HII region NGC 604 clearly stated through a 13mm ethos. NGC 7662, the Blue Snowball was to follow, big, bright, very blue and took high power really well. Onward to NGC 1514, the Crystal Ball Nebula, I could not determine why it was problematic to locate, until when eventually I attached an OIII filter and became instantly revealed. I had forgot the diffuse fuzz around the central star, which was highly visible. Then up towards Perseus and attractive open cluster NGC 1528 , which took a bit of finding as I got confused for the correct star field. Drifting across slightly and NGC 1491, emission nebula, Fossil Footprint finally jumped into view, bright and shapely curved perhaps fossil like. Onwards towards Cassiopeia and then along to open cluster M52 before drifting downward slightly for the Bubble nebula, to which was fairly bright and distinguished. A core strength of a small rich field refractor can be the expansive and scintillating views gained through observing open clusters and I became absorbed in the high power, ultra wide field views such as M35 / NGC 2158 and drifting through the Auriga cluster regions. California Nebula Discovered by Edward Barnard in 1885, this large low surface brightness emission nebula is approximately 2.5 x 0.5 degrees in scale. The glow from the nebula is ionized by a bright bluish, hot star, Xi Persei. Often photographed it can be elusive and difficult visually. Dark transparent skies when Perseus has culminated, is the favoured time to gain an observation. Binoculars or a rich field refractor, low power, wide field eyepiece and H-beta filter(s) are considered as required, a UHC might do to. Larger aperture will however increase definition and can become quite exploratory. The California is an intriguing subject, that requires time, perhaps measured in yearly seasons, to get to know and I really enjoy exploring this region. It is also an effective H-beta subject, revealing an invisible object in the same way but considerably more subtle, that a good quality OIII filter will provide with the Veil. For this observation I was interested to see the gas cloud in its entirety and to complement this by gaining a more intimate exploratory observation. The eyepiece I would use was to be a 31mm Nagler, 5.30 degrees (more than enough), x15 power, 4.9mm exit pupil in the refractor and (with a paracorr) 1.38 degree, x59, 5.84mm exit pupil in the dobsonian. With an original Lumicon H-beta filter installed, the refractor got the first turn and sure enough, just above Menkib, the profile of the nebula could be seen poised at an angle. It was indeed faint and lacked distinction, yet easily wholly contained. A little later and it was the turn of the dobsonian, I immediately enjoyed drifting along its profile, billowing cloud formations quite apparent, definition was visible yet subtle and dim, quite satisfying. Metaphorical Analysis (in comparison with the Veil) The Veil - arresting, impressive, revealing, like a deep sea creature in crystal clear waters. The California - a large humpback whale, glimpsed gliding past in a dark sedimentary ocean. Continuing with the session, I compared M42 between the two scopes, enjoying the Trapezium at high power in the frac and the full spectrum drama of the nebula, at low power in the dob. The night completed with a look at a bright M78. One further note, I paid a little attention to the Jellyfish in Gemini, I struggled and strained last year when finally I got it, I think it may be the same this year.
  5. The session that almost wasn't

    Excellent and enjoyable report Neil, you convey clearly how potentially impressive, deep sky objects can be when observed from a dark site. Keep with the Rosette, its immense and dynamic, when it climbs higher the contrast will increase.
  6. Surely there must be a mistake.......

    Could be -5 in Northumberland tonight, balaclava needed.
  7. When my daughter was young, we went as a family to Kielder star camp, along with a friend and her dad. When the sky was clear they would take much interest in learning the constellations, the Spring, Summer star camps can be a stimulating adventure for children and the event weekends can be quite structured. Therefore where small children are concerned, the experience for being out under a dark sky attending a local astronomy event can be highly engaging. Then and now she had only fleeting interaction in looking through tripod mounted binoculars or a telescope, but she has grown to develop a strong interest for being in the great outdoors and an academic curiosity for understanding science.
  8. Surely there must be a mistake.......

    I know same here bright cold day, complete clear sky forecast throughout the night
  9. California Nebula using H.Beta filters

    Brilliant, Perseus and the California nebula will be on my objective list for tomorrow evening and reading your account for seeing the full extent, has prompted me to take my 76mm frac along.
  10. In response to Gerry's question, I have reflected on my history for buying Televue eyepieces, where just under 50% of purchases have been made S/H. Over the years discounts, by either a retailer or as a promotional period by Televue have made this a bit easier, perhaps less so presently with the weak pound against the dollar. Currently I have nine TV eyepieces and one Pentax XW.
  11. 3 clear nights!

    Nice report from the other night, good luck for Saturday. The Saturday forecast looks particularly good here N/E, with a full night potential for clear sky and sub zero temperature, transparency just might be excellent, will root out my winter salopettes and walking boots. Might be a new moon, this scenario for a Saturday, once in a blue moon.
  12. Any suggestions for targets?

    Perhaps open cluster NGC 752 in Andromeda S/W of Almach and brought to our attention by Nick in a report earlier this week.
  13. I have begun to become a little dependent on my satnav for finding places (such as commuting Newcastle to Sunderland) where by I need to get to for work, it removes some of the stress for navigating, yet what I have discovered is that I heed less attention to landmarks, route directions, as I gain in dependence on just the satnav. So on repeat visits, I may still just use the satnav and do not feel necessarily confident enough to just drive there (ridiculous). When I get to venture to a dark sky site, 50% of the reason for going, is to simply to gaze upwards and to try to visually reckon where particular targets may be located. In the past two years, this has not been made easier, as I now need to faff with reading glasses as well as my magnifier and dim red light straining to see my paper charts and prepared notes. Yet I would have it no other way, as I calculate an orthodox (or unorthodox) star hop in pursuit of locating an obscure object. Sometimes (well actually sometimes often) when approaching something new and particularly when overhead, I may need to keep going back to those charts, specs, magnifier etc for repeated comprehension and orientation. This process sharpens my aptitude in reading a small area of sky, scrutinising it yet further through the finder, telrad, finder eyepiece - and sometimes can be quite a slow procedure. When the target suddenly comes into view it is well, quite exciting the 'discovery' can be quite a moment. At the same time if unsuccessful (sometimes, sometimes often) it just requires, applying simple tools and methods, a little more consideration, attention and perhaps research. I think that, for as long as I am able to enjoy stargazing at dark sky locations, I just want to test my own sense of ability and adventure.
  14. 3 clear nights!

    Incredible, new moon and the forecast for here to presently is for three consecutive cold, clear sky evenings, almost hard to believe. Tonight looks particularly promising, it will be Friday or Saturday night before I can plan to hopefully get away for a dark sky trip and will most likely aim to continue where I had left off from last Saturday.
  15. Now I know...

    Good session and Stephenson's Quintet might be out of reach, but NGC 7331 a brighter member in that vicinity would be achievable.