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About Size9Hex

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    Proto Star

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    Hampshire, UK
  1. Big skies before the storm

    Aye, sorry. I've been having a look at how far the sun dips even at 1am round here and I can see that even being a few degrees further north would be a huge difference at this time of year. It was a bit early in the year for Cygnus really, but I was hoping to see a bit more of Scorpio and Sagittarius (which were placed as good as they ever will be but didn't offer much through the light pollution).
  2. Last night was calm and warm after the heat of the day and nearly silent ahead of the approaching storm. From west through to south, the distant clouds exploded with lightening every couple of seconds, bright enough to reveal the fields of crops sweeping over the hillsides. Except for the armageddon low on the horizon, the whole sky was beautifully dark, clear and full of stars. Jupiter and Saturn wallowed slowly across the scene while I took it in. A faint shooting star. Then the more leisurely space station, usually an early evening sight, betraying that the sun never strays far below the northern horizon at this time of year. The Milky Way too, with its dark streamers and star clouds. The whole sky was bursting with energy. It was a spectacle to remember. Anyway, I was out with the low power wide field binos to see the Milky Way. Despite the not-quite-astro-darkness, M13 was naked eye. The Coma B cluster a charming sparkle. In Cygnus, I spent some time studying the star clouds and the dark nebulae that separate them. The dark funnel cloud, the northern coalsack, the rift and B144. This area was low in the sky but already looking good! Passing the faint splash of light (naked eye) of the Coathanger, the rift widened into Aquila and around Altair I caught a few glimpses of Barnard's E (binos) although to me the shape was indistinct. The Scutum star cloud was bright to the naked eye, with binos revealing a sharper edge as it stacked up against the dark B111. The Wild Duck cluster also in view in the bins. Further south, the small Sagittarius star cloud was also naked eye, despite the light dome in that direction. A glimpse of a more distant spiral arm across the galaxy. The binos pulled in the Swan, Triffid, Lagoon and Eagle. A couple of nice clusters popped out while trawling in Ophiuchus too. IC 4665 and NGC 6633. With such views and such freedom to swoosh around the sky, I didn't regret leaving the scope at home. A nice faff-free astro fix for when the nights are short!
  3. Supernova SN 2017 eaw in NGC 6946

    It's in the bag! Thanks once again for your great report and tips for identifying the supernova. Time and time again this forum has enabled me to see something truly unexpected and remarkable. To see the supernova at a similar brightness to the foreground stars despite being so much further away gives these events some perspective. What a sight it must be to any local residents in the Fireworks galaxy (although maybe they're used to these by now)!
  4. Supernova SN 2017 eaw in NGC 6946

    Thanks John. The skies are clearing, so maybe a chance to bag my first supernova tonight!
  5. powermate 2.5x

    Not exactly the kit you're asking about, but my ES 2x focal extender rarely leaves my case, as I prefer to just use a high power eyepiece. But sometimes it's the only tool for the job and on those occasions... In rare seeing when my highest power eyepiece still isn't enough, it has given me some of the best views I've ever had of Jupiter and the moon. Good for pulling faint moons out of the glare around the outer planets too. Surprisingly useful on DSOs too - it loves bright planetaries and galactic cores. Not too shabby on doubles either... So it has shown me things I would not have otherwise seen and I can't see myself parting with it despite the infrequent use.
  6. Jupiter tonight (7th May 2017)

    Thanks John, I'd not spotted that. Patchy cloud here, so fingers crossed. Hope you get a good view yourself. It'll be interesting to compare the two alongside each other.
  7. Nikon Action EX 7x50 CF Binoculars.

    Hi Merkhet. I'd also agree it might be worth mounting your existing pair if you've not tried already. I use a cheap camera tripod and it transforms my binos. That said, I've got the 7x35 Nikon Action EX. Nice binos for the money I'd say. I bought them primarily for their very large field of view for Milky Way scanning. Optically pretty nice, although there's a bit of pincushion distortion and lack of focus at the edge of the field. The field is so huge that there's still plenty of good quality view in the centre though! I'd hope/guess this would be significantly less obvious in the 7x50 with their reduced field of view. They are sturdy and well made but as such are fairly heavy - not much lighter than my 10x50s (different brand/model), and the 7x50s Nikons would be a fair bit heavier than my little pair. Despite the low mag, the 7x35 aren't as easy to use as I expected, due to the weight. Overall, I'm happy with them and looking forwards to reclining back later in the year for some good Milky Way views! Hope this helps!
  8. S/W 8 inch GOTO Dob.

    Mine is the solid tube version. I took out the primary and secondary mirrors and did the whole lot, plus the focuser tube and I also blackened the back/sides of the secondary. I can't say I noticed any difference when observing faint targets under dark skies, but the distracting flare around the moon and Jupiter were improved. It was a bit awkward to get the primary back into the tube, but other than that it wasn't too tricky. I've read other folks have just done the area opposite the focuser, but I figured if I was taking the secondary out anyway, I might as well get the whole thing done, plus it was a chance to chance to give the primary a careful clean.
  9. S/W 8 inch GOTO Dob.

    Nice one Alan. I've got the 10" SW dob and I know what you mean about flare around bright objects. After a few months, I flocked the tube and focuser tube which made for a worthwhile improvement on the moon and Jupiter.
  10. Observing the Milky Way

    Thanks @scarp15. Barnard's E has gone onto the list now and that book definitely merits a look. @jetstream I'm rather envious of your skies! Can't yet see the Milky Way from home when it's this low in the sky, although there's a whiff of it on the horizon when I'm out in the countryside. Your post brings to mind the (apocryphal?) stories of city dwellers on the west coast of the US calling 911 during a black out when they saw eerie silver clouds in the night sky!
  11. Observing the Milky Way

    Mine too! I spent a fair bit of time at the eyepiece last year searching for those elusive details in distant galaxies and not appreciating the great big and richly detailed one right in front of me! I'm going to try sketching it this year to help draw out those dusty details. I'm hoping to get a first glimpse a bit earlier here, maybe even before midsummer. It's not quite far enough south here for year round proper astro darkness, but it's not too far off. Even so, the far southern region was a juggling act last year between catching it at a reasonable altitude vs. catching it when it was actually dark enough.
  12. Observing the Milky Way

    Fingers crossed that the rural site works out. If you do get to mag 6, I think you'll notice a massive difference. I can see the Mlky Way at mag 5.5 as a band across the sky but the structure starts to pop in at the mag 6 site. Half a mag doesn't sound much but the diffference is very noticeable. Looking forwards to swapping notes when the time comes. I'll be going a bit lower power with a fairly wide 7x35 pair.
  13. Observing the Milky Way

    Thanks Iain! I'm without Flash, so can't view it but have done some further googling, finding a couple of non-Flash static versions and it looks absolutely stunning. By coincidence, I'm using a version of it (not sure if it's the full resolution version) in Sky Guide on iOS, but until now had no idea what it was. I almost completely stopped using Sky Guide when I got Sky Safari... but I kept hold of it because I seem to come back to it for one purpose - every time I'm trying to make sense of what I see in the Milky Way! The image really does show the beauty, complexity and general awesomeness of our biggest DSO.
  14. Observing the Milky Way

    Yeah, I think I'm beginning to realise. It's easy to compare the skies against better skies elsewhere, but around here we do have a good combination of reasonable darkness and clear weather. In terms of the darkness the one thing I'd add is that even a couple of miles from home, it gets an extra half a magnitude worth of darkness which is makes a massive difference. Always worth seeking out those relatively dark locations within ones local area!
  15. Observing the Milky Way

    With your talk of the Veil and NAN, I can almost taste the summer! Memories of frozen toes and finger tips are fading fast! Hope you get some good use with those binos. They sound just the ticket! I wonder what else you'd find up there with with a UHC at those low powers. So much of the area around Cygnus seems to glow red in the images, but not sure how it comes across (if at all) visually. Good point on the transparency. I've had some great views from a mag 6.2ish site with loads of chewy details, but a few nights later quite disappointing even though it still seemed really dark. From home, mag 5.5 at zenith but worse in the south, even the Cygnus region is faint. I'm lucky to have such skies I guess, but I wish it wasn't so washed out in the south. The rift is stunning, but really starts to fade as I follow it down into Aquila. A trip to the south coast may be in order!