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Everything posted by Size9Hex

  1. Great post. ? I rarely get the chance to see the nebula here, except at my dark site and even then needing good transparency. I’ve found low power works best - I’ve not see any hard edges to latch onto at high power and just find myself looking through it. Even binos showed it nicely on one occasion. The Pleiades is one object that I really really wish was closer to the images through the eyepiece.
  2. I started with binoculars and naked eye. It was a few months before I bought a scope. I think binocular observing is a terrific way to learn the constellations while working through a binocular observing list (e.g. see the Astromical League programs). I don’t think you need to learn all of them - just enough that there’s always a familiar landmark that you recognise not too far away. Identifying the pole star is key to orienting yourself.
  3. A nice social session under dark skies out of town. You bring the cocoa, I’ll bring the dob! My buddy was pretty new to stargazing so it was nice to just have a relax, chew the fat and simply enjoy some point-and-look famous landmarks. Far too cold and windy to have the star map out anyway! The absolute highlight was the Horsehead. 10" dob, 24mm ES82 and an H-beta. I *maybe* glimpsed it a couple of years ago with a UHC under the same dark skies... half a dozen fleeting glimpses across half an hour or so of scrutiny. This time, I lined up the scope early in the session and crikey! I was really grinning and returned to it many times during the session. My buddy described IC 434 accurately, and with a bit of talking through it, subsequently detected the dark scoop too. So to my surprise, I think in these conditions and with this kit, it wasn’t a tough catch. Didn’t need coaxing out. Didn’t need to put Alnitak out of the field. Didn’t need to confirm the suspected position against a star map. No doubting it at all. But on the other hand, I’ve looked for it on plenty of other occasions and it has been beyond invisible, so I would still consider it a tough one for sure. I think it was the combo of good dark skies plus an H-beta. One or other on their own hasn’t been enough even when the skies have been dark enough to show some spectacular features elsewhere like both dust lanes in M31 or the M33 bar and spiral or star forming regions in M101 (different sessions). It was the H-beta that made the difference in the end. Or maybe the cocoa. It also really surprised me was what a beautiful view it was too, which I hadn’t expected at all. When I’ve seen IC 434 previously, it has been ridiculously faint and I wasn’t really expecting much even if I was lucky enough to catch it. Also caught the Merope nebula and I think nebulosity around some of the other stars too, although we didn’t study it carefully. California was bright. M42 was awesome. The Running Man. The Flame. A dust lane in Andromeda. Plenty of bright open clusters too. Failed again to see the Flaming Star though. I’m pretty sure by now it’s just a hoax. The star map equivalent of the fake streets in the London A-Z! Not that I care too much about the Flaming Star. After seeing the HH I’m buzzing way more than I thought I would be! ? Hope everyone else had some good skies too and the chance to enjoy them. Good to see some other reports posted too! ?
  4. Thank you for the replies and advice. A few things I hadn’t thought of trying and didn’t realise might be significant. Will give it another go! ?
  5. I had a very brief chance last night to test out a new TS binoviewer in the SW 250PX. Good news on the focussing. The 2.6x GPC brought focus when I used the stock 1.25" eyepiece adapter that comes with the dob. Better still, the 1.6x brought focus when I removed the stock adapter and replaced it with a simple low profile 2 - 1.25" adapter from a star diagonal. I wasn’t sure whether this combo would work, but am delighted as it opens up the possibility of relatively low power viewing for nebulae. I started with a pair of 25mm stock Super MA eyepieces and could merge the images with no problem. When I switched to a pair of stock 10mm, I felt I was a long way from merging the images. I rather wish I had an in-between pair to test. Does this indicate unacceptable misalignment of the optics? Is it just a case of persisting until I can merge the image? Is a 10mm EP just too powerful for binoviewers? What length EP do other users stop at when binoviewing? Bit worried if I can’t use a 10mm (or at least something approaching that), then planetary/lunar high power isn’t going to work out. Checked out a handful of deep sky. Too short a session and too many variables to form opinion on the performance. That said, by the standards of my viewing site, M42/43 was superb (especially when noting that it was unfiltered) with terrific contrast which seems very promising. I’m really excited to test it further on large faint low contrast objects.
  6. I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying it from home before concluding the same thing. ? I think it’s a target which doesn’t stand up to much light pollution at all and unlike some objects it doesn’t seem you can bludgeon it with filters or aperture. My most memorable view of it was in 10x50 binos! Low power really helps with the Merope nebula.
  7. I’ve caught the Pleiades nebula a couple of times from a NELM 6.5 dark site, but at home (mag 5.5) I’ve never convinced myself it’s anything other than stray glow from the stars. The Merope nebula is the only one I’ve definitely ticked. It’s a large curved sweep of light to one side of Merope and quite different from the symmetrical glow of stray light.
  8. You mention the H400 list. I use Mark Bratton’s guide which I think seems about as definitive as it gets on the Herschel objects. For each object, it gives the photographic/blue magnitudes and the visual magnitude too if known. Galaxies largely drawn from here... http://leda.univ-lyon1.fr/ ... supported by SIMBAD which Jerry mentions above. Other DSO types are referenced from SIMBAD. I’ve found various differences against the Sky Safari magnitudes for the same objects. All that said, I ask myself if the precise number matters. With tongue in cheek, I find there are only two magnitudes - 1. Visible. 2. Impossible. - and the magnitude in the guide book / database doesn’t always correlate as you’d expect. The mag 12 galaxies aren’t always easy. The mag 14.5 objects will sometimes surprise you!
  9. I was too. Despite consistently seeing them I still doubted it because I didn’t think it should be possible. It was from the UK. Not sure on the seeing conditions of the sky itself on the night, and of course on any given night the airy disk on the big dob is often pretty messy while the airy disk in the frac is good to excellent, so you’d judge seeing differently depending on which you looked through. I seem to get good seeing in the big dob rarely, yet excellent seeing in the little frac quite often as judged by the airy disks. If I recall correctly, the frac picked out 2 craterlets, not easily mind. It’s common for the 10" dob to pick out 4. I’ve only once or twice had good enough seeing and the right lighting angle to start going beyond the big 4 or 5 craterlets in the dob. I was surprised the frac did so well, and as I say doubted it, but found myself on the following page which is a great guide and suggests 3" and upwards for starting to detect these features. I’d emphasise "detect" as per the article rather than "resolve" the craterlets. https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/34841-guide-to-plato-craterlets/ With the moon high in the sky over the next few months it’s the ideal chance! ?
  10. Loads! I’ve owned the ST102 and the 72ED and would take the 72ED 9 times out of 10. What it lacks in aperture against the 102, it gains in versatility. The 1 time in 10 I’d take the 102 would be for DSOs in very dark skies. From the top of my head, the 72ED has shown me - Granulation, faculae and plenty of sun spots on the Sun. Solar panels on the International Space Station. Craterlets in Plato on the moon. Shadow transits and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter The Cassini Division and coloured banding on Saturn. Double stars resolved inside the Dawes limit. The main dust lane in M31. Its a really capable telescope. I won’t pretend it’s not limited by aperture though. A well figured 4" ED would beat it of course. On bright targets (daytime, solar, lunar, planets) it’s easily seen at low power in the ST102. For double stars, I felt it had to be fainter than about mag 7 before the colours started looking right. For deep sky, I never noticed any false colour; It’s a terrific deep sky scope. Hope this helps!
  11. Thanks @AstroPhil looks pretty neat. Didn’t know about this one. Still trying to talk the boss round to the general idea of needing a new scope. She’s not yet convinced. The price of the WO might be a hard sell - and for me as well if I’m honest against the lighter and much less pricy Sky-Watcher. Although the Altair 125EDF has caught my eye too...
  12. Really useful post. Thank you. ? I’m not picturing a 120mm as grab and go in my house either. The 72mm on AZ5 just about ok to take out in a single trip. It’s a nice set up for observing, but for carrying, it’s an awkward top heavy shape, and not much clearance passing through doors. Wouldn’t fancy a 120mm as a single trip in my house, which was part of what got me thinking that a 150mm might not be much more hassle for set up (albeit heavier, pricier, etc) - the OTA and mount still being separate trips. That said I’m leaning towards a 120mm after all the replies here.
  13. Nice report. Sounds a great session. M101 is a tricky customer. Large but with a low surface brightness hence it gets washed out by light pollution without putting up much of a fight. Look for the brighter core. A dark site will help for sure and conditions need to be good to reveal the arms. With the 10" and mag 6 skies, I can just make out brighter star forming regions in the arms. It’s a target I’m keen to explore again! It’s also early in the season; Around April it will be a lot higher in the sky (for an evening session) which will make it prominent than if was closer to the horizon during your session. ???. Sterling effort! ? . That’s a good technique. Sometimes a little movement can help reveal something on the edge of perception as you’ve noted. On a given night, you might find yourself using this technique on a really tricky target, and getting maybe only a half a dozen of the briefest glimpses over 5 or 10 minutes. But as long as they’re consistent glimpses... ?
  14. I’d spotted what looks like an equivalent scope from Altair but wasn’t aware of the TS version. Looks awesome with some nice features, so interested in Louis’ question too. Low power binoviewing of nebulae especially looks a really nice feature. Much easier to see low contrast differences with two eyes than one.
  15. Thanks @GavStar. I may need to show that photo to the boss. “At least I’m not asking for this many!” ?
  16. Thanks John. That’s really helpful. Seeing those two scopes side by side is quite telling, as is your comment about looking for a different design. All replies so far have been super helpful and I can start to see which way I’m leaning. The 150mm in your photo, well, if it was dual mounted with my 72mm pointed up at zenith, one eyepiece would be on the ground and the other up in the sky! Borderline whether I could reach any slow-no controls on the mount too! ?
  17. Thanks Gav, it’s nice to hear a view that’s a bit more pro big scope (not to suggest any right or wrong views on it). If I may ask, what would you pick if you could only have one in the 130/160mm space?
  18. Funnily enough, I taken a similar route. My first frac was an ST102 (which I’m going to sell if I upgrade as per this thread), then dropped down to a 72mm ED which I felt was more versatile (especially under suburban skies) if less powerful. Like the sound of your set up.
  19. Thank you Mike. Terrific reply and very helpful towards the decision.
  20. Thanks Stu, useful comments. You mention dark sites. When I consider the 150mm, it’s hard to picture it ever going to a dark site, whereas the 120mm probably would.
  21. Agreed. This is a great forum. Huge thanks to everyone who’s replied so far and added their knowledge and experience. Really appreciate it.
  22. That may be well be the quote that decisively steers this one...! ?
  23. Thanks, it definitely does helps (as do all replies so far). That heavy duty mount you mention is something I’ve thought of. Looking at the weight of the 150mm and mount, it’s a case of setting everything up and there it stays, which is maybe ok, but a 120mm could be set up then moved across the garden on the spur of the moment when Jupiter of whatever appears from behind a hedge.
  24. Thanks Charl, that’s really useful feedback that the 150s have come and then gone. I guess not worth it despite the extra horsepower.
  25. Thanks Peter, that’s a really useful suggestion. I didn’t say above, but one use would be solar white light, but I did wonder if a smaller frac with a larger mak would be a good combo, and then I realised I was getting ahead of myself already planning scope n+2 ?. Food for thought though.
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