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David Levi

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About David Levi

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    Star Forming

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    Cardiff
  1. Comically bad session 14/11/17

    Good for you @domstar. I'm not a fan of cloud dodging so I probably wouldn't even have gone out. M33 the Triangulum Galaxy is large but diffuse and I've only seen it well under dark skies i.e. no light pollution or moon.
  2. Now I know...

    Thanks for the info Damian @mapstar. I will look up those galaxy clusters. The Isle of Skye must be a superb place to stargaze. I hope you get some clear skies and I look forward to maybe reading some reports.
  3. Now I know...

    That's a good idea @Stu. I will definitely try to purchase some red acetate as I did like using Stellarium while observing.
  4. Now I know...

    Your SkySafari screen shots always look great @Stu Until last Sunday I had been in the habit of taking my computer with me. I have a 12V adapter for it that plugs into the battery that I use for my dew removal hairdryer. However, the last time I was under dark skies I thought that the screen was interfering with my dark adaptation vision even with Stellarium set to night mode (red). I will take the computer next time though as Stephan's Quintet obviously needs all the weaponry I can muster to get close to it. After finding accurately the right area of sky in which to look I can switch the screen off and get dark adapted again.
  5. Now I know...

    I didn't have my computer with me last Sunday night and don't own a smart phone so I was having to rely on the Pocket Sky Atlas. This meant that there were just so many stars visible compared to the few that were on the page that it was difficult to guess which of the star like objects was indeed Stephan's Quintet in order to focus in on them. Maybe I was being a bit defeatist, brought on by the already considerable first time effort it took to find the galaxy C 30. Thanks @jetstream and @Paul73 for the encouragement and advice about magnification. I will definitely have a go again the next time I go to a dark sky site - sooner rather than later hopefully.
  6. Now I know...

    Hi Iain @scarp15, I saw NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30) as my gateway object to not seeing Stephan's Quintet. It was a nice little galaxy to view. I was pleased to get there as with so many background stars on display it was difficult to star hop from the star Matar (η Pegasi) using the Pocket Sky Atlas.
  7. Now I know...

    Hi @domstar, I got a UHC filter quite quickly after starting with astronomy but I took almost a year then to buy the OIII filter. The UHC filter didn't impress me (probably why I then delayed buying the OIII filter) but the Astronomik OIII filter has already paid for itself with the enjoyment that it has given me. What I've learnt from this forum is that it matters which filter you buy. The Astronomik OIII filter is excellent but the SkyWatcher UHC is only average at best (in my opinion). Of course, dark skies matter.
  8. Now I know...

    ....what all the fuss is about. Last night I was up in the Brecon Beacons again taking advantage of the clear skies and last quarter late rising moon. When I was there two weeks ago, I failed to find the Helix Nebula in the constellation Aquarius. I had gone to it quite late in my session on that occasion and lost a battle to observe it with a tree low down in the south west. Tonight I went to it early, star hopping my way from Skat (δ Aqr) via 66/68 Aqr and finally υ Aqr from where it is very close. First I put in my UHC filter and at 59x magnification using my 17.3mm eyepiece a large circular cloudy object could be seen. It was still quite faint so I then tried my OIII filter and it brightened up considerably. Although, I still couldn't make out the central hole that Turn Left At Orion shows in it's sketch. What is all the fuss about? After this success and with the OIII filter still in the eyepiece I decided to have a look for the Veil Nebula. I had failed to see it from my back garden a few months ago. I was using Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas as my map and could easily see, naked eye, the star 52 Cyg which is on the edge of the Western Veil. Swinging the telescope to the star and lining it up in the finderscope I then took a look through the eyepiece. What a sight! I was completely blown away by it. Now I know what all the fuss is about. The nebula snaked it's way through 52 Cyg and beyond like a ribbon streamer thrown through the air, fanning out into a wide tail. Seen through the filter the nebula is really dense in places. It was thrilling to move the telescope's slow motion controls and ride along the stream from top to bottom. After taking in the view I was keen to try for the Eastern Veil. I moved back to ε Cyg and worked my way down the wing of the swan the short distance to where the Eastern Veil should be. A look through the eyepiece delivered another wow out loud moment. It was so long, arcing gracefully through the sky, dispersing into a wider nebula towards the bottom. I then spent probably the best part of half an hour switching between the two nebulae amazed at the sight. I tried to see Pickering's triangle but apart from my imagination I can't really say that I saw any defined shape of a nebula. I observed other targets last night, mainly galaxies. The usual suspects all looking magnificent under the dark skies. Nothing new apart from the galaxy C30, in a ridiculous attempt with my 8" telescope to see Stephan's Quintet. However, last night will live long in the memory as my first sight of the Veil Nebula in the same way that I remember my first view of the Orion Nebula. Fantastic!
  9. The Perfect Tonic

    That's a good report Neil. It's also good to know that I am not the only person who suffers from post dark sky motivation syndrome. The first session out in the back garden after a dark sky observing trip is always difficult. I look up and think that with so few stars on display it's hardly worth getting the telescope out but as you have reported you do get over it once you get to the eyepiece.
  10. Excellent report and great sketches. It's reports like that, that can cost people money - makes me think about getting a refractor!
  11. An icy night in Cumbria

    Fantastic report. Very evocative - I was there with you! Sounds like a fulfilling session.
  12. Ahhhhhh, that's better.

    Hi Alan @alan potts. That's Llangorse, towards the eastern side of the Beacons. There's a nice lake there where you can do various on water activities.
  13. Ahhhhhh, that's better.

    Hi Chris @chiltonstar. Yes, it was a great night for observing. I saw three shooting stars last night. They weren't as spectacular as the one that you saw and they all appeared to come and go on roughly the same trajectory. Northern Taurids seem to fit the bill for the ones that I saw.
  14. Ahhhhhh, that's better.

    Yes Alan @Astro Imp. I expect a few more reports to come. The weather has been frustrating. There must have been quite a few of us eager to get out under clear skies.
  15. Ahhhhhh, that's better.

    After about a month with no observing (the most barren period since I bought my telescope back in August 2016) the skies finally cleared and I got a brilliant session last night. Although, it probably seems much better due to the long wait to get out and look up at the heavens. No messing about in the back garden, I went to the Brecon Beacons and was rewarded with crystal clear skies, a wonderful Milkyway and thousands upon thousands of background stars. Even the first quarter moon, casting shadows, couldn't dampen my spirits and after it had set it was really dark. I started off with the planets Neptune and Uranus. Neptune is in the constellation Aquarius, convenient for finding purposes close to the 4th magnitude star Hydor (λ Aqr). Small and white it could be seen to not be a star. At 200x magnification the slightest amount of radius (?) could be perceived and it didn't twinkle. Uranus is currently in the constellation Pisces and can be found quite easily using Omicron Piscium as a starting point. I've seen it before and once seen it's not easily forgotten such that I could make it out in my 9 x 50 finderscope. At 200x magnification it was a pleasing disk, grey in colour. I observed both these planets about the same time last year and although they have travelled in their orbits, they are still passing through the same constellations. Not wishing to be disappointed after the excitement which grew as the week progressed when it seemed that we were going to get some clear skies, I set my target for satisfaction quite low. The main aim was to see M110, the companion galaxy to Andromeda. Despite the dark skies I still couldn't see the Andromeda Galaxy naked eye. Looking through the telescope at 59x magnification it was just stunning. The most detail that I have ever seen. I remembered my first disappointing view of the Andromeda Galaxy from my back garden a year ago and now I stared at it in awe. M32 was clear and then the satisfying moment of seeing M110. M110 is big compared to M32 and was so obvious last night. The centre is not as bright as M32 which is probably why you need dark skies to see it while M32 can be seen relatively easy. The three galaxies together providing me with one of my favourite views in my short astronomy career. Delighted at the view of the galaxies, I went in search of more faint objects that I had previously struggled to see. The Triangulum Galaxy, M33, was so obvious that I didn't even have to look at it's location in the atlas. I went to where I remembered that it should be and then looked through the 17.3mm eyepiece. Once again it was a wow moment. So big and bright. Next on to the Crab Nebula. Clear and big. Both these objects were mere shadows when I had seen them before. Only visible by moving the slow motion controls back and fore and looking at the contrast change. I also had a look at Bode's Nebulae, the galaxies M81 and M82 in the constellation Ursa Major. Both brilliantly clear and evoking wonder at the universe seen in the same field of view. I had a couple of failures. I couldn't see the Helix Nebula in the constellation Aquarius. I'm pretty sure that I was looking in the right place and I also tried my OIII and UHC filters with no luck. I also wanted to view the galaxies NGC 247 (constellation Cetus) and NGC 253 (Sculptor) but a tree got in the way before clouds rolled in about 1am. Before leaving I had my first view of the season of the Orion Nebula. Oh how I've missed it. What a sight! Fantastic! It was a constant battle against condensation throughout the observing session. First the secondary mirror, then the finderscope and finally the primary mirror. My 12V hairdryer (£12.54) and Phaze 4 in 1 Jump Starter (£40, a battery) worked brilliantly otherwise the session would have been over in a hour. Well worth the investment. I was buzzing travelling home and I am still smiling, remembering the session, this morning. I want more!
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