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Everything posted by Littleguy80

  1. Thanks Paz. I’m normally pretty good about getting out but work has been super busy lately. I’ve only had my little frac since May but it’s been fab for getting out for quick sessions.
  2. Thanks Iain. I’m very pleased to have good results from a budget EP. Very much looking forward to getting it under dark skies. Those star fields should be even more impressive. I also plan to try it with an H-Beta on the California Nebula
  3. Since starting this thread, each of these eyepieces has become available secondhand. The Panatopic sold for £300 and was too expensive for me. The Vixen LVW went at a bargain price of £100 and I was simply beaten to it by another lucky member. This week, I picked up a 40mm Aero for a total price of £49. I was encouraged by Michael and John's words of praise for this eyepiece. It arrived today and skies were clear so it got a quick first light run out. Report here for those that are interested:
  4. Weather and tiredness have pushed astronomy to the side for me recently. The last two nights I put the dob outside to cool and was then too tired to do any observing. The arrival of a new eyepiece today gave me the extra little push I needed. I've been looking for something in 40mm focal length region and decided to go for a 40mm Aero, which came up secondhand this week for a shade under £50. With my Equinox 80 refractor it gives 12.5x magnification and a huge 5.4 degrees TFOV. My skies at home are around 5 - 5.5 NELM so I wasn't too sure how well the 6.4mm exit pupil was going to work. I started in Cassiopeia, using the red dot finder to align on Ruchbah. The hazy glow of NGC663 was immediately obvious and I soon realised that I had a clear view of M103 too. I have 10x50 binoculars and the views were not dissimilar. It was much nicer with the steady view through the refractor and without my arms getting tired from holding the binoculars. Panning over, I next found the delightful NGC457. From there I went to the double cluster in Perseus. Whilst the lower power widefield lost much of the detail I'm used to in the dob, it added so much context to the view. I really enjoyed seeing the way these clusters fitted in the wider star fields. Nothing exemplified this better than Kemble's Cascade. The fine chain of stairs sparkling all the way down to the tiny cluster, NGC1502. Open clusters were a winner but what about galaxies? Andromeda was the obvious first choice and the bright core showed well. With some careful study and verification with SkySafari, I also picked up M32. I looked for M110 but I didn't see anything definite for this. I felt very confident that this would show well at my dark site though. Over to Ursa Major and the pairing of M81 and M82. Bode's showed quite well straight away but the Cigar took more patience. Averted vision was able to bring out the side on galaxy. The Moon was rising so I looked for areas of the sky that weren't yet showing signs of Moon glow. In Lyra, I place Sheliak and Sulafat in the centre of the eyepiece. I thought I was pushing my luck trying for M57 but there was a distinctly fuzzy looking star in the right place. SkySafari was again used to confirm the observation. The Ring became the first planetary nebula of the night. I screwed in the Lumicon OIII filter and moved over to Cygnus. The faint Eastern Veil was the first thing to catch my eye, soon followed by the Western Veil. Both faint but clear with direct vision, comfortably sitting in the same field of view. The North American Nebula, required a bit of time to become clear. Over the course of 5 minutes it noticeably gained in prominence as my eyes adapted to the view. I took a punt at moving over to the Crescent nebula. A nebulous glow grabbed my attention straight away. SkySafari proving that my eye had successfully detected the nebula. With the OIII filter now removed, I gave a little chuckle of delight as I looked upon the pinpoint stars of M29. There was something so lovely about recognising the little cluster. The larger cluster of M39 was like an arrow head within the larger star field of the Milky Way. Albireo was quite a close double star at 12.5x mag and every bit as pretty. The coathanger hung in the sky and made a fun diversion on the way to finding M27. The dumbbell was easy to spot. My evening drew to a close with an averted vision observation of M71. It was fun to be eeking out views of these bright Messiers at low power. Normally easy targets made challenging. All in all, I'm very please with the 40mm Aero. It's a great pairing with my refractor and really opened up the skies for some fun and engaging observing. 21 objects observed in just under an hour. If I'd lost any enthusiasm for stargazing these past couple of weeks then it's now been fully restored!
  5. Brilliant report and sketches, Nick. Lots to look forward to this winter
  6. Absolutely, it’s the challenge. I’ve only ever had manual mounts. Finding targets was a real struggle in those early months. On more than one occasion I punched the air in excitement at finally finding a target. It took me 3 sessions to find the Beehive! I can find most things quite easily now. The challenge is to go fainter. Love this hobby
  7. Thanks Damian. I think that’s why I described it as not being a satisfactory. I’m confident I glimpsed but it wasn’t a strong observation. I still felt excited to have seen something are so many failed attempts. The 10” gives nice views of NGC891. I’m planning on giving that a good amount of attention this winter. It must be stunning with the 22”.
  8. I was able to observe the Merope nebula last night from my local dark site. I used an ES82 30mm which gives an exit pupil of 6.3mm with my 10” dob. The edge of the Merope nebula which runs parallel to the string of bright stars is the easiest to follow I find. Looking slowly from Merope to Alcyone the change in contrast as you go from the reflection nebula to black(ish) sky is normally quite noticeable. At least with a bit of practise!
  9. Littleguy80

    Mayall II

    I just wanted to follow this up to say that I managed to observe this tonight from my dark site. It was quite tricky. I actually used your sketch as a means of confirming that I’d found it! It’s surprising how far from the core of Andromeda this is. This was the highlight of my session tonight so thank you once again for posting your excellent report and sketch
  10. Excellent report, Dom. Barnard’s galaxy is a tough one. I’ve only managed it once and it was more like a faint nebula than a galaxy. From memory, I observed with my 20mm (4.3mm exit pupil) and 13mm (2.8mm exit pupil). I believe the darkened background with the 13mm helped.
  11. I’m observing the comet a little earlier this evening and without full dark adaption. However, it’s still a comfortable spot in the 20mm. If you manage to observe this tonight , be sure to checkout the nearby galaxy NGC 7814.
  12. Exciting times, Mark. I was out testing a Vixen HR 3.4mm last night. Not on the comet I should add. I’m sure the Ethos will give great results
  13. Observed the comet again this evening. It’s brightened noticeably since Saturday night. I could see it comfortably with the 20mm APM HDC. Views improved further with the 9mm Lunt XWA. Well worth a look if you have clear skies.
  14. I feel like Rodney from Only Fools and Horses
  15. Excellent report! Thanks for sharing. The 41 Pan sounds like a good match for short refractors.
  16. I think you’re right. It took me a really long time to get the F star in trapezium too. I haven’t thought about an EQ platform. Part of the reason for starting with the Lunt was the larger FOV, giving me more time to try and spot Triton on each pass. Something else to investigate
  17. Thanks Bob. It’s proved really challenging but that’s part of the fun. NGC891 is a great target. It was always fainter than I thought it would be.
  18. Thanks Stu. I haven’t done a huge amount of double star observing. I found myself wondering whether more practise with doubles would have made Triton an easier spot. Maybe observing point sources is a different skill to observing galaxies a as nd nebula?
  19. Thank you, Chris. I think you’re right about conditions. John made a similar comment on another thread.
  20. Thank you, Stephan. I came indoors and wrote the report straight away while it was fresh in my memory to capture the detail. You did very well with NGC891. I’ve seen it from my dark site which is well over 21 SQM on a good night. It’s really faint there. I’m always trying to get a good view of it’s famous dark lane.
  21. Thank you. Something about Triton captured my imagination and I was determined to see it All it takes is a good mount and a lot of practise. A tracking mount would make it a lot easier but where’s the fun in that
  22. I've just come inside from an hour and forty five minutes of observing and have but three observations to show it. The small number of observations does not tell the whole story though. I started observing around 22:20. I'd been wearing an eyepatch over my observing eye for around 15 minutes before going out to give me a jump start on dark adaption. The first observation of the evening was Comet C/2018 W2 (Africano). I'd observed this a couple of times from my local dark site when it had been very faint, just showing with averted vision. This evening it was placed next to a pair of stars that were close to Delta Andromeda. My 9mm Lunt XWA showed a fairly diffuse comet but visible even in direct vision. An excellent start. Starting from Gamma Psc, I star hopped my way down to Neptune. My goal was to observe Neptune's moon Triton. I have tried and failed to see Triton more times than I care to remember. Earlier, this very week, I'd spent over an hour trying all kinds of eyepiece and barlow combination in the hope of getting just a glimpse of the faint moon. I'd regrouped for this evening's attempt with a fresh plan. I'd use my 9mm Lunt XWA and the Baader VIP Barlow in 2" mode with three T2 15mm spacers. If my calculations were correct that gave me a multiplier of 2.64. The Lunt would be giving 352x magnification and TFOV of 0.28 degrees. I had decided to try and keep to this combination rather changing eyepieces a lot. Well after 20 mins or so of watching the pale blue disc slide through the eyepiece with no luck, I decided to change the plan. My 9mm BGO has always given better contrast and sharpness than the Lunt so I screwed in a 2-1.25" adapter and started to use the ortho. The TFOV was now halved to only 0.11 degrees. My 10" dob is only manual so this did make tracking a bit more challenging. Time moved on and still no sign of Triton. I decided to throw some more magnification at it. The 9mm BGO was replaced with a 6mm. Things were getting serious now, 528x mag and down to 0.08 degrees TFOV. A few more passes and nothing. I decided to target a specific point above the planet rather than moving my eye around in search of the correct position. On the next pass a dim glow above and to the left of Neptune. My heart quickened. Two more passes and nothing. Then on the third came the same dim glow. It was farther away from Neptune that I'd expected. I set SkySafari up to show the FOV based on my eyepiece/barlow combination. The position of the glow looked good for Triton's position. Once again a few more passes with nothing and then the glow was found again in the same spot. I popped the 5mm BGO, 634x magnification. Tracking was tricky and I couldn't see the glow. I dropped back down to the 7mm Meade RGO, a mere 453x, on adjusting focus a clearer view came through and then more passes with nothing again. My eyes felt tired now so I stopped and just looked up for a couple of minutes. On returning to Neptune, the pattern of seeing nothing and then every few passes catching a dim glow above the ice giant continued. After awhile the glow was lost completely. Looking up showed that hazy cloud was now passing over and the rising Moon was starting to make its presence felt too. I returned to Comet Africano but it was now hidden by the thin cloud and Moon glow. Time to call it a night. Did I see Trition? Not in any satisfactory way but it's the first time that I really felt like it was there. This observation felt like a range finder. I've found the right combination of equipment and know what to expect. With darker skies, I'm sure my views of Triton can be greatly improve upon.
  23. I actually find that quite reassuring. I spent over an hour trying to see it one night this week. Tried lots of different eyepieces plus some with the Baader VIP and no joy. Titan is becoming a nemesis for me. I’ll keep trying though!
  24. Thank you. I have similar plans to use narrowband filters to hunt for nebulae. Look forward to hearing your impressions for the Panoptic
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