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harrym

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About harrym

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  1. Saw this tonight with the 12" refractor in Cambridge. It's quite tough and is definitely nowhere near the mag 13.2 or 13.6 that has been claimed - it's probably 14.5 if that, and the fact that it's not against a completely dark background doesn't help.
  2. Last night was the first good chance for me to observe with the 12" refractor since I got back to Cambridge a couple of weeks ago. The forecasts didn't all agree that it would be clear, but after 8pm the clouds dissipated so I decided to give it a go. First I had a look at M57, because why not? Then the clouds came in. 45 minutes later they unexpectedly disappeared, and didn't come back. Here are the objects I observed: NGCs 6802 in Vulpecula, 7128 in Cygnus and 7296 in Lacerta - all open clusters small enough to fit in the FOV. None of these seemed particularly interesting so I probably won't be going back to them. Neptune - this is when I realised the conditions weren't great, as the disk wasn't perfectly sharp and there was no sign of Triton even at 400x (doesn't help that there's lots of light pollution in the south). NGCs 7606, 7723 and 7727 in Aquarius and NGC 157 in Cetus. These were all visible but looked washed out by the light pollution I mentioned above, whatever magnification I used. These deserve another look if I ever get to a dark site. NGC 7331 and its companions: I'd never properly looked for these before, though I had spotted NGC 7335 last year while looking at 7331 on the way to Stephan's Quintet. 7335 was pretty easy this time, and 7337 and 7340 soon popped into view. 7337 looked to have quite a concentrated nucleus though it turns out this is partly due to a mag 14 star very close to it. 7336 was the hardest of the four companions, and it took a while to see with averted vision. NGC 147 and NGC 185, the two companions of M31 in Cassiopeia. These were almost directly overhead, so I had to lie on a cushion to observe them! Using a magnification of 215x was a mistake, as both have low surface brightness - 147 especially so - but I managed to see them and I wanted to move on so I didn't try lowering the magnification. M33 - I wanted to see some of the fainter nebulae, which I remember reading about in a thread here. NGC 604 was obvious as usual. To my surprise NGC 592 and NGC 588 appeared as tiny but obvious faint fuzzy patches at 107x. NGC 595, closer in to the nucleus, required 215x to separate from the background glow. Uranus - after the poor view of Neptune earlier, I wasn't expecting much. This time I did manage to see one moon: Oberon occasionally revealed itself at magnifications of 300x and 400x. However, there was no sign of any of the other moons, which were all closer to the planet. J014709+463037, the quadruply gravitationally lensed quasar in Andromeda, which I pointed out in a thread here a couple of months ago. It seemed to have brightened appreciably since I saw it in August - I estimated it as around magnitude 14.8, up from around 15.2. Unfortunately it wasn't any easier to see this time because of the poor observing conditions. By now it was 1:30am and I wanted some sleep so I packed up. On the way back I could see there was a bit of mist, so no wonder the observing conditions weren't great. Given that I was pretty pleased with what I did manage to see. Tonight we're planning to hold an observing night for the new freshers, so let's hope it's clear...
  3. Just saw this quasar again. The conditions weren't nearly as good as last time, but I think it's a bit brighter now than it was in August. Back then it was fainter than the star I marked "14.9?" on my chart which I posted earlier in the thread, and I estimated it was around magnitude 15.2, but this time it was the same brightness as the 14.9? star or maybe even a little brighter - perhaps 14.8. Now's the time to give it a go before it gets fainter again!
  4. Its closest approach was yesterday, and it didn't get brighter than 19th magnitude so I doubt anyone saw it.
  5. Get a red torch - red light doesn't harm your dark adaptation much, but it will allow you to read the book. If I were you I'd get an adjustable one, as you'll probably want a brighter light at home than at a dark site.
  6. That is correct, but only because no-one even knew it existed before the photographic era - it was discovered photographically! P.S. Never even tried the Horsehead - don't have a Hb filter so there isn't really any point.
  7. Quasars are often variable so it could change brightness, yes. But as it's only recently been discovered we don't know anything about its light curve. It seems to have been recorded as a magnitude 14.9 'star' in some catalog (can't remember which one), whereas combining the magnitudes from the initial paper suggested 14.5, and visually it seemed more like 15.2. As these measurements were all at different times I guess this could be a sign of its variability?
  8. This discussion of not being able to fit objects into the FOV reminded me of Stephen O'Meara's story about observing M57 with the 42" scope at Pic du Midi. Apparently he put in an eyepiece that gave 1200x magnification and was surprised to only see two stars and no nebula. Then he realised the FOV was entirely inside the ring! Minimum magnification = aperture / fully dilated pupil diameter if I've got my sums right.
  9. Thanks for the tips John! Didn't realise the Pup was visible with such a small scope. I've never actually tried it myself, but we have two big refractors and a few orthos in Cambridge so I'll definitely try and give it a go this winter.
  10. Inverting and reverting always gives an image that isn't reflected, but the angle of rotation depends on the positions of the mirrors/prisms relative to the direction you're viewing from. For example, a vertical Porro prism appears to rotate the image 180° (and reverses the direction of the light), but a horizontal Porro prism doesn't appear to rotate the image at all. This is highly counterintuitive but it seems to be correct. See the image below, and always imagine you're viewing the light coming towards you.
  11. Has to be an even number for the same reason I mentioned before. You could do the Porro prism effect with 4 mirrors I think? (Edit: but this might cause distortions...) Does anyone know how those 45 degree image erecting diagonals work?
  12. I think it's to do with even/odd numbers of mirrors. In the Newtonian there are two mirrors and each mirror flips the image once, so the image you see isn't flipped (though it is rotated 180°). However, a refractor with a diagonal has just one mirror (in the diagonal) and a catadioptric with a diagonal has three, so the image is flipped.
  13. Thanks - this is Type II so it should hang around for a while. Will have to give it a go with the 12" when I get back to Cambridge in a couple of weeks.
  14. Don't you mean NGC 457 - I think 147 is a galaxy?
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