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Ships and Stars

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Ships and Stars last won the day on February 18

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About Ships and Stars

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    Proto Star

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    NE Scotland
  1. Trendsetter! Be sure and wear sandals too. You could look like a cast member from John Carpenter's 'The Thing' for just £15.99! Seriously, it doesn't look bad once you've put a coat on. Blends in. Er, mostly. Certainly block out stray light effectively and is warm.
  2. I picked one of these US Military Extreme Cold Weather Snorkel Hood from ebay for £15.99 and had a chance to try it last night. Brilliant! Blocks out all stray light at the EP and is very warm. Great for binoculars too. Looks a bit silly on it's own, but much better once you've put your coat on - it's dark who cares, right? Actually fits quite snugly like a hat, not like some giant hoods on outdoor parkas made to be work over climbing helmets, etc. New, unused stock but been in storage so has that 'been in storage' surplus smell but clean. Built like a brick as you'd expect of mil-spec gear. fleece lined, waterproof. Fits any coat, straps go under arms. Front zip, fake fur can be flipped back and hood flips down like any normal parka. I used this with my dob and binos under some LP and it does an outstanding job at blocking out virtually all stray light. The hood can be shaped to fit around EPs or bins. I was tempted to buy the rest of the remaining stock and flog them myself. Thought I'd let people know
  3. Clear out tonight, last night probably for awhile according to Met Office. I told my wife I was going to quickly pop out back with the binoculars. Since I'm already running on very little sleep from last night's observing session, my addled brain accidentally set up the 300p instead . I've been in a galaxy mood lately, so after flying full throttle through a number of them last night, I settled in my observing chair and was more methodical tonight. In Leo I had good luck tonight, many were on the limit of detection under some nearby but indirect LP but at least the wind died down. Going by what is listed in the S&T Pocket Atlas, I observed NGC 3190, 3193, 3507, 3646, 3626, 3608, 3607, 3655, 3681, 3684, 3686, 3596, 3628, 3593, M65, M66, M95, M96, M105, NGC3384, 3367, 3412, 3377 and 3338. I didn't get 3329, 3326, 3327. The last two are right next to Algieba and presume the starlight washed those out. 3329 is on its own, I need to spend more time hunting that down. After than I couldn't resist a quick peek at Markarian's Chain again. Observed seven in there, plus a decent number of the other galaxies immediately surrounding them over to M60 (I think). Still, to tick these off I'll need to spend at least a few nights and carefully notes which ones are which - not an easy task I'm finding, but a fun one. In all a really good night from home and great time of year for galaxy hunting. Not a great deal of detail in the galaxies tonight apart from some of the larger Messier objects, but worth the effort I think. PS I did use binoculars for a bit, so not a complete liar eh?
  4. Thanks Stephan! I thought I'd created a new asterism but suspected someone had likely beaten me to it, probably a very, very long time ago. I've just read both links on the flying minnow, very interesting and these are perfect for binoculars. Thanks again.
  5. Actually yes, that has to be it. We were thinking Spider and Fly earlier based on my very brief description, but now I see this, it fits. I was using binoculars at the end of the night when local LP had dropped for miles and probably looked right past S&F. Didn't realise it was possible to see any Sharpless objects through binoculars? Is this your image? Excellent!
  6. My 'first light' post was fairly uninspiring, think I said something profound like 'stars of all magnitudes were visible'. That was the first time I'd ever looked through a reflector and only had a 60mm refractor for a few weeks as a child before it broke. I was amazed that such a simple design using only two mirrors could produce such an image, let alone a sharp one. I didn't know enough objects in the sky at the time to even use a finderscope, think that was March or April last year. Never even tried the goto until August (the infamous midge attack/observing session in the Highlands)...
  7. Thanks Paul! The dob is a SW Stargate 500p with goto. I was only able to get my grubby paws on it because I was working lots of extra hours at the time (last March) and it came up for sale unused as the original owner could not use it due to health. It's transportable for a night out, but requires a small van ideally. In all, it's around 75-80kg I'd guess, but the two heaviest parts are around 32-35kg each. Not too hard to set up if you've done it a few times. I don't have to use a ladder, just an 8-10" step lets me view comfortably at zenith. A great scope.
  8. Thanks Charles, to me the Crab is usually just a relatively faint 'puff' even in a decent sized scope, but was showing quite strong last night. I tried to tease some detail out of it but the windy conditions prevented perfectly still views. I didn't know about the pulsar? I'll definitely look for that next time.
  9. Hi all, Not the most detailed report, but a fairly incredible whirlwind (er...literally), non-stop session last night from 9pm to 3:30am. I've cut and pasted some of this as I'm dog-tired and owe my wife for putting the kids to bed last night, so computer time is limited at the moment. Really went for it last night, was very clear here in the NE of Scotland. Set up the 20" dob at 9pm on a hilltop at my dark sky 'B' spot, around 450m @21.80SQM. It takes a bit of work to load and set this big scope up, but to me, the views from a dark site are worth every calorie used to get it there! And some people buy a gym membership instead... GOTO was working a treat, took extra care on the levelling, alignment and centring alignment stars carefully to eyepiece - used an 8mm plossl to centre, seems to make a big difference over my typical semi-sloppy 'that'll do' alignment with a wide angle EP. Don't even know where to start with the observations... Caught B33/IC434 Horsehead early to test seeing/transparency, it was immediately and directly visible with the 17.5mm Morpheus and Hb before my eyes even fully dark adapted. A good sign and the more you see the HH, the easier it gets when the conditions agree. I've even caught it with my 300p from this site. Then up to Flame Nebula, down to M42, and in no particular order, Heart and Soul, lots of dispersed nebulosity here. Then Auriga with IC405, IC410 on each side of the 'Auriga Ladder' (see pic below), a quick label I came up with a few days ago for the double row of stars that separate IC410 and 405 - by the way, the 'ladder' was easily visible with the naked eye last night. (update - this asterism already is officially known by some as the 'flying minnow') Surprisingly, I also noted a very bright nebulous circular patch about the same size as IC410 a fair bit north of these but still in Auriga. I was still trying to figure out that one until this morning. The first answer based on my very brief description: Spider and Fly - thanks Gerry! The other probable and more likely contender Stephan mentioned is SH2-232, don't think many of the Sharpless catalogue objects are normally visible with binoculars, but using filters on good bins under dark skies seems to work here. Viewed these with both the scope and binoculars using OIII & Hb, my preferred bino filter choices. The widefield view through the binos was especially good. Excellent view of California Nebula with the 15x70s Apollos and Hb/OIII combo, first time I've seen it so clearly though the binoculars. This would be one for mounting the bins on a tripod and spending some time. I think you would need both filters on binoculars to see it, it's amazing how the brain combines the two different levels of brightness and contrast and picks the best of both. Back to the dob and M38, M36, NGC1907, NGC1893, M1 Crab Nebula, Pleiades, Double Cluster, Hind's Variable Nebula (amazing, looks like a comet, first view of that one), IC2162 (was going for Lower's Nebula, but got sidetracked - is Lower's Hb filter or OIII anyone?), IC 443 Jellyfish (very nice, a first on that). Some favs revisited - M108 Surfboard Galaxy, Owl PN. Then there was the Rosette... First time I've seen the Rosette, yes, first time. Holy smokes, sort of like a condensed version of the Veil, but seemed even brighter. Just stunning! And the circularity, just amazing. Going back to that one soon I hope. Went into the Caldwell Catalogue a bit more Cave Nebula, got all sorts with that one, seems very complex. Crescent Nebula, Eskimo PN (excellent), C59/NGC 3242 Ghost of Jupiter PN, just brilliant, very low on horizon. Cat's Eye nebula. I think that's it, left my sheet in the van! Then the galaxies... good grief. Just kept the 21 Ethos in the focuser to take it all in. Leo Triplet, Leo Quartet, over to M95, 96, 105 and the NGCs immediately to the north and then, over to Markarian's Chain and environs, first time there, another holy smokes moments with some audible gasping. I lost count at this point and was literally talking out loud to myself. Kind of like Bill Murray in Caddyshack if he was an amateur astronomer. Dozens of galaxies and I didn't even sweep the whole area. Head was spinning. Bright ones, faint ones, very faint ones showing just a slight whisper, side on, flat, you name it. Galaxies everywhere. Just mind-blowing. I certainly saw a lot of objects due to the GOTO. I know it's not a race, but the reason I didn't spend more time on each one was the wind. The vibrations from the gusts frequently made very detailed higher mag observations impossible. It was gusting steadily past 30mph for most of the night and was about -2C I reckon without windchill, so I would take in a few objects, hop in the van for a sip of coffee, pick some more from my list, and hop back out... I left the light shroud off the truss dob all night just to reduce windage, I simply wouldn't have been able to view with it on even with the van acting as a windblock, and there was always a chance it would pull the scope over. Wind was picking up considerably by this point and the scope was vibrating way to much to concentrate on anything in great detail, so I called it a night... My top 5 to revisit from last night: 1.) Markarian's Chain 2.) Rosette Nebula 3.) Hind's Variable Nebula 4.) Spider and Fly 5.) California Nebula Scratch that, I'd like to see them all again... PS I find using binoculars, especially with filters, under dark conditions complements the big dob and offers a lot of bang for the buck, as they say. You can take in some amazing widefield views, and the way the brain combines the same image using different filters for each eye is very interesting. Anyway, I'm beat! Thanks to everyone who has suggested DSOs by the way and advice on EPs and technique here on SGL, I'd be lost without. Good luck and happy observing all
  10. Thanks all - I'll post a more detailed report on the observing reports thread. It's 21.78-80SQM apparently, but at some elevation which helps. There is substantial LP miles to the east, but the council seems to turn off most of the lights at 11pm or midnight - never noticed that before, makes a big difference! I use Astronomik filters, they aren't cheap but do come up second-hand. I've OIII, UHC and Hb in 1.25" and only an OIII in 2" (those are especially pricey, but not compared to imaging filters I suppose). When I viewed the California Nebula, I had OIII on one bino EP and Hb on the other side - I alternated between eyes to see what the differences were - the Hb was really dark, couldn't make out much just with that, in contrast, the OIII was a bit too bright and lacked contrast. When using both eyes, the brain combines the two different levels beautifully, sort of like human HDR imaging. I'm very happy with the Apollos now! Would love to have a larger pair and an AZ4 tripod. An excellent night with a big scope and nice binos under some dark skies. The GOTO was a big help, I literally scrolled down the list of Caldwells on my red-filtered phone and just punched in numbers and voila! Takes a bit to set up, but once the 20" is firing on all cylinders, it's a blast Still like star-hopping with the Telrad on the 300p, can be viewing in minutes, but there was no way I would have been able to manually find all of those last night in the time I had. PS sorry if I didn't catch everyone in this quote! Quite a few replies for this sleep-deprived brain, haha. Clear again tonight... will see if I have the steam.
  11. Good stuff! Dark skies make all the difference!
  12. Thanks Gerry! I was hoping someone would be able to give an ID on that one. I'm beat but it was worth it. Good times!
  13. Just returned from an incredible observing session despite the wind. Really went for it tonight. Very clear in the NE of Scotland. Set up the 20" dob at 9pm on a hilltop at my dark sky B spot, around 450m @21.80SQM. GOTO was working a treat tonight, took extra care on the levelling, alignment and centring alignment stars carefully to eyepiece. Don't even know where to start. B33/IC434 Horsehead, directly visible with 17.5mm Morpheus and Hb before my eyes even fully dark adapted. Then up to Flame Nebula, down to M42, and in no particular order before I forget tomorrow (!), Heart and Soul, lots of dispersed nebulosity here. IC405, IC410 and a bright nebulous circular patch about the same size as IC410 a fair bit north of these but still in Auriga, still trying to figure out that one! Part of the same general body of nebulosity? Excellent view of California Nebula with the 15x70s Apollos and Hb/OIII combo, excellent, first time I've seen it so clearly though the binoculars. Back to the dob and M38, M36, NGC1907, NGC1893, M1 Crab Nebula, Pleiades, Double Cluster, Hind's Variable Nebula (amazing, looks like a comet, first view of that one), IC2162 (was going for Lower's Nebula, but got sidetracked), IC 443 Jellyfish (very nice, a first on that). M108 Surfboard Galaxy, Owl PN. First time I've seen the Rosette, yes, first time. Holy smokes, sort of like a condensed version of the Veil, but seemed even brighter. Just stunning! And the circularity, just amazing. Going back to that one soon I hope. Went into the Caldwell Catalogue a bit more Cave Nebula, got all sorts with that one, seems very complex. Crescent Nebula, Eskimo PN (excellent), C59/NGC 3242 Ghost of Jupiter PN, just brilliant, very low on horizon. Cat's Eye nebula. I think that's it, left my sheet in the van! Then the galaxies.... Leo Triplet, Leo Quartet, over to M95, 96, 105 and the NGCs immediately to the north and over to Markarian's Chain, first time there. I lost count at this point. Dozens. Head was spinning. Bright ones, faint ones, very faint ones showing just a slight whisper, side on, flat, you name it. Galaxies everywhere. Just mind-blowing. Wind was picking up considerably by this point and the scope was vibrating way to much to concentrate on anything in great detail, so I called it a night...a morning I mean...
  14. PS Geof - Meant to say I'll try the California Nebula tonight with the 15x70s and Hb and let you know how that works. We have a really good forecast for one of my dark sky spots locally, so I need to be extra nice to my wife today so I can get set up earlier! Terrible of me, I know... You caught quite a few targets with the binos, sounds like a great evening.
  15. Excellent Geof, the Flaming Star is a tricky one, I might be fooling myself to say it's even visible through binos, but pretty sure I've caught a little nebulosity there before (maybe I was using the 300p that night from home along with the binos?) The Flame Nebula - even a hint is pretty good there! We had patches of clear sky, but also had 65mph gusts, so well done for getting out thee. Good comparisons with the Rev 15x70s - I'm already tempted to go bigger now. Aperture fever meets binoculars
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