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Ships and Stars

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Everything posted by Ships and Stars

  1. Hi Iain! Yes I was thinking even something with a tiny bit more magnification would help - I've heard so many good things about the Delos, I have to try one. I might try once more this new moon and see if I can chase anything up! Hi Mark, thanks very much! I wish I could have left the scope up and tried this again on successive nights. It would bolster confidence in what I did see and what I 'thought' I saw. I bet I was totally off on HCG 57 - if some of the were mag 13 they should have jumped out under those conditions. I bet the GOTO was slightly off after the scope settled a bit on the ground. Should have started with the 20mm and moved in from there... I wrote a list in advance, so was able just to punch them in the GOTO and slew over in fairly rapid succession...when it's accurate that is! Thanks very much, it was great to finally get back out under some really dark skies, makes such a huge difference. I use 'averted imagination' to locate most of my targets! No it's a bit frustrating after the fact, I'm really doubting myself now on a couple. Ack well, something to revisit. I imagine after a solid ID on some of these, they will be easier to relocate in the future and pull some more detail from them. I have to really work for these, good stuff!
  2. That's impressive! Were those taken under urban or rural skies? Either way, I've got to try NV.
  3. What about NV on a larger dob? I imagine that would be mind-blowing. I'm considering putting something from the NV world on my 20". The 500p weighs 75-85kg all in, but breaks down quickly into smaller parts and sets up in about 15 minutes if I'm really moving fast. I don't need a ladder per se, just a step about 20-30cm high to view at zenith. I feel like I am starting to find the limits of what I can see with my 20" under dark skies, which is an awful lot, but there are also tons of very faint galaxies I'd like to see in more detail and I'd also like to see a lot more from my 20.25-35ish SQM-L home if I can't drive to my rural spots. Gerry does have the benefit of being able to wheel his dob out under dark skies right at home, so his mirror might not need a lot of cool down if his storage area is more or less unheated, or at least considerably colder than the interior, plus he has wolves to keep him company which is honestly rather spectacular! Now for larger extended objects, NV on something with a shorter focal length like my 12" (300mm/1500mm) flextube would presumably show a lot as well. Even binoculars... I suspect in the future NV will continue to edge into the realm of mainstream astronomy, but there will always be the big reflector crowd, the direct, natural naked eye views are amazing, but the option to add NV if desired would produce a real powerhouse I'd imagine... Interesting to think about, I wonder how the image quality of NV compares though to naked eye astronomy (i.e. looking through eyepieces)? I imagine there would be flicker and much lower resolution. I seem to recall the human eye can see about 300dpi on average, maybe a bit more. Anyway...fun to think about
  4. At the time, I'm thinking 'got it'! Then even after jotting down notes etc, a week or two later I start thinking was I wanting it to happen, or did I really see it? From my limited experience, totally agree, second time around should set things straight. I'll try the 20mm APM to locate, given the much larger FOV and exit pupil. My GOTO is generally close but not always spot on within the inner 1/2 of the 20mm, so at 13 or 9mm, even with 100deg EPs, I can easily start hunting in the wrong direction. Especially given the scope can settle in the ground even a few mm as the night progresses and move things around! Fortunately she doesn't use ebay! After the 500p was gone, she'd put me on there as a free sack of fertiliser, collection only, haha It is a lot of fun when out under dark, clear skies. It spoils me, but the views... Ironically I find using 15x70 binoculars with filters on large extended objects is a blast as well. Even on tricky stuff like the Cocoon Nebula. So easy to scan the sky- I use them handheld unless really teasing out details on specific objects. Still, I like the ability of a scope to use much higher magnifications. My plan was to find another 500p second hand at the right price and make a binoscope, but it would be a nightmare to transport and set up without driving a full size transit around. I may dabble with EEVA on the 20", that would open up a whole new level. I need to save some money for a decent set up with filters however... My main suggestion for people with binoculars or scopes of any size would be to head out to dark sky sites when possible, even if it's only once or twice each 'observing season'. I wish we didn't lose astro darkness here over the summer, I have a lot of catching up to do!
  5. Indeed, I always have to laugh afterwards how much effort we put into trying to detect, let alone observe, these objects. Still, when you know you've seen something millions of light years away with the naked eye and some glass it's always a bit of a moment. HCG61 was probably my fav, that looked wonderful. I am having nagging doubts now I was even lined up on 51 and 57 as I definitely saw 79 which seemed brighter, but Vogel says it's much more challenging... I'll have to wait to pick this up, HCG57 will probably be the first one I can see in autumn skies. To be continued
  6. Thanks Gerry! Good to hear from you. Sorry I've been off the forum quite a lot lately, working away and family keeping me busy at home. Interesting experiment between the 24 and the 15. Sounds right! I wish I'd have read Vogel's observations just before I left that night. There is a good chance I flat out missed a couple of these and landed on some other faint galaxy close by. Stephan's Quintet in particular should have been more obvious in my mind, albeit still faint. That's ok, I will definitely return to these objects next time. The box was really good, that's one many people should be able to observe under decent skies. I can't believe Vogel has seen all 100 HCGs, that's dedication! I'm definitely printing out his observing reports or picking up a copy if he has a guide published. Wished I'd had it with me, but in a rush as always
  7. No regrets at all! Just luck I ended up with it. When I was looking for my first scope, work was really busy and an unused 500p came up at a good price. I thought a.) I may never be able to lift this when I get older, b.) my eyes won't get any better, and c.) I may end up living in an urban area again. That settled it! I haven't regretted the purchase a a single moment. The 500p seems to get poor reviews for mirror quality, but I've seen so many challenging faint objects, and so many amazing, detailed views of brighter objects that I've no real complaints at all. Little things like the mirror cover and goto drive cable attachments could be improved, but it's all tolerably small details. I hear they've redesigned the 500p primary with fused mirror supports or something to that effect, but I think I got lucky with mine. Besides, at f4, collimation is pretty critical, especially at higher mag I suppose, but it holds collimation very well. Now I'm hoping EEVA comes down a bit in price, it would even work really well with my 300p flextube. I'd say go for the big scope, take good care of it and enjoy. You will get to see things only a relatively small number of people have seen before and if the day comes that you need to sell it, the resale value will remain, especially if bought second hand. Cheers !
  8. Thanks Stu, it was a long time coming! Feels like ages ago already. I can't afford a bigger scope, nor could I transport it, so I think from here, EEVA on the 20" is the next leap forward. I would love to have made out substantially more detail on these, but also quite happy to have detected some of them in the first place.
  9. Hello all, a challenging end to the 2020-21 observing season here at c.57N. A delayed report here due to work and family - this was on the night of April 11th into the wee hours of the 12th. Apologies for my brief descriptions of each HCG below. This was my last shot to take the 20" dob out to dark skies in the Cairngorms before astro darkness was lost for the summer. I haven't had a decent night with the scope in quite some time. Bitterly cold (by UK standards) in the region of -6 to -8C in the remote Scottish glen that night, but very clear out despite the so-so forecast. Good thing, considering how much work it took to get there. Still, it was a lot colder than I anticipated. Setup to observing took about 30 minutes or less. GOTO alignment quite good. Extra 1.5kg on top of the supplied counterweights. SQM-L readings consistent throughout the night between 21.68 and 21.70, so quite good, certainly no complaints there, though I've had readings of 21.85 from this spot. Once eyes dark adapted, Auriga was initially lost in a sea of stars, equally hard to make out Leo at first, then everything fell into place. Amazing. My goal - Hickson Compact Groups of galaxies, as many as my greedy eyes could find! Got seven HCGs - not a bad result I suppose, some were surprisingly good, others were incredibly faint on the very limit of detection (to my eyes anyway) and not a great deal to say other than the faintest of elongated smudges with averted vision, but still a great night. Been wanting to see some of these for several years now. HGCs 44 (Leo Quartet), 51, 57 (Copeland's Septet) 59, 61, 79 (Seyfert's Sextet) and HCG 92 Stephen's Quintet (just, and I mean just barely) -------------------------------- Eyepieces: 13mm APM to locate (153x), then 9mm APM (222x) to move in or 10mm BCO (200x) for the really challenging ones. I didn't get on very well with it when I first bought it, but the 10mm BCO is proving to be the top dog in my eyepiece case for the most challenging galaxies and PN, though with the 10mm BCO's miniscule FOV, it's a lot easier to locate tiny objects first using the 13mm or even 20mm APM, then dive in with the BCO. The suspects: HGC 44 aka 'Leo Quartet' - I've seen this cluster before, but it was coming through loud and clear. By far the brightest of the bunch. HGC 51 - 6 galaxies in this one, but no way I could resolve them. The view was an extremely faint, almost circular glow coming through the eyepiece. Still, a hit. HCG 57 - Copeland's Septet (6 galaxies) Seemed quite similar to 51, almost a circular ring of a.) slightly brighter sky, or b.) extremely faint fuzzies, take your pick! Wish I could have resolved more here. *Update - Reiner Vogel is saying 57 is essentially a lot easier to see than Seyfert's Septet, so there is a reasonable chance I missed 57 altogether and picked up some obscure galaxy in the neighborhood... Must revisit!! HCG 59 - Probably the faintest of the lot, after some time poking around the area, I could make out two extremely faint fuzzies, but that was it. HCG 61 - aka 'The Box' Now we're talking! After seeing some of the others, this one make me shout out loud at the eyepiece. Four beautiful galaxies seemingly set at right angles to one another, all shining brightly. Good stuff. Highly recommend! HCG 79 - Seyfert's Sextet - this one in photos looks amazing and one of the galaxies has a 'tidal tail'. I could resolve two of the galaxies (one might have been two superimposed galaxies) and the faintest of 'swishes' which may have been another galaxy, most likely PGC 56578, a mag 15.17 - 15.36 SBc galaxy. I'd need either a bigger scope, EEVA on the 20" or something like a 20" binoscope to confirm that. In other words, silly money I unfortunately don't have! HCG 92 - Reached its highest point in the sky c.3am. The famous Stephan's Quintet. I'd love to say it was an explosion of fireworks with an choir of angels in the background, but it was fairly low on the horizon 23-26deg max, and it was simply the faintest of smudges... another one to revisit based on Reiner Vogel's comments, the galaxies in here are pretty bright with some at mag13/14 so again, I may have been off the mark with whatever I saw and goto may have put me off just enough to make it a goose chase... next time! Definitely want to revisit all of these again someday and tease a bit more from them, but quite happy with the results here. ---------------------------------- Meant to add, about halfway through the night, just to compare, I swung over to M101 and M51 with the 9mm APM at 222x to see if my eyes and scope collimation etc were up to speed. M101 - stunning, with clear spiral arms gradually fading away from the core. *WOW* M51/51a - TREBLE WOW. Near astro-photo quality. In greyscale of course! I could have spent ages staring at this. So yes, things seemed to be optimal. A very good, challenging evening to say the least. I hope to revisit some HCGs again as soon as possible. As crazy as it sounds, the 20" felt like the minimum to even begin to tease out detail, but maybe it's just my eyes. I could easily imagine a 28"- 36" dob under pristine desert skies being more in-line with easy, direct observing of some of these. EEVA on the 20" would also be a more realistic option, hmmm.... One final note - I recently bought a super cheap £28 pair of small 'Kylietech' 12x42s to throw in the van for work, etc. I wasn't expecting much to say the least, but they are surprisingly good! I was able to make out M51 as a faint, tiny object with them lying on my back, couldn't believe it. That's dark skies for you. I think rebadged versions of these are sold by Celestron etc in the £90 range. Anyway...M51 with a cheap pair of tiny binoculars, good stuff... Cheers all!
  10. Just returned home! I made it back to the mainland for a long weekend, much needed break. A lot of driving through. Yesterday I was puttering around, checking the weather, thought I'd missed the clear spell in the eastern Cairngorms, but a lucky break, forecast was quite different. Was supposed to cloud over but remained clear with the odd cumulous drifting past as a dark patch. There are many 'passing places' in the Uists, but now you mention it, roundabouts are a rare creature! Brake pads are a definite wear item there, especially when a lorry comes steaming around the corner. A wonderful place, if a bit quiet for most people's taste. Suits me though. I'll take the 15x70s back again and see what I can spot.
  11. Sorry, wrote a longer reply but mobile data keeps dropping here! HCG 44 I've seen, but great views tonight. Nipped over to M51 and 101, just amazing. I'll do a quick report asap, some of the HCGs were just extended smudges, but several were really good
  12. HCGs 57, 79, 61, 59, 44 and 51. Waiting for Stephen's Quintet c.3am if weather holds
  13. I'm out tonight with the 20" at last. 21.70SQM, ticking off Hickson Compact Groups, can't believe it! Some seriously faint fuzzies.... Report coming soon.
  14. Excellent, I've not been to Rum or the Inner Hebrides, but sailed past them several times. I'm on South Uist again soon, we've had 60+mph gusts, sleet, you name it, but only one night with clear skies, and I was doing 12hr days... Still wonderful to scan the sky there, I love the Western Isles. Hopefully I'll have another go with the big dob this weekend, but have to replace van radiator tomorrow and bleed cooling system and refill gearbox, the cooler went two weeks ago and pumped all the ATF out in about 15 seconds! I'm looking at selling both my old van and car and buying a newish Grand Vitara or RAV4. Need 4wd, but also something big enough to hold the 500p without having to shoehorn it in the boot! Such is life... Hope everyone is happy and healthy.
  15. Hi all, I've realised I disappeared off the pages here for a couple of months - everything is going reasonably well at home, a few wobbles though. I struggled with good weather, lockdown and a string of unexpected van and car repairs in my attempts to get out with the big dobsonian to my dark sky spots, then worked fortunately picked up, so I've not been able to devote much time to astronomy. I am hoping to slip away Saturday night for a late night observing session before we lose astro darkness for the summer. I'm lucky enough to be working in the Western Isles in some relatively remote places since February now, so I took my 15x70 Apollos and filters, but the weather hasn't been playing along much. However, when conditions are right, it's dark-sky heaven there, literally out the back door of my accommodation, on the Light Pollution Map, the SQM reading is an unequivocal 22.00! I had one night very late I popped my head out and it was clear and as amazing as you'd expect. I was offered a job there with a local contractor, but don't think the wife is keen on remote Hebridean living... I was very tempted though! My brush with dark-sky heaven Hope everyone is well and I also hope to post another observing report this weekend if things work out. Cheers all!
  16. Great report Gerry! I've been off the page for a while, the weather here...well you've probably heard about our snowfall. I think I've seen stars momentarily one night since my last observing report Jan19th. We 'only' managed -23C at Braemar, not far from some of my fav viewing areas, though I haven't been for ages with lockdown and weather. Tomorrow night might be ok until midnight, but the moon is setting around then but might drag the 12" out and blow the dust off. It was looking and feeling arctic here until yesterday, temps rising dramatically along the coast, perhaps 8 or 9C soon. I love M42 now with the OIII filter, if you've used GIS, it's like turning different overlays on/off when I use different filters. A lot going on in that one.
  17. Under 21.5sqm I had an excellent view of the Rosette with my 15x70 Apollos using a combination of UHC/Nebustar II filters or OIII/Nebustar II, can't remember which pair worked best, but it was right there and a lovely sight. Just popped right out. A large object! The first time I saw it with a 20" dob and 20mm APM 100deg eyepiece and 2" OIII filter, that was astounding, but couldn't fit it in the entire FOV. I think my 12" dob at 1500mm focal length with just squeeze it all in. Seeing it in filtered binoculars really gives you a good impression of overall size, but the darker the skies, the greater the reward. I've managed it from home, c.20.4sqm, but it wasn't a show stopper. Past 21.00sqm with corresponding transparency, it gets better and better the darker it gets though anything with filters. One of my favourites.
  18. I have a ton of 18650 batteries, one of those would power a DIY mini-dew heater with some resistors wired in-line for the 20/40x100 bins, there's plenty of room to strap stuff to the top or side That's a rainy day project though after I've sorted the 50 other rainy day projects...
  19. The Giottos blower is really good, has a valve to prevent dust getting sucked in and you can wash the inside by popping out the spout, plus the bulb is made of real rubber, so it works in all temps and doesn't split. I use mine on all sorts of stuff, bought it back when I did photography daily, but it stays on my desk, very handy. The front dew strip elements would be good for my obsy bins!
  20. Nice one! I finally see some names I recognise, haha M1 in the moonlight is a real challenge, well done. It can be tricky or underwhelming even on dark nights with my 12". Auriga is an all-around interesting constellation. There is IC405 The Flaming Star nebula in Auriga. You'll see an asterism at the bottom (would that be the top for you?) that I call the Auriga Ladder, it's official asterism name is the flying minnow. Just next to the ladder is IC405. You'll need an OIII filter, but if you are out in whoop whoop (my kind of place!) on a clear moonless night you should be able to bag it pretty easily. It's fairly large. I haven't done much star splitting, but with the moon up, I'll try it tonight if it's clear enough. PS have a look at Virtual Moon Atlas, you can flip the moon to match the upside down view from a dob and it shows the terminator accurately so you can identify individual features and it gives crater diameters! I got down to around 4km last night at 300x, very unusual to be able to use that much mag here, but you should be able to do that much more frequently with your dob in WA. Cheers
  21. I use a Giotto rocket blower one of the squeeze blowers for camera lenses. The Giotto is larger than most at 60mm/dia and really pumps the air out. It's a bit pricey at £15-£20 but I haven't shopped for lowest price. I've had mine for probably 10 years now, I can even blow light dust off my 20" primary and I've successfully used it to quickly demist my secondary - it's saved me on a few occasions without a dew heater. It clears eyepieces or binocular oculars easily in my experience and they tend not to fog so quickly after that.
  22. It's a mess. I think shipping times will improve slightly, but that's all. The trade deal will have to be completely renegotiated.
  23. I sent an important parcel 48hr on the 11th to an EU country with the required paperwork in quadruple as requested via a normally fast and reliable courier. It's still in the UK distribution hub. Businesses are apparently being told by HMRC reps over the phone if they don't like it, they can relocate to an EU country. Between shipping and charges, this effectively halts purchases of astronomy equipment from the EU unless you are happy to pay a third more or it's under £39. Without saying more, I'll let people decide if this is a good thing for the UK, especially with our economy in its current state.
  24. Great job! M101 is hard enough for me to see with a large scope and no moon. The skies here tonight have the best seeing I can recall since I started a few years ago. Moon was tack sharp at 300x.
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