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Ships and Stars

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Everything posted by Ships and Stars

  1. Nice! I have to get a 3D printer, there are so many things I want to make. Nothing like a layer of dew to cut short an astro session, these look like they will definitely do the job.
  2. Welcome, I'm jealous of your Nevada night skies, I have Loveluck NV on one of my clear skies app just to see how many clear nights there are. The answer - a lot apparently! This is a good group, very friendly and helpful. Have learned a lot.
  3. No haven't seen this, thank you. I'm imagining the views in the 24", with all these galaxies hanging in space! Wonderful. Thinking about it, I haven't done any late winter/early spring galaxy hunting with the 20" from a dark site, we were in lockdown last year in March I think, and may be again. I'm hoping to return to this site near home again during next new moon. Switching from mainly nebula to galaxies now! Leo is coming up quickly here and UMa is right there as well. PS great website! Cheers
  4. Cool, I'll have a go at that! Did you see the elongated edge on galaxy just left, below the bear paw? I caught it on the computer. IC2233 or something like that. Could be interesting? Looks unusual...
  5. Definitely Hubble's variable nebula, need to go back through reports to see if I was confident on the Cone. I had the 20" that night and conditions were really good, but don't recall much about the Cone! Suggets I may have passed on it. We're in full lockdown here, you can travel for outdoor recreation, but it's not recommended. Not sure how the police would react with me carting the dob around at 3am. Probably ok going to my local site, but who knows...
  6. I'll try ARP6, is it very faint? I'll break out the 10BCO or barlow the 13mm. I can cruise through the NGCs in S&T Atlas, but HCG55 threw me for a loop last night. I spent 30 minutes looking for it. I checked ocular view in stellarium first, then flipped the view over to match that of a reflector, not realising in my fatigue that Stellarium already did that for me! So I was looking in the opposite direction with the 13mm and 9mm. It's hard to find things when you're moving the scope away from it!! PS it's hard to use a lot of magnification here most of the time. Last night would have been good, it felt like great transparency and seeing. Hickson 55 looks like it would want a lot of mag as well.
  7. I've had hints of IC434 in binoculars from a really dark site, but that was very optimistic. I think I saw the Cone a while back on a really good night, that was late 2019 I think from a hilltop site near me. Near Hubble's Variable Nebula? I'll have to go back through reports, if it's that challenging, I may not have seen it?? I got the HH from home the other night in the 12" but it was very, very subtle with the faintest glow from 434. The flame that night was actually ok from my LP locale. Friday or Sat night. I tried for HCG55 last night from home with the 20", NGC3735 next to it was an easy one, but things started frosting up about that time. Still, don't think I'd be able to bag it from here. I'll try again on that and HCG57, and on M42/3 again if I get a chance, setting quickly now!
  8. Hey Gerry! I don't normally use a filter either on M42. The strange thing is I don't spend much time on M42 when at dark sites, because I'm pressed for time and searching for other more elusive things. It loses a lot of nebulosity at home so I should start over with M42/3 again. I edited my post and attached a B&W image with a few tweaks that kind of replicates what it looked like with OIII. The ring was bright and apparent and the dark notch was clearly visible. The centre was just black with a few stars popping though as I recall, maybe not. Perhaps this notch is visible without filters as well. I think I know what you mean wit an Hb on B33 - it's enhancing the contrast between IC434 which has a slight glow, enhancing the backlighting behind B33? That makes sense, if something is effectively a black cloud of carbon etc, a filter isn't going to do much Thanks Don, yes the OIII completely blocked a lot of the nebula, it's fun to play with and reveals a new side but definitely a lot of the character gets lost in translation. I think part of the reason I haven't studied M42 as much as I should have, is because I'm often trying for the HH when in that part of the sky and as you say, trying to keep my dark adaptation. I'm missing out on one of the brightest, most impressive spectacles in the night sky, to see the polar opposite, a black shape set on a slight less black background Your account from this mountain spot or elevated pass sounds unforgettable! If I ever get anywhere near those conditions, I'll skip the filter and the HH and settle in on M42/3 for awhile. Thanks Gerry and Don
  9. Great comment Don, there is a ton of really good information, much of it I flat out didn't know or know how to explain other than pure filter wizardry A little off topic and not doubting you that OIII isn't optimal for M42, but a few weeks ago I happened down to M42 with a 20mm APM and Astronomik OIII on the 20" at a 21.5ish dark site after looking at the Rosette and was treated to quite a different and stunning view of M42 I don't recall seeing in my short time observing. I've seen it before with a UHC but got into the habit of generally not using a filter and concentrating around 42/43 area and not covering the full extent under dark skies, because I'm usually chasing things I can't see from home. The overall normal extent of M42 around the Trapezium and normal swathes or 'wings' were present with the OIII. While tightly defined, it blocked a fair bit of the usual detail, but enhanced other areas. So that in itself was a mixed bag, but the thing that really made me sit up was the clearly defined, narrow ring which completely extended well past my FOV and back up to the other side of M42. I don't think I've seen this huge feature before, probably because I don't have a widefield scope (other than bins) and it was striking. The central area was completely empty of nebulosity as I recall, but the outer edge was magnificent and absolutely glowing. I thought it was some kind of stray reflection or eyepiece fogging at first, but glass and mirrors were clear. It was complete except one small area where this band necked down. I took the OIII off and could barely see this band in comparison, but it was still there, very faint. Didn't try UHC, don't have one in 2" (yet). So my question, and this is for anyone really, is M42 a mixed object with different emission lines, incl HII, etc that different filters enhance at the expense of others, or does this large circular feature maybe have its own name/ID? I don't see it in photos, though that entire area is ablaze in long exposures. *edit I took the creative commons wiki page photo for M42 (thank you Keesscherer) and desaturated it and boosted blacks. The bottom photo is along the lines of what I was seeing with OIII, but not that striking. It was like an inverted image, the red arrow points to the dark gap I noticed. Very pronounced! Will try the TV Nebustar II next time.
  10. I was reading about the dark sky village out in Arizona, they only have one rule: 'turn off your god ---- lights!' The only exterior lighting that's allowed are red lamps from what I recall. My kind of place, though probably hellishly hot in summer and a long way to the beach Still...
  11. It's not that bad actually moving the scope around. The mirror assembly made me nervous at first, but I just make sure the ground is free of any trip hazards or ice, etc before I move it to the car and so on. Something like a 350p or 400p with GOTO is probably the same if not harder with the OTA. The 500p is a truss rod design and breaks down into smaller component parts that the flextube series and will probably pack into a smaller area than a 350 or esp 400p. I'm 6'2" but skinny as a whip and no brickie. I've hurt my back before at work, but it was muscular so it healed fairly rapidly. I couldn't even put my shoes on by myself. The doc gave me some good medication thankfully At the time, my wife said you've been in a good mood lately! Seriously though, something like a slipped disc is another matter, my uncle was built like a rugby player but he ran into that problem later in life and it limited him quite a bit. I don't have a particularly strenuous job, but I do enough lifting and work to keep going for now, sometimes it gets a bit much at work but I can pick and choose jobs a bit more and I'll hold back if I feel a strain coming on. A traditional design dobsonian with wheelbarrow handles is the way to go for the larger apertures I'd say, though I've never used one it looks a doddle if the handles are the right height. I'll try and keep the reports coming as long as I can, still a lot of things to see up there
  12. Thanks, had to laugh, I do understand! I think it was 5473 last night, it was all I could do to detect it by tapping the scope a bit and using averted vision. I don't think too many people would be impressed at 2am on a cold night... My dob doesn't really have any way to use wheelbarrow handles, but the more traditional dobs are easy to move around this way I've heard. Mine breaks down quite a bit, but the 2 heaviest parts are still over 30kg each, and one is glass! It's ok for now, I'm dreading the day I have to sell it though. Hoping to find a nice dry shed on a farm or estate someplace local but dark for it to live. Someday!
  13. Thanks Kon, I don't have many nights like this! I got a good deal on the 20" second hand but as new, I decided just to go for it, was my first scope and don't regret it. Sometimes it's hard work setting up/packing away, but I've seen things with it I just wouldn't see otherwise, and with more detail on more common objects like M42. Under dark skies it's something else. Size wise it packs down very well. It will fit in my small daily car without much fuss, though there's not much room for anything else! A 12"-14" dob from a really dark site would probably equal what I was able to see last night. That plays a big part. Cheers!
  14. I hear you John, at last! That made my day today. I don't know how I'm awake but I feel fine. We had a little break in the cloud just at the right time, so I didn't even think about driving up the road to the dark spot, it would have been cloudy for sure. It's not super dark, but it's so nice observing at home, I can cover up the scope for the night, take a few steps and fall into bed I need to put the scope up now though and get back report writing...ah work. Hi Magnus! Thanks, the 20" is a wonderful beast, a bit of a pain setting up at times in comparison to the 12", but not too heavy either in comparison to other dobs this size. The GOTO can be slow to set, but once it's up and running, you can fly through targets that are close together and still easily pause for a bit on each one or spend a little time on more interesting ones. I have a little folding aluminium step ladder, it's only three steps but has a bar on top, I can rest my knee against the bar and one hand on the scope and unless I'm near zenith, I'll only stand on the first or second step. A heavy plastic tub works well too, except near zenith. It does wobble if not on really level ground, so I'm thinking a small three-legged mini orchard ladder would be a lot more stable. Agree on the 3 points of contact! I'm not up high, but still it could make a bit of a mess.
  15. Summary: A few challenges and hiccups last night like usual, but was able to tick off quite a few (38) galaxies in a relatively short period from home under moderate light pollution. Some I’ve seen before, many were new. The amazing thing is I only worked on two pages of the S&T Pocket Sky Atlas, and there are still plenty left on those pages to chase another night. Plus all of the small galaxies in that part of the sky not listed… Scope: Sky Watcher 500p 20” dobsonian Weather: High cloud at first becoming very clear by 11pm, staying that way until last observation, c.3:45am. Heavy frost, cold, -4C min. No wind for a change, completely still, allowing detailed viewing at higher mag. No aurora either - about time! SQM-L: Typical ho hum semi-urban, 20.38 at 11pm increasing to 20.48 by c.1am, dropping back to 20.42 by early morning c.3:45am. Local light pollution (LP) indirect, but enough to warrant wearing some DIY red film dark adaptation goggles prior to viewing which worked incredibly well - more about these DA goggles in an upcoming post. An upper light shield comes with the 500p, but I’ve never used it before until last week. I know, I know… but it was hiding behind some boxes at home. A lot of boxes. It’s a sheet of matte black plastic that extends about 25cm past the top of the secondary assembly opposite the focuser, giving a subtle but noticeable improvement in contrast, especially if LP is present. I normally observe from dark sites with this scope and it's often exposed and windy and the scope shakes enough in gusts as it is, so I never really felt I needed it before. I'll use it when I can though, it does seem to boost contrast. GOTO was a bit of a fiddle at first, mainly ‘operator induced errors’ including accidently unplugging the power socket with my foot *cough* after obtaining a really nice, accurate GOTO. This necessitated a fresh alignment, which was a setback as I was on a roll in Draco, but the scope also needed 1.5kg of extra counterweight to keep an accurate altitude, as the factory supplied weight is insufficient, especially with large eyepieces. I strapped a nylon covered 1.5kg scuba diving ankle weight onto the cast ones, and I was set. Once the scope was tracking superbly, I used the Periodic Error Correction (PEC) function in the Synscan utility menu extensively. It slows the pace down a bit by having to hit a few buttons between objects when needed, but works very well, placing often very small and faint individual galaxies near the centre of the 20mm and 13mm APM XWAs, and within the FOV of the 9mm APM XWA. Otherwise, without GOTO, it would be all too easy to lose track of which galaxy I was observing when fatigued, as so many of these faint objects are close together in a small area of sky. Some issues with the secondary mirror frosting on top edge as the scope was pointed near zenith most of the night, but squeaked by. Slight issues with eyepieces fogging up. Frequent use of a Giotto rocket blower came in very handy. Will dig out secondary dew heater element again and try keeping one alternate eyepiece in handwarmer pockets so it doesn’t fog up so easily. -------------------------------- The observing – I used my trusty Sky & Telescope pocket sky atlas, starting up towards Polaris in Draco/Camelopardalis on p.31, moving down into UMa and C. Venatici on p.32. As many know, there are a LOT of galaxies in this area, and I stumbled across a few not found in the S&T atlas. These were noted on the chart in pencil, then chased up later using desktop PC Stellarium with the DSS overlay switched on. NGC galaxies: 2655, 2715, 3348, 3147, 3027, 2985, 3027, 5585, 5473 (faint), 5474, 5322, 5204, 5195, 5033 ‘Waterbug Galaxy’, 5005, 4618, 4485, 4490, 4800. Inside UMa: 3998, 3982, 3898, 3780, 3619, 3613, 3610, 3642, 3690, 3804 (not listed in S&T Atlas). NCG 3735 in Draco next to HCG55. Messier galaxies: 51, 101, 63, 81, 82, 94, 108, 109 Messier Planetary Nebula 97 (Owl Nebula) ‘No Joys’ IC 2574 – on Stellarium, it looks really faint with a low surface brightness. I was using 20mm APM at the time, GOTO might have been off just enough to lose it, but probably needed more mag. Also, secondary frosting and limits of what is detectable under 20.4sqm with my scope perhaps explains this miss. Hickson Compact Group 55 in Draco, near NGC3735 - looks amazing on Stellarium, if not absolutely blinking tiny (for four galaxies!) but I think this is going to be a serious challenge to see under my level of light pollution. I wasn’t certain I was looking in the exact spot as it’s not in the synscan library, but Stellarium shows it in the FOV of the 20mm APM when centred upon 3735. Think I’m going to need much darker skies and excellent conditions for this one. Even with a 20” dob, many of the NGCs were quite faint, some right on the verge of detection, though others showed structure or had an obviously unique quality or close arrangement to nearby galaxies. Sorry I can’t say a lot more individually, it’s hard for me to climb up and down the ladder (only one or two wobbly steps, but still) for each one, write notes and still concentrate enough to observe faint stuff at the same time, though I did tick off groups in pencil every few minutes. Voice recorder perhaps? I’d love to slow down observing, but I don’t seem to get many galaxy nights like this, maybe 5 or 6 in mid- to late winter, early spring, more if I’m really lucky, so I tend to go for it and make the most. To be honest, anytime a new, unseen to me galaxy comes into the FOV, it’s a moment of excitement, even if it’s the faintest of smudges and barely perceptible. If it's really faint, that means it was more challenging to observe and thus perhaps something that a lot of people might never see in real life, so it’s always a good moment. A few memorable standout sights however - Messier 63 the Sunflower Galaxy was surprisingly bright and detailed, first time I’ve seen that one. NGC4490 the Cocoon Galaxy and 4485 down in C. Venatici are nearly touching, this was a superb sight. NGC 5033 the Waterbug Galaxy and nearby 5005 were exciting to see come into the FOV. 3147 in Draco is really interesting to view, another standout. Although smaller, some of the NGCs were brighter and easier to observe that a few of the Messier objects, particularly M101 which appeared as a very large, faint smudge lacking much detail. I suspect my eyepiece and secondary fogging had a lot to do with this, but from what I remember, M101 can be a bit challenging at times. I suppose you could say it's the M1 Crab Nebula of the galactic world Despite the relatively bright, light polluted sky, I was able to see quite a bit. Although it can take some time to accurately set up, having GOTO made locating and identifying these small galaxies possible, otherwise there’s no way I could have seen this many in such a short period of time. Thanks for reading. Until next time and clear skies...
  16. Picking the right filter is key. An OIII is excellent for many objects, you'll be amazed at the Rosette, Veil, M97 and so on, it's a must have for most emission nebulae. An Hb is useful for most dark or reflection nebulae, the cocoon, California nebula and definitely the horsehead. The HH is basically impossible to see without any filter, unless under exceptional conditions with a very large scope, so I have heard. I've never seen it without a filter. The UHC is as you indicate an all-rounder of sorts, lets in more of the light spectrum but increases object contrast too. For UHC filters, I rave about the TeleVue nebustar, though it blocks red light unlike normal UHC filters but gives better views IMO. My other filters are Astronomik Hb and OIII. Not cheap, but they're high quality with close control over light transmission. I'm no filter expert, but there are some here that definitely are. John, Don Pensack, Scarp 15, jetstream are all highly knowledgeable, plus others. Filters for visual use is a popular topic but most agree, an OIII, UHC and Hb are must haves for nebulae. I've been meaning to try a cheaper filter against the astronomik or lumicons to see if there's much in it, but from what I've heard, those two (and the televue filters which are made by astronomik) are the way to go.
  17. I'll leave detailed instructions and a telescope behind for my daughter She'll only be 42 then. I got a late start on parenthood...
  18. No worries! I've some 20/40x100 bins, that would be a good challenge, I'll give it a shot and see next chance. My best view of the cocoon nebula was through filtered bins, so it's possible. I think you said you've dark skies where you live, the horse head is possible there with a 12", but it will almost always require an Hb filter to tease it out. I've seen it with direct vision using a nebustar UHC type filter, but only in the 20" from a dark site and the Hb was better. Like John said, it's very subtle to put it mildly. More a matter of detecting its presence, rather than really seeing anything. The flame nebula is actually more interesting, but it's great fun to bag the HH.
  19. Great session from home Magnus! Did you use the 10mm and Hb filter for the Horsehead? I seem to have a lot of luck with my 17.5 Morpheus and el cheapo 25mm Revelation plossl, those give a much larger exit pupil in the 3.5 to 5mm range depending won which scope I'm using. I could just detect the HH from home last night with the 12" f4.9 flextube dob and 17.5mm Morphues/Astronomik Hb filter. May I ask which bins you used to see M1? That's impressive! Never tried M1 with binoculars. Sounds like you had a good run of nights there
  20. The scale is correct but with the exception of some of the star clusters, particularly the Pleiades, most would need at least binoculars to gather enough light to detect them. Some are only visible through long exposure photography. The only way I've been able to see all of the Veil for example is with filtered 15x70s under dark skies. Otherwise through my telescope I'm only able to view limited areas because they won't fit in the field of view, even with my widest eyepieces. Same with the North America Nebula, that's fantastic through filtered binoculars.
  21. I had to laugh when I saw the moon transposed between the Veil Nebula. It looks lost The first time I saw the East Veil (never forget it) I panned over to see the West Veil and caught part of Pickering's Wisp. I thought well, that must be the West Veil and stopped, thinking it was just a bit faint. I did the same thing probably one or two more nights after that, before I panned beyond Pickering's Wisp one night and finally stumbled across the West Veil in all its glory to my amazement. That's a big expanse of sky. I finally saw it last year in one go with 15x70s from a dark site. Amazing. The North America Nebula is a monster, that one is well suited to binoculars from a dark site as well. Thanks for sharing this John, it's an excellent list
  22. Haha, you're welcome to visit when all this covid stuff blows over! Hopefully I'll have a semi-permanent home for it on a rural farm or estate by then, and I won't have to lug it around everywhere. If another 500p turns up at the right price and work picks back up, I'm seriously considering making a 500p binoscope. A lot of 'ifs' I know...
  23. @vlaiv I'll selflessly take time out of my busy schedule to chase down a willing owner of a 40"+dob, probably somewhere in the American SW or Western Australia, and put this matter to rest! Colour or no colour! Actually there was the guy who built a 70" dob from a US military spy satellite mirror that was rejected for use because it had a small chip on one edge. I'll phone him up
  24. Agree, there's a balance point somewhere between light and dark adapted where colour is still perceivable, but it must be a very narrow range. I think on CN they were talking about this, and some observers who had the luck to view through truly massive telescopes upwards of 40" had remarked the colour of some nebulae can be reliably maintained and observed if there was enough aperture. I'd guess if a really bright PN like M57 was magnified enough to almost fill the FOV in a giant telescope, your eyes wouldn't fully dark adapt anyway, a lot like a good look at M42 will knock dark adaptation back. Colour in nebulae is an interesting topic!
  25. Yes as I understand it, dark adapted eyes only use the B&W portion or region (?) of the rods and cones as they're more sensitive to low light, so everything will be shades of grey when fully dark adapted. One trick I found from really dark sites that only works momentarily, and somewhat questionably, is to get my eyes partially dark adapted, but not fully, and quickly look into the eyepiece (20" dob) before I dark adapt any more. It's a matter of finding the right balance point. For a fleeting second, I'll catch what I perceive as strong hints of colour. M57 and M42 are the obvious best candidates that spring to mind. M42 definitely showed colour, and M57 appeared a brilliant iridescent blue for a fleeting second. I've had that happen a few times, and it was unexpected but remarkable. This usually happens after subconsciously checking my phone and momentarily losing some dark adaptation. So unlike these awesome astrophotos, everything visual observers see will basically be shades of grey unless you have an absolute monster of a telescope (I've heard a 40" dob on up will start to show persistent colour in some nebula) or freakishly good eyesight in the 'rods and cones' department, probably linked more to a youthful age as mentioned above.
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