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  1. Date: 02:01:2017 Location: 55' 25N Northumberland (45 min journey time) Ave SQM reading: 21.34 Instrument: 350mm F4.6 Dobsonian Transparency: Very good I had considered taking along my 76mm refractor, to assist with larger diffuse nebula, the forecast though was uncertain, indicating cloud - there was not a cloud in sight. A little further north of my dark sky niche and you will arrive at a turn into the lovely Ingram Valley, one of the gateways to the Cheviot hills, there are good places for stargazing and the sky will be very dark indeed. However concerned about ice on the back roads my journey from North Newcastle was long enough and the sky quality looked superb. M45 The Pleiades, the Merope nebula and surrounding nebulosity with my 31mmT5 nagler was apparent. The Rosette nebula was very dynamic with an OIII filter, the vibrant cluster and integrated immense and in places compacted gas cloud was bright, structured and almost 3D like, an awesome sight and reminded me of the North America. Into Auriga, IC 410 was bright and responded to the OIII filter, whilst IC 417 and I believe Sh2-230 along with aspects of IC 410 (flaming star) were easy to observe with a H-beta filter, 21mm Ethos and 31T5. Later, a highly elevated California nebula in Perseus was bright and two segments defining the whole could be observed, on previous occasions the nebula is seen as a dim grey strand, not tonight in my Lumicon H beta filter and 31T5. The Flame in Orion - I get it, hook line and sinker, the dark division and track like features were apparent as I had not seen before, still faint but very much there in my Lumicon UHC filter and 13 Ethos. Barnards Loop, well I made my way up to M78 which is quite distinct even in a H beta filter, I also encountered another slightly fainter reflection nebula perhaps NGC 2071, I could detect a slight grey dimming and a strong signal that the nebula was there, it was not a eureka moment - they would come later. I could not be sure that I detected the Jellyfish in Gemini or Lowers nebula in Orion, I will keep trying for these. I also forgot to look for Sh2 280 close by whilst I was observing the Rosette. The Monkey Head nebula in Orion responded brightly to an OIII filter as did - a first time observation, Thors Helmet NGC 2359 just 8' north east of Sirius, large, bright and shapely - a definite eureka moment. It was located drifting down from M50, the Seagull nebula in the vicinity I could not be so sure of, but it was Thors Helmet that was the prize. Then followed my second eureka moment as I located the Medusa nebula in Gemini. It emitted a faint glow and man it was faint, yet the VX14 picked it up and with slight averted vision and a gentle jiggle of the scope it was observable. The Orion nebula was immense so much nebulosity that I had to gently nudged the 21 Ethos to take it all in, so much going on and whats more, I saw colour, not just a tint of green but, to my eye, traces of burnt orange, incredible, I was aware of accounts of hints of red and pink and yet here it was - so much going on. The Horse Head Nebula As my sub-title implies, the Horse Head nebula was a primary target tonight. I revisited it three times during the course of the night. I was using a H-beta filter and two eyepieces, my dependable 20mm TV plossl and yes a 13mm ethos. For observing this object, the mystic has been unlocked, it has become an object among many to visit and observe. For tonight and as Orion arched slowly around towards the West, the image became more pronounced, I could relax my averted vision and glance briefly directly yes face to face with the horse head, the profile was becoming more shapely and less than just a dark notch. As for the eyepieces, well as members of the dob mob have advocated, the 13mm ethos does respond to the horse head, no doubt and there is good contrast. However I would still advise to start out with an eyepiece with the recommended exit pupil formula and become familiar, grow accustomed to looking for and at this object. In the words of the late actor Andrew Sachs, Manuel in Fawlty Towers; ''is no problem Mr Fawlty''. Eureka moment number three The night was getting on, some cloud form the north was threatening, I therefore decided to go touring around the clusters with my 31T5. The double Cluster, The Pleiades once more, M35 and the delicate NGC 2158, the Beehive and The Hyades. Each amazing and refreshing, particularly following on from fainter observations. Yet the sky cleared once more, occasional meteors flashed and whizzed by. There was one other target I wanted to go for and I could see precisely where it was positioned. NGC 1501 a Planetary nebula in Camelopardalis - the Oyster nebula. Bright and around the same scale as the Eskimo and if you haven't seen this before, is very much worth a visit and became a fitting end to the session. Thanks for reading,
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