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  1. Date: Tue 4th September. 2200 – 0220am. Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm). Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Night Vision Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11), Panoptic 35mm (f4.2 x17), Panoptic 27mm (f5.4 x22). Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD, Astronomik 12nm Ha CCD. Moon: 37% Problem As “big dob” has been working through the Sharpless catalogue this past couple of months, I have been making use of the Sharpless tables in the back of my Bracken Astrophotography Sky Atlas to track which objects I have seen and add a “tick” rating depending on the “wow factor”. I wanted to make good use of my new “AZ5 GTi” goto mount to aid me in this experimental flight through big dobs favourite Sharpless objects BUT the Sharpless object list is not available in the SysScan handset . Solution I created a spreadsheet of the multi-ticked objects and using Sky Safari I added a reference to a nearby object that was either from the NGC, IC or SAO catalogues that are in the handset (or so I thought – it turns out the SAO catalogue stored in the handset is a bit random and I had to make some “on the fly” adjustments to alternative SAO stars as I went along).? Flight Plan Here is the “updated" flight list of 32 sharpless objects to be targeted, adjusted to only contain SAO stars that actually are in the SynScan handset (shown in the second column should you wish to take the same flight...) Observing Notes - All viewing was done using a 55mm Plossl & Astronomik 6nm Ha filter unless otherwise stated. Sh2-54 – “n” shaped with spikes of nebula coming away from the main shape. A small brighter circular patch is seen within. Sh2-86 – A bright patch of nebulosity with a star cluster inside. Sh2-101 “Tulip” – A small bright patch with two bright stars inside. It was sitting amongst lots of easily seen lanes of nebula. Nice. Sh2-102 – nothing. Sh2-103 “Veil” – The star attraction of the night. The view was nearly up there with big dob, there was just so much to see (in a 107mm scope). I could almost get the whole thing into the FOV of the 55mm Plossl too. It was so good that I have to map it out in sections to get it all down… - NGC6992 – Strangely was not standing out as the brightest bit (like it usually does) all parts seemed to hold their own in the view. - Pickering’s Triangle – Looked lovely with varying strand sections showing the triangle shape. - E, F & NGC6979, G – To both sides of Pickering’s triangle were further bright stand-alone sections of nebulosity. - Thin thread – I could see the thin thread with some averted and concentrated efforts. And to my amazement there was a semi-circular nebula shape to the side of the thin thread that I have not noticed before! - NGC6960 – Was showing the split into three “antlers” at the top and the whole thing just kept on going up and over the top meeting the thin thread which had split into two wider lanes by now. I am astounded at the view as it was nearly up there with the 20” – Stunned and disbelief abounded Sh2-105 Crescent – Lovely and bright in the 35mm Panoptic. The whole of the “9” was not showing but scintillation was hinting where the fainter sections are to be found. Sh2-106 – Possibly a very thin patch around a star? Sh2-112 – small bright patch Sh2-115 - larger, fainter & squarer in shape. Sh2-119 – Three parallel lanes of nebulosity. The centre lane was the thickest, the right side lane was fainter and the left side lane was pretty thick too. Sh2-124 – Large nebulous patch with a small bright “question mark” shimmering shape in the centre. The small shape was sh2-124. Sh2-125 Cocoon – Appeared small & bright. There was a distinct 3D effect going on as it appeared as a “circle” with an additional mirrored side behind it. Sh2-129 Squid – A large curve of nebula with two distinctly thicker sections within it. No sign of “the squid” within it though. Sh2-131 Elephant trunk – A much better view than the other night, the nebulosity was thick and lush. I could make out plenty of large darker sections with averted vision and the gain turned down. The actual trunk sections were quite elusive and I got the best view of them by changing to a 12nm Ha Filter (which brought out some extra stars as a bonus too). Sh2-132 Lion – Not really a lion! I can see the “mane” section bright and clear. Averted reveals a much larger structure behind the mane and below but I don’t see a “lion”. I can see some black lanes within the bright “mane” section. Sh2-135 – Long lane of nebulosity running down to a separate patch of nebula (to one side). There is a small brighter nebula patch seen to the side as you run down the long lane. Sh2-142 Wizard – Bright side section with spikey appearance. There is a black area cutting into the bright section. After some time the black section took on the appearance of a “Wizard with outstretched arms”. In the big dob, I just see a flying horse! This view was very different to the dob. Sh2-152 & sh2-153 – Tiny glistening patch. And seen just below is sh2-149 which is very tiny too. Sh2-155 Cave – The cave is tiny but looks like I expected – triangular shape surrounds the black centre cave section. Sh2-154 shows as a nebula patch in the same FOV. Sh2-157 – Its all there! It appears as a faint and fine elongated circular shape with a mirror image to one side. The top section is thick and lush, the two descending curves are much finer. Sh2-158 Brain – Tiny and very bright. Seen in same FOV as sh2-157 and the Bubble nebula. Sh2-162 Bubble – Small and bright in the 55mm. There is the sense of a “black hole” in the area where the bubble is found. I switch to the 35mm Panoptic for more magnification and the tiny black area takes on a circular appearance. I tried the 27mm Panoptic but the view was too dark. Sh2-168 – tiny, faint patch. Sh2-170 – small circular patch of nebula close-by to CED214. Sh2-171 NGC7822, CED214 – A bright rounded “mask” section with separate nebulosity curve above also has a separate long thick lane underneath. Nice. Sh2-173 Mask – nothing. Sh2-184 Pacman – Large, bright nebula with thick black lane coming in from the side. The black lane was varying edges. The nebula has varying width as you look to the sides of the black lane. Sh2-188 Dolphin – A tiny bright “glistening” curve shape. Sh2-190 Heart – Wow, my first view of the Heart with Night Vision and it’s everything I hoped for. Lovely intricate detail and larger than the FOV. Two brighter patches with variation within them. Breathtaking! Sh2-191 Soul – Just underneath is the leg-less foetus! Large bellied body and head very sharp and clear. That completed my planned observing. I observed 30 of 32 Sharpless objects (in a 4" frac). It was a marathon and only achievable in one night with goto! By now its 0200am and I am getting cold. Everything is wet with dew but the skies are still clear, there is some brightness in the East as the Devils Orb starts to rise… I can see the seven sisters so I decide to “keep on going”… NGC1499 California – Had to see this before I read some NV reports from someone else (to spoil my reveal). Almost a Wow! It sits in the FOV of the 55mm Plossl nicely and shows the thick outer lanes clearly. I can see the pointy centre section of the lower side and I can see the black hole “eye” in the upper side. The outer ends are nice and clear too but there is something lacking (I reckon the sky is filling with water and this is confirmed as I look south to see the “wet haze” of a rising mist. NGC1491 – reveals as a small shimmering bright patch. M33 – I decide to finish of the Triangulum. All these nebula are nice but Galaxies are my thing. I remove the 6nm Ha filter and settle down on my chair. At first look M33 is small and just as with traditional viewing, you need to give galaxies some time for your brain to tune in. The upper arm out the NGC near the star is the first to appear at 12-3 o’clock position. I turn down the gain and then come back up in steps to the point where the upper arm is there and wait… Then a tiny bit more gain and now I see a circle of spirals surrounding the centre core. Keep looking… I see an outer arm curving in the 6-10 o’clock region Now the galaxy is going… gain up… no still going… I look up and to the south the “next village” has disappeared, the mist has descended… I decide to pack up and get into the warm house… Thoughts of the observer The real highlight of the night was the Veil complex for sure, I was expecting something else to jump to the front of the queue but I have never seen the Veil this good in a small frac, I even saw a curve section that I have never noticed in the dob before . [I did not see the section that @jetstream was asking about though]. The Heart was a close second though, it was amazing in all its glory. Many of the flight objects were small or tiny and this is where the big dob cannot be matched. The extra magnification available from the long focal length makes it a killer tool for these tiny nebula! I am most heartened by my early look at M33, its still not best positioned and I had some moon and wet sky to contend with. Still I did see the arms in a 4” frac so that’s not too bad, the 20” dob should also up the game on this object once he has the NVD attached... Clear Skies, Alan
  2. Date: Wed 23rd May 2345-0245am Scope: Borg 89ED f6.7 (fl 600mm) on Sky-tee2. Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Eyepieces: 55mm (f3.2 x11), 35mm (f5 x17), 27mm (f6.5 x22), 18.2mm (f9.6 x33). Filters: Baader 610nm Red, Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD. Moon: 68% First Light: Borg assimilated into Black Ops Astronomy (Night Vision) I have owned my PVS-14 Night Vision monocular now for about a month and so far have concentrated on the climax to galaxy season by viewing the biggest galaxies in an attempt to see as many spiral arms as possible before the sky rotates them away and the darkness disappears. All my usage so far has been with my 20" Dobsonian. With my old enemy, the Moon, also now spoiling my dark skies, it was time to get out the Borg89 and deploy some filters to defeat the moon. Proof of Concept I had setup around 9pm to make sure my red dot finder was aligned with the scope (at least the Moon is good for something ), and to test reaching focus with the Televue 55mm Plossl which needs loads of out-focus! I have been using a short 150mm tube on my Borg as I had previously been using it with Binoviewers. I have screwed an extra 50mm tube into the main scope body but even with the draw-tube fully extended, I could only reach focus by lifting the 55mm Plossl eyepiece about 5mm up & away from the diagonal (Luckily, it’s a click-lock diagonal and capable of holding the eyepiece firmly even when lifted). With the initial testing completed, I moved everything back inside to wait for it to get dark later... Always Have a Plan The plan for the night was in two parts (1) grab some Globulars & Galaxies to familiarize myself with the new setup and then (2) move onto the Milky Way later when it swings into view. Part 1: Find some easy Globulars and Galaxies I was using a manual mount (sky-tee2) and Sky Safari 5 (on ipad) where I have field of view circles on screen showing me what I should be seeing in the eyepiece and allowing me to manually jump around the sky using “2 circles up and 1 circle right” type of movements. M13 – With the 55mm Plossl (x11), M13 was easily located and a tiny fuzzy ball was seen. I added the Baader 610nm Red filter which helped to darken the background but it was only when I switched to the 27mm Panoptic (x22) that the outer stars of the globular started to resolve and a decent view was had. The Globular was still tiny in size but accepting smaller scale is part of the price of "Black Ops Astronomy". M51 – I moved onto the Whirlpool. After messing about on my knees with the red dot finder I got the scope to the right area and quickly located the double galaxy at the eyepiece with the 27mm & 610nm Red filter still loaded. I was impressed to see hints of a circle surrounding the galaxy! I upped the magnification to x33 with the 18.2 DeLite but the background became much darker and although the image scale improved, I felt the circle of arms was less visible that with the 27mm. (The Night Vision device is f1.2 so it responds better to faster scope speeds, scope speed is increased by using longer focal length eyepieces – I have added some spec detail to the top of this report). M51 – Right time to increase the speed. In with the 35mm Panoptic and 610nm filter. Now there was a definite circle of spiral arms twinkling around the tiny galaxy (x17 magnification). The bridge to the nearby NGC was not seen. Finally, I moved to the 55mm Plossl (x11) and was surprised to see a tiny circle surrounding the galaxy. Seems incredible that you can pull out arm structure at x11 with a 68% moon nearby! M101 – Onto M101 nearby. With a bit of faffing I finally got the small-ish hazy patch centered. It was still a decent size in the 55mm with 610nm filter but with no detail seen within. I decided to remove the 610nm filter “just for a laugh”. The galaxy became brighter with fleeting glimpses of what looked like a circle arm structure (similar to M51) but thicker/chunkier. This structure was only glimpsed with averted and much concentration but an astonishing result really considering the Moon and tiny magnification. Part 2: Exploring the Milky Way I used the red dot finder to centre the scope on Antares which was pretty low to my southern horizon but easily located. M4 – I had the 55mm Plossl loaded with no filter. When I looked in the eyepiece I could see a large bright well resolved patch of stars next to Antares. “What’s that?”. Consulting Sky Safari, it was M4. It appeared much larger and more resolved than M13. I have never viewed M4 before (it’s too low for my Dob from my Obsy/Shed) so that’s a new Messier for my list! M80 – I navigated over to M80 which turned out to be a disappointment after M4. It was just a tiny fuzzy star at this low magnification. Right, onto the main event. I decided to just pan up through the sky until I bumped into some Nebula. I attached the Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD filter to the diagonal. M17 Swan – 55mm. The first nebula that I happened upon was M17. Although, I did not recognize it as M17. I had to consult Sky Safari to try to work out what I was looking at! (I have viewed the Swan many times and I know what it looks like – or I thought that I did until now. Wow!) It appeared as a white hot upside down “V” surrounded by nebula on all sides (So much more than the usual “tick”). The familiar circle of nebula to one side was there if you looked but it was lost in the full (previously unseen by me) nebula structure. M17 – 35mm. Image scale improved and a second lovely view of this nebula. Maybe it was slightly dimmer with the loss of focal ratio but memorable for sure. (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw) Now, knowing where I was in the sky meant that a quick pan over to M16 Eagle was next… M16 Eagle - 55mm. “I can see an Eagle”. What more can I say, it looks like an image! I can see the head, the outstretched wings and a very bright body. M16 – 35mm. "I can see the Pillars of Creation". Admittedly, they were tiny! But black gaps in the bright body are there. Never thought I would see them and definitely not with an 89mm scope! (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw) What could beat that? Well, I only had a few minutes to wait before I stumbled onto the M8 Lagoon nebula. Wow, that just beat the Eagle nebula hands down. I was mesmerized! The view was so good that I am struggling to find an image on the internet to match the view! M8 Lagoon – 55mm. Wow, the nebula is so bright and thick that it stands out and punches you in the face. It looks like you are looking into a swirling black hole. Plenty of variations is brightness within the thick nebula help to give the view real depth. M8 – 35mm. The detail is breath-taking, lovely long dark lanes revealing lovely shapes and structures within the very bright nebula. I could not tire of this view! (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw) M20 Triffid – 55mm. Seen in the same field of view as M8. It was a poor second to the Lagoon mainly due to its small physical size at the eyepiece (Remember this is x11 magnification). However, the 3 pronged black lanes within were clearly visible. M20 – 35mm. View much improved with larger scale. Lost some brightness from the nebula due to loss of focal ratio but the inner detail was easy to see. (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw) Beaten back by the Dew I moved onto Cygnus and the North American nebula but the view seemed poor in comparison to what had come before. This surprised me as I can see the bright North American nebula naked eye at x1 magnification using Night Vision and a 1.25” Astronomik 12nm Ha filter. A quick look with my torch down the front on the scope showed that the Borg had succumbed to Dew Final Thoughts I had a great night. The view of the Lagoon will stay with me forever! The weather is set fair here in the UK so I know that it won’t be too long before I get outside again. I still can’t get over the fact that Night Vision can defeat the Moon. I live in a dark place, SQM 21.6 and when the Moon is up then I am forced to stay indoors – NOT ANYMORE! Clear Skies, Alan Note: The images that I added are not mine. They are the closest I can find to what I saw, although I only observed them in black and white (no colours) but with varying shades & brightnesses in-between.
  3. Captured back in early October, I didn't pay quite enough attention to the framing - I should have moved the camera up and right a bit and I could have gotten the whole belt in the picture... the headline stuff is in there though, M42/M43, Horsehead and Flame etc 10x 200 second subs taken with a modified Canon 650D through a Borg 55 f/3.6 (focal length 200mm). There's a load of red stuff in there that needs more exposures (or slightly longer ones) to show more off so I will redo this one and frame it correctly... or do a mosaic of Orion or... well, it'll depend on the number (or lack) of clear nights!! Unfortunately there are haloes on Alnitak and Alnilam, I may have a solution for the next time I cover this area Processing wise I'm going to have to sort out shorter exposures for the Orion Nebula and longer for the rest... James
  4. Hello everyone! After a pretty dreary September and part of October, I was finally able to get out with students to do some viewing. Here are some of the objects viewed over two nights using Starlight Live software on my Borg 77edii (f/4) and Borg 125SD (f/5) with a Trius 694 mono camera. In most cases an IDAS NB-1 "nebula" filter was employed to help with the suburban light pollution in our skies. The first night (mainly 125SD) was much steadier and drier, but along the coast we take what we can get when it isn't raining! ;-D It's so much fun to see these objects from less-than-optimal skies... I often intend to quit much earlier, only to find myself saying (over and over!) "... oh, look, <object> is coming up... I should just have a look at that before I pack up." And then another hour goes by! Cheers, - Greg A Eastern & Western Veil Comparison of FOV between two scopes on the NA Nebula Again, FOV comparison on the Elephant Trunk Nebula And again, with the Rosette Nebula Pacman Nebula through the 125SD: And Crab Nebula: And the Cocoon Nebula: Finally, a few wider shots of objects using the Borg77: Flame/Horsehead, California Nebula, Pelican Nebula and Andromeda Galaxy:
  5. I debated posting this in the deep sky section but figured I'd go for widefield as it is indeed rather widefield... Only a limited number of subs captured during a clear spell at the recent Kielder Star Party - here's a chunk of Auriga with the Flame Nebula at the top and M38 at the bottom left with a variety of other objects in between. It's a work in progress in that as soon as I can get a lot more subs I'll do so to really try and pull out the nebulosity in it...it'll take a while for me to identify all the objects (there's something at the top left that I'm curious about). Captured using a modified Canon 650D through a Borg 55 f/3.6 scope (focal length 200mm). I used one of their new QRO filters, the HEUIBII version, an upgrade to the 'standard' IDAS which has a filter cell designed to minimise reflections which I'd had on some of my earlier images - I think it's worked well!! I'm desperate to capture more subs for this one as I think there's promise in there, there's a considerable amount of nebulosity across a big part of the field of view but there's only seven subs in there, 5 from Kielder and 2 from home, 200 seconds each. I've used Pixinsight to process and have very slightly clipped the black end during processing to try and control the noise that more subs will deal with... James
  6. Date: Sat 9th June 0020-0215 Scope: Borg 89ED f6.7 (fl 600mm) on SkyTee-2. Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Eyepieces: 55mm (f3.2 x11), 35mm (f5 x17) Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD. Introduction We are now into June and up here in Penrith that means no darkness and about an hour of “deep dusk” before the sky brightens once again from 2am onwards. To the North the sky never goes dark at all. This creates about a 2-hour observing slot where at least I can see the main constellation stars to enable me to use the red dot finder to align the scope to something in the sky. Start Low… I had the 55mm Plossl and 6nm Ha CCD filter loaded together with my PVS-14 Night Vision Device (NVD) attached to the eyepiece with the TNVC/Televue afocal astronomy adapter. This turns my Borg into an f3.2 scope with a magnification of x11. The NVD provides a 40 degree field of view (fov). I’ve had three sessions on Sagittarius since late May and last night after an initial alignment on Antares and a pan around the low summer targets (Lagoon, Triffid, Swan, Eagle) revealing that wet sky conditions low down were rendering the view inferior to previous sessions, we had had heavy rain around 4pm and the sky still remained in a wet state. …Then Aim High! I decided to re-align to a new target area of the Milky Way around Cygnus (higher in the sky). I used the red dot finder to align to Deneb and started to move down using the SkyTee-2 slow-mo controls until I found the North American nebula which was bright and showing its whole structure. It was just slightly bigger that the fov of the eyepiece so I had to use the manual controls to investigate. I discovered a whole wispy section moving off the north side of the nebula that I did not know was there. Having spent many years looking at these targets with much larger scopes, it’s hard to really comprehend how easily they are seen with tiny aperture when you add Night Vision and a decent Ha CCD filter into the equation. Sitting to the left of the North American was the Pelican, the vertical streak of its “beak” was clearly visible alongside two other straight sections, and it looked like an “F” rotated at 45 degrees to the right. There was plenty more nebulosity on view but this basic “F” shape kept catching my eye. At the edge of the fov I could see a curvy section just off to the left of the Pelican (IC 5068) and centred it to observe it. IC 5068 appeared brighter than the Pelican and seemed to make the shape of an “opened palm of a hand that was holding the Pelican in place in the sky” Next, I opened the clutches of the SkyTee-2 and changed to “nudging” the scope by hand to see what other shapes I could “discover”... Below the North American, I bumped into a “backward C shaped nebula” (near 68 Cyg) which was almost large enough to fill the fov (Sh2-119). This nebula was less clear than the others observed so far but still easy to see. I headed back to Deneb to start a pass into Cygnus. As I found Deneb, I immediately noticed three spread out patches of nebulosity, two were small and circular while the third was a longer streak of nebula (Sh2-115 & Sh2-112). I panned right into Cygnus. Wow, there is just so much nebula! I ended up doing a “grid sweep” style manoeuvre with the scope as I panned and stepped my way down through the Cygnus region. The star attraction was the thick black lane section around Sadr which was bright and beautiful. But there was so much more nebulosity than “just this Sadr bit!” The clouds of shape was varying in brightness and density and the size of the area covered was HUGE. Sh2-108 stood out brightly. At one point I happened upon the Crescent nebula, it was pretty small but bright and showing the full curve (at x11) around three bright stars. Now it was time to head left over to the Elephant Trunk and Sh2-131. I returned to the North American nebula first then used this to get my height correct as I panned left and eventually straight into the sh2-131 nebula. It appeared as a large fuzzy “brain” to fill the whole fov. The centre section was much harder to see and appeared as a “dark hole within the surrounding fuzz”. I could see several black lanes coming and going within the nebulosity and used the nearby Garnet star to try to orientate myself with Sky Safari. I do not believe that I saw the Elephant trunk within the nebula but there was plenty of darker “black bits” at other locations within sh2-131 (using a mirror diagonal was also adding confusion to my brain! [I hope to get it later in the season when I get the 20” mirror and NVD onto this target] I panned up from sh2-131 looking for Sh2-129 (Bat wing nebula). It was easily located but was pretty faint compared to some of the other nebula that I had picked out so far. I panned down from IC1396 and located Sh2-132 which appeared as a bright patch of nebulosity. A quick look at Sky Safari revealed that the Cave was nearby so I used Sh2-132 as a marker to pan left over to the Cave (sh2-155) and soon bumped into it. I have never seen the Cave region with such low magnification before so the view was hard to recognise! The nebula was a nice size within the fov but there was so much nebulosity that I found it hard to see “just the usual bright bit”. There was a “clear dark side” to the nebula but the nebulosity’s appearance was more of a “cloud” or “cauliflower”. I tried switching to the 35mm for more magnification but the loss of focal ratio caused some of the brightness to be lost. By now, it was starting to get light and the sky was brightening, I decided to head for the Bubble nebula. I can only imagine how tiny it must be at x11 as I never managed to locate it! It was time to pack up. I returned to my eye piece box to discover standing water on top, the dew was really bad! Sky Safari Flight Path Here are some screenshots from Sky Safari with my observing list highlighted Conclusions Writing this report has been a discovery in Sharpless objects! Most of those mentioned in the report are new to me and I have had to spend time using the internet just to find the names for the objects that I observed. It is clear that there must be very few nebula beyond the reach of NV (if they have a Ha component that is) and I am looking forward to getting my big dob onto some of these tiny faint Sharpless objects (for some increased NV magnification). However, it seems Sky Safari do not expect anyone to see these objects as it’s been a real pain to find the names this morning. Looks like I need to “search” for each Sharpless in turn and add them to an observing list to get Sky Safari to show them, a job for the next rainy day. Clear Skies, Alan
  7. Date: Fri 31st August 2018. 2145-0010hrs. Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm). Eyepieces: Ethos 3.7mm(x162) & 6mm (x100) Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Night Vision Eyepieces: Panoptic 27mm (f5.4 x22) & 35mm (f4.2 x17), Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11). Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD, Astronomik 12nm Ha CCD. Moon: 80% Second time lucky? After my problematic first light attempts on Wednesday, I was very keen to get outside again and see if I could turn things around. The weather had been nice all afternoon and the skies remained clear at 2100hrs as twilight came down. I got the Borg 107FL setup & mounted in the house, this time I had the dew strap and handset on as well, then opened the French doors are carried it out to the patio (it’s as light as a feather (almost))! Still a couple more trips needed After identifying all the bits needed to get going (on Wednesday), tonight I was more prepared and had my eyepiece case lid laden with the books, torches, pens etc that I needed. The night vision was setup and inside together with my Astronomik filters. Which just left my Battery box and the two power cables for scope & dew strap. Three trips needed in total (an improvement on the other night). Am I in sync with SynScan? Nervously, I powered up the scope, and entered the date & time into the handset. I had the 6mm Ethos loaded for alignment so pushed on and selected Altair (I have the star names coming up in Alphabetic Order now so this was an easy choice – another first night improvement!). I centred the star in the finder and it was nicely in the 100 degree FOV, I defocused it to a big ball then centred, down, left, up, right (as per my learnings from first light). Next, onto Arturus and repeat the above. “Alignment Successful” the handset announced. I pressed the “Messier” button and entered “13” (which should be close by) Slew… Slew… I looked in the eyepiece and refocused, to my surprise there is was, M13, success at the first attempt! (That’s three hours saved on the first night) ? I popped back inside to inform the Mrs that it was aligned and she was welcome to pop outside for some introductory Night Vision viewing at her convenience. (She is too short to use the dob – has to stand on a block of wood - and hates all the nudging, so this tracking mount is just what is needed). Weather report Moon – the Moon was due to rise at 2215 and I expected maybe an hour before it comes over the Pennines and next door. So, limited darkness. Up above the Milky Way was showing nicely at 2200 with two spiral arms seen meeting in Cygnus overhead with a lovely black band in-between. The Moon was a pain from about 2300 as expected. Clouds – The first hour had clear skies, then cloud filled from the West and passed over. After that a layer of thin cloud remained but occasional patches were available. Observing report of our targets M13 – After viewing with the Ethos 6mm for a short while, I changed to the 55mm and added the PVS-14 Night Vision. M13 presented now as a lovely propeller, small but perfectly formed. Ideally I would have increased the magnification (DeLite 18.2mm) but she wanted to see some nebula. Crescent – Starting with a bright easy target. I added the 6nm Ha CCD filter to the diagonal. With the 55mm Plossl, the crescent was small and clear to see, lacking some detail as I could not see the whole of the reversed “9” shape but it was early. The Mrs had a look after checking an image in Sky Safari “This is what you are going to see…” type of thing… Gamma Cygni region – Very nice. Lush nebulosity was seen and panning round via the handset revealed plenty of lanes of nebulosity. I think I will be able to see plenty of Sharpless nebulas with this setup (but not when my wife is waiting for a sky tour!) North American + Pelican – The NA was lovely and bright with a fainter Pelican sitting to the side. The beak of the Pelican was clear but the body section was incomplete. The brighter sections of the NA nebula stood out nicely. ? IC1396 “Elephant Trunk” – IC1396 was visible tonight after being almost invisible two nights ago but there was still a lack of detail within IC1396 and no trunk. I would try again later when it’s darker. Bubble – This time I had three nebulous objects in the FOV (it was two on first light), the circular bubble was not visible at this low magnification, but I reckon I will get it on new moon with more magnification (Delite 18.2mm?). Sh2-157 was one of the patches in the FOV! - it was just possible to see the “heart” or “squid” shape sitting next to the Bubble nebula in direct vision. ? Veil – The eastern section was very clear. Pickering’s triangle was faint but there and the western section slightly brighter too. At this point, my wife decided she had had enough and cloud was pretty much everywhere. I could see two planets to the south and had no inclination to pack up my new scope until absolutely necessary! You got to pick a planet or two Saturn was up first. I removed the NV gear and inserted the Ethos 3.7mm. Saturn was nice and “contrasty” in the huge FOV but it was wobbly, wobbly, wobbly. I got a decent focus but there was no sign of Cassini division in the wobbly planetary image. Ah well, on to Mars we go. Mars showed as a lovely bright orange disk. It had the wobbles too (just like Saturn) but I did my best to get the disk as sharp as possible and settled down on my chair to observe it. I could see a white patch at the top of the planet and a dark crescent like shape in the central region. I checked “orbit” in Sky Safari to get the current face and there was some dark stuff centrally. As I kept observing a second white cap became apparent on the bottom of the disk too. The 3.7mm Ethos seems a good match to this scope, the exit pupil is larger (0.66mm) than the Borg89 due to the faster speed and I feel that it performed better in this session than I had managed with the smaller sister scope. The planetary images were bright and sharp, just need some decent conditions now… Wonder if Sagittarius is still there? The clearest part of the sky remained the low south, I had no clue whether Sagittarius was still above the horizon, but entered “M16” into the handset to find out… M16 Eagle – The scope slewed to a stop and was clearly above the horizon. I put the 6nm Ha filter back in and the NVD + 55mm Plossl. I looked in the eyepiece and there was the Eagle head and body shining brightly. I could see extra nebulosity (other Sharpless) above and to the left of the Eagle. The edges of the Eagle were a bit fuzzy so the sky wasn’t top notch but at least I could see something. I looked intently at the two central stars for the Pillars and a tiny black “V” was winking from there. I proceeded to change to the Pan35 for more magnification and now the Pillars of Creation were stable, tiny but stable. ? Now I tried the Pan27 for more magnification but found the image a bit dark. I swapped in the 12nm Ha filter for more light to the NVD and was rewarded by a nice sharp view of the Pillars. The rest of the view was more washed out than with the 6nm Ha filter but the detail in the nebula was more easily seen! M17 Swan – 55mm Plossl & 6nm Ha. Nice view of the bright main section with a very black hole in the circular section. The surrounding nebula was visible but not to the same extent as previous sessions with the Borg89. I could see some other Sharpless to the side of the Swan. M8 Lagoon – Down to the Lagoon and the overall shape was large and clear. Again it was not the best I have seen it but it is low and the Moon was up. Triffid – Always a nice object with NV. The black lines stood out clearly in the small flower shape. It looked best with the Pan35. Get outside and look up As Sky at Night like to keep telling us! I looked up and it had semi-cleared overhead, the “big W” was coming over the house and I wanted to try the Heart and Soul… Heart – On Wednesday I got two bright small patches. Now I see lines of curving nebulosity tracing out a shape but it’s not a Heart. I was a bit puzzled but I concluded that there must be some strange reflections or something in this area of the sky as the Heart was “overwritten” by two circles of brightness. I panned around but these bright circular patches remained there in the exact same place each time? ? Soul – That’s more like it, the foetus body was pretty clear, the head less so. By now, the moon was over next door and lighting up the patio. CED214/NGC7822 – The “parachute” was a bit of a let-down. I could see a square patch and a sausage shape next to it but compared to the “wow” I got with the 20” this was pretty thin gruel. I revisit some of the above targets, generally the moon was now in the way along with the ever present layer of thin clouds. At around 0010 I decided to give up. Thoughts of the observer It has been my experience that “first lights” are generally a disappointment but that “second light” gives you your mojo back. This indeed proved to be the case tonight. The SynScan trauma was forgotten and I actually felt some familiarity with the handset and its usage… The 107FL performed admirably on the planets and it seems a good match for the Ethos 3.7mm SX so I was pleased about that. I saw some great targets under a pretty dismal sky (apart from the first hour) and I have now forgetten how hard some of these targets used to be even on good nights. The highlight for me was the unexpected sighting of sh2-157 and I think this bodes well for some serious Sharpless hunting come the new moon. I will target the large Sharpless with the Borg 107FL and the small Sharpless for the 20”… Clear Skies, Alan
  8. Hello everyone, I was able to get out again recently and run a few sessions with students. The images below are labelled, and are from our less-than-perfect suburban site on campus using both a Celestron CPC 800 (8" SCT) at f6 and various Borg refractors (in this case, primarily a 77mm Borg EDii) at f4 with a SX Trius 694 monochrome CCD camera. All shot with an alt-az mount using SLL software for capture/stacking. No post processing other than the usual on-the-fly adjustments. I'm using the Trius 694 in 2x2 bin mode, mainly because SLL doesn't seem to want to work with it using any other binning mode. Luckily, it seems to work fine in 2x2 and I'm generally happy with the results, though I find with the fork mounted CPC that the need to use a diagonal makes spacing of the reducer/camera tricky, and I'm not getting as well corrected or reduced a field as I'd like (I'm using an Antares 0.5x reducer, but I'm only getting f6 out of it and still see artifacts at the edges). Any suggestions are welcome! Cheers, Greg A
  9. I did a quick (7 subs) image of the region around the Flaming Star Nebula and posted it... ... but I knew a few more subs would really help. I managed to get some over the last couple of nights. Both nights were a little murky but they were largely clear so I shouldn't complain.. This is a great region of the sky with loads of Ha objects, clusters, odd bits of nebulosity and so on and doing a slightly more widefield image allows me to capture more than one type of image at a time (value for money and all that!). Using a modified Canon 650D through a Borg 55FL f/3.6 scope and an IDAS HEUIBB filter, 30x 200 secs (guided) here's a reworked version as there's so many objects in there I thought I'd put an annotated copy in there two (manually - can't figure out the Pixinsight way to do it...). It's not perfect... there's artefacts in there caused by me stacking (and keeping) some subs that were taken at an angle to the rest..a practiced eye should be able to see that Actually, an unpractised eye probably can too I really must learn how to put pictures up here that don't get brutally jpeggerised... Oops - nearly forgot - does anyone know what the object at the top left is..? (The little red smudge...)
  10. We've had a couple of clear nights down here in Devon so I've been out with the cameras... this is a 10 sub stack, each of 200 seconds covering NGC1499, the California Nebula. Captured with a modded Canon 650D through a Borg 55 f/3.6 scope. A nice object to do at this time of year whilst waiting for other stuff to rise James
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