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  1. Hi! As I wrote in my welcome message I have acquired an expensive (at least for me at south of Spain), weight and important telescope just 18 months ago. Also, the effort to take it to the field is high (its main mirror + cell weights 30kgs), so I propose myself a simple but very rewarding challenge, to observe the Messier list again but with "other eyes". The images that showed the telescope with an aperture that I was not used to left me almost speechless, so I decided to create some cards that help to understand what can be seen visually with large apertures. I sincerely believe that it is something that, in as much detail as I am dedicating to it, had not been done before and the result seems to me that it can be very useful for many. Unfortunately I only have 13 cards created but I will expand it as the days go by, even so I would like to share it with you in case you find it useful. My main goal is to create a tool that helps the slow and detailed observation of the Messier list, because I feel if I do not share what I do it does not make sense at all. So here you have the web and its cards: https://theferretofcomets.com/index.php/en/messier-catalog/ Please let me know your ideas about it, any kind of criticism is most welcome. Best, Israel
  2. From the album: Mike's Images

    The Lagoon Nebula ( Messier 8, NGC 6523 ) in the constellation Sagittarius - by Mike O'Day ( https://500px.com/mikeoday ) The Laboon Nebula ( M8 ) is visible to the naked eye under dark skies from most latitudes except the far north. Seemingly covering an area about three times that of the full Moon, M8 actually covers an area somewhat greater than 110 light years and is around 4300 light years from Earth in the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm of the Milkyway galaxy. Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay Details: Messier 8, NGC 6523 - Lagoon Nebula. also contains: NGC 6526 NGC 6530 NGC 6533 IC 1271 IC 4678 7SGR 9SGR Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount. Orion auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, UHC-S 'nebula' filter. Nikon D300 (unmodified) (14bit NEF). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. 20 x 120 sec ISO400. 26 x 30 sec ISO 1600. 23 x 240 sec ISO 200. PixInsight and Photoshop. 2 August 14 . re-processed 24 April 2016 to include the additional subs ( the first version only made use of the 23 x 240 sec ISO 200 subs ) and putting use the processing lessons I have learnt over the past year.

    © Copyright Mike O'Day 2016 - all rights reserved

  3. A little late in posting this one due to work and the arrival of a new/old ‘scope but wanted to record my first solo trip to a darker site and a memorable observing session. As dark fell last Thursday (May 6th) there was a deep clarity to the sky that convinced me to do something I'd been threatening to do since the end of lockdown, put the gear in the car and drive 15 minutes out of town to a local country park. Farley Mount is a favourite viewpoint around Winchester and I'd previously clocked its near 360 degree horizon and elevated position away from immediate lights. The dis-incentive to date had been a ten minute walk from the car park through deep and ancient Yew woodland to the observing site, but the sky conditions, largely moonless night, & a lighter day in the diary at work Friday convinced me to bite the bullet. I don't mind admitting I was bit nervous for no rational reason, I'm a big lad and despite any local superstition all I'm really likely to run into up there is the occasional poacher (I took the chance the cold would keep al fresco couples and any attendant, ahem, spectators indoors). Nevertheless I was glad of the relaxed Canadian astro-dude banter of the Objects to Observe in May edition of the Actual Astronomy podcast in the car on the way up there and as an extra precaution took my heavy and very bright night-watchman style Maglite torch/truncheon for reassurance. I was pleased to find the car park deserted, no steamy cars or worse still, blood-stained pickups with deer in the back in evidence. The sky was mesmerising however, good seeing and good to excellent transparency. By the time I'd walked in, selected a spot allowing use of a handy bench as observing table and gone through the familiar routine of set-up I’d got very happy with my isolated situation and ready to track down some more spring Messier objects. This site is about 10 miles from Southampton and with a clear line of sight down to the dockyards and the ships strung out along the Solent and on toward Portsmouth. Beautiful in its own right but casting a glow to South and South East up to about 50 degrees. Basingstoke glows dimly over the Northern horizon about 20 miles away but only seemed to be affecting a dome up to about 15 degrees. All other directions were dark to the horizon and no local lights at all. This is a big step up from the local park! The Milky Way was very plainly visible along with M13 and 10+ stars in Ursa Minor. I used a Mak 127 on an AZ GTi, Baader Hyperion 24mm giving 63x magnification, a Neodymium filter and occasionally switched in a Baader Zoom 8-24mm to up the power. Aligned Vega & Arcturus then slewed to Vindemiatrix as a start point for some of the galaxies I haven't yet spotted in Virgo & Comma B. Took a quick look at M86 & M84 region first to gauge conditions against my last session in that area of sky and it was immediately clear the darker site and clear sky made a huge difference. The galaxies sprung out in 9x50 finder and I could see more of the nebulous regions surrounding the core. Took a quick sweep NE along Markarian's chain from there and it was dotted with 7 or 8 fuzzy patches in the same field, amazing. By this time I was getting dark adapted and relaxing into the new environment, so turned to new targets.I orientated myself through the finder in a triangle between Vindemiatrix, Porrima and Omicron Virginis and started hunting for a fuzzy patch between a diagonal pair just off centre right (in RACI view) of that region… M49 – Spent quite a while hunting this one before realising I’d aligned on the wrong fuzzy patch between a diagonal pair & had to resort to Stellarium on the iPad to find an optical triple in the bottom right of field which confirmed I was in fact looking at NGC4526/NGC4560 – “The Lost Galaxy” apparently now found. A quick sweep up and West found a wider spaced pair and there was a faint fuzzy cloud with a slightly brighter centre, surprisingly dim though. Not a lot of features so moved on but M49 located. M85 - found to R of 11 Coma Berenices, verified by the presence of dim star on lower R edge. Not much detail but nice to find. M100 – moved to 6 Coma Berenices as a reference then up and W to place a pair bottom L and look for M100 top right, eventually perceived as much as saw this – to my eye was only visible in averted vision – some sense of circular shape, apparent but really dim, brought home the vast distance (55 Million light years). M99 – back to 6 C.B. and put it in the top L of the field and a little down to the right, along the base of a low triangle of dim stars was M99 – a highlight of the night, whilst very faint showing some spiral structure- took a long look at this one. M98 – back the other side of 6 C.B an oblique egde on clearly visible as a “stripe” – reminded me of a dim M82. M61 – Looking half way along the line between Porrima and Omicron Virginis this one took me ages to find. I kept going to the spot where I thought should be and panning around not finding much. Tried a GoTo and that landed me in the dark. Eventually used Stellarium live on the iPad to confirm I had 16 Virginis and a line of 3 stars above in the field then moved up & found M61 between its 2 bridging stars. Another one very faint, and with averted vision some cloudy spiral form was visible. That all took a while and I was a bit cold so I decided to just hit GoTo on some targets of opportunity and see what I could find. Transparency up at the Zenith and over into Lyra and Cygnus was by this time superb. I had a bit of globular-fest alighting on: M13 which looked superb with many stars resolved and not for the first time a hint of dark lanes. M92 – smaller area than M13 and dimmer with less resolution but still lovely and a new “M” for me. M3 – Jumping around a bit but this is the first globular I found in binoculars and I wanted to compare. M5 – Tighter than M13 but I think slightly more spectacular, may be my favourite so far. M10 & M12 in Ophiuchus – easily popping into view in the finder. Have to confess I’d stopped really making notes by this stage. After all that galaxy hunting at the limits of both scope (and more to the point observer), the GoTo was behaving and the globulars look like celestial fireworks and are so easy to spot – great fun! Couldn’t resist a look over at M57 and things were so crisp and transparent over there I tried for M27 also and there it was, bigger than M57 and with a discernible double sphere shape. I rounded off with a super view of M81/82 with a sense of shape in M81 and of dark band across M82. Also notable was that where the other galaxies I’d viewed that night were grey mists of varying density – these appeared both brighter and golden in colour. Really amazing view. Just one more… (it was gone 2.30 am by this time and getting a bit blowy which wasn’t helping tripod stability or my core temperature!) M51 – great view with twin cores, a discernible spiral and a lane of connecting stars between the two centres. Amazing way to finish. An unashamed Messier-ticking session then but some unforgettable views and firsts, I am already plotting my next darker sky run, now, how far do I have to go to lose the glow from all those dockyards…?
  4. Hi all after a crazy Easter weekend of visiting here there,and every where here's my M104 with the contes and some charcoal for the dust lane ,this was the 18th I thought with it being low but over the forest and no orange glow I put the UHC filter on the ep ,it was rather bright for a change the core seemed bright tonight it's a lot dimmer usually but the UHC seemed to pull it out I also did a bit of the Virgo bowl there's a lot of smudges at around x75 Here's the drawing of m104 I also did a bit of the chain starting at M84 Pat M104 M84
  5. Here is my sketch of m81 and m82 sketched in good seeing and in my light polluted backyard (Spiral arms fainter than the sketching , could just make them out as a halo outside of the core
  6. As I was lucky enough to have clear skies on the evenings of the 1st, 2nd and 4th of May, I managed to do a tour of the Messier galaxies in Virgo. It was a real lesson in star hopping for me and making the most of the finder scope and the main telescope, with my 32 mm Plossl, eyepiece to navigate my way around. Stellarium is also a very powerful tool for this - though you still have to think carefully about the change to an inverted view at the telescope. On the 1st May: M59 and M60 I started at Vindemiatrix and tracked to the right using the finder, and referencing relative to the background stars in Stellarium, until I was in the right region for M59 and M60. The pair occupy the same field of view in the 32 mm EP and they appear as faint fuzzy blobs. M58 I tracked along the same line using the EQ5's manual slow motion controls, while viewing as I went along with the 32 mm EP, until M58 popped in to view. It's another faint fuzzy blob (a theme developing here) and it's nicely signposted by a neighbouring faint star which makes a clear marker in the EP. M89 I used the same technique of using the manual slow motion controls and the main telescope again to track diagonally up and to the right. Stellarium, again, was helpful for the line of the track as some unidentified faint stars provided references. The galaxy is another faint fuzzy patch but unmistakable nevertheless. M90 I continued the star hop as before by slewing vertically from M89, against the pattern of faint background stars, to M90. This galaxy did appear more elliptical and extended than the previous galaxies and was, again, very obvious in the EP. M91 The hop to this galaxy was, again, carried out with the slow motion controls. I tracked vertically first to a small "U" shape of stars (with HIP61676 at one end) and from there right to M91. This was clearly visible with the 32 mm EP. M87 I puzzled over how to get to this from M91, without getting lost, and I decided to start afresh from Denebola with the finder. Starting from Denebola I tracked left to the clearly identifiable group containing 6Com. I then tracked down to HIP 60150 (name from Stellarium) and extended a line from it through HIP 60419 and on to M87. I actually blundered into this, which was a very obvious blob in the 32 mm EP, and the nearby Mag 6.25 star clearly marks the galaxy's position and identification as M87 (rather than M84 and M86 which lie close to the track). M84 and M86 I tracked in the appropriate direction (using M87 and the neighbouring star as an indicator for track direction) and I found both galaxies in the same field of view in the 32 mm EP. A pair of Mag 8.05 and Mag 7.65 stars are also in the field of view and form a T shape with the galaxies. On the 2nd May: M88 I managed to overlook this on the previous evening, although it is fairly close in the sky to M91, and I started by tracking from 6Com down to HIP 60150 and then left through HIP 6075 and HIP 60960 to M88. Again I started the hop with the finder and then used the 32 mm EP and the manual slow motion controls on the main scope to do the trickier part of the hop. The galaxy appears as a faint fuzzy patch and is clearly signposted by a faint star, HIP 61170, in the field of view. M49 This galaxy is lower in the sky than the previous set and I started the hop from Vindemiatrix and I used the finder and the recognisable background stars to track to the right and slightly down to rho-Vir and from the there diagonally down and to the right to get to HIP 61103 and the galaxy. M49 appeared fairly bright and obviously elliptical in both the 32 mm EP and my 20 mm EP. M61 Although this is just below M49 in the sky, I found it easier to start a new star hop. To the right of Porrima are the pair of the naked eye stars Zaniah and 13Vir. I used the finder to track from this pair vertically to cVir and I then extend the line up and slightly to the left to find M61. The galaxy is pretty obvious, though fainter than M49, and appears as a faint smudge in both the 32 mm and 20 mm EPs. On the 4th May: M99 There is a very nice marker group of stars forming a T composed of: 6Com, Hip 59941 and HIP 60210 (which for the cross-bar of the T from right to left) and HIP 59941, HIP 60089 and HIP 60150 (which form the stem from top to bottom). These are all eaily seen in the finder which make finding the remaining set of galaxies relatively easy. M99 is just to the right and below HIP 60089 and it appears as a moderately faint fuzzy in the 32 mm EP and just a hint of the spiral structure appears with my 10 mm EP. M98 I slewed back to 6Com just using the 32 mm EP and dual axis motors and M98, which is just to the right of 6Com, was just discernible with the 32 mm EP. The 10 mm didn't reveal much as the galaxy is quite faint. M100 I used the dual axis motors again to slew back through 6Com and across the top (crossbar) of the T through HIP 59941 and HIP 60210 to M100. It appears as a faint fuzzy with the 32 mm EP and the 10 mm EP brings out the core of the galaxy against a faint disc. M85 and NGC 4394 I used the 32 mm EP and the slow-motion manual controls to slew up and slightly to the right through HIP 60313 and then on to 11Com. From there I slewed diagonally up and to the left to this pair of galaxies. It gave good views with the 10 mm EP and the core of M85 was reasonably clear and NGC 4394 looked like an elongated smudge. This, I think, is all of the Messier galaxies in Virgo although M104 (the Sombrero Galaxy) is also considered to be in the Virgo group (though it isn't in all lists). It's a bit low in the sky to view from the usual place I set up the telescope in the back garden but I have observed this with my binoculars. It's very obvious and I find it with a star hop that starts at Spica and then right to the pair of stars Algorab and eta Corvi (which are both naked eye from my garden). From this bright pair. I follow the gentle curve upwards and slightly to the left defined by HIP 61212, HIP 61296 and a couple of small asterisms. M104 is just to the left of the upper, fainter, asterism. I'm hoping to observe this with the telescope at some point but it may need me to take a trip to a suitable site. On the night of the 2nd I also revisted M51 and NGC 5195, which is well placed at the moment and almost vertical. I tried virtually my full set of eyepieces, from the 32 mm Plossl to my 5 mm and, although the cores of the galaxies were obvious with them all, I found that the, as supplied, SW 10 mm EP gave the best views. The bridge between the galaxies was clearly visible as were hints of the spiral arms (there was certainly structure within the halo of glow around the cores). There was also a point of light (star) within the disc of M51 (which is in the 4 o'clock position relative to the core of M51 if the core of NGC 5195 is placed at 12 o'clock) that was clearly visible even with the 5 mm EP. This star shows up in most images of M51, though it is often supressed by histogram stretching. It was by far the best view I've had of M51 and it demonstrared to me the advantage of viewing galaxies when they are close to zenith.
  7. Hello fellow gazers I want to share a little project of mine I started a few days ago. Last week I opened another thread regarding a new EP which I ordered and @YKSE commented on it (again thank you for that! ). I saw his awesome signature and blandly copied it into my signature thinking to myself that I as of now had a Mission... a Mission to see and log all those beautiful clusters, nebulas and galaxies! As a well known sitcom actor would say... "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!" Then I ran into a few problems... first of all... where the hell would I find all the information I would need and secondly, the more pressing problem, how would I keep track of this huge amount of everything?! I really don't know how YKSE is doing it, or even others, but I thought to myself that a good ol' classic excel table would do the trick. I promptly started to gather the four catalogues in question, copied them into an excel tabel an HEY! there are MANY dublicates... Filtering them out isn't that easy since the information I found isn't completely to the point I would need it to be. So after a few days of manual crunching NGC numbers, here the actual result. The list includes a general number of the whole list, NGC / other number, the four catalogues, common name, type, distance, constellation, apparent magnitude and a "best to observe"-tab. To make things a little easier I included the NGC / other number to almost completely eliminate the duplicates. I also included a "best to observe"-tab to simply filter the catalogues by months. This way I can grab the list, filter it and promptly see what I could potentially see and what not. And the most important thing of all? A small cell where I can put an "x" if I've seen whatever I wanted to see. This goes allong with a date and location tab to round everything up. In some separate sheets I created a General Overview, the four separate catalogues and a Constellation sheet where I'll put some valuable information. The General Overview will be a sheet holding the logs information. For example I can immediately check how many objects I've seen of the Messier Objects or the Collinder Catalog and so on. I'll display a simple number like 56 / 110 Messier Objects and include a percentage diagram. To make things a little funnier I'll also add a general counter for the four catalogues, hence the previously mentioned general number of the whole list. After the list is complete I could se myself linking every entry to an online catalogue with more information and pictures for further research. If someone wants this list I'll gladly share it Have a great evening everyone, Abe
  8. Just in from 30 mins out the back picking clear spots twixt the clouds. Just had to get some starlight!!! Canon 15x50 IS binoculars. MW easily visible from Perseus through to Scutum. Much mottling with dark dust clouds. M26 and M11 and lovely Scutum star cloud and dark nebulae. Barnards 'E' in Aquila. M71, Brocchi's Cluster. A quick branch off to M!3 and M92 in Hercules. M27 aside the Cygnus Rift. NA nebula prominent and the Eastern Veil a faint arc. M39 a triangle and the long dark 'rift' leading towards the Cocoon. Caroline's Cluster, M52, Pacman, NGC 147, M103, NGC63 in Cass, 'cluster central'. M31, 32 and 110. M33, a smudge. M15 a gem in Pegasus. Double cluster and Kembles Cascade a favourite. The stars and objects seemed especially alive tonight Wallowed in the splendour. Hope y'all get your fill of the universe soon! Cheers Paul
  9. After several weeks of not pulling out the scope I was pleased to finally have a chance to hit a clear, dark sky location. Red Rock State Park in California was the location du jour - a Bortle 2 location I hit when ever in this part of the country on business. Conditions were great with temperatures in the low 80s (F) and negligible winds. A light haze lingered on the horizon due to stronger winds earlier in the day. After judging conditions were OK when M65, M66, and NGC 3628 were all visible a great night began. I had wanted to do some deep deep observing so I searched SkyTools3 for quasars within the ability of my scope - the listed came up with a couple that I hadn't heard of before so i got excited. First up was HE 1106-2321 in Crater - listed as a mag 13.7 quasar. Despite not having star hopped in several weeks I found it easiest to hop down from Beta Crt to a mag 8.9 star that served as a base. From there a line of three stars led away to a strong L asterism. The quasar was between the first two in the line...but was FAINT. I had to move magnification up to 240x to pull out the faint photons in averted vision. I was able to get a clear view twice while the scope was slowly moving but upon only viewed faintly a few other times. A mag 13.2 star was more easily visible in the proximity. Next up was moving up to Virgo for SN2012cg. Hopping through several galaxies I was able to find the supernova glowing brightly (may have been a touch brighter than the listed mag 12.0). It overpowered it's host galaxy NGC 4424...with the galaxy's glow only possible with averted vision away from the supernova. The nova is very close to the galactic core. Also in the area NGC 4417 and NGC 4445 were faintly observed - just faint fuzzies. I swung the scope over to UMa and star hopped over to MKN 421 which was supposed to be rather difficult to find because not much is in the local area. But I found a double kite (or diamond) asterism that made locating the quasar pretty easy. The mag 6 stars nearby nearly overpowered the quasar but it was visible with averted vision - not that it was too faint...but the other stars just overpowered it. Taking a break from the ultra deep observing I moved over to Antares and observed M 4 and NGC 6144. M 4 was stunning at 120x looking like the many legs of a spider streaming away from the center point. NGC 6144 is a faint GC that wasn't much more than a grainy cotton ball - I imagine upping the magnification may have given a better view...but I was off again. Next up was the naked eye Lagoon Nebula which glowed very nicely at 120x and 240x. I went with and without UHC filter and was pleased with both views. The dark vein running through the nebula stood out best at 240x but was still visible at 120x. In the vicinity observations included the Omega Nebula (very nice with and without UHC filter), a few open clusters, and even the Ring Nebula which I like best without the filter as I get more color). I split the Double Double while around Vega. The final joy of the night was observing both the east and west parts of the Veil Nebula - just a whisper was visible with an unfiltered view but the UHC filter made it stand out very nicely. I had no idea that this nebula was soo big. Had to go with 46x to see it on any scale. A pretty good night - 2 new quasars, 1 new supernova, and a handful of nebula and faint galaxies. Today I'm off to Las Vegas and if i don't melt in the 100+ (F) heat I hope to put in some Bortle 1 viewing in the desert on Thursday and Friday. My scope has been begging for an even darker location. Could be fun! Happy hunting!
  10. How do you top a night where you observed two quasars and one supernova? You go to a darker location and focus almost exclusively on quasars in the magnitude 13-14 range. On the night of June 14 I drove almost 80 minutes north of Las Vegas to the Paranaugat wildlife Refuge arriving after sunset but well before true darkness set in. A quiet location but for the highway I used to get there - I didn't realize how much traffic this highway received after dark - not a five minute period went by without cars/trucks speeding by washing over my viewing location with their headlights - I got really good at keep my eyes closed to protect my night vision. And it was dark - this was my first Bortle 1 location with the horizon being completely black except for due south where the light dome of Las Vegas glowed dimly on the horizon up to about 10 degrees. The Milky Way was brilliant. Air temperatures dropped from the mid-90s (F) to the mid-80s (F) and winds dropped to nearly nothing in the hour after sunset. Despite being such a dark location my views of galaxies were never 'crisp' - I've had far better galaxy views from other locations (that are less dark) so there must have been a good bit of moisture in the airmass up high. Stars were clear with beautiful spikes coming from the bright ones. Several 'visibility test targets' were jumped through as I was waiting for twighlight to fade. The Hercules Cluster (M15), Alberio, and M92 all old friends revisited. My normal test targets - M65, M66, NGC 3628 - were briefly observed a few times over the course of the night but never impressed (which was disappointing). First hunt of the night was MKN 501 - a mag 14.5 quasar an unknown distance away. I hopped down from Eta Her and found a "V" asterism of roughly mag 8 stars that pointed right to the target area. After camping on a mag 12.6 star I was able to see the faintest galactic haze around a 'star' at the right location - that's the target with the 'star' being the quasar shining bright in the galactic core. Quasar find #5! Staying in Hercules I went hunting for B3 1715+425 - a mag 13.3 quasar listed at 2.1 Gly distant. I found the start of this hunt a challenge as I started star hopping from Iota Her - which was a challenge to find as it's not an overly bright star and doesn't stand out in the finder scope. I could clearly see it naked eye but had difficulty translating that to the finder scope. I eventually did find Iota and star hopped up to the area via a line of mag 5 - 6 stars to M92. I hopped to the correct location, positively identified the mag 8.4 star that was my 'base camp' for this hunt...then could clearly make out the mag 13 and 13.4 stars nearby but the quasar was nowhere to be seen...it was supposed to be sitting between the mag 8.4 and mag 13 stars...but nothing was there. Upped the magnification from 120x to 240x but it didn't help. No joy on this target. I'm thinking my star chart program must have been off in either magnitude of the target or location...because mag 13 targets were easily seen this night. Next I swung the scope over to Draco and PG 1634+706 (A Sky & Telescope target this month) - a mag 14.7 quasar listed 7.6 Gly away (but this month's Sky & Telescope said the distance is most likely incorrect due to time/space expansion). I star hopped over from Pherkhad in Ursa Minor to a grouping of mag 6-8 stars and then down to the target area. Positively IDing the quasar was not that difficult tonight as there isn't much else in the immediate vicinity...but a series of mag 12-14 stars ring the area and were all visible. The quasar stood out as a compact star-like body. Quasar #6! Next down to the tail of Draco for MKN 180 - a mag 14.5 target an unknown distance away. The star hop from the tip of the tail (Gianifar) wasn't too difficult...and I made a postive ID based off where the faint stars were in relation to one another...the quasar formed the corner of a parallelogram with 3 other stars - but it was faint. This was about the faintest target of the night and averted only. Quasar #7. Next moving up Draco's body to PG 1351+640 - a mag 14.3 quasar listed 1.1 Gly distant. A pretty easy star hop and a line of mag 10 stars pointed right to the averted-only quasar. It was faint but there were stars a little further away that were more faint. Quasar #8!! A little further up the body and star hopping over from Ursa Minor led to 3C 305.0 - a mag 13.7 quasar listed at 550 Mly distance. The star hop was the biggest challenge here as so many faint stars were visible it was tough for me to keep track of which star I was really looking at. After about 10 minutes of hunting/checking/moving/hunting/checking/verifying I finally made it to the correct target location and could see a faint star-like object in the faintest of haze - that's the target. Several mag 14.x stars were clearly visibile in the vicinity. Averted vision brought out the most of the haze...but the target was not difficult in these conditions. Mark that as #9!!! Final ultra deep target of the night was IRAS 17371+5615 - a mag 14.0 target listed at 960 Mly. Another challenging star hop trying to pin down faint stars in the head of Draco...eventually did it and camped out on a mag 10.3 star where the quasar was out on a ring of mag 14.x stars in the same EP view. I was able to pin down each of the mag 14 stars with the target quasar being #3 in the line. This was a faint target...but it was there. An even 10 quasars logged! Time to view a few more old friends - M101 with darkness showing between faint farms, M51 which was the only stunning galaxy of the night with the arms showing about as clearly as I've ever seen them, M63 with the bright core and expansive dim glow, and M94 was just a bright core. Then down to NGC 4618 and NGC 4625 - both of which were little more than faint smears. 4618 was clearly brighter and the core stood out well. I finished up my CVn tour with the Cocoon galaxy and companion NGC 4485 - the Cocoon had a bright core and appeared maybe "quarter-on" facing...4485 was non-discript. Their proximity lends itself to interaction but I couldn't see any through the EP. A great, dark night. Very pleased with the very faint targets I was able to pin down. 6 new quasars observed (+1 more missed) and 3 new galaxies. I'm all smiles (well I am now after a decent sleep). Happy hunting.
  11. Having waited in vain for the clouds to clear on Tuesday night, it was great to get out and finally see some stars last night! I'd picked out a new spot to try on the South Downs just outside Winchester, on a well made farm track that runs due South just across the A272 from Cheesefoot Head viewpoint car-park. In the daytime this is an airy downland spot filled with wild flowers and Skylark song, by night it offers a super horizon from SE. round to NW. with the pretty but invasive lights of Southampton port and Fawley refinery 15 miles or so S - SW. Lightpollutionmap.info says it has an SQM of spot on 21, a worthwhile improvement for a ten minute drive over my rugby pitch site at 20.27 and only a fraction lighter than Farley Mount - and minus the third of a mile carry through slightly eerie Yew woodland! I got up there about 11.45 - just in time for an ISS pass which I caught to the NW along with my first definite noctilucent cloud sighting to the N. Seeing was quite steady and transparency good outside of bands of thin high cloud that cleared as the night wore on. There was some haze that mingled with LP over the coast causing extinction below 10 degrees or so. I'd planned a recce session in the Sagittarius area using an ST80 and a couple of new filters - Baader O-III and ES UHC to try on the nebulae. After aligning on Arcturus and Altair I toured the region finding the UHC really helpful in cutting through the low-down murk. Many first views with the Lagoon Nebula M8, Eagle & Swan Nebulae M16/17 and Trifid Nebula M20 the standout highlights, the first of many visits I'm certain. All observations were made with a Baader Hyperion 24mm (21x) and Baader Classic Ortho 18mm (28x) and interchanging filters and natural view to tease out the detail. Later I switched to 2 inch mode and used a 31mm Hyperion Aspheric (16x) for some panoramic views. All stunning stuff! M16 elongated cluster, Hercules like shape, double upper L of “keystone”. UHC brought out dark lanes crossing. M17 prominent orange star above, glowing nebulous area below right of faint trapezium asterism. Dark tendrils with AV. M8 - epic. Bright clusters multiple dark areas and glowing patches. O-III enhanced the cloud to 20% width of fov in 18mm M21- arrowhead cluster M20 - stunning star spangled glowing nebula with dark lanes. Fuzzy cloud wider with O-III. M22 - bright compact glob. Triangle with centre star asterism to L. Diagonal pair to upper R. [RACI view] M4, 6, 7, 19 too low in murk over Southampton to pick out. Widefield (31mm Hyperion, 2-inch) on M8, 20, 21 stunning field. M24 bright blue beehive like M16/17 In same field. Wow. M18 - rich field, pronounced "V" to R. It was after 2 by this time, so I took a quick tour around M57, a squint at part of the Veil Nebula with the O-III filter (warrants much more time!) and grabbed a great view of M31 which was easily visible naked eye at this point. With the 18mm I was for the first time able to pick out M32 & M110 - bonus! I resisted the temptation to switch to Jupiter & Saturn, by now quite high to the South, packed away and enjoyed a last sweep of the Milky Way naked eye and with 10x50s - vertical and almost visible to the horizon (barring those port lights!). Rolled back down the hill after a lovely shirtsleeves session in a super new spot. Mainly today I am drinking coffee...
  12. I'm guessing almost every deep sky observer has had a go at Messier's list at some point, and I'm also sure that all of you have had the odd object that has been frustratingly difficult to observe. Sure as we all start with the wonders of M13, 42, 31, 45, etc, it seems the sky is full of rich pickings... then inevitably, within a few months we find ourselves staring furiously at the area of sky that we 'know' M97 is but even our imagination can't help us now! Persistence pays off eventually, and slowly but surely even the faintest of fuzzies are claimed for our observing journals. That is, until we meet our Messier nemesis (singular or plural!)... regardless of how often we try these stubborn face-on spirals and fiendishly low clusters remain invisible. Do we need more aperture? (possibly ), do we need darker skies? (probably), but either way, persistence must remain our greatest weapon. SO the question is... which Messiers are you missing? or more accurately, which Messiers cause you consistent trouble? I've still got a handful of southern OCs left (good excuse for a holiday to warmer climates me thinks!), but my 'arch-enemy' remains M101. Anyone similar?
  13. Globular clusters, whenever I point my scope towards 95% of them they come out as a hazy patch. The only two globulars I can see kind of clearly are the Hercules cluster and Messier 3 in Canes Venetici. All the rest look fuzzy, What aperture would you need to see them clearly? I have a 4.5" reflector. Thanks Adam
  14. Had three sessions last night, the first the CPRE Orion star count with my 11 year old daughter, magic. The second was from the light-blighted garden mid evening - successfully picked up M41, M35 and M67 all for the first time - then a neighbour put on more lights so had a go at Polaris, nearly, almost sort of resolved as a double this time. After a tea and warm break I managed to convince myself that the Mak 127 carry over to the park at 11:30 pm constituted allowable lockdown exercise (body AND mind officer...) so headed out to a wider and, it turned out, reasonably darker viewing spot in the park. I haven't yet much comparative experience of conditions but I would say seeing was quite steady while transparency a bit milky. Winchester sits in a river valley and I suspect this may be a local feature until I can get up & out of town. Anyhoo, what started as proof-of-concept of some grab & go bag & padding ideas, turned into a really super session of clusters and doubles, most of which I had never seen before, & fruitless searches for fainter things. Technique-wise I brightest star aligned on Sirius and Arcturus & did have a few accuracy niggles with the GoTo , however a combination of the Telrad + 10x50 Bino sweeps got most of the bright targets quickly in the Finderscope and centred. Highlight has to be the Beehive, M44 which I found breathtaking & can't believe I have never looked for before, Beta Mono triple-star which was amazingly 3D and set me off on a Tatooine sunset imagination-trip and M67, dim & red the kind of place where Klingons might hang out! After much reading on here over all these starless nights I had made a list and although I deviated a bit from it and failed to find ANY galaxies or planetary nebula, the list was a great idea and reminded me that I wanted to go and hunt down the targets in Cancer which I would otherwise have forgotten and missed two of the highlights of the evening. Eventually my phone battery gave out and as I was wi-fi tethered to the AZ GTi this ended my session shortly before frost-bite ensued. That dew shield was a good buy For what its worth, here are my notes, all observations made on SW Mak 127 on AZ GTi, Baader Hyeprion 24mm 68 degree fixed for most & occasional higher mag on Baader Hyperion 8-24mm Zoom. Telrad & SW 9x50 finder, supplemented by Celestron Nature DX ED 10x50 Bins.
  15. Finally had the right mix of work trips, dark skies, and time to get out and spend some time under the stars. My 'normal spot' was cloud covered with a second day of thick 'monsoon' moisture pushing into the US SouthWest and hanging out over the mountains. I tried out a new stargazing location 10 minutes from my hotel...it provided good skies to the east and south...north was washed out from local businesses and west had sky glow for quite a while. That said...the Milky Way was beautiful and nearly stretched from horizon to horizon (sky glow to the north stopped it in that direction). Lagoon Nebula/Butterfly Cluster were obvious and M31 was just visible (averted) once it was high enough. So overall conditions were pretty decent. Location: Tehachapi, CA, USA Elevation: ~4300' MSL Time: 21:00-00:30 Observing was done primarily with my 10mm EP for 120x but for some targets i also used the 26mm EP for 46x. UHC filter was used for nebula. I went out with SkyTools3 and sorted my Hershell 400 list to show only objects in SCO and SGR. Here's the list of objects observed from that quick sorting: NGC6451 (Tom Thumb Cluster) - OC - shape looked roughly like a heart NGC6544 - GC - a tight, dusty snowball NGC6520 - OC - looked like a thumb...dark vein in MW surrounding NGC6624 - GC - compact cluster...nearly solid core with dusty 'corona' NGC6553 - GC - faint...somewhat trapizoidal shaped...no detail NGC6569 - GC - even, dirty textured snow ball NGC6645 - OC - nothing memorable...a grouping of stars in the MW...easy find NGC6568 - OC - another bunch of stars a little closer than others...nothing memorable NGC6818 (Little Gem) - PN - a fuzzy star a bit bigger than the rest - perhaps a slight blue hue? NGC6583 - OC - a faint little OC that stood out enough to make me figure out what it was...shaped like a fuzzy triangle NGC6540 - GC - a ghost of a GC...very faint...averted best NGC6558 - GC - small, faint GC NGC6547 - OC - hard to pin down...non-descript but the field was right Then moving over to the Messier List I observed M25 - OC - easy target M55 - GC - not an easy star hop but a nice cluster once there...100+ stars visible M75 - GC - tight GC with a bright core which quickly diffuses to about 3x the core width...a fuzz ball M15 - GC - WOW! Nice GC...bright with lots of tendrils running away from the core M30 - GC - a right GC that looked like it had 2-3 legs coming off it...more like and oC than a GC M72 - GC - dirty snowball...not bright M73 - OC - difficult star hop for me... to see...4 stars(?)...blah. Then I finished the night with two new friends and two old ones: NGC7000 (North American Nebula) - Diff Neb - UHC filter - saw the Gulf of Mexico area pretty easily...haze only in the rest of 'North America' Will have to revisit under darker skies. IC5070 (Pelican Nebula) - Diff Neb - UHC Filter - could just see the largest/brigtest section with averted vision...and just barely. Will have to revisit under darker skies M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) - GX - beautiful first view in months M110 - GX - Andromeda's little partner...pretty M33 (Pinwheel Galaxy) - just searched for it for the fun of it...just faintly visible with no detail. Need darker skies. A very good night by all standards. 22 new finds, a few old friends and I finished the Messier List!!! Yeah! Happy Hunting!
  16. Astrophotography Scrapbook Vol. 1 Cover Page Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 8, NGC 6523 ) The Fighting Dragons of Ara ( NGC 6188 ) War and Peace in Scorpius ( NGC 6357 ) Spiral Galaxy NGC 6744 in Pavo Ptolemy's Cluster in Scorpius ( Messier 7, NGC 6475 ) A Million Stars in the Deep South ( NGC 104, 47 Tucanae ) A Wishing Well in Carina ( NGC 3532 ) A Beehive in the Southern Sky ( NGC 2516 ) The Sliver Coin in Sculptor ( NGC 253 ) The Great Nebula in Orion ( Messier 42, NGC 1976 ) A Cluster of Pearls in Centaurus ( NGC 3766 ) - new 5 Dec resources: Scrapbook Template ------------------------------------- When I show my astrophotography images to my friends and family they invariably want to know what they are looking at. This led me to wonder if there was a way I could display my images on a single page together with a few notes on the target object as well as few technical details of the capture for those who might be interested. What I came up with a "scrapbook" like page that combines all of these three elements in a single PDF sheet ( or jpeg image) that ultimately I might combine together to form a PDF book that I can share online or send to friends and family. In the meantime, I thought I might post in this thread each page of my work-in-progress towards volume 1 of my Astrophotography Scrapbook. Any and all comments, observations, suggestions and constructive criticisms will be warmly received. Cheers Mike ps. The pages have been sized to fit full screen on an IPAD
  17. Ptolemy's Cluster in the constellation Scorpius ( Messier 7, NGC 6475 ) Scrapbook page ...
  18. The Great Nebula in Orion ( Messier 42, NGC 1976 ) ( tap on image to see larger ) Scrapbook page ... Details: The Great Orion Nebula (Messier 42, Messier 43, NGC 1976 ) in the Orion Constellation RA 5 36 15, DEC -5 26 31 ( 2016.9 ) Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount Orion Short Tube 80mm guide scope & auto guider - PHD2 Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector & no filter Nikon D5300 (unmodified) Field of view (deg) < ~ 1.35 x 0.90 long exp noise reduction on 45 x 120 sec ISO 400, 15 x 60 sec ISO 100, +various short exposures 3 to 15 sec to extend dynamic range for bright stars Pixinsight & Photoshop 28th November 2016
  19. Hello folks, for long I have been browsing the internet to find a suitable 10in dob and despite lack of reviews, I have decided to take the plunge with the Bresser Messier 10in Dobsonian. There was some doubt at first, especially when considering the popularity of similar scopes from Skywatcher, Meade and GSO. Even though Bresser is relatively new to the market, it has some clever features: 1. The massive 2.5in hexagonal rack and pinion focuser is very solid and the movement is smooth. Despite being only single speed, Bresser sells an a dual speed 10:1 extension. However, I find the movement precise enough and do not need the extension at the moment. 2. Optical finder scope feels a bit cheap but it is a nice upgrade over the red dot finder I had on my previous scope. 3. Rocker box style base allows disassembling the scope into two pieces (OTA and base). 4. Tube rings allows the scope to be easily balanced when adding weight + after adding a suitable dovetail plate, the OTA can be used on an equatorial mount (if you plan to upgrade to an eq mount, I would consider the 8in model, as an eq mount for the 10in would be expensive). The only negative comments I can give about the scope is the production process. There were some minor issues with the assembly with the scope as parts did not fit properly. First problem was with one hole drilled deeper (loosening the particular screw fixed the issue). Another problem was with the altitude wheel as it made the OTA to pop out from the rocker box. (A loose screw on one of the plastic pads between the box and altitude wheels was causing this. Make sure all these screws are tightened and below the surface of the pads). Lastly, I assume there must have been a mistake in the quantity of items included (I got twice as many screws for the rockerbox and 2 eyepieces instead of one, both were 25mm super plossl but the standard was a 1.25in advertised on the bresser webpage, while the other was a 2in wide angle) I did not have the opportunity to test the scope outside properly due to clouds. Update: 01.06.2017 Had the chance to try it out on the moon and jupiter to a max magnification of around 160x. The results were very sharp and detailed views. Unfortunately, clouds rolled in before it got dark enough to observe DSO's. I am waiting for clouds to clear and a package with a 42mm wide angle eyepiece and a 2in GSO 2x ED barlow to arrive next week.
  20. Messier 57 is is just coming into a position for a decent look around 11 30 pm. IT is a colourful object and I thought it would give me a good target with which to practice my colour developing in PS/Lightroom. I have read so much about how to produce a LRGB image from the four stacked/calibrated luminance, red, blue and green images, a lot seems contradicatory and some, when followed, gave me colour yes, but not as we know it. I am sure a fair chunk must be put down to me. Anyway, I now have a work flow which gives me colour, sometimes resembling what other people have obtained. Progess of sorts. This images is based on 114s subs at gain 139, offset 21. L 39, R 20, G 20, B 19 Calibrated and stacked in DSS (flats, dark flats and darks) Messier 57 Ring Nebula in Lyra NASA: M57, or the Ring Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the glowing remains of a sun-like star. The tiny white dot in the centre of the nebula is the star’s hot core, called a white dwarf. M57 is about 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra, and is best observed during August. Discovered by the French astronomer Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in 1779, the Ring Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8.8 and can be spotted with moderately sized telescopes. Equipment: Celestron 9.25 XLT at F10, Skywatcher EQ6 Pro GEM, ZWO 1600MM Pro, ZWO EFW with ZWO LRGB filters, QHY5IIC guide camera on Skywatcher 9 x 50 finderscope, Celestron Focus Motor Software: Ascom 6, Eqmod, Cartes du Ciel, AstroPhotography Tool, PHD2
  21. The Southern Pinwheel Galaxy ( Messier 83, NGC 5236 ) in the constellation Hydra. ( click on image to see fuill size ) Messier 83 is a relatively large and bright spiral galaxy visible from southern and mid latitudes. Clearly visible is the central bar with its bright central bulge as well as multiple dark dust lanes and areas of nebulosity in the sweeping arms. At a distance of 15 Million light years, the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy, whilst close in astronomical terms, is too far away and hence way too small for my backyard telescope to resolve individual stars; so all of the stars that can be seen are in fact in the near foreground of the image and reside, like us, in the Milkyway Galaxy. Much harder to see are the many far more distant galaxies that look like tiny fuzzy stars in the image. The easiest of which are PGC 724536 and PGC 48132 that appear close together in the centre of the image just to the right of Messier 83. Both are edge on and look like tiny flying saucers. Details: Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount Orion 80mm f5 guide scope and auto guider - PHD2 software. Nikon D5300 (unmodified) Hutech IDAS D1 filter, 14bit NEF, Long Exp. NR on. 25 June 2016. 17 x 4min ISO400 Pixinsight and photoshop. Links: https://500px.com/mikeoday http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay
  22. The Lagoon Nebula ( Messier 8, NGC 6523 ) in the constellation Sagittarious. ( click on image to see larger) The Laboon Nebula ( M8 ) is visible to the naked eye under dark skies from most latitudes except the far north. Seemingly covering an area about three times that of the full Moon, M8 actually covers an area somewhat greater than 110 light years and is around 4300 light years from Earth in the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm of the Milkyway galaxy. ...... The frames for this image where taken back when I was very new to astrophotography and I was experimenting with camera settings. On this occasion I wanted to see if JPEG images might be easier to process - I was disappointed with the results. Now that I have a bit more knowledge and skill at processing I decided to have another attempt at trying to process the set because I liked the way the JPEG files had retained colour in the stars. I am reasonably pleased with the result; the faint detail in the nebula is not there but I quite like the colours in the centre and in the stars. Details: Messier 8, NGC 6523 - Lagoon Nebula Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount.Orion auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector. Nikon D300 (unmodified). 80 x 30 sec ISO 1600 (JPEG) - 31 Aug 14. PixInsight and Photoshop. processed 13 August 2016 Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay
  23. Omega Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 17 , NGC 6618 ) ( click on image to see larger ) Omega Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 17, NGC 6618 ). Visible to the naked eye the Omega Nebula (also known as the Swan, Horseshoe or Lobster Nebula) M17 is in the Milkyway and is aound 4200 light years distance from Earth. Links: 500px.com/MikeODay photo.net/photos/MikeODay Details: RA 18h 22m, Dec -16deg 10'. Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount Orion Short Tube 80mm guide scope & auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, UHC-S 'Nebula' filter. Nikon D5300 (unmodified). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. 37 x 100 sec ISO800. Pixinsight & Photoshop 14 August 2015 re-processed 8 Aug 2016 with current workflow.
  24. The Eagle Nebula Messier 16 ansd Open Cluster NGC 6611 in the constellation Serpens. ( click on image to see larger ) M16 is around 7,000 light years distant from Earth in the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm of our Milkyway galaxy and may be part of a larger structure that extends to and includes the Omega Nebula ( M17 ) in Sagittarius. Details: Eagle Nebula - Messier 16 ( IC 4703 ), Open Clusters - NGC 6611 and Trumpler 32. RA ~ 18h 19'm45s Dec ~ -13deg 46' 20" Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount.Orion 80mm f5 guide scope and auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, UHC-S 'nebula' filter. Nikon D5300 (unmodified). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. ISO800, 14bit NEF, Long Exp. NR on. 35 x 180sec (1/3 before & 2/3 after zenith) 17 July 2015. PixInsight re-processed 21 Aug 2016.. Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay
  25. Theres one from the 2nd M64, taken through the mak Newtonian, and an atik 314L plus mono. the stack was 14 x 4 mins.........cloud rolled in and spoiled the show after that.
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