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  1. Introduction Having just published my "Best of Sharpless" object list... Here is a full list of the 313 Sharpless objects together with their location information (based on nearest star from Sky Safari) and with a GOTO reference for your mounts (I was using a SynScan handset). For those astronomers out there with a Ha narrowband filter and an urge to get images of "something new" or "something different" then here is something to get your teeth into! I have just spent the last 16 months exploring 303 of 313 Sharpless objects and I had a great time, there are some very rarely observed objects in this list What follows is a data table of all 313 Sharpless objects. For each object the table shows: Sharpless Reference, Observed? (1=YES), Best Of? (1=YES), Physical Size, Scope Used (B=Borg107FL, D=20” Dob), SS Star Ref (An object that I located manually at this star position), Goto ref (Closest SAO, NGC, M object for Goto mounts), Catalog Name (The more famous objects already have a name) In SS? (1= object in Sky Safari, 0=No) Note (details Sky Safari/Bracken errors) Here is the raw excel file: sharpless targets v8.xlsx Hope this helps you find and observe one or more of these wonderful nebula Clear Skies, Alan
  2. Introduction I purchased a Night Vision Monocular in April 2018 to attach to my TeleVue eyepieces and use for astronomy purposes. Initially I purchased an Astronomik 6nm Ha filter (I later switched to a Chroma 5nm Ha filter) to allow me improved views of many visible nebula but I discovered that I now had access to a whole new world of previously invisible (to me) nebula. I discovered that many of these were in the “Sharpless” catalog and began a journey to see how many of the 313 catalog objects that I could find/observe. I wrote an article in the Webb “Deep Sky Observer” (Issue 181) detailing my joy and initial efforts to observe the Sharpless objects using my Night Vision Monocular. Last week, I observed my 303rd Sharpless object. Of the ten outstanding, one does not exist (sh2-214) and nine and very low on my Southern summer horizon (and will be left for a Greek holiday sometime in the future!) so I am ready to publish my findings in the hope that they may assist others who take the same route in the future. Finding the Sharpless Objects Before you can observe an object, you need to find it and get it into the eyepiece (obvious)… My main scope is a 20” push-to Dobsonian which I attach to Sky Safari 5 Pro and push to my chosen targets. I soon discovered that the Sky Safari database only contains 249 entries and a small number of these are in fact erroneous or duplicates. In all, I have had to locate 75 Sharpless objects manually… I would like to call out the book “The Astrophotography Sky Atlas” by Charles Bracken at this point, as my search would have soon been abandoned if it had not been for this book and its great tables of Sharpless object data (at the back). With this data and the galaxymap online explorer, I was able to use sky co-ordinates to find nearby stars (in Sky Safari) and then hunt around that area to finally find and record an accurate positional star. Many Sharpless objects are huge and so I also employed a second widefield scope, a Borg 107FL, which I paired with a Skywatcher AZGTi GOTO mount with SynScan handset. As I found the Sharpless objects, I recorded the nearest SAO catalog star and then used this for the GOTO mount to get the Borg107FL on target. Unfortunately, I discovered that the SynScan handset does not hold the full SAO catalog, so once again there was some “on the fly” rework needed to get the nearest SAO that was in the handset identified and recorded! The Best of the Sharpless catalog Many of the Sharpless objects were underwhelming at the eyepiece (when compared to objects like the Rosette, Gamma Cygni or the Orion nebula) but when you consider how faint and small some of these objects are then there is more to this than just the “visual beauty” perceived at the eyepiece. However, there is no denying that many Sharpless objects are very beautiful at the eyepiece and in many cases are equal or even better that the better known and more photographed Messier nebula objects. I am therefore publishing my “Best Of Sharpless” list, it is entirely based on my own perceptions so feel free to disagree with the objects that I have selected, I will not be offended. My goal is to inspire just one person (who has an Ha filter) to turn their scope to one or more of these objects and for them to observe an object that they have never seen before! What follows is a data table of 115 Sharpless objects (the best of according to me). For each object the table shows: Sharpless Reference, Physical Size, Scope Used (B=Borg 107FL, D=20” Dob), SS Star Ref (An object that I located manually at this star position), Goto ref (Closest SAO, NGC, M object for Goto mounts), Catalog Name (The more famous objects already have a name) Here is the raw excel file, Best Of Sharpless v1.xlsx If you have an Ha filter then I encourage you to give them a try! Alan
  3. andrewluck

    Sh2-155 to M52

    From the album: Andrew's Sky Pictures

    A two frame mosaic, 5 hours per side in 10 minute subs. Zenithstar 70 on Avalon Linear with a QHY9C

    © Andrew Luck

  4. Date: Monday 3rd December 2018. 1950-0100am. Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm & f4.1). Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2 x38). Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD. Preparation It was rainy on Sunday so I set about building a “target list” of the Sharpless objects that I have so far failed to observe either because they are not in Sky Safari or they were too faint to see. I built-up a table of 25 targets and spent time marking stars in Sky Safari that almost matched the co-ordinates shown in the back of the Bracken Astrophotography Sky Atlas. I also tried to lookup photographs of “groups of Sharpless” objects on the internet so that I could try to take bearings from “known” Sharpless to point me to potential locations of the missing Sharpless! After 4 hours my table of targets was ready… Time to “boldy go where no-one has gone before”… Monday 3rd December was forecast as potentially clear all night. So after eating my evening meal I set off down to the scope-shed with my night vision case. I quickly setup the big dob and had the two-star align (of my Nexus) completed. Then headed for the first target on my list… Sh2-164 – Found near star TYC 4021-1255-1. A small bright patch sitting next to a star. Sh2-169 – Found near star SAO 020964. Very faint object, can be seen at the edge of the fov if you centre sh2-168. Stars make “3 corners of a square” inside the faint patch. Sh2-176 – Found near star HD 2559. Very faint indeed. A bright cluster (M34/Xmas tree like) has nebulosity around it and a black area inside it too. Sh2-177 – Found near star HD 2654. You see a large star cluster (that reminds me of “a Rocket on a stand”). The cluster has a lane of nebula running along the side of it. Sh2-179 – Found as pneb BV 5-2. Tiny planetary neb bright enough to be easily seen. Sh2-180 – Found near star TYC 4020-0924-1. Bright, decent sized cluster “crab,lobster” shaped with nebulosity surrounding and several black lanes within. The “crab” stars may be part of a larger “butterfly” shaped formation. Sh2-181 – Found near star TYC 4024-0109-1. Small bright patch sitting above two bright stars. Averted reveals a rounded black shape curved nebula over the top. Sh2-183 – Found near star TYC 4029-1063-1. Seems to be a long lane of nebulosity running up from near sh2-181. Sh2-191 Found as galaxy Maffei1. Small patch on top of two stars. Sh2-215 – Found at star HD 276169. Small faint patch sitting above a star. Sh2-250 – Found near NGC 1633. Several stars sit in a clear black lane. Very faint nebula around the black lane! Sh2-251 – Correctly marked in Sky Safari . Several spaced out bright stars up against a wall of nebula. Wall is thick and curves slightly at the lower end. Sh2-253 Found near star TYC 1336-0819-1. Very faint patch seen in a “gap” found in a line of stars. There are 6 or 7 stars in a row, then the “gap”, then a final star. Sh2-272 – Found at star GSC 0738-2191. This is a very tiny patch sitting just at the side of sh2-271. I missed it before (helps if you have seen an image beforehand!) Thoughts of the observer. I managed to find 14 of my 25 targets so I am very pleased with that. I also uncovered an error in the Bracken Astrophotography Sky Atlas where the co-ordinates for sh2-213 are incorrect, (they are duplicates of sh2-212) that’s why I have not found it so far. I got some “new” co-ordinates off the internet this morning so I am ready to try again for this one! My failures were sh2-172, sh2-195, sh2-213, sh2-266, sh2-270. Around 1am the sky just filled up with water and the heaven’s disappeared, this stopped me in my tracks and left a few lower Orion targets not attempted. It was a cold night (I was running eyepiece & secondary mirror heating all night) and the UTA of the scope was frozen in ice by the end of the session. Supplemental. My Sharpless count now comes to 201 of 313 objects. I have created a spreadsheet of the catalog and added all my location information. I am also adding GOTO references to each of the rows (which I am testing on the Borg107 as time allows). Let me know if you want a copy? Clear Skies, Alan
  5. 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
  6. Not far from my previous CTB1 target is Sh2-170 from the Sharpless catalogue. This is about 20 arc minutes across, so a bit of a squeeze on my setup. Full sized image available on this page: http://astro.neutral.org/imagehtml/20130914-sh2-170.html Didn't clear last night until gone 11pm but I was about to get 12x1200s frames with the Astrodon 3nm Ha, Skywatcher 200 and the homemade telescope mount. Not very good star shapes - but I had the mirror off yesterday for the annual clean, so anything could be out of alignment. I'll fiddle with that when we get one of those full moon clear nights!
  7. Date: Thursday 13th December 2018. 1940-2230hrs. Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm). Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11). Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD. Moon: 33% Introduction. After a run of sessions with the big dob, it was time to get the Borg107 out and try to confirm some of my Sharpless object finds with the smaller aperture scope. I have created a spreadsheet of the Sharpless catalog objects with the sizes and Sky Safari locations together with a SAO star reference of a nearby bright star (these need to be confirmed as available in the Skywatcher SynScan handset too as not all SAO numbers are present). I missed going out on Wednesday night having just had a wisdom tooth removed and therefore not wanting to get out in the cold. But tonight I was going out whatever… Lets get ready to rumble. At 1900hrs the sky was not too promising, there were visible stars to the East and North, but the West was clouded out and the south disappearing from the West. The wind seemed to be from the West so I was expecting the clouds to come over. However, having spent the afternoon on preparation and with a printout to hand, I decided to get out and make a start as there are many Sharpless that the Borg has not yet attempted! I setup the scope & mount indoors, attaching the dew strips and handset etc, then carried it outside in one go (its so light). I then had my eyepiece case (pre-loaded with what I needed) and my books and Ipad (in waterproof case) to set out on the patio table. Setting up, the 2-star alignment worked first time and my test of M34 put it just off centre in the Ethos 6mm. I setup for night vision by adding the Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD filter to the diagonal and changing to the 55mm TeleVue Plossl & attached the PVS-14 with the TNVC afocal adapter. Onto the Sharpless target list... I started overhead at the zenith and then moved through my target list down towards the East/South East (where the sky was clearest). I attempted to enter the SAO number from my print-out into the SynScan handset (if it was present then great, otherwise if not then I needed to refer to Sky Safari and select another bright star close to the target and try that in the handset …). There were five targets where the chosen SAO was not in the handset but I was able to find a replacement without too much time lost, each time updating the print-out so I can fix up my spreadsheet today... Sharpless targets seen by the Borg107 for the first time: Sh2-204 – circular patch under 4 stars. Sh2-205 – Huge “heart” shaped structure with a brighter curved edge. A small bright blob was seen half way down one side. Pretty faint but the edges can be traced. Sh2-218 – A new one for me. Very large triangular shaped patch. Black shapes seen inside. One corner seems to extend out in a “open wings” shape. Sh2-220 – California nebula appeared bright and fitted nicely in the fov. It was brighter along the outer edges and I could see the brightest central edge and the black eye opposite. Sh2-221 – A large structure with traceable edges. It was narrow at one end, then expanded out to a wider opposite edge. There were lanes passing across at the larger edge that seemed to split the whole shape into two sections. Images this morning are similar but not exact, I will need to revisit this target. Sh2-222 - A small bright blob around a star. Seemed to extend out more to one side. Sh2-223 – Seems to be huge. Several curved edges seen. Seems to go up more than across. I see a square looking corner. Hard as there seems to be plenty of nebulosity around in this area. Sh2-224 – Again, lots of nebulosity in this area. I see a small bright straight up section (going past a bright star). Sh2-225 – Faint patch with a black area inside (I see stars making “3 corners of a square” shape). Sh2-228 – small bright patch near to a star. Sh2-227 – faint patch. Smallish size. Star pattern at the top looks like a “sword handle”. Sh2-232 – Decent sized faint patch. Smaller brighter patch to the side. Sh2-240 – Fills the FOV. Plenty of faint nebulosity. Black patch with some double stars within. Several black lanes running through. Sh2-242 – small bright patch. Sh2-241 – smallish faint patch above a star. Sh2-243 – faint smallish patch with black central area with 2 stars. Sh2-246 – A large patch, fills fov. 7 bright stars in staggered line running through inside a black lane. Sh2-250 – A cloud of faint nebula surrounds 2 bright stars. Sh2-268 – A decent sized patch. Black central shape with a star inside. A bit like a “poor man’s Rosette”. Including some revisits of old favourites... Sh2-252 – Monkeys Head looking great. Its upside down and if you turn the gain right up then it takes on the appearance of a side-on “Minnie Mouse”! Sh2-248 – IC443 SN remnant. Nice bright curve seen, behind it are very faint tenticles of the Jelly Fish. Sh2-249 – IC444 sits to the right of IC443. It’s a large black shape inside a spreading nebula patch. A bit like “the flame” nebula. Sh2-254 – sh2-258 – I see three members of this group tonight. A large patch to the left and two similar smaller patches to the right. IC410 - Bright patch with multiple dark areas within. IC417 - Less bright patch with some additonal clusters and patches around the fov. Flaming Star - A lovely quotation mark shape fills the FOV. I can just make out some of the brighter wisps within. All good things come to an end. By now, I was getting a little cold in my fingers and the AZ GTi had developed an unwillingness to slew into Orion. The clouds from the West had made their way mostly over the top by now too. As a final hurrah, I manually slewed to the Flame and Horsehead (using the red dot finder) for a quick look - they both appear in the same fov, the horsehead is more than a notch but you cant hold the full head shape in direct vision at x11 magnification - then manually slewed up to the Rosette to see if I could see the “Head of a puppy” once again. The Rosette was not as bright as last time out but the “Puppy Head” shape was there! Supplemental. The AZ GTi refused to slew into the Orion region at all! I tried choosing various NGC, IC, SAO numbers from within Orion, the handset would show “slewing” but the mount just did not move. If I chose any previously visited SAO or NGC then the mount happily made its way to that target but Orion was out of bounds! I have updated my mount software this morning and ordered a lead to update the handset software to hopefully rectify this strange issue. Other than that, it was a pretty decent night. GOTO certainly makes the job of finding those targets much simpler and allows maximum time at the eyepiece. As always, it helps to have a plan prepared and a nice list of SAO numbers to slew to is a real bonus. Clear Skies, Alan
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