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M46 12/1/12


spaceboy
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I Had a go at visual on this target as I have wanted to see it for sometime. It has eluded me a couple of times at dark sites just sitting on the horizon behind trees so I figured I may aswell give it a go at home under my urban LP while I had the chance. The OC itself is a nice target with plenty of stars visible even under 3.5 MAG skies. The stars have a nice separation but not too much. With a wide FOV EP You can use reasonable magnification to darken the back ground sky while still keeping the cluster sat comfortably in view. While I had been observing other objects prior to moving onto M46 I would not have said my eyes were perfectly dark adapted due to security lights blinding me every chance they get :). This said I doubt my skies will ever allow me to see NGC2438 which appears to reside amongst the cluster. I tried several times to pick it out with averted vision but nothing. In an attempt to bag NCG2348 I decided to reach out for my 1100D and gave it a go with several 30 second subs. The nebula is just visible as a smoke hoop in the finished image and shows what an interesting cluster M46 is. What I overlooked at the time was that there also appears to be a few "double stars" in the cluster. While I'm sure they are not actual double stars I will make sure I give M46 another look in next chance I get and see how many I can pick out.

I know for sure this will definitely be top of the list of targets at SGL7 and fingers crossed the skies and the owner of a large scope will allow me the opportunity to strike both NCG2438 & M46 off my visual list.

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Well I gave M46 another go last night and much to my amazement I actually got to pick out a NGC2438 on the edge of the cluster. There was only a hint of it with averted vision and this was only caught now and again but there is no doubt a very faint circle was possible. Under dark skies and with a good size aperture I would guess this will become more obvious and easier to keep in view with out having to circle it with averted vision. The reason for my shock is upon checking NCG2438 is MAG 10. While the Explorer 200P is rated to around MAG 14.0 it's very rare I have been able to pick out nebulas over MAG 8 due to LP. I was only using a cheap 12mm Revelation EP giving x83 and I'm sure with the use of a UHC filter it may be possible to make out more of a hoop rather than a subtle circle. This would no doubt be improved on again using a more contrasted eyepiece like a BGO or Ethos. Eventually beaten by cloud I had to give up but this target is already becoming one of my favourite objects in the night sky.

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Thanks cotter. It amazes me more how much the skies can vary and how it can some nights allow you to catch a glimpse of a MAG 10 nebula one night yet your lucky to see anything another night. I had estimated last year on a good night that the sky's over me have a visual magnitude of 3.5 due to the light pollution so I'm blown away by the fact I was able to see NGC2438 even if it was only a hint of it being there. It just goes to show that even a visit to dark skies your still at the mercy of the atmosphere.

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Great job spaceboy! I'm definitely gonna give M46 a try tonight if weather permits :(

About 2 weeks ago I tried looking through my 80mm and could not locate a single hint of the cluster itself lol

Im excited to try through my 8" now :D

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Not yet Spaceboy. Weather has been crazy around here. The nights i am away from home have been beautiful and clear, but the nights i am actually home early have been horrible. Either cloudy or misty with 2 or 3mag visibility and nearly completely pink light polluted skies :(

Im not giving up though. Im gonna try to see it tonight or this weekend eventhough the moon is up. Ill see the difference between, regular, UHC, and OIII filters and try to sketch what i see. Hopefully NGC 2438 decides to come out and play with one of these views :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

i bagged this cluster for the first time tonight. i tried to see the planetary nebula amogst it too, but i feel i was against it with my appeture. a very nice compact cluster though, enjoyable viewing.

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It helps to know what you should be looking for - I was out last night under my LP skies and was able to tease M65+66 into view...but only because I knew exactly where to look and what to expect from them having seen them from darker spots many times. Same for NGC2438 - you'll be able to find it easier now because you know what to expect from it.

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