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Crimson Sunset

February 1st 2013, Productive Planetaries

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Hi all,

It's been a year since i first signed up to the forum and bought my scope but I've only posted a couple of basic reports when I was learning my way around everything. Now that I'm settled in, I've been observing as often as possible but neglecting the forum!

I bought a UHC filter shortly after Christmas and tonight has been the first moon-free night since buying it so I decided to go on a bit of a spree to bag some planetaries . I should add that I observe from my back garden in the suburbs of a moderately large town, so I have a fair bit of LP to contend with (A 10" dob really helps!).

First was NGC 1535 in Eridanus which appeared as a smudge at 100x but at 170x it began to reveal some detail, not great though even with the UHC. The next target was NGC 2022 in Orion. I'd tried to get this little blighter several nights in January without a result, but tonight I managed to spot it almost straight away! It appeared as a small dim fuzz at 100x, the UHC did nothing but dim it further. At 170x it appeared as a tiny, faint, ghostly disk, relatively dull but reward enough for the wild goose chase that it caused.

Next I went for a couple of troublesome Messiers, the first being M97. I've managed it once before but only just. What a difference the UHC filter makes! At 100x with the UHC it was incredibly obvious as a lovely smooth circle and after a while one eye began to show itself ever so slightly. On to M76, which I'd expected to be incredibly faint and difficult due to hearing about it being the hardest Messier. That turns out to be a pile of tripe (probably shouldn't trust the internet...), the "Apple Core" proved easily visible without assistance from the UHC filter. Having said that, the filter brought out the lobes/wings/whatever you want to call them, giving a lovely view at 100x.

NGC 1514 is another "nemesis". I've tried throughout January to see this and failed miserably every time. Popping on the UHC, however, made it incredibly simple. The nebula became easily visible around the bright central star but didn't show any detail. Next was IC 3568, the "Lemon Slice". It was fairly hard to locate, appearing very stellar until using the UHC, at which point it appeared as a small, dim, fuzzy disk. After that small, underwhelming nebula I decided to go and revisit the trusty old Eskimo Nebula and see what effect the UHC has on it. To be honest I didn't expect improvement as the Eskimo is generally one of the best things to peek at through the light pollution. I was wrong, upon peering into the eyepiece I was rather taken aback by the little fellow in the parka hood staring back at me! I've had little bits of detail before but nothing so clear cut, the outer shell showing as a circle with a soft edge sharply contrasting with the sharp edge of nebula's centre resembling a slice of cucumber. Splendid!

I put NGC 2371-2 on my to-see list without doing much research, I didn't even know if it would be possible to see in my sky. It proved fairly easy to find with good patterns of surrounding stars nearby for an easy star hop. It appeared as two out of focus stars connect by a bit of nebulosity, very different from the other planetary nebulae I've seen. I planned to try the UHC but as I messed around with eyepieces the moon made a sudden appearance and that was the end of that!

It's amazing what a difference a UHC filter makes, especially with the larger or more difficult to locate planetaries. What a relaxing (albeit chilly) way to spend a few hours!

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Great report.

I agree with you on M76 and M97. UHC filters do make a difference but I don't find them too troublesome without. I would admit that they can be washed out much easier than other equally famous planetary nebulae.

NGC 1514 (the Crystal Ball nebula) is one which in my opionion takes a little time to detect against its relatively bright central star.

Clear skies!

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Great report !

I agree that M97 (the Owl) is one that really does benefit from a UHC or O-III filter. It's a barely visible ghostly disk at best without the filter but with it the nebula really pops out showing contrast variations across it's disk and hints of those eyes in a 10" scope. It's worth viewing it without the filter too though so that you can pick up the nearby galaxy M108 in the same low power field of view. A filter tends to make the galaxy vanish !

I've not viewed M76 for a long time - must look it up again soon !

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M97 was a real pleasure to observe...I agree that the filter made it easier, but under good conditions it will show up pretty well.

Happy hunting.

Sent from my Xoom using Tapatalk 2

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Very nice report! A UHC filter makes a big difference. I have become quite enamoured of the planetaries, since hunting down a few very small ones with Olly's 20" Dob. I have since started going through the 100 Brightest Planetaries list. I also snapped up a second hand filter-switch diagonal which means you can swap filters much faster. You get a "blinking" effect on stellar planetaries when switching between no filter and a UHC, which is very useful in picking up the smallest ones. IC 3568 is one I have not yet observed. It is on my to-do list now.

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