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Last nights observing + questions :)


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I initially took my scope out into the back garden last night as we presently only have 1 car and a motorbike (didn't really fancy carrying my scope on the bike! Lol). My only aim for the garden was to look at the moon as I have not seen it in my scope before. I was mightily impressed with the views I managed to get using both of the standard ep's.

Anyhow, after about half an hour my wife got home so I decided to take my scope to Burbage common near to where I live. It is still light polluted being right next to Hinckley but at least there are no street lights for about a mile in any direction.

My aim for the night was the Virgo cluster as I can imagine that it would be amazing (it's probably obvious from this sentence that I didn't find it). I found vendemiatrix (I think) but no matter how hard I looked I couldn't see any galaxies anywhere in the area even after following the directions in turn left at Orion.i have a feeling that it may have still been too low in the sky. It was also a little hazy with the occasional cloud rolling over. I then decided to try a different area in the sky and try to find m36, m37 and m38. Unfortunately this part of the sky was occupied by the moon making finding anything quite difficult. The clouds in the sky also seemed to be reflecting the moonshine making things worse. Is seeing always this bad when the moon is at this stage in its cycle? I did manage to split sigma Orionis but that was about the only new dso I managed to see. Not exactly the most productive night!

In the end I thought, well if the moon is all I can see well, I may as well spend the time looking at the detail there instead. It was lovely seeing the craters so close. I also found what looked like a large crack which I studied for a good 15 minutes. I did notice though that the was a shimmer to the moon. Is this caused by the atmosphere or could it have been the scope? I had been outside for a good hour at this point. The cloud came rolling over at about 9:15 and made all seeing impossible so I packed up and went home.

so my main questions are:

Is it always a lot harder to see dso's when the moon is high, even if it isn't full? If so, is there anything that will help?

Does a little cloud cover make seeing even worse than normal when e moon is out due to them reflecting the light?

Do you need very good seeing conditions for the Virgo cluster and does it need to be higher in the sky than it was at about 8:30 last night?

sorry for all of the questions :embarassed:

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I had almost exactly the same experience last night (Im just across the border in derbyshire so its not surprising) and came away with similar questions. I didn't seem to have any luck with DSO's last night so just settled for the moon, being as it was being greedy and seemed to be blocking everything else.

From where I was it seemed a combination of white cloud, some street light and moon glow severly affected quite alot. Hoping someone can confirm this for the both of us and that its not just the pair of us being fools and missing something :)

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Galaxies are very hard with anything more than half a moon. Any LP is also a severe problem. Wide-band LP filters can help a bit in terms of narrow-band LP sources (like low-pressure sodium light), but are next to useless against moonlight. A real pain. Some of the brighter ones can be seen with care, but are far from easy.

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Yup, I had the same experience down in Reading - went out about 2130, looked at the moon. There was a shimmer to it - at x130 it looked a bit 'watery' for want of a better description. I saw several rimae - basically, I found everything mentioned on night 7 of the moon in Turn Left at Orion.

Okay, so when I went looking for some of the Messier catalogue I didn't have any luck (M81 & M82 - I figured they were near zenith, so maybe easier) - but the moon was spectacular. As you've said, moon, streetlight, and some high cloud got in the way. And yes, it does seem that that high cloud is a real obstacle in moonlight.

I did get my first view of Saturn's rings, though, when it came up over the trees. Not bad for a night of 'poor' conditions. The craters along the moon's terminator with their central peaks just emerging from shadow were spectacular.

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Yup, I had the same experience down in Reading - went out about 2130, looked at the moon. There was a shimmer to it - at x130 it looked a bit 'watery' for want of a better description. I saw several rimae - basically, I found everything mentioned on night 7 of the moon in Turn Left at Orion.

Okay, so when I went looking for some of the Messier catalogue I didn't have any luck (M81 & M82 - I figured they were near zenith, so maybe easier) - but the moon was spectacular. As you've said, moon, streetlight, and some high cloud got in the way. And yes, it does seem that that high cloud is a real obstacle in moonlight.

I did get my first view of Saturn's rings, though, when it came up over the trees. Not bad for a night of 'poor' conditions. The craters along the moon's terminator with their central peaks just emerging from shadow were spectacular.

excellent, well done. I'm looking forward to seeing Saturn myself when it appears a little earlier in the sky. Not liking the idea of 2am astronomy at the minute! Lol

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I had a similar experience last night on my second outing with my new scope.

The Moon was very clear but I struggled with Jupiter & Betelgeuse was just a dot.

Only stayed clear for about an hour & by then I had been clobbered by dew.

Still early days & I am still on the learning curve, still very enjoyable though.

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Not liking the idea of 2am astronomy at the minute! Lol

Well, I caught it earlier than that - around 2330 - and it was above the trees (which aren't far away) and still rising. Given a suitable location, midnight would do it ... (Go on, you know you want to!)
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For DSO's you really need dark transparent sky. 'Seeing' is something different. That is when the atmosphere is unstable and causes the shimmery rippling effect. This is much more of a problem for seeing detail in the Moon, planets and for splitting tight double stars. A slight cloudiness or hazy moisture laden sky is poor 'transparency' rather than poor seeing. DSO's are relatively unaffected by 'seeing' but are well and truly hidden by poor transparency. Moonlight is also worse when there is poor transparency because it lights up the moisture in the atmosphere.

Oddly when there is poor transparency, the seeing is often very steady and good for planetary viewing, while when it is crystal clear, the seeing is frequently jumping around all over the place.

Pick your targets according the prevailing conditions :)

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I find that the best objects other than planets for viewing when the moons up are globular clusters, they seem to stand up quite well to moonlight, but only to a point, I wouldnt bother with anything over a half moon.

Steve

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I find that the best objects other than planets for viewing when the moons up are globular clusters, they seem to stand up quite well to moonlight, but only to a point, I wouldnt bother with anything over a half moon.

Steve

I like to go for double stars when the moon is up - there are plenty to go at! with a range of colours on offer, many are listed in "turn left at orion" and I also found this site useful

http://www.bobhogeveen.nl/favobin.htm

The "double cluster" is also worth a look - so many stars in such a small area!

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I like to go for double stars when the moon is up - there are plenty to go at! with a range of colours on offer, many are listed in "turn left at orion" and I also found this site useful

http://www.bobhogeveen.nl/favobin.htm

The "double cluster" is also worth a look - so many stars in such a small area!

Thanks for posting the link. I love the double cluster in Perseus along with M13 its one of my favorite things to view :grin:

Steve

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Well, I caught it earlier than that - around 2330 - and it was above the trees (which aren't far away) and still rising. Given a suitable location, midnight would do it ... (Go on, you know you want to!)

Im never keen on being up really late as I have to be up at 6 for work most days. I suppose the occasional night wouldn't hurt if it meant I could see Saturn. Not that the clouds are going to give me a chance anyway! Damn you astronomy gods!!! :tongue:

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Hi, notice a couple of new people from south derbshire, I'm a member of Ilkeston and district astro society we meet in ilkeston and shipley, if you fancy coming along pm me I'll pass on the details.

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