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Skies started to clear as I was finishing work on Friday and checking the Met Office Cloud Cover forecast things looked happier than on Clear Outside for my part of the world, so I took my go -bag out into the garden to cool & crossed my fingers for later.
When the rest of the house went to bed I sneaked out through silent streets close to midnight, the crescent moon with its full disc illuminated by Earthlight was dipping in the West near Aldebaran & the Pleiades and there were fine, high skeins of mist with tantalising clear patches between. Seeing was quite steady and transparency good outside of those streaks of high mist which meant about 60% of the sky looked in good shape. I'd made a list of spring galaxies to go for starting with M94 after reading @Pixies report on here, I figured I'd start with that and see how it went, working my way to fainter targets as conditions allowed.
I've relaxed into my observing spot in the park and decided I would invest a bit more time setting up & bring both the Mak 127 on an AZGTi and the ST 80 on a photo tripod. I will be doing that again...
I was using a Baader Hyperion 24mm 68 degree in the Mak which gives its maximum TFOV of just over a degree and put a Baader 8-24mm Zoom in the ST80.
I aligned the Mak on the top 2 stars suggested by Synscan and noted the gradual turning of the season- it was midnight and it had me point at Vega & Arcturus, spring really is well on the way! Focussed in an out on Vega and enjoyed some lovely round patterns either side of focus.
On to Cor Caroli which made a lovely clean white pair at 63x, stayed there for a while.
Hit GoTo for M94 and after some searching settled on a nice fuzzy patch with a brighter centre and some definite surrounding nebulosity, soaked it in for a bit and made a sketch (ahem, VERY rough).
Everything was a bit uncomfortably close to the Zenith - haven't really solved the whole observing position thing yet, not sure I can carry one of those big wooden chairs about but mean to experiment with the cheapo camping chairs in the cupboard and see if it helps, until then a degree of neck-ache remains inevitable (or better target selection!) .
Meantime I'd sought out the Double Cluster with the ST80 and was really pleased to get a lovely view with neat round points and some colour apparent in one or two of the orangey members. May just be a novelty but having a break from peering at faint fuzzy things to take in a wide field view of a favourite object really added to the enjoyment for me.
With the Mak I went on to search for M51 & M63 but couldn't find anything having hunted around for a bit but was having no joy. Later with Stellarium and the atlas I've become almost certain I'd landed on M63 by mistake - be interested in any opinions based on my sketch (gives the RACI view from the Mak 127 i.e. reversed LR)
In the end I gave up and put both 'scopes on M13 and enjoyed my best views of the Great Hercules Cluster yet. I switched the Zoom into the Mak and played with all magnifications from 63x - 188x, much above 120x wasn't adding much but at that power stars were resolving in and out across the cluster - literally breathtaking. The contrasting wide-field view in the ST80 gave scale and context - really enjoyable way to appreciate a real gem.
Seeing, heavy dew and numbing toes conspired around the same time to send me home to warm and mull over whether I'd identified M94 or not.
After many weeks of telescopes gathering dust I finally managed a long night sketching under the stars.
Having only ever sketched open clusters I wanted to attempt a GC. Hercules was well positioned so I chose to draw m92, often overshadowed by the more famous m13.
My red torch was a little too bright and there was some intermittent cloud but the sketch comes pretty close to what I saw. All comments / criticisms / comparisons most welcome!
p.s. As I was packing up around midnight I saw what I can only assume were parts of a meteorite breaking up in the sky. A long trail of five to ten separate glowing dots moved eastward through cygnus toward the horison. It was like watching several satellites following each other in an absolutely straight line. Anyone else see this or remember something similar?
Hello Astro Peeps, I hope everyone is all good! Isn't there some amazing images on this site and others. Amateur imaging has never been so good!
I myself have finally managed to get some data for an image, of which I am very happy. It has been so hot here it has been impossible to get any good data. One day a couple of months ago, I hung the thermometer from the grape vine under the back verandah and it was 47.5°C. Sounds far fetched, although true. I live in Adelaide, South Australia and we are 11km from the CBD and usually 1.5 degrees hotter than there!
Anyway, I thought I'd try my hand at a Ha, OIII bi-colour image while waiting for my SII data to come in. There seems to be a halo issue with some of the filters for which I will need to do further testing so I apologise for their distracting nature. Details are with the image but basically 3hrsx15min subs for each channel.
You can scroll to the bottom to choose another size or auto to fit your screen.
Happy photon collecting! ?
Details for those that cannot see them.
Telescope: William Optics FLT132
Guide Scope: QHY OAG
Camera: QHY9 Mono @ -20c
Filter Wheel: QHY 7 position Ultra Slim
Filters: Baader 36mm unmounted L R G B HA OIII SII
Guide Camera: QHY5L-II
Mount Control: EQASCOM
Focusing: SharpSky Pro and Sequence Generator Pro 3 (automated)
Bahtinov Mask: No (initial focus)
Capture Software: Sequence Generator Pro 3
Guiding Software: PHD2
Calibration and Stacking Software: PixInsight
Processing Software: PixInsight
Number and Type of Data Frames: L= X min, R= x min, G= x min, B= x min
Ha= 12x15min, SII= x , OIII= 12x15min.
Total Image Time: 6 hrs
Location: Lockleys Observatory B, Tanunda, Sth Australia
Light Box by Exfso
M13 - Great Globular Cluster in Hercules from 06/09/2018 22,180 light years away, 145 light years wide Quite a close crop on this due to its scale in my scope, but happy nonetheless. Looks like better flats are definately helping me out now when it comes to processing. The only thing I couldn't work out is the faint fuzzy at around 2 o'clock. With a bit more research it looks like it is the spiral galaxy NGC6207 (distance 30 million light years) - and VERY faintly you can just make out IC4617 (489 million light years away) TS65Q / Modded 1200D / EQ6 Guided - 83x30s