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March 30 2013. Cornwall, UK


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Location: On top of 'Memorial Hill' in Padstow, Cornwall. Looking roughly East towards Rock with nearly 360 degree fov down to about 30/40 degrees in all directions and down to about 10/20 degrees from North to South-West (through the East).

Time: 21:30-23:00.

Conditions: No moon. The sky seemed to be in very good condition, if perhaps a tiny bit hazy (if i were being very picky). Light pollution was very low with limited LP and little direct light.

Observations:

Jupiter: Low ish on the Western horizon, perhaps 40-30 degrees and sinking. Seemed a little fuzzy tonight. I ascribe this to a combination of the little haze, its low position in the sky and the fact that it was target no.1 and the scope was still cooling down. Nonetheless I could make out 2 brown and 3 grey bands (no GRS - does anyone know if it was on the other side?).

4 moons visable very far left and farthest from plant (almost out of view in the 9mm with x2 barlow), then one closer on the left and then on the right and a similar distance to the closest on the left, but a little inside of it, two in very close order, one diagonally above the other.

Subsequent online research shows the moons to be (from left to right); Callisto, Io, Ganymede, Europa.

M13 (Hercules Globular Cluster):

First time I have viewed this, and only my second DSO. GOTO found M13 with no dramas and now I know what to look for with DSO's I could quickly and confidently ID it as a DSO. With a 25mm EP the object appeared about 3/4 the size of a garden pea and like a smudge in the sky, but almost a perfect circle. Moving to a 9mm EP the object became clearer, perhaps x1.5 to x2 of a garden pea and still distinctly circular in shape. I could not make out any detail and it still looked like a perfect circle of smoke or haze. No separation of stars or any discernible colour could be seen. Advancing to a 9mm with x2 barlow seemed to be too much power to resolve an image so 9mm was the best mag possible. Is this normal behaviour for DSO's at high magnification?

Saturn: Totally thrilled, the first time I have viewed Saturn. Noticed it was rising about 20-30 degrees on the Eastern horizon and just out of the thick haze layer obscuring 0-20 degrees. 25mm EP showed a bright star like object (being a little color blind it still looked bright white or perhaps a little greyish mixed with blue). Advancing to a 9mm confirmed I was on target with my first distinct view of the rings, but still it was a very small target, perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 the size of a small pea. But the x2 barlow gave me stunning views of the planet and rings with a resolved image about 3/4 the size of a pea. I couldn't make out the divisions, which I think are beyond the capabilities on my OTA, but I think I could just make out changes in colour in the ring? Ring was positioned diagonally across the planet from bottom left to top right and the whole object appeared to be tiled towards me showing me the 'upward' face of the rings. Really thrilled about this as previously Saturn has always been well below the horizon when I've been out and I have been anxious about how much my OTA would show - I need'nt have worried!

All round great evening. I would have waited for the moon but by 23:00 my father (who bravely volunteered to join me) was starting to get to chilly to wait the extra 15-30 mins it seemed like the moon would need to clear the horizon over the hills behind Rock.

Images: Sorry, no images - I am still struggling with my Galaxy S2 as an afocal camera so I just enjoyed the view without tinkering around with tech.

Any comments/opinions/advice welcome.

-Sharpe.

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Sounds like a nice session. Your description of M13 sounds about like I saw it only a little better, I was using a 3" so that figures. I'm told aperture makes this astounding, but for me globs always underwhelmed. (Planets, moon, nebulae and galaxies all very interesting though, and open clusters are ideal.)

Saturn and Jupiter sound amazing, better than I've seen them, so you're definitely doing nothing wrong!

Thanks for posting :D

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Hi Sharpe thanks for sharing the experience. M13 is great and I have only recently viewed it successfully. For one thing having the collimating right is dead important. The first time I looked at it I was unimpressed as I couldn't resolve much. I have a lot of lights nearby to my back yard so glare is an issue. Get as much shielding from glare as possible. I have shrouded my head in a scarf and gently covering my other eye. I create as much dark as possible and try to not focus my eye on any one point. Averted vision doesn't seem to directly work for me with this one. The best way I can describe the experience is having an eye test where they check Peripheral vision. By not looking for any one thing I suddenly get a glimpse of many dim points of light surrounding the cluster. I'm a little color blind but they seem to be a warm hue to me. Takes a lot of patience to get it right and hope this makes sense.

Obviously a really dark site would do wonders with this one. Happy hunting!

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