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sat 1/6 and sunday 2/6 swanage report


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Bit of background first.i live in yorkshire during the week and then spend the weekend with the girlfriend in portsmouth so i get about the country quite alot and get to sample sites all over too.After spending several sessions trying to find M83 but to no avail because of nowhere in yorkshire with a decent southern horizon without light pollution, i decided on doing more observing down south.The girlfriend is tollerant of my hobby and doesnt mind coming out but she gets bored easily and doesnt usuanlly want to be out long so this usually presents a few problems

Anyway,i did some research on southern observing sites and got some info from people on here of an observing sport near swanage so decided to give this a try.

Arrived at the site about 11:30pm as the gf took ages getting ready and the car park had a few motorhomes parked up with no lights and it seemed nice a quite.I was there only for the southern horizon so i didnt mind the light dome to the north or west but the occasion car headlights coming from the west were a bit of a pain and i didnt think the site was especially dark but some of this could be down to the short nights.When we arrived there were small amounts of cloud but these were forcast to clear by 1am so i had a sit down for half an hour and it didnt seem to be clearing much so i considered calling it a night as i had planned to do the next night too.Againt my hunches i decided to get the scope set up and wait in hope.Thankfull hope came through as about 20 minutes later it became mostly clear but with a bit on the low horizon and a few patches to the north which didnt trouble me too much.

My aims for this trip were to try and bag M83 and hopefully all the sagittarius messiers as most are quite hard to get from yorkshire due to terrible southern light pollution and the extra latitude.Well by the time we got there,set up and the cloud had cleared there was no chance of M83 but tbh i seemed to be cursed with it so put it out of my mind and moved on.

First target to fall was M62 which appeared wuite faint in the 30mm ep but clearly defined followed by cluster ngc6605,a great little gem.Highlight of the night for me was M17 the swan nebula.I expected to need a filter for tbhis but it stands out great without one and tbh the filter only slightly enhanced it so i would bother with it in future.I used the UHC filter but not the OIII so maybe i should try this on it in future.M18 next,was clearly in the same field of view as M17 proving the advantage of 82 degree eyepieces and M16 just a short hop away.The cluster of M16 shows easily and the nebula stands out ok but tbh it left me a little hollow as it wasnt anywhere near dark enough to isolate and structure.I was surprised how easy these 3 messiers were to find and why i hadn t tried last spring when i started.Next down to a group of clusters,NGC 6596 being right and clear and NGC 6645 and 6603 being quite faint and whispy.I sometimes struggle making out globs for some reason.

I decided to now dig out turn left at orion as its quite detailed for this area and it made finding the next set of objects a bit easier.M25 is an easy open cluster,similar to M23 that i had seen before and then in to the dense region of stars containing M24,This area is amazing,words totally fail me.You could spend all night counting a third of the stars in a 1 degree field of view-gobsmacking!!A few more clusters in the area,NGC6603 being small and faint and NGC 6568 being a great sight,to me better than M21 which didnt seem too thrilling.Next on to M20 the triffid nebula.I could make this out ok and some structure but it would take a much darker sky to get anywhere near to view that this deserves so i didnt bother spending too much time on it.

Probably my second favourite view of the night was M8 the laggon nebula.The cluster in this area NGC 6530 is stunning and the whole area shimmers when you use a UHC filter with the 30mm.With an 18mm and the UHC, the dark lane down the centre jumps out at you and there almost seems to be a secondary cluster on the oppsite side to the main cluster so maybe need to look further into that.

Time to move on to the Teapot area and past NGC 6638 a faint globular and donw to M28,a tight and bright globula that shows well and looks great at 14mm.Would love to return to this glob but didnt have enough time.A similar sight was M22 but as above not enough time to study so will return to this.Another globular NGC 6624 should have been faint but stood out well so a nice surprise with it being rated 1 by Herschel.

M54/M55/M69/M70 were quite faint,probably due to the ,low altitude on the horizon but all stood out well enough for full confirmation.

The object i was thinking would be hardest was M7 and to some extent M6 but afterr initally take while to find it was actually easy to see and once found,M7 made M6 easy to hop too.by then the moon had coem up and started to wash the sky a little and it was nearly 3am so i packed up happy at 17 messiers ticked off,4 to go now!!

Returned the next night earlier,about 10:30pm wanting to gte M83 bagged.Corvus seemed to be faint in the sky for some time as i think there were wispy clouds on the horizon but after finally getting a repeat viewing of M68 i managed to bag M83 after about 15 mins of looking in the area.Ive probably spent about 6 hours staring at this area up north so it was more a relief than anything to get this as it kinda made it almost certain i would get the messiers completed this year rather than having to wait another year.M72 proved quite easy to get and also bagged the saturn nebula although i only went down to 14mm which makes it quite small still but i just wanted to tick the last few messiers so moved quickly on to M75 which proved faint but easay enoguh to star hop too.Finally messier was to be M30 and it was below the horixon at the moment so i had a little cat nap for half an hour before trying again.This object was still very low but finally a 2:30am and its job done,bagged and the messiers complete.Im proud that every one was bagged without using goto,all with a dob and star maps.5 of my targets were on the herschel 400 so ticking my way slowly through them but can concentrate more not the messiers are done.

so to sum up-21 messiers over 2 nights,not much sleep and finished at 2:30 this mornign then drove from swanage and arrived home in west yorks at 7:30 am,tired but happy.

seems to be turning into a good week for clear night too

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M83 was turning into the bane of my life hence the relief.im definately learning better how to plan a session for maximum viewing after plenty of wasted sessions.clear here tonight and you know what,i have no intention of getting the scope out!

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Great report. Glad you got clear skies and finished off the Messiers. It's certainly a lovely area of sky, had great views of it through a little frac in Tanzania last year.

Just for info, there is an observing evening at Durlston head on 12th August which I will probably go to out of interest.

Good luck with the Herschel 400!!



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Sounds like an excellent trip! That’s nearly about as far South you can get in the mainland UK, so can understand going for those tough Southerly targets. I’m in Hertfordshire but can’t do much with those targets. There seems to be a glow on my Southerly horizon and even Antares didn’t impress me last night………..shame too as it’s a wonderful RED! You bagged a lot so must be very very pleased!

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