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Moonshane

Nice session in the Peak District

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As the forecast was good I met with Calvin (Estwing) and Steve/Baz (Bomberbaz) at a small site near Longnor in the Peak District (might actually be just in Staffordshire) with the intention of as long a session as we could stand / the skies allowed. We had three scopes (two 12" dobs and my 16" dob) and several boxes of eyepieces.

As we drove to the site (thanks for sorting Calv), the current warm spell has created a really murky sky with a lot of haze and rather than being blue the sky was almost completely white with a fine high cloud layer. This didn't bode well but we were there so we set up anyway; the forecast was for an improving sky over the course of the night. The areas around the horizon were particularly bad and we were somewhat disappointed thinking that our main target area (Scorpius and Sagittarius) would be unproductive. More on this later (along with a shocking revelation from yours truly).

We were fully set up by about 10pm and the first target visible was a slim crescent moon heading rapidly toward the west. We looked at this for a short time but it was very hazy and low in the sky so not a rewarding target. As the darkness started to fall, the usual suspects popped out first, with Arcturus and Vega showing themselves early on. Usually a glance down towards the horizon from Arcturus reveals a very obvious Saturn but even with averted vision it was initially not visible - not good. Baz then started showing off with his goto with Saturn quickly in the eyepiece. As a little more darkness came it became just visible to the naked eye and we all saw average views with Cassini just about obvious as well as 2-3 moons which came and went with the conditions.

We all did our own thing pretty much with our own scopes, sharing views of objects found where appropriate and it was a really enjoyable way to work. To get warmed up I started on a few doubles, Epsilon lyrae, Delta cygni, Epsilon bootis and Beta cygni are all old favourites which I visit time and again.

By now the sky was darkening and things like the ring nebula M57 were starting to become obvious in the eyepiece. As the night went on we returned to such objects as conditions improved. We also looked at the dumbbell nebula M27 with both of these objects responding well to the Oiii filter, particularly the dumbbell. M13 and M92 in Hercules were next and these are always superb objects. We then all at once almost decided to look at the wild duck cluster, M11 and this was showing itself reasonably well.

While looking at these objects I continually checked the south for naked eye stars but all night even Antares was not visible. I had almost given up hope when that big show off Baz with his magic goto plugged in M8, the lagoon nebula (I think this was the first) and declared that he'd found it and it was in the eyepiece showing some nebulosity and the small incorporated cluster. Things were looking up. Even though the horizon conditions were pretty rank, with the goto objects were quickly and easily found.

Here's the shocker, I have now changed my mind somewhat about goto for these sorts of conditions (and probably light polluted areas too). Although I personally, like the joy, challenge and occasional frustration of using my finders and a map to locate objects and will always prefer more aperture than a gadget like goto, I do see the benefits a little more clearly then previously. I'll be talking about a frac next........... :tongue:

With this news, we were off :grin: and I started in earnest to look for some of the objects on my hit list working my way carefully with map and finders down through Serpens and Sagittarius. None of the objects could be seen in the 9x50 finder.

M16 the eagle nebula - the cluster associated with the nebulosity was seen from home recently but I could detect no nebulosity at all. Here the view was slightly better with hints of nebulosity and therefore I am counting this object as seen now although I hope to see it in better conditions before the end of the year.

M17 the omega / swan nebula - for me this was the outstanding highlight of the night. With the Oiii filter, this object was truly sensational despite the conditions. I can only imagine what it will be like in better skies. The shape of the nebula was remarkably swan-like and really obvious in the eyepiece at low power.

M18 - a fairly standard open cluster.

M25 - quite large and bright open cluster.

M8 the lagoon nebula - there was obvious nebulosity but not particularly bright do to the washed out conditions, the associated cluster really quite obvious.

M20 the triffid nebula - this was much less obvious nebulosity than M8 but still confirmed with the associated cluster NGC 6514.

M21 - another bright open cluster.

M22 - I then tried to locate M22 which is supposedly one of the brightest globulars in the sky and brighter than M13. This was incredibly faint and seen only with averted vision. This in itself shows just how poor the conditions were and in truth we were very glad to see anything at all based on the conditions on arrival.

All of the above objects were new Messiers for me and and I m really delighted with the results from this session. The main disappointment was M24 the Sagittarius Star Cloud. This was not at all visible in the finder and is too large for the eyepiece in my scope. I'll count this when I see it properly. I also revisted the open cluster M26 and also the following objects:

M81/82, galaxies in UMa

M31/32/110 - Andromeda galaxy trio

M71 - lovely faint globular in Sagitta, set against a background of stars.

M56 - almost the same but a little brighter and more lovely in my opinion in Lyra

M97 the owl nebula - quite faint in UMa tonight but visible.

NGC 884/869 the double cluster in Perseus - always stunning

The Veil Nebula - as this was at the zenith where the conditions were much better, the Veil was superb with the Oiii. Certainly the best views this year so far, possibly ever.

NGC 6888 the crescet nebula - quite tricky but obvious in Cygnus with the Oiii after a few moments of concentration.

NGC 7000 the north america nebula - I could detect this easily in several parts with the Oiii - it's far too large for my scope.

M15 - lovely globular in Pegasus - autumn constellations are on the rise in the early hours now.

NGC 7006 - small dim globular in Delphinus.

By this time the skies were starting to deteriorate generally and we could no longer see the milky way at the zenith (this had been visible most of the night) and it was 3am. We realised the reason was that it was starting to think about getting light so we packed up and went home with our astronomy itch well and truly scratched.

Hope you have all been getting some time at the eyepiece and enjoying yourselves.

Cheers

Shane

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Thanks for this great and inspiring report - you guys really used the best of the short night to the full! On the benefits of GoTo, I 've just completed setting circle / Wixey additions to my 200p Dob and it was a real revelation during the later twilight (push-to from Stellarium Alt/Az references). Very satisfying and encouraging/frustration reducing.

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Good report Shane, I have friends who live in Longnor so know the area fairly well and may consider organising a session in this location sometime. Cannot get motivated personally to get out at the moment, perhaps next month.

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nice report shane, go toos are good arnt they lol. shame I didn't know you was going if you wouldn't of minded I would of taged along, found a brilliant place in Snowdonia if you boys want to meet up when it gets darker. I will even let you have a look through my go to :grin:

Edited by faulksy

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cheers all

it was very last minute and our first time so quite happy it all worked out. Snowdon would be awesome!

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Nice write up Shane.

Great list of objects covered there, M24 is worth the wait, believe me in the 16" your gonna love it.

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Good to read you saw some of the glories mentioned from yesterday. What this area must be like down under...

andrew

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Great report Shane, I have been looking forward to seeing how you fared after your earlier post.

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I would also like to add last night was a great night. All of us taking advantage of peering through each others scopes although have to say it was mainly shane's getting the extra attention as we all appreciated the extra aperture his scope gave us and the added detail although in all fairness, and shane will agree with this the difference in detail between 16" and 12" was not that big last night. However my scope did attract a little extra attention at times largely due to the advantages that goto gave on the night.

I am not sure what the highlight of the night was to me as I really enjoyed it all but if I had to pick I think I would go for either the veil as this was a first for me and i was amazed at the size and structure of this but also the dumbbell (M27) which responded really well to an O-III filter on the night and showed itself with great shape and structure.

In third place after these two was indeed the wild duck cluster (M11) which looked fabulous and have to say I have never seen so much detail in this particular DSO.

As shane mentioned anythig low down on the horizen was impossible. I locked onto objects several times using my "goto" facility but none were ever visible, not even the slightest inkling of a star.

I too had a load of firsts last night and crossed of I think a total of 26 messier and another 5 NGC with around 12 being first timers.

I had been looking forward to a session like this for some time and despite the conditions I do not thnk it disapointed any of us.

Steve/baz

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I do indeed agree mate. last night the differences between the scopes were pretty small in real terms considering the difference in light gathering. a fine night on all fronts, good optics, good mates and good list of objects.

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sounds like you all had a good time, just need to wait now for estwings input now

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Thanks for sharing Moonshane, sounds like you all had a good night out despite the best efforts of the atmosphere :cool:

Had a good snoop around Sagittarius with my goto last night and there are some lovely clusters and nebulae up there, the Lagoon with its eyes, mouth and flat cap (imagination running away - sorry!) being easily seen but the greater extent of the nebula being obscured by the City's light pollution even with it being almost overhead. The same light pollution was making it more tricky to see the dark divisions of the Triffid nebula, but it was visible.

Hope you have better luck with the atmosphere soon :rolleyes:

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after reading those two great reports, not much more to say really...the sky looked like it wasn't gonna play ball at all heading towards the site but when your there you might aswell give it a go and thankfully the cloud god gave way to most of the sky(except the area over Stoke-on-Trent) which was where most of our tick list was. At most 15 house/farm lights are visable in a 360* 8mile radius so the location is pretty dark..(better than PSP,but i'm not diss'n PSP because the event is fantastic and James makes this a great starparty)..i'm still struggling at starhopping and too was impressed with steve's go-to..most of the above was also seen through my own scope and was surprised to hear shane's comment that its still a cracking mirror! (must be about 9yrs old at least)..so have now completely changed my mind on selling it..(had no takers earlier in the year!)..the standout for me was M56 in Lyra..hard find starhopping but well worth it, wonderful!!..to be honest the best thing was meeting mates and sharing views..can't wait for darker nights and perhaps a bigger scope!!..clear skies to you all,Calv.

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to be honest the best thing was meeting mates and sharing views..can't wait for darker nights and perhaps a bigger scope!!..clear skies to you all,Calv.

Lert me know if you all could lug your gear and make a trip further North, you'll be blown away by the skies around Kielder :smiley: .

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I would like to do more of what we did on Friday..and I think other locations are going to be on the cards

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deffo mate. ideally if we can do what we planned - try a session at least once per month around new moon give or take. that way we see all the sights :grin:

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Sounds like a cracking night out. As Steve said, M24 is well worth the wait, an utter stunner.

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Nice reports - makes me want to meet up in a group like that somewhere dark.

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Nice report, sounds like a good night. Been a while since I've had such a productive session. Probably just as well you had the 16" under those conditions. Bet it blows your socks off under dark clear skies.

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mini starparties are go!

checking out two new places near me tomorrow mate, your turn for a long drive if they turn out ok.. :cool:

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Lert me know if you all could lug your gear and make a trip further North, you'll be blown away by the skies around Kielder :smiley: .

3 hours mate, long way to go. Would have to be a weekender

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I have the occasional use of a friends cottage near a village called Falston, which is close to Kielder dam. However I would have to check with them regarding mini star parties :smiley: ! If you do make this a regular event, my wifes folk live in Halifax, so could plan around this. Problem though is with the dob in the car, there is only room for one passenger (commuting to Halifax) and my daughter is still to young to stay at home alone. C8 will be no probs though.

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I would be up for a mini star party if no one objects, breckon beakons well not quite there north side of it or I found a brilliant place in Snowdonia or were ever you want to meet

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