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How difficult is it to find the cone nebula?


stolenfeather
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This winter, there had been many nights when I wanted to step outside and be immersed by the wonders of the night sky but  obstacles had been in my way, the greatest being the cold.  You can imagine my delight yesterday when the mercury finally showed more favourable temperatures.  Anything warmer than -30's and 40's is fine by me.  I had a triple take when I saw our digital thermometer declare that we were finally in the single digits!  -8!  I couldn't believe it but out I went!  The air was crisp with a hint of humidity but the skies were perfect for viewing.  I started with a romp around the area where Jupiter shone brightly and ended up looking at something my Stellarium identified as the "Satellite Cluster" or NGC 2245 in the constellation Monoceros.  Upon researching further on the Internet, I  discovered little about this cluster which I found particularly fascinating.    I tried once again to find the Cone Nebula which many have stated was quite a sight but came out empty handed.  It was an especially dark night and was really hoping I would detect it before summer hit my latitude and inky black nights become rare. 

I decided to go back to my original destination which was Jupiter which was extremely sharp (always good to opt for an easy target when another proved in being elusive), as was the Orion Nebula.   I couldn't remember the last time I had such a rewarding night as this one.  To top it all off, my next door neighbour's porch light had miraculously been turned off!  Since he leaves it on all the time (24/7), I can only hope that it has finally burned out.  Knowing his work habits, in this case his LACK of work ethics, I can rest easy that it won't be replaced for months!  Good nights lie ahead!

Isabelle

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Hi, my understanding is that this object, the Cone Nebula, is quite a challenging object to observe as it is not very bright and will at least require a UHC or H-Beta filter to assist with contrast. Needless to say it will require a dark sky on a night of good transparency. It is on my list of objects to tackle with a H-Beta filter.

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Good luck, hope you report back when located now that you are enjoying relatively normal (-8) conditions. Would swap your cold and inky black sky for my damp, cool, cloud and mist for sure. I have previously tried for this object from a dark location with an 8" scope and may have detected a hint of it with averted vision. so an increase in aperture and / or a filter ought to assist.  

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I believe that it might be a little easier to find now that I know others have had a hard time locating it as have I. I was becoming a little frustrated but will surely announce it proudly on here when I can. I hope your skies clear up soon scarp!

Isabelle

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The Cone Nebula is extremely easy to find because it's part of the very distinctive Christmas Tree Cluster NGC 2264. But it's very hard to see. I suspected nebulosity with an 8" and UHC filter at a dark site when I tried for it some years ago but couldn't be sure - the cluster stars are bright so you've got to be careful to avoid their glare and not be fooled by their scattered light. But it was discovered visually by Herschel so is certainly visible without a filter if you've got a dark enough sky.

NGC 2245 is a reflection nebula in the same constellation (Monoceros), also discovered by Herschel. I've got an observation logged from 2004 with the 8" but don't have my notes to hand to check what I wrote (similarly for the Cone which I'm recalling from memory). All I can say is that if it's a reflection nebula then filters won't help.

I tried googling "satellite cluster" and couldn't find an object with that nickname. Maybe Stellarium uses it to refer to the stars that illuminate the nebula.

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Thank you for your very helpful advice and information acey. I have to admit that it was the first time that Stellarium showed me that nickname. I have no filter but my sky is free of light pollution so I will definitely give it another try tonight!

Isabelle

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