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23rd April 2014 - Last real observing of the season and some thoughts


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Giving the season one last go I took my 6" for a spin tonight. Now the nights are starting to get too bright up here since the sun barely sets beneath the horizon before starting up again. Capitalizing on cloud-free skies around midnight I loaded the "ol' beast" EQ6 in the car and drove to the golf-course a few km outside of town.

At the location setup and PA was smooth. Conditions were both good and bad. I had LP to the south and east and a slight hint of sun-glow in the north. Transparency was superb, seeing was sh***y. I suspect that the ground had retained a lot of heat from the sun now that we're getting significantly warmer spring weather each day.

I started out with Jupiter. All 4 moons clearly visble, and faint cloudbands. Bad seeing. Went over to Mars, my prime target for the evening. Never had a real chance to look at this bad boy in a scope before, and I wanted to get some quality time before the end of this good mars-season. Unfortunately the planet was pretty low so the whole view rippled and smeared. Undecided if I was any detail, I think I might have caught a glimpse of Syrtis Major (more sure of this when I looked at a map of mars at home). Went back later in the session and I'm pretty sure I got a hint of detail. However I think it was almost too bright. Do people use some kind of filter to view Mars?

Next stop: Messiers! One of my favorite Hubble Objects first, the Sombrero Galaxy, M104. Well, I might have seen the lane or I might not have. No idea. I did see a smudge with some hints of irregularites but she was too close to the horizon, shrouded in LP from Stockholm. Globulars were next on the menu. M3, M13 and M92. Never had a good look in a scope, even if I've picked them out in a bino before. They all split nicely into many many faint stars. M81 & 82 with a hint of the wedge in the middle of the Cigar-galaxy. Last stop M51 Whirlpool Galaxy, no real hints of spiral structure but definetly two different smudges next to eachother.

Some random thoughts while pondering this last season:

*Visual aperture-fever setting in. However I think I'll start by getting a lighter rig for quick sessons (maybe getting the ST102/Az3 combo since I'm also looking at a guidescope) . Lugging around the EQ-6 is not fun by any means, which brings me to the next point...

*Probably casting a concrete pier at the astro-society's dark site. In practice this would enable me to just bring my scope and camera in the car and have a polar-aligned EQ-6 ready to go 45-minutes drive from home.

*If I get a pier with the EQ-6 permanently mounted (locking her under a rugged box like many friends in the club) I could start spending time taking image data instead of wasting time setting up half the evening.

*Thinking about getting a guidescope and guidecam (ST102 with Synguider, prefer to keep the gear light and not rushing ahead with laptops and CCD's).

*Time to get that coma corrector and a second hand Astromodded DSLR.

*Maybe time to ditch the 6" newt for a larger visual scope and a smaller frac for photography?

Anyway, the season was meager but ended pretty good. Time to consider next seasons upgrades.

Cheers.

Edited by VigdisVZ
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Great report Carl, though sorry to hear you are forced to pack up so early for the summer!

Aperture fever is definitely getting to me, mainly driven by PI and deep sky visual. Cant decide between a C11 or a big newt with cradle and dob mount options. Either way I will need to get a bigger mount, so not a cheap upgrade :p

typed on my mobile with Tapatalk

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Thanks for posting.

Intersting to read and consider the problems of living in white nights.

Do they long winter nights make any compensation if they are clear?

Yeah by comparison the winter nights are exteremly long and dark. Still susceptible to bad weather however, like this whole season...

Great report Carl, though sorry to hear you are forced to pack up so early for the summer!

Aperture fever is definitely getting to me, mainly driven by PI and deep sky visual. Cant decide between a C11 or a big newt with cradle and dob mount options. Either way I will need to get a bigger mount, so not a cheap upgrade :p

typed on my mobile with Tapatalk

Summers serve to reinvigorate your for next season, so thats something :) Are you going for a NEQ-6 or even bigger Jake?

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Cheers Carl - undecided on the mount, though it will be an EQ6 at a minimum, perhaps the AZ-EQ6 or CGEM-DX.    I expect it will be a case of what's available on the second hand market.     I'd like something capable of swinging a 10-12" newt or the C11 for visual and planetary, and guideing something more modest for deepsky.

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Regarding Mars being to bright: I have found that a light yellow planetary filter really helps. Without the yellow filter, I can barely make out any detail, on most nights. I put the yellow filter on and the detail seems to pop out at me.

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