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Paul73

A Surprise Sagittarius "M" Fest - First ever observing report.

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So here it is. Inspired by the lyrical, but fascinating ramblings of more experienced members of SGL, I thought that I would have a go at writing an observing report myself. It is a bit daunting as all that I write nowadays is business reports and sound bites.

Scope Nights was showing an unheard of unbroken blue line for last Thursday. All night clear! What unexpected joy!!!! It appeared a bit too late for any serious planning, but not to worry, a night under the stars was beckoning. As it was a school night and I would be needing my brain on Friday, I decided to get a couple of hours kip and rise at 1am as the moon was setting. So. Scope out, alarm set and then finally slipping into dreams of the forthcoming DSO (possibly bought on by a combination of too much cheese and the excitement of a clear night).

1am - Out of bed and out to my waiting scope. Stars! Deep joy!! Followed about 30 seconds later by frustration on discovering a heavily fogged up secondary mirror....... there followed ten minutes of clearing condensation. Which gave me ample time to plot my path across the heavens. At this point I noticed a low haze in the south. This was a shame, as I had hoped that the, yet to be explored Sagittarius was to be my "Main Event" for the night. Inevitably, by the time the scope was clear and columation tweaked, cloud had covered most of the sky. After a further 15 mins of sulking and a futile attempt to vent my spleen on the "Will this weather ever end" thread (even the WiFi was refusing to play), I noticed a hazy Antares peering through the cloud low to the south.

Over the next few minutes, the muted glow became a beacon of amber hope as the arc of Scorpius emerged shining crisply over my garden hedge.

And so to the observing. I decided to forsake the known beauty of M4 (an easy to find favourite glob) for the uncharted waters to the east towards Sagittarius.

M19 and then directly down to M62 was the plan. A couple of fruitless casts failed to locate it. Then it came floating into view, clear as day. An open cluster with a bright nebula about 1/4 of a degree west! One of the loveliest things that I have seen at the eyepiece. It is worth pointing out at this stage that I use Stellarium as my guide when observing. It has very clear charts but gives no information save for object name and magnitude. It took me some time to work out that I had overshot massively and jumped straight to M21 and the Trifid Nebula!!

The obligatory list:

*** M21 & Trifid Nebula (M20) - A bright fairly tight open cluster with a couple of strands of bright stars trailing through towards the Nebula. All sitting comfortably in the same 1.25 field of view. The nebula was unmistakable in direct vision, with some texture and dark lanes with gaze averted. I'm looking forward to a revisit for the double at M21's center.

M28 Globular Cluster - A random slew to the east whilst being confused about the identity of M21, brought the hazy M28 into view. Smaller, bright but not resolvable this could easily be mistaken for a galaxy. Still a nice sight.

**M22 Globular Cluster - My goodness, if only I lived further south so that I could see this beauty high in the sky and in proper darkness!! Tightly packed and easily resolvable with hints of colours. I am assuming that the slight halo effect expending from the bright core would resolve into many more stars under dark skies.

* M25 Open Cluster - Very nice, Plenty of bright stars of varying appearance (a bit like M35 but a bit tighter).

** Eagle Nebula (M16) - Bright, easy to find, everything that you want form a nebula! This one responded well to a UHC filter with a couple of defined regions visible and hints of more structure to come. There was a definite lightening of the sky by now - this would be great in the dark!

** Omega /Swan Nebula (M17) - Loads of bright stars and a clear bright "V" shaped core to the nebula with wispy hints that it extends far further than visible in the of the approaching dawn.

M18 Open Cluster - About a degree south of the Omega Nebula lies this tight little cluster. Marking the approach to the, rather grandly named Sagittarius Star Cloud.....

** Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24) - @&£*%# &@?? - Stars everywhere! Fills the eyepiece. Not bright spectacular stars like those in the Pleiades, just hundreds and hundreds of them. Not much else to say about it really ..... A little window on the core of our galaxy.

Izar Double - Getting really quite light now. So decided to head west (and up) to Bootles. I had dim memories of an SGL thread on Izar being a double that might prove interesting. Seeing wasn't the most stable, but I think that the lighter sky helped reduce the glare. With a bit of columation tinkering, I managed to get a clear split at 200x with only the merest hint of the spectacular colour difference that the writ-ups promise. It was still a really rewarding way to wrap up an evening.

Thanks for sticking with my somewhat ham fisted attempts to describe one of my best night's viewings. The sheer diversity of sights and the fact that it rose from the wreckage of despondency when the clouds descended, made it all the better.

Any tips for other non Messier treats in this area would be gratefully received.

Paul

PS. Hope that this isn't too long....

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Nice report.

Most of these targets are unfortunately out of my reach or very difficult to locate/observe because of my location up north.

Still very interesting to read reports about them though.

Rune

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Nice report.

Most of these targets are unfortunately out of my reach or very difficult to locate/observe because of my location up north.

Still very interesting to read reports about them though.

Rune

They are only around for a shortish window down here. Sadly, this is mid summer when even in the south it doesn't get properly dark. It is an amazing part of the sky that gives only a tantalising glimpse at these latitudes.

We are heading for France in about 6 weeks. The bino's will be coming!

Paul

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Some super sights.  It's a shame the area is so low down for us, but it's glorious during this short season - worth scanning with binoculars too.

andrew

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Nice report Paul. Thoroughly enjoyed reading that.

Lovely objects in a wonderful area of sky :)

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Polyphasic sleep? Good idea! It's how people slept up until the invention of street lighting (And astronomers are known to have Views on that).

Sagittarius is the highlight of the whole year to my mind - nowhere else is there such an amazing collection of stuff to see. It's only a shame it stays so low to the horizon.

DD

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Polyphasic sleep? Good idea! It's how people slept up until the invention of street lighting (And astronomers are known to have Views on that).

DD

"Polyphasic" cracking word!

The problem is that if attempted too often, polyphasic sleep becomes self perpetuating. Often including a siesta / sneaky kip in the car mid afternoon (shame that I take the train to work - it doesn't look good in a meeting or at one's desk).

Paul

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Lovely report, it's great to get up at 1. It's a bit different from kicking off early and waiting for darkness and your targets. It's a bit far up from here to see most of these, but the bowl of Sagittarius always amazes,

Nick.

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Great report Paul and very enjoyable read. The Teapot is lovely. Yet to see it this year, but one area worth seeing if you are not going to travel since it will be the only time and worth getting up for. I really enjoyed it last year.

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Any tips for other non Messier treats in this area would be gratefully received.

I don't know about non-Messier, but the Trifid Nebula is a stones throw from M8 - the Lagoon Nebula. Big, right, with a nice line through it!

And M80 is very close to M4 in Scorpius.

M6 and M7 are a challenge for "How low is your southern horizon" - but possible from Berkshire! And M6 does look like a Butterfly!

Jabbah - Nu Scorpii - is a nice double-double type test of optics - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nu_Scorpii 

Xi Scorpii is another nice multiple star system if I remember correctly.

I quite liked NGC 6520, too - near the spout of the teapot. And I was chuffed to spot NGC 6603 within the Sagittarius star cloud too.

Just some thoughts!

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Thanks for the suggestions guys.

Andy

I've yet to make it to your M7 site, but fully intend to once it gets a bit darker!

The Trifid / m21 combo was the sight of the night / month. Really splendid. But for some reason, I couldn't spot the Lagoon.

Paul

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M6 and M7 - they're like the holy grail of tough to find Southern horizon objects. I've never attempted them from London but am on my holidays in Northern Spain in September so might have a go at them then, if they're still high enough when it gets dark... M80 is a great cluster - saw it for the first time last week and was impressed with how bright it was, standing up to the glare from a half moon. By comparison M4 was rather hazy and difficult to spot.

DD

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Thanks for the suggestions guys.

The Trifid / m21 combo was the sight of the night / month. Really splendid. But for some reason, I couldn't spot the Lagoon.

All I can think is you might've missed it? I've always found it much easier to spot than the Trifid!

http://messier.seds.org/more/m008-020_m2.html

But it is lower, so maybe if there was a haze in the air that'd make it dimmer.

I really want to get the 10" somewhere dark and pointing at this bit of sky. 

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M6 and M7 - they're like the holy grail of tough to find Southern horizon objects.

DD

I reckon that is M83 myself. M6 & M7 are at least easy if you've got the horizon for em. M83 is a right little mare to spot in the low haze. Still haven't seen it even after years of countless attempts. From local sites it's always impossible even in my old 16" and every time I've been away it's been hidden by a flaming mountain or something. One day ;) I refuse to cheat and head south for it though. I'm a stubborn git. :grin:
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Yup, M83 is one of my 9 remaining Messiers, and it is a [removed word]. But I want to do them all from the UK!

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Yup, M83 is one of my 9 remaining Messiers, and it is a [removed word]. But I want to do them all from the UK!

Good goal. Any fool can hop on a £50 Easy Air flight south!!!

Good luck.

Paul

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Good goal. Any fool can hop on a £50 Easy Air flight south!!!

Good luck.

Paul

Yup! That's how I intend to find M6, M7 and M83!

DD

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Nice report. Has given me plenty of ideas for next time out.

Andrew

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Nice report Paul.

I am lucky enough to be nearly as far south as the UK can get (Channel Islands excepted), and not only

can I get sights like M6 M7 M69 and M70 down in Sagittarius from my garden, but the sky is as dark as summer ever gets

in these islands so I can still enjoy the summer sky for DSOs.

M22 is a favoutite object of mine, I have a gap between two houses south of me and have to wait until all objects south

of M17 pass through. M22 comes from behind the wall like a beach-ball, bit by bit. A truly spectacular thing.

Clear skies

Mick

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