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Anyone caught a glimpse of Neptune this year?


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I'm not an early morning observer, so although Neptune has been hanging around the early morning skies for a while, it's only recently that it's getting interesting to me. I went out and braved the cold last night (southern hemisphere here) a couple of times. First time, I spotted the impressive Omega Centauri cluster, and the second time I decided I'd try my luck at spotting Neptune. It was the first time I'd tried to locate a target that's a long way from any bright stars, and without a star atlas, it was too good for me in the end and I had to give up... for now.

Has anyone managed to spot it this year, and if so, any star hopping tips for how to track it? I'm relatively new to star hopping.

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Because the Moon was so bright last night I decided to view Uranus and Neptune. I set up the 180mm Mak/Cass on the SkyTee mount and used my 80mm f5 Achro with 24mm 68 degree EP as the finder scope on

Here is how I got there last night. If you have relatively dark sky, you can catch it (just) in 10x50 bins which makes the scope star hop a whole heap easier.Find the bright four stars in a wiggly lin

I star hopped to Uranus and Neptune on the 31st of July using charts from S@N Mag (Uran) and Ast Now (Nep) (aug editions) together with my Uranometria 2000.0. Uranus is easier to see as a disc in my 2

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I've seen but with the aid of Goto! Depending on your equipment you should be able to make out a disc. Have you got any planetarium software to give you the location and perhaps enable you to print out a chart?

Edited by kerrylewis
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Yup, I've got stellarium, although even in 'night mode' (where the screen turns red) I still find it a little bright. Nothing so bright as to stop you seeing dim stars through the eyepiece, mind you, so in theory it shouldn't stop me seeing Neptune. I was wondering if anyone had seen it via star hopping, and could describe the path they took to get to it.

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I star hopped to Uranus and Neptune on the 31st of July using charts from S@N Mag (Uran) and Ast Now (Nep) (aug editions)

together with my Uranometria 2000.0.

Uranus is easier to see as a disc in my 200mm newt with only the 10mm lens showing a good disc, bright greeny-blue in the

centre and a little darker to the edges.

Neptune was not as hard to find as I thought it would be mainly because it IS in an area with few bright stars and so shows

itself better amongst its neighbours.

I used my finder to get the pairing of Sigma Aquari and 58 aquari on one side of the FOV, and another star, approximately

the same mag as 58, but to the northeast of these two,  at the other side of my fov.

The brightest Object in between is Neptune and is bluer than all else even in the finder.

The disc is always tiny, even with the 10mm lens on it, so I always step up to my 6mm lens, and if the sky can stand it, put in

my barlow to make it 3mm.  This dims it a lot but shows Neptune as a reasonable disc, and may even show Triton if the sky is

with us.

Neptune is also a lot deeper blue than Uranus and quite a beautiful colour. Well worth the effort. 

Mick

Edited by mjpfc
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Some great advice here, thanks all. I think I'll wait until after the 14th so the moon will rise late enough to give me time to find some of the neighbouring stars. I think the issue I was having was that the brightest star I could make out easily was around magnitude 4. To get to Sigma Aqr easily to the naked eye, I suspect I'll need the sky to be a little darker. Adapting the eyes to darkness could help, but it's tricky a) with the moon out and B) when the outside temp on a clear night is close to freezing. If I can remove one of those variables, I suspect I'll be more productive.

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To close the loop on this, I was able to spot Neptune a couple of nights ago thanks to mjpfc's advice. The secret is to get Sigma Aquari and 58 Aquari in the view, as there are two distinctive fainter stars curving away from Sigma. I just imagined a line perpendicular the the line they formed, and Neptune was easy to find from there. Noticeably blue in colour, and much less of a point than a star. Up to 225x, it didn't really enlarge the disc too much, but that wasn't really the point. The point is... I've seen Neptune :)

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I was hoping to go out tonight and try for a first time viewing but a family get together has halted that idea, plus it now looks like it's going to be cloudy anyway!? Oh well, still something to look forward to then

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To close the loop on this, I was able to spot Neptune a couple of nights ago thanks to mjpfc's advice. The secret is to get Sigma Aquari and 58 Aquari in the view, as there are two distinctive fainter stars curving away from Sigma. I just imagined a line perpendicular the the line they formed, and Neptune was easy to find from there. Noticeably blue in colour, and much less of a point than a star. Up to 225x, it didn't really enlarge the disc too much, but that wasn't really the point. The point is... I've seen Neptune :)

Thanks for the guidance on the current location, Gitchnz; sounds a lot easier than this time last year. It was in a murky area west of 58 and was about the same brightness of neighboring stars which made a star hop frustratingly difficult. There was ever such a slight hint of blue but I'm hoping it will be more so now we are in opposition. Worth a try tonight, clear skies permitting!

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Struggling with clouds every time I get a bead on this fella, but I've made a positive ident for further obs.  Honestly just got all my bearings with it and just popping in the 5mm for a closer look for some blueness and we got swamped in white fluffies.  Charts show it tracking above Sigma through the Winter, so at least I know where it is.

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I am quite certain I spotted Neptune last night. If it was, I must say I was quite underwhelmed. I admit conditions where quite poor. It took me ages to even be able to find Sadalmelik in Aquarius due to clouds and contrails, there is also quite significant light pollution to content with. It has taken me a while to get there due to clouds in the South even though the rest of the sky appears clear, the LP exacerbates the situation.

I was viewing with my Dob and 13mm nagler, giving 133x. It was possible to discern a disc even with the seeing as it was and there was certainly a hint of blue but not anywhere near as blue as I was expecting. I appreciate everyones eyes see things differently.

I will certainly give this target another try to see if i can get a better view.

Ian

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The colour of Neptune, and Uranus also, is highly variable. One factor, you quite astutely pointed to, is the difference in people's discerning of colour. Another, though, is the atmosphere the object is going through. As you are in the UK, I think, Neptune would be quite low in the sky. This means it is going through a lot of turbulence and water-vapor. And this will cause different results than those in the proverbial textbook.

By all means try again. And keep a record of your findings. Both Neptune and Uranus are woefully under-viewed IMHO. All information of different people and locations should be made available to fill in the massive blank pages on these lovely neighbors.

Clear & Dark Skies,

Dave 

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Hi Dave,

Yes, I appreciate what you are saying about peoples differing colour perception, but with Uranus it was most certainly blueish in colour, with maybe a hint of green.

Ian

The last time I went for finding Uranus, it was pretty high-up in the sky. I was using my 12" LX200GPS SCT. I found it right away using my computer-software.

Uranus resolved into a very nice disk - and was a beautiful pea-soup green. Hence I stand on my previous statement regards people perceiving colours differently. I have an old friend here who sees red as yellow - he keeps losing his driving-permit for some reason..... :grin:

Clear & Multi-Coloured Skies,

Dave

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Got a look at Neptune tonight with the C9.25. It was tiny and difficult to resolve a disc. There was a slight tinge of blue. I actually got down to the 5mm e.p. to give me 470x but as you can imagine it was a very washed out view. At 235x it wasn't too bad ( 10mm e.p.) .

Seeing - III   transparency - med/poor.  21:40 UT

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