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Special K

How hard is the Helix?!!!

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This is one tough customer and wondering how the rest of you fare with this from the UK? I've never tried for NGC 7293 the Helix Nebula until last night as I figured it was never going to clear the grove of trees to my Southerly aspect. However, I was intrigued last night by some brighter stars in southern Aquarius after a session with Neptune, and got to thinking. The bins showed I've not too bad of a vantage point for the Helix around 12am, though it is awful low down. After a bit of starhopping I landed on Upsilon and should be just a degree west of this star. However, I trawled back and forth I don't know how many times, with a UHC and also without. No luck. I suppose a proper light bucket is needed for this one, but this is the time of year if you're going to take a shot at it.

Edited by Special K

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Even here at Lat 44 with skies of SQM 21.6 to 21.9 you could not call it 'dead easy.' It isn't 'difficult' but it is not a simple thing to find by hopping. I've seen it in a 10 inch SCT and a 20 inch Dob. It's very big, which is what can catch you out. The first time I observed it, it was, in fact, filling the EP and I was looking straight through it. When I 'nodded' the scope it popped.

If very low in the sky and in the LP I guess it will be a seriously tough customer.

Olly

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i was think about this object at work today, and guessed it must be pretty tough or there would be more people singing its praises from these shores.

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Isle of Wight nailed it, like a big ring nebula, though imperfect skies will make it harder

Peter

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i was think about this object at work today, and guessed it must be pretty tough or there would be more people singing its praises from these shores.

I suspect you're right about that! Low horizon objects are always a challenge to begin with and there is more likelihood of some cloud standing in the way, though the big Dobs must be capable of picking it off from the UK, given half a chance.

Edited by Special K

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For what it's worth, I found this at the beginning of August in my 250px, and had the same experience as Olly - I didn't realise its size. Having just viewed the Saturn Nebula, I was expecting something like that. When I realised my mistake I swapped to my widest field eyepiece, added an Oiii filter, and it popped right out.

I really liked it. 

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I viewed the Helix the other night with the 10" Dob. In the past I have used a UHC filter but this time I had the OIII filter which gave a better view - I used the 21mm Ethos. When I go looking for the Helix I start with the star 'Skat' then draw a line through star 66 to Upsilon Aquarius. Upsilon is like the tip of an arrow and I know that if I place this star in the corner of my FOV the Helix will show itself on the other side (just!!)

I appreciate that once you know its exact position and what to expect it is easier to view.

Good luck Kevin I am sure you will see it at some time when the sky is just right.

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Good luck Kevin I am sure you will see it at some time when the sky is just right.

Many thanks, Mark, and I'll certainly keep at this one! I was reading something today about O-III filters, and it mentioned the Helix in a large scope is nearly photographic.

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I spotted it with my C8 with 31T5 at 65,5x from the Netherlands with quite some difficulty, even from a fairly dark site, It looked like a large, ghostly ring, From Italy, and from Olly's place it was much easier, due to higher elevation

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Found it with my 3'' refractor - x16 with a UHC filter stuck in for good measure. It appeared as a fuzzy circle, with the hole only visible with AV. This was in Northern Spain though, near the Picos de Europa - we're talking darker than Exmoor here. Practically no light pollution.

It's easy to see under a dark sky - I've read claims from people that they've seen it with the naked eye from desert sites, but I take that with a pinch of salt. Finding it is trickier, but this is where the short focal length refractor really comes in to its own because it makes sweeping an area dead easy. Can't remember exactly how I star-hopped to it, but it didn't take long. The Helix is big so requires little magnification. I wouldn't attempt to find it in Bushy Park with the ST80 - now I know where it is I might have a crack with the Dob later this month.

DD

Edited by dick_dangerous

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Mr dangerous I may be able to help. We will need no moon and the helix to be as high as possible. Is your dob a solid tube and do you have a finder scope?

Peter

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Mr dangerous I may be able to help. We will need no moon and the helix to be as high as possible. Is your dob a solid tube and do you have a finder scope?

Peter

Yes and yes! I've found that Planetary Nebulae have been good targets in the city, but the Helix might be a challenge because of sheer size?

DD

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Not just size (although it fits nicely in the 1.25 deg FOV of my 31T5 in the C8), but low surface brightness and low altitude over here. You are looking through a thick column of air which aggravates the LP problems

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All too true, Micheal.........sadly!  That low surface brightness is a big challenge for my gear and location, same as with the California Nebula and the North America & Pelican.  Glad you've managed to view it previously, must be nice!

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Is it worth trying for it with large binoculars? Listed as mag 7.6 but I'd imagine the surface brightness is low. These bins will show M75 at a similar declination.

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I tried this a couple of week's ago star hopping from formalaut and upsilon but couldn't find it as all probably same as everyone else looking for something small?

I will try again though now I know

Damian

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I would imagine bins would be an ideal way to spot it but has to be well away from this cursed light pollution. I've not had another chance at this one since and the moon is way too close now.

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No point trying tonight with the moon where it is, I was quite surprised to be able to see M2 in the bins close by it.

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I don't envy you guys hunting faint elusive objects using star hopping. I cheat and use a robotic telescope but I guess I will never learn the sky in as much detail as you guys. It's like always navigating with a sat nav- you get to the destination but miss the view along the way.

Sadly my sky is so bad and my viewing time so limited I have little time & so the automated route helps me .    

Clear skies to you all however you want to view it!

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I managed to view it on the night of the 24/10/14 with my 200p, a 20 mm EP and a UHC filter. It was much easier to see than I expected and, as mentioned by Peter, it looks rather like a large ring nebula. I could make out a reasonable amount of detail and I could see the region that looks a bit like a tear duct, which it gives the nebula the appearance of an eye. It is pretty faint though and the sky on the night of the 24th was quite transparent. A couple of nights later the conditions were much more humid and the nebula was much more washed out by the usual murk and glow close to the horizon. I'm located in south Oxfordshire in a semi rural location right on the Berkshire border. The view south isn't that badly affected by LP (at least compared to the view north towards Didcot and Oxford) and so I think that I'm quite fortunate to get a good view of the Helix from my garden - though I need to wait until it's in a gap between houses.

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Nice spot, WaveSoarer! Sounds like you grabbed a nice view at an opportune time. It's probably past the season for this one now so maybe next time around. I'm thinking I was using too much magnification and not using an EP with a higher grasp of surface brightness. Good to know about that UHC.

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I don't envy you guys hunting faint elusive objects using star hopping. I cheat and use a robotic telescope but I guess I will never learn the sky in as much detail as you guys. It's like always navigating with a sat nav- you get to the destination but miss the view along the way.

Sadly my sky is so bad and my viewing time so limited I have little time & so the automated route helps me .    

Clear skies to you all however you want to view it!

Hopping is a blessing and a curse! I find the patterns look familiar when coming back to them even after many months so it does get easier. Glad your method works and clear skies too!

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Is it worth trying for it with large binoculars? Listed as mag 7.6 but I'd imagine the surface brightness is low. These bins will show M75 at a similar declination.

I've observed the Helix several times through Canon 15x50 IS binoculars from mid Wales.

Great dark location and transparent sky needed.

The view from the Elan Valley on Sunday 23rd Nov. with a 16" dob under a dark and rain-washed sky was stunning.

Cheers

Paul

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