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Comet Lovejoy and some nebulae


Aronnax
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Imagine my joy at looking out last night and seeing twinkly things in the sky! Last night I wanted to make sure I got a view of comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 while I could. It's been a long while since I managed to see a comet (Hale-Bopp... I said it was a long while).

So out came the scope and in went the lowest mag EP I have (a 30mm Skywatcher Aero giving 40x mag). It didn't take long to find comet Lovejoy clearly in the finder scope close to 41 Ari, and looking at it through the EP gave a clear view of the central glow of the comet. Unfortunately I couldn't detect any tail structure due to the amount of light pollution and the dew / mist that was starting to descend. Still I had a good while staring at it and enjoying the comparative brightness of the object compared to some of the galaxies that I've been trying to hunt of late!

After a good while there, I moved to the Orion nebula and it's companion (M42 & M43) for a revisit of an old favourite. As well as the wonderful view through the 40x mag EP, I popped in the 75x EP (a 16mm SW Nirvana) and found this to be a good EP to frame the visible nebula well, with a perfectly clear view of the trapezium, and clear dark lanes in the gas. I may even have imagined some colour, but this may have been wishful thinking.

Next was to find M78 the other side of Orion's belt for the first time. I managed to clearly see this nebula which appeared to be concentrated on two more prominent stars, but think a revisit is in order under better conditions to really appreciate this one. While I was in the neighborhood I happened to put the scope on Betelgeuse... I'd never really appreciated how orangey-red it appears.

I've been working my way through the Messier catalogue and had hoped to find the Triangulum Galaxy (M33), but didn't manage it last night. I think the sky conditions weren't really suited to me tracking down that one. Has anyone got any tips for this one in the meantime?

All in all, a nice hour or two outside before the mist started to sneak up on me and call an end to the night out. Very pleased to have got a view of comet Lovejoy, and M78 for the first time, and even more pleased to be able to get out at all given the winter weather!

Clear skies all.

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Lovely report, pleased you had a squint at M78, it's always nice to observe something new. 

Out of interest how many of the Trapezium stars did you manage? I ask because I've been on a bit of a mission of late to see more than the main four and have only managed those plus the E star.

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Lovely report, it's all any observer needs, an 8" Dob and clear skies.

Forget M33, we can see it by eye locally from a dark site. Low magnification and you won't see it, higher mag and you'll be looking clear through it. From a really dark site, it's a beautiful galaxy and you begin to see what all the hype is about,

Nick.

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Lovely report, pleased you had a squint at M78, it's always nice to observe something new. 

Out of interest how many of the Trapezium stars did you manage? I ask because I've been on a bit of a mission of late to see more than the main four and have only managed those plus the E star.

Thanks very much, I try and find something new each time, and I've got just under two-thirds of the Messier catalogue to go, among other items so it's still a straightforward (ish) task...

Trapezium: To be honest I didn't look for more than four, so that's all I recall seeing <makes mental note for next time>. It was then I realised that the mist was really starting to come in so the viewing conditions weren't optimum. I'll make it a target next time, so thanks for the inspiration :)

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Great report Aronnax, really good read.

I can see m33 through my 80mm Finder so it's definitely do able with your 8".

My skies are pretty good though and light pollution will wash it out sadly.

You need a wide ish eyepiece, in my main scope I use my 21mm ethos which gives x89 mag and that frames it quite nicely. Your 16mm might be a bit tight, have you got anything between that and the 30mm?

M33 is big and spread out.

It doesn't stand out like m51, for me it's a glow when you first see it, a slight grey on black background.

Give your eye time and you can then start to pick out the detail.

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Great report Aronnax, really good read.

I can see m33 through my 80mm Finder so it's definitely do able with your 8".

My skies are pretty good though and light pollution will wash it out sadly.

You need a wide ish eyepiece, in my main scope I use my 21mm ethos which gives x89 mag and that frames it quite nicely. Your 16mm might be a bit tight, have you got anything between that and the 30mm?

M33 is big and spread out.

It doesn't stand out like m51, for me it's a glow when you first see it, a slight grey on black background.

Give your eye time and you can then start to pick out the detail.

Thanks for the reply :)

I only have the stock 25mm in between the 30mm and the 16mm. The 16mm gives a reasonable 82° apparent FOV, but doesn't quite rival the 100° you get from the Ethos. But with the lower mag, it's not too dissimilar actual FOV, so I think that's possibly my best bet at the moment(?).

I do keep hearing that M33 really does like dark skies, which I didn't have last night, so will bear that in mind.

Half the fun is in the hunt anyway :)

Clear skies.

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Half the fun is in the hunt anyway :)

Spot on!!!!

The higher mag will actually give you a smaller field of view i think, I'd try the 30mm to find it first and then change to the 16mm and see if it will fit?

Oh yes, I'll find it in low mag, first. Just wondering what people find works well for this galaxy.

I do wish for power cuts on cloudless nights...

:)

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Oh yes, I'll find it in low mag, first. Just wondering what people find works well for this galaxy.

I do wish for power cuts on cloudless nights...

:)

Once I'd nailed in my mind whereabouts it is in Triangulum, I lay down on the slide in our local playground with my bins and just stared. It was just so big with a low surface brightness. It seems both very elusive and yet (once you've actually seen it) very obvious both at the same time!! It's on my list next time I go somewhere really dark; my home skies are fine by most standards but I'm told it really benefits from coal-black skies. Happy hunting!

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I'm ashamed to admit I never saw Hale-Bopp: I was in university and not engaged in astronomy at all... What I'd give now for a comet like that... :)

Nice write up!

Thanks very much :)

I didn't have a telescope then, but I remember being astounded at the fact it was visible to the naked eye, and through binoculars... wow.

Hopefully there will be something like that again in our lifetime!

Clear skies.

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Oh yes, I'll find it in low mag, first. Just wondering what people find works well for this galaxy.

:)

To catch M33, get your bins out. It is fine through my 10x50s. Once your eye has got used to what the thing looks like and exact location. You can move onto the long eyepieces and go from there.

I spent months scanning the same bit of sky with my scope before someone suggested the binos trick.

Good luck.

Paul

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Thanks for all the M33 tips folks, I'll hopefully get a glimpse of it at some point when the weather allows... might have to escape the suburban skies, or at the very least stay up until the neighbours have all turned their lights off if I still can't find it!

Clear skies.

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