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Stu

Samos holiday observing - June/July 2015

41 posts in this topic

I've been away on Samos in the Med for nearly two weeks now, heading back today unfortunately. Really lovely break, consistently 28 to 30 degrees every day which has felt very pleasant, not too hot.

Being at a latitude of 37 degrees 41', and on a south facing coast with very little LP I was hopeful of some lovely views of Sagittarius and other southern treasures. Due to travelling with a baby, I had to bring a cut down version of my kit, basically a Tak FC-76DC with photo tripod and Giro-WR head with a 3-6 Nag Zoom, Swaroski 9.2 to 18.4mm zoom and a 24mm Panoptic. I had rigged up a handy RDF which fitted to the other side of the mount and provided a little counterweight to help smooth things out too. It worked very well. There is a description of it here:

http://stargazerslounge.com/index.php?/topic/246509-Holiday-travel-scope/page__view__findpost__p__2680781

I had pre-negotiated two nights observing with SWMBO, and from the moon phase decided to try one at the beginning and one towards the end, with the later one looking most promising. In the end I did manage a quick bonus session on 30th July to view the Venus/Jupiter conjunction which looked lovely against a dark sky and framed beautifully in the Pan.

The first night (25th June), was very poor. Although the skies were clear, it was hazy and the moon was still washing everything out so I didn't spend too long observing. I found M4 and spent some time on Saturn but that was about it.

The best night of the two weeks was Monday 6th when unfortunately I could not observe. The skies were stunning, and when I popped down to the beach for ten minutes at around 11.30pm the Milky Way was very bright and detailed. Plenty of the southern treasures were visible naked eye, as was M13. I would estimate the skies were high mag 20 point something, possibly even 20.7 or 8. I did not have my SQM with me that night.

So, my last chance was Tuesday 7th. The skies were not as good, they had a milky haze to them and the Milky Way was not as well defined, or as bright. It was also clear from the twinkling stars that the seeing was wobbly too, probably due to it still being 27 degrees at midnight! However, I had a good two hours from around 11pm until about 1am. Skies started at 20.48 and fell to 19.39 after the moon rose higher (it rose initially at 12.17am). So, the skies at their best were about a magnitude better than home (EDIT probably 2 magnitudes better, 18.5 is my home normal figure), and the southern objects were over 10 degrees higher in the sky, plus I had a sea horizon. Below about 8 degrees above the horizon the conditions were quite murky, this you could see during the day as a dark haze which I guess is heat and pollution from the Turkish mainland.

I spent most of my time just using the 24mm Panoptic which gives a 2.86 degree field with x23.8 in this scope, very nice for the type of observing I was doing. For higher power the zoom gave between x31 and x62 which was plenty given the aperture I had plus the conditions. The nag I only used on Saturn and to split a couple of doubles.

I started in the Teapot asterism of Sagittarius. M22 was lovely as ever, bright and resolving nicely into stars with averted vision. It took higher power well too. M28 was significantly less bright at mag 6.8. Whilst there I picked up some other globs, M54, M69 and M70 all significantly fainter. I have a note that I got NGC6638 but at mag 9 I'm not sure, and NGC6652 eluded me.

Plenty of other globs found too, all quite faint compared with M22 but clearly identifiable. M19, M62, NGC6441, M80, M4 and NGC6293.

From there I popped across to Ptolemy's Cluster M7. This is a lovely bright open cluster and looked fabulous at low power with different star colours showing well.

M6 was a short hop away, more compact and with mainly dimmer stars, but still clear.

After this I concentrated on my four favourite objects in this area, M8, M20, M17 and M16.

M8, the Lagoon Nebula with its associated star cluster NGC6530 was the pick of the bunch. Probably best at low power, but also nice with a bit more, the cluster was lovely, and the nebulosity quite extensive. I used both Lumicon UHC and OIII filters and both had something to offer. The contrast was better with OIII, and the dark structures within the nebula more obvious, but the UHC showed the larger extent, albeit with less structure. This view was certainly better than I had with my Genesis from Dorset a year or so ago.

My favourite view of the night was M8, M20 and M21 framed in the 24 Pan. Beautiful!

af048ec06627a4e79eb4fc60668c8acc.jpg

M20 (and NGC6514) on its own was not nearly so spectacular M8 despite being listed as only slightly dimmer.

A quick stop at M18 led me onto M17, the Omega Nebula with its cluster NGC6618 which was also very nice and clear. With the UHC filter, just the brighter central part of the nebula was visible and it did sort of look like an Omega (!), but with the OIII and averted vision some of the wider, fainter parts of the nebula showed up nicely.

Lastly, M16 the Eagle Nebula with NGC6611 was very nice too, with clear shape showing to the nebula a little like several rounded lobes.

Below M18 was a large area of lovely diffuse starlight which also seemed to respond to the UHC filter, not sure why. This was in the region of M24, the Sagittarius star cloud but that particular feature was out of reach of the Tak.

I moved all the way up to M11 which looked wonderful at all powers, resolving into beautiful stars and really showing its shape, though still no wild ducks present to my eye! Before I moved on to Cygnus, I also picked up M25.

By now the conditions had brightened, more haze and the imminent moon rise to blame. I found the North America Nebula but it's shape was not nearly as well defined as I have seen in the past. Moving onto the Veil, I saw all three main parts, NGC6995, NGC6974 and NGC6960 though the view was quite poor due to the conditions. I was able to trace Pickering's triangle quite extensively though, I'm always surprised by how far past the end of the 'broomstick' it goes.

So, a slightly underwhelming end to a very nice couple of hours which made it worthwhile bringing the scope. Such a shame I could not get out the night before, but such is life. I did have a nice view of the rising moon which looked very orange, perhaps due to a fire there had been locally the day before. Very lovely.

Here is a list of what I noted down, plenty of other unidentifieds too!

M22

M28

NGC6638

NGC6441

M6

M7

M54

M69

M70

M8

NGC6530

M20

NGC6514

M21

M19

M62

NGC6293

M80

M4

M25

M24 area

M16

NGC6611

M17

NGC6618

M18

M11

NGC6995

NGC6974

NGC6960

NGC7000

Dark skies, even with a very small scope are certainly worth getting to.

Stu

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Wonderful report.  I love those times when a nice wide field encompasses several DSOs in one field.

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Stunning report Stu ! Well spotted, some delicious targets there,

Nick.

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Great report! Just scanning the summer skies with a little frac is so rewarding

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Great stuff stu, many thanks for sharing such an envious report!

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Lovely report Stu!

It was a pleasure to read, and the list of observed targets is amazing! 


M6/7 are superb to me. I saw them in June last year from Italy with a Newton 114, and even at latitude of 45 degrees, they were so beautiful that I still have a 'photographic image' in my mind. Particularly M7. 

M20, M8, M17 and M16 just deserve a proper 'wow'.. 

I also found very interesting your comparison between OIII and UHC filters on the nebulae. I have recently observed those targets with my Pan24 and Astronomik OIII and UHC filters, and the image through the UHC was clearly better. I believe this was due to the lack of proper dark sky (still nautical twilight) and to the low position in the UK just above the horizons for these targets. Even at exit pupil of 4.0mm, the OIII removed too many stars and, to me, too much light from the nebuale. The UHC maintained the star fields and showed up these nebuale which otherwise were not visible without filter. To me, this is a great +1 for the UHC upon these conditions (low targets, not dark sky), as Sagittarius is my favourite constellation, and it is visible from the UK under those conditions.


Thanks again for sharing, 

Piero
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Nice report Stu, one that takes me back to when I spent 2 weeks on Samos. We were on the south coast so views were strainght out to sea. I only had binos but like you, I spent some time around saggitarius/scorpio regions. Spectacular it was

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Lovely report Stu, hope you also had a good hol, just before the real heat of summer there.

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great report mate.  thanks for sharing..charl..

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Lovely report Stu!

It was a pleasure to read, and the list of observed targets is amazing!

M6/7 are superb to me. I saw them in June last year from Italy with a Newton 114, and even at latitude of 45 degrees, they were so beautiful that I still have a 'photographic image' in my mind. Particularly M7.

M20, M8, M17 and M16 just deserve a proper 'wow'..

I also found very interesting your comparison between OIII and UHC filters on the nebulae. I have recently observed those targets with my Pan24 and Astronomik OIII and UHC filters, and the image through the UHC was clearly better. I believe this was due to the lack of proper dark sky (still nautical twilight) and to the low position in the UK just above the horizons for these targets. Even at exit pupil of 4.0mm, the OIII removed too many stars and, to me, too much light from the nebuale. The UHC maintained the star fields and showed up these nebuale which otherwise were not visible without filter. To me, this is a great +1 for the UHC upon these conditions (low targets, not dark sky), as Sagittarius is my favourite constellation, and it is visible from the UK under those conditions.

Thanks again for sharing,

Piero

Thank Piero. I totally agree M8/20/16/17 are amazing, M8 in particular.

I also agree about the UHC benefits under less than dark skies, but my experiences also show that an OIII has great value in a small scope when used under dark skies with good dark adaptation. I was using a max exit pupil of 3.2mm and it still worked well.

I hope to have another go with the FC-100 from the Dorset coast later in the summer.

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Lovely report Stu, hope you also had a good hol, just before the real heat of summer there.

Wonderful holiday thanks Damian. We are leaving at the right time..... 36 degrees this weekend, too hot for me!!

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Nice report Stu, one that takes me back to when I spent 2 weeks on Samos. We were on the south coast so views were strainght out to sea. I only had binos but like you, I spent some time around saggitarius/scorpio regions. Spectacular it was

It's a really lovely island, I think we may be back :)

This is what we were having to suffer ;)

51bfac1566e302c317ece8f4fea949d4.jpg

d5c5ebded3b9daab7be5e157efaa8778.jpg

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Great report. Sounds like you had a wonderful session. Must add Samos to my list of holiday destinations.

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Well done on your fine haul. Samos is a lovely island - particularly appropriate for astronomy, being the birthplace of Aristarchus (and Pythagoras, Epicurus, can't remember who else). And I'm sure the locals were grateful for your patronage in these troubled times for their economy. Greece is a great place to bag southerly Messiers and enjoy the summer Milky Way while British nights are too light and short. In the past I've done it with 15x70 bins, 80mm short-tube and 100mm folded refractors. There's certainly a lot to see with small aperture at a dark site - more than with large aperture at a light-polluted one.

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It's a really lovely island, I think we may be back :)

This is what we were having to suffer ;)51bfac1566e302c317ece8f4fea949d4.jpgd5c5ebded3b9daab7be5e157efaa8778.jpg

Spent a week in Crete at the beginning of June, full moon then cloud stopoed astro but it was nice to get back to the Greek isles
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Lovely report, Stu and great to hear you were able to combine a little astronomy with your other necessary compromises :smiley: Did you get any problems carrying your gear through by hand? I ask for when I went to the UK last week, I took my small binos and when passing through security, was asked politely not to get them out at the airport; thankfully looking at planes isn't my thing  :smiley: There's certainly a heat wave hitting the Med this year and as you say, average temps are now soaring into the 30ºCs - even at night. I also thought it interesting that you mention that 'milky haze' because until I moved further south in Spain I'd never seen it - living most of my time in the more arrid lands of north-central Spain. I imagine it's a similar phenomena in Greece and I think the foggy-mist lifts from the sea and vegetation creating a kind of condensation effect as the day cools. If controlled it makes for good seeing but not great in terms of transparency. Indeed, most of my observing during the summer is a battle with this mist.

Really glad to hear you were able to view Sagittarius and the Milky Way; truely outstanding features at this time of year. The tidy kit you brought over was perfect for the job: wide field, low power. I've never used the UHC filter when with the 76, so another clear night I'll take your lead and give this a shot.

On a final note, ironically my girlfriend is now so fed up with these hot sunny days, she decided last night to book our summer holidays in Estonia or Lativa :grin:

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Awesome report Stu, glad you guys had fun!

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Super report Stu both of the observing and the glimpses of your holiday destination. We've had some lovely holidays in various parts of Greece many years ago but I was more into birdwatching than astronomy back then. Time to go back again I think :smiley:

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Well done on your fine haul. Samos is a lovely island - particularly appropriate for astronomy, being the birthplace of Aristarchus (and Pythagoras, Epicurus, can't remember who else). And I'm sure the locals were grateful for your patronage in these troubled times for their economy. Greece is a great place to bag southerly Messiers and enjoy the summer Milky Way while British nights are too light and short. In the past I've done it with 15x70 bins, 80mm short-tube and 100mm folded refractors. There's certainly a lot to see with small aperture at a dark site - more than with large aperture at a light-polluted one.

Thanks Acey. We were staying in Pythagoreio so I was aware of the link with Pythagorus but not of the others.

The islanders could not have been more friendly, lovely with the baby and we saw no evidence of the crisis fortunately.

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Super report Stu both of the observing and the glimpses of your holiday destination. We've had some lovely holidays in various parts of Greece many years ago but I was more into birdwatching than astronomy back then. Time to go back again I think :smiley:

Thanks John.

How could I forget my pic of Jupiter and Venus a couple of days before the conjunction. I observed it on 30th through the scope.

31bf2074eafc316809a7a0748230e46c.jpg

A few more non astro ones for you.... Although the first one does have the moon in it :)

6094571c12713a20f3f75a80789f0716.jpg

5766cdaf3899664f701cc25e640d340a.jpg

b5d355aff781ba813d2e0ba24bd4dda9.jpg

Lastly, please indulge me with a couple of my lovely little girl, who had a wonderful holiday :)

411621295892885b4ccd69dfad8b4353.jpg

ad10626eaafcfdec4ea37c856d32109d.jpg

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Lovely report, Stu and great to hear you were able to combine a little astronomy with your other necessary compromises :smiley: Did you get any problems carrying your gear through by hand? I ask for when I went to the UK last week, I took my small binos and when passing through security, was asked politely not to get them out at the airport; thankfully looking at planes isn't my thing :smiley: There's certainly a heat wave hitting the Med this year and as you say, average temps are now soaring into the 30ºCs - even at night. I also thought it interesting that you mention that 'milky haze' because until I moved further south in Spain I'd never seen it - living most of my time in the more arrid lands of north-central Spain. I imagine it's a similar phenomena in Greece and I think the foggy-mist lifts from the sea and vegetation creating a kind of condensation effect as the day cools. If controlled it makes for good seeing but not great in terms of transparency. Indeed, most of my observing during the summer is a battle with this mist.

Really glad to hear you were able to view Sagittarius and the Milky Way; truely outstanding features at this time of year. The tidy kit you brought over was perfect for the job: wide field, low power. I've never used the UHC filter when with the 76, so another clear night I'll take your lead and give this a shot.

On a final note, ironically my girlfriend is now so fed up with these hot sunny days, she decided last night to book our summer holidays in Estonia or Lativa :grin:

Cheers Rob!

Actually I had no problems at all with my kit. I expected my bag to be opened going through security but it was not.

I took some liberties with the weight of my hand luggage, and put a few small but heavy items into a small bag and had no problems. This may have been related to travelling with a baby though, you end up with so much paraphernalia that it's a bit easier to get an extra cabin bag through. I must say it was nice as the airline seemed to go out of their way to make life easier travelling with the baby.

The transparency and seeing were very variable throughout the two weeks, with probably only two nights where it was beautifully clear.

Do try the UHC in the 76. In good conditions and with good dark adaptation I think it is worth it despite the small aperture.

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Tried last night but the skies are just not playing game, Stu. It's been clear and sunny all week, but to be honest until today the skies have been a really washed out blue and the evenings fill out with that misty haze. 

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Great holiday and report Stu -  an ideal setup for those island vistas. Some stunning objects at that that latitude.  Good your helping to boost the economy of our Greek friends facing  tough times. 

andrew

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Great holiday and report Stu - an ideal setup for those island vistas. Some stunning objects at that that latitude. Good your helping to boost the economy of our Greek friends facing tough times.

andrew

Thanks Andrew. I must say the Greeks (my wicked side keeps wanting to call them Samosas :) ) were almost without exception really lovely. Very family friendly and welcoming. We ate out in the local restaurants a lot, and bought some local pottery and other bits and pieces so did our (very) little bit to support the island economy, paying in cash which seems to be what they need.
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Thanks John.

How could I forget my pic of Jupiter and Venus a couple of days before the conjunction. I observed it on 30th through the scope.

31bf2074eafc316809a7a0748230e46c.jpg

A few more non astro ones for you.... Although the first one does have the moon in it :)

6094571c12713a20f3f75a80789f0716.jpg

5766cdaf3899664f701cc25e640d340a.jpg

b5d355aff781ba813d2e0ba24bd4dda9.jpg

Lastly, please indulge me with a couple of my lovely little girl, who had a wonderful holiday :)

411621295892885b4ccd69dfad8b4353.jpg

ad10626eaafcfdec4ea37c856d32109d.jpg

looks like your little girl was loving it stu. you have changed loads stu since i last seen you at sgl10. im refering to your pose on the look out tower :grin:

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