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Stu

Devon Jollies

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Sit back and relax, this could be a long one ;)

I've just returned from my annual camping holiday with my 11 year old daughter Olivia. We were in South Devon on a very nice campsite, a nice flat pitch for once so no rolling down the hill in the night!!

The forecast was not amazing when we came away, but our first night, Friday night was clear and it turned out that so were the following four nights with some of the best skies I get to see in a year. The moon has also been very kind by staying completely out of the way.

Here are the SQM readings I took:

Friday 20.4 Bino observing

Saturday 20.65 Scopes

Sunday 20.45 Scopes

Monday No reading but clear, didn't observe

Tuesday 20.5 Scopes, best session 10pm until 3.30am

I brought my 8" Edge and Tak FC-100 with me, so have widefield and a bit of aperture too. Apart from SGLX, I've not had anything bigger than a 4" scope under a dark (and consistently clear, so PSP doesn't really count!) sky, particularly one with access to Sagittarius so was looking forward to trying out the SCT. Both scopes sit well on the Giro-WR/EQ6 tripod combo, in fact it is smoother with two scopes on as the counterweight I have with me is too light on its own.

Friday night was very nice, down to mag 20.4 average, 20.45 at best reading, with the Milky Way showing nicely overhead and both the Double Cluster and M31 visible naked eye, although M31 needed averted vision. Having had a 4 hour drive down I did not set the scopes up but used the bins (8x56 Barr & Stroud) which were very nice indeed, and just watched for meteors and satellites. Plenty of both around, a few really bright with trails though probably more sporadics than Perseids. ISS did a couple of nice passes too. Nicest observation was probably Kemble's Cascade which was framed beautifully in the wide fov of the binos.

Saturday night turned out to be beautiful, darker at around mag 20.65 at best at around 1am. M31 clearer naked eye and the MW again quite bright.

I had a Rigel and 9x50 straight through Finder on the SCT, and the two scopes were aligned in altitude but a little out in azimuth but I was still able to use the Tak as a mega finder with the 24mm Panoptic giving 2.2 degrees fov. I switched to a spare 2" Opticron Diagonal the following night so I could get up to 3.44 degrees with the 31 Nag. Other than switching to a 3 to 6 nag zoom for some planetary and double work, the big nag staying in the diagonal most of the time. All I did was switch the UHC and OIII in and out depending upon the target.

I think I will change the straight through finder for RACI to make it easier, and perhaps even a Telrad in place of the Rigel which I find awkward on the shorter tube.

In the SCT I used the 31mm Nag, 21 or 17mm Ethos plus Swaroski 9.2 to 18.4mm Zoom when more power was required. I tended initially to use the OIII in the SCT and the UHC in the Tak when they were needed. I did switch this round on Saturday though and think it worked better.

I will confess to just sticking to my normal favourite targets on Saturday, simply because I cannot see them from home and like to get as much time as possible with them at a dark site.

M8 in the 8" was stunning. I almost didn't recognise it having only previously seen it in a 4" at a dark site. The star cluster NGC6530 was lovely and bright, the two brighter areas of nebulosity were separated buy a clear dark lane. The patch further from 6530 had a bright centre too it. The wider nebulosity was harder to see, barely there except with averted vision, but still the best view I've had of it.

The Trifid I always find tricky, and a disappointment after the Lagoon. It seems odd because it is smaller than the Lagoon but is only 0.3 mag dimmer so I would expect the surface brightness to be higher (the visibility calculator I use suggests it should be easier), but it seems harder to me. Anyway, I could make out the shape, and some of the dust lanes but it wasn't a great sight.

As I found in Samos, the view of M8, M20 and M21 in the widefield view of the Tak was spectacular.

M17, the Omega or Swan nebula was second only to the Lagoon I felt. The lovely squiggle (either an omega or swan I guess :p) was beautifully clear, the surrounding star cluster NGC6618 very nice, and faint hints of the wider nebulosity also visible.

Finally of these four, M18. EDIT No one spotted the deliberate mistake, that should have read M16 :). Again, like M20 I find it harder, more nebulous :p. With time though I drew out the lobe like shape to the nebulosity.

The rest of Saturday night was just a little trawling around. M13, M22, M28 and a quick look at the Veil, although the transparency was not great. I couldn't find the North America Nebula at all!

Sunday night I just planned to spend on two of my favourites, the Veil and NAN. The sky was slightly brighter, but the transparency must have been better because the Veil looked wonderful, as did the NAN.

Through the Tak/31 nag/OIII I could see the whole Veil complex. It's a little tighter in the Tak than my now sold AstroTech, but lovely nonetheless. As normal, I started by finding the Witches broom as it sweeps through 52 Cygni, then repositioned so I had the whole lot in view.

The separation in the broom showed up very nicely with averted vision. Pickering's wisp was very delicate but possible to trace over quite an extent, and the Eastern section was very bright (comparatively speaking).

Through the Edge, only small portions were visible at a time. I particularly like the two hooks at the bottom of the Eastern Veil, and there was some detail coming through in other areas too.

Moving on to the NAN, I decided to add a generic 2" x0.5 focal reducer to the OIII in the barrel of the 21mm Ethos. I don't know what reducing factor this gave, but in the Tak it meant that the whole of the NAN fitted in beautifully. The transparency was obviously better than the previous evening because it really was a lovely view, with the Gulf of Mexico section well defined and the overall shape very distinct. One of the best views I've had of this lovely object.

EDIT I forgot to mention that I also picked up the Pelican in the same fov as the NAN, much dimmer but nice to get.

That was basically it for Sunday, although I still had a little wander around a few old favourites. Livvy had fun tracking satellites and watching for meteors, of which there were plenty again.

Monday turned out to be a fine morning with lovely sunshine, so solar was in order. Once the sun cleared the trees I tried the Baader Wedge in the Tak first up. Lovely image, but a very bare looking sun. There were no major active regions, but there were a scattering a lovely small spots which I enjoyed seeing.

Ha in the Quark was a different story altogether. Plenty of lovely proms, including what I naffly called a Rocket prom when everyone else correctly named it the Eiffel Tower. Regardless it was huge, and fabulous to see. Plenty of surface detail too, filaments aplenty.

Monday night was clear too, but I needed a rest after a hard day on the beach :)

And so to Tuesday. I don't even know where to begin without boring the socks off you even more. It turned into a mammoth session from 10pm until 3.30am, only curtailed by my tiredness and a big drop off in transparency.

Having had a good look at many of my favourites, I just turned this session into a bit of a marathon star hop, starting in different constellations with objects I knew, then via SkySafari finding new objects and working out good hops to them. It worked very well, mostly using the Tak to do the star hop and get a widefield perspective, then the Edge to get a close in view.

This time I started in Orphiuchus picking off globs. M9, 10, 12 & 14 plus NGC6356. For some unknown reason I just could not get M107 despite repeatedly trying to hop to it. I can only imagine I was starting from the wrong star but I really don't understand it.

Also in Orphiuchus I picked up open clusters IC 4665, IC4756, Collinder 350 and NGC 6633 plus the PN NGC 6572. Strangely SkySafari lists IC4756 as being in Serpens which is wrong.

Into Serpens for the glob M5 then Aquila for the open cluster NGC 6709

Whilst it was not particularly well placed for me, I thought it rude not to have a look at M51 and its companion NGC 5195 in Canes Venatici. Whilst no spiral structure was visible, each bright centre was surrounded by a dim halo and the suspicion of a linking bridge.

Next stop Cassiopeia which was well placed by then. I confess I've never really had good views of Caroline's Rose (NGC 7789) so that was my first target, and what a target it was. In the Edge, it just looked stunning, I looked at it for quite some time. Lovely delicate stars down to mag 12 or so, in beautiful swirls and actually looking a little rose like. I shall revisit this when back under dark skies.

The Pacman Nebula (NGC 281) is another I've not caught under a good sky before and with the Edge it was subtle still with the OIII, but the basic shape was recognisable, a nice one.

Stock 2, beautiful and large open cluster of mainly mag 8 to mag 11 stars, filled the fov of the Edge, set in nice context in the Tak.

Multiple other open clusters seen in Cass, IC 1805, Markarian 6, IC 1848, NGC 436, the Owl Cluster NGC 457, Messier 103, NGC 663, NGC 659 and NGC 654

I couldn't go without a look at the Double Cluster in Perseus, NGC 869 and Chi Persei NGC 884. Beautiful as always, I love following the chain of stars from Stock 2 down to it. I was surprised that it was framed nicely in the Edge with the 21 Ethos in the diagonal, stars look pretty sharp to me right to the field stop so the edge optics appear to do a great job with widefield eyepieces as well as for imaging.

Whilst in Perseus, I also dropped in on NGC 1582, another nice, small open cluster that looked best at the higher power in the 8".

By now the Pleiades had made their way above the tree line and deserved a look, obviously the Tak was the tool for this particular job. It looked stunning, beautiful blueish stars, the lovely multiple Alcyone and all framed in the 3.44 degree fov setting it in context. I've not knowing seen the nebulosity in M45, and this occasion was no different. There is something there, but to me it's often been related to a dewed up objective in the past!! That certainly shows up 'nebulosity' ;)

On to Hercules, and M13 did not disappoint. Resolved beautifully right into the core, and the propeller visible with careful observation; not in your face, but definitely there.

M92 was, as ever, nice, but over shadowed by its more glitzy neighbour.

I tried and failed as normal to split Zeta Herculis. I've never managed this, perhaps it's my eyes! I normally blame the seeing!

Over in Scutum, I visited my new friend the Wild Duck Cluster M11. I viewed this through the 10" from home recently and finally 'got' the wild duck name after properly picking out the V shape, or shapes as there seem to be plenty of them embedded in the cluster. In the 8" under dark skies it just looked incredible at a range of powers.

Glob NGC 6712 was pretty small, and not much to write home about in comparison, but a new one for me. M26 was not far away, but another nice open cluster. At high power, the shape obviously matched SkySafari.

Flying high overhead, Cygnus was wonderful, sitting right on the Milky Way with the dark Cygnus rift very obvious.

Again, a nice number of open clusters seen, NGC 6910, M29, NGC 6819 and NGC 6811.

16 Cygni was a relatively wide spaced double (39.7") and a short hop from the Blinking Planetary Nebula NGC6826. I must admit I called it the blinking planetary on a previous night when I couldn't find the little blighter! The blinking behaviour is less obvious in the larger aperture so the nebula was always visible, but the central star came and went with averted vision. It had a lovely greenish tint to it though.

In Ursa Major, Bode's Nebulae M81 and M82 fitted nicely together in the fov of the Tak. Each galaxy showed brightly in the Edge. Personally I prefer 82 as it seems brighter and shows more structure to it, dark mottling showing very clearly.

Sagitta had M71 and Harvard 20 to offer me. M71 looking sparse and more like a tight open cluster. Ha 20 was pretty small and subtle, but again matched SkySafari exactly so identification was easy.

The Coathanger Cr 399 In Vulpecula, great on the Tak, whilst at high power with UHC filter the Dumbbell Nebula M 27 showed lovely structure and was quite extensive. I can't recall which night it was, but I caught the central star and two others on one particularly transparent night. The central star was right on the limit of averted vision, but there none the less.

Also in Vulpecula were more open clusters, NGC 6830 & NGC 6823.

Lyra was still well positioned in the early hours, with the Ring Nebula M 57 as good as ever, but also benefiting from the extra aperture. Very clear oval ring with lovely soft light filling the central hole.

Messier 56 Globular Cluster was one I hadn't seen before for some unknown reason, just had never got round to it.

The Double Double, nicely split in both scopes, but my clear preference was the view in the Tak, just beautiful.

The Double Double's Double (STF 2470 and 2474) was another I've not seen for a while. Much easier obviously but very pretty with its parallel orientation rather than perpendicular like Epsilon Lyrae.

The open cluster Stephenson 1 around Delta 1 and 2 Lyrae finished my brief visit here.

Time was really ticking on now, and the square of Pegasus had reached a nice height. M31 was visible naked eye, and again through the Tak looked huge, the very subtle outer arms extending a surprising distance from the core. M32 and M110 were clear too, 32 looking like a fuzzy star, and 110 a subtle patch of light quite a distance from the core.

Given the darkness of the skies, and the good transparency I tried for the Pinwheel Galaxy M33. This showed well as a large, soft glow in the Tak, brightening towards the centre. I noticed a little knot of light to one side which I'd not seen before. This was clearer in the Edge and I identified it as NGC604, a bright nebula.

Now past 2.30 I guess, Auriga was clear of the trees. More open clusters beckoned.

The Starfish Cluster M38, NGC 1907, the Pinwheel Cluster M36, M37 and NGC 1664. Mainly better with the larger aperture, all nicely resolved.

IC 417, a bright nebula was one I managed to locate but I think I only saw the star cluster associated with it rather than the nebula.

A final run of globs now, M15 in Pegasus, M2 in Aquarius, and lastly NGC6934 in Delphinus. M15 the pick of that bunch.

So, that's the end finally!

A fabulous 4 nights observing, delighted with the EdgeHD 8" and as ever the Tak was wonderful under the dark sky.

Somewhere over 70 objects over the four nights, all found manually with the help of SkySafari, a very pleasant way to observe.

If you got this far, well done and thank you :)

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Cracking report, BigSumorian. You certainly made use of that southern horizon to grab some delights in the southern Milky Way! And well done on getting the Veil Nebula.

Sounds like Livvy enjoyed it too.

Go well!

Jeremy

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Nice read Stu and a good few objects observed between you and your daughter.

Some gems in there and having the two scopes for different viewing perspectives is a real boon.

Would like to know the camp site area as I definitely want to nail the last few Messiers once tiny is finished

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Excellent stuff Stu :smiley:

Experiences like that keep you going in this hobby, when the clouds get in the way - as they have here for practically a week now :rolleyes2:

If you have a lean patch for a while at least you can re-read your Devon nights report and realise that the Universe is sometimes "open for business" for us !

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That's a huge report, thanks for sharing! NAN and the Veil have been a treat this summer and nice to read your experiences under darker skies. Must be fantastic to have the dual mount with complimenting scopes.

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Brilliant report Stu, dark sky viewing is just like a huge sweet shop ! Not at all bad here from the edge of town. Very pleased that you got into " Caroline's Rose", a wonderful cluster.

Can hardly wait for Clear dark Skies !

Nick.

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Sounds like a nice few days mate. 

Nice report, I enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing :)

You can't beat em dark skies. See you out there.........soon ;)

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Here are some SkySafari shots showing the different fields of view I was getting. The large circle is the Tak with 31mm Nagler, the small one is the Edge with 21mm Ethos.

North America Nebula beautifully framed in the Tak

bf9ded71983ac863572eee3f7547441a.jpg

Entire Veil complex

ec83a6c8e0ddaaa9be5abb7d361a40a7.jpg

Close up of the Witches Broom in the Edge

07844d4367df6ffbc2b30025b7c2cc0a.jpg

M8, M20 and M21 in the Tak

e9166ede812d51152707c3d5a8f8f762.jpg

M8 perfectly framed in the Edge

3614368260dc1198971d129c28d8d376.jpg

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Excellent stuff Stu :smiley:

Experiences like that keep you going in this hobby, when the clouds get in the way - as they have here for practically a week now :rolleyes2:

If you have a lean patch for a while at least you can re-read your Devon nights report and realise that the Universe is sometimes "open for business" for us !

Strange how things vary, I wasn't so far from you John yet had 5 lovely clear nights!

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great trawl there Stu...I've done this a few times going over targets seen at home then at darker skies...stopped me observing from home!!!...the views you see linger long!..great read and thanks for sharing.....

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Nice read Stu and a good few objects observed between you and your daughter.

Some gems in there and having the two scopes for different viewing perspectives is a real boon.

Would like to know the camp site area as I definitely want to nail the last few Messiers once tiny is finished [emoji6]

Damian

I was at a campsite called Leadstone camping, quite nice with good facilities but without being too much.

http://www.leadstonecamping.co.uk

I was in field 2 which had nice views to the south. Whilst there is LP from Dawlish and Teignmouth, the view South is basically just over some unpopulated fields then the sea.

f5b896c9ca7f298aa80738cf17b7ea16.jpg

There are plenty of other good places to observe on the south coast obviously. Durlston Head in Durlston Country Park looks directly out to sea, but no campsite there.

I've always fancied the cottages at St Aldhelms Head though.

http://www.islandcottageholidays.com/purbeck/cottages/coastguard/

Bit pricier than camping though :)

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Fantastic report Stu! It was a pleasure to read it! Last year in August I crossed Devon and Cornwall. A bit humid in the night, but the sky was really pretty with a pair of bins.

It seems to me that your new grab and go set up works really well! :)

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Cracking vacation and report Stu :smiley:  I hope my coming long report can be of somewhat as enjoyable read as yours

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Fantastic report Stu! It was a pleasure to read it! Last year in August I crossed Devon and Cornwall. A bit humid in the night, but the sky was really pretty with a pair of bins.

It seems to me that your new grab and go set up works really well! :)

Thanks Piero, I'm glad you enjoyed it, it became a bit of a marathon to write up but I got there in the end. What's actually more surprising is not how much I saw, but how many more objects I could have seen, just waiting up there for the next time :)

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Cracking vacation and report Stu :smiley: I hope my coming long report can be of somewhat as enjoyable read as yours

Thanks Yong :)

I look forward to reading your report, it's always nice at this time of year reading about all the holiday reports and different locations visited. It's great now the dark skies are back but it's still possible to observe in shorts and a t shirt :)

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great trawl there Stu...I've done this a few times going over targets seen at home then at darker skies...stopped me observing from home!!!...the views you see linger long!..great read and thanks for sharing.....

I know what you mean Calvin, my camping trips and holidays are always when I get my best skies of the year, SGL star party apart.

I don't ever want to reach the stage of not wanting to observe from home though, there's still plenty to see up there but I do understand why you don't.

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Stunning report of some fantastic nights, Stu. I saved it for when I sat down this evening with a glass of wine on holiday, alas not with clear skies tonight!

Thank you for taking the time to write it all up!

P

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:icon_eek:

Brilliant report and sessions, Stu. Amazing stuff. I think I'm going to print out your list and use it myself when the Moon settles down a little.

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A great read! Will be trying some of those targets thanks :)

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Cracking read @Stu Thanks. Just worked through this to create an observing list for La Palma next week. Won't have our 8" EdgeHD with us though !! Just the little carbon 70mm APO

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