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Sketches

Leo, M101 and others


Size9Hex

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Conditions started rubbish last night with bands of milky haze, but the transparency steadily improved towards excellence. All observations from a 10 inch Dob on the northern edge of town, late evening.

First up, no colour at all detected in Jupiter. A monochrome disappointment at both 80x and 180x.

A wider 50x found the gaps in the murk. Star hopping to selected targets was not possible but I stumbled into a terrific open cluster in Gemini that could only have been M35.

Still at 50x, the haze parted over Perseus next, and the always awesome Double Cluster. A tremendous miniature smile of stars under V520 Per.

Stock 2 nearby has never made much sense to me, but last night I finally figured it out at 50x. Very wide field of view needed to put it in context.

A few doubles dodging the murk, culminating with Porrima in Virgo. Mag 3.5 pair at 2.4". Clear sky occasionally between the pair at 180x, with a fair amount of wobbling, and diffraction spikes. Prompted by a recent discussion on aperture masks for solar, I tried the 2 inch mask that came with the scope, still at 180x. Much dimmer view, but the diffraction spikes were gone, and the stars seemed to strobe and dazzle less for an easier split. First time I've ever seen an airy disk too. Not sure what to make of it. Interesting though.

By this time, the murk was thinning. The Cocoon galaxies were a treat, with both components seen. Enough obvious structure to get the imagination racing to fill in the blanks!

Up to the galaxies in Leo. M95, M96, M105 and NGC 3384 spotted, but not NGC 3373. Two (M65 and M66) of three on the Leo Triplet. I thought I had one or two fleeting glimpses of the third (NGC 3628), but not with enough confidence or consistency to call it.

The Leo galaxies didn't give much away (at 80x and 180x) beyond general shape. I deliberately didn't check beforehand whether they were elliptical or more structured/interesting. Of them all, M66 seemed perhaps the most promising for a future visit.

M101 in Ursa Major though... what an enigma. Never seen it before despite a number of tries. 50x wide field was needed to detect it, after which it became visible at 80x and even 180x. The latter seemed excessive initially, but revealed a wide extent of lumpy non uniform brightness away from the core. I can offer nothing more specific than that...!

To my surprise, some of the constellations from last summer had appeared in the east. Freezing cold now, but I couldn't resist a chance to see M13 before calling it a night. I had a 60 second view of it on the day my scope arrived and haven't seen it since. Low in the sky, but utterly spectacular. A welcome return to our evening sky.

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Great report Paul, very nice catches in there- you will see the spiral nature of M101 soon I think. I'm surprised you didn't see any color on Jupiter- you couldn't see bands at all?

If the scope wasn't equalized this could have an effect on the ability to see color, was Jupiter wobbly or just too bright, what eyepiece?

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Super duper! :)  A lot of galaxies in there! I'm jealous! :D 

Were your eyes dark adapted when you were seeing Jupiter? If so, try to look at a light source before looking at Jupiter. To me the best time for Jupiter is at twilight or dawn (although I am too lazy for waking up early to see Jupiter nowadays..) when the eyes are not dark adapted. At that time the eye cones are still well active. Simply put, the cones are sensitive to colours, not the rods.

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14 hours ago, Pondus said:

Another very good report from you :smiley:

Certainly doesnt sound like youre "quite New to this hobby", picking up details like that.

 

Rune

Thanks Rune! Very kind of you. I've been using binos since August last year, and a scope since late October. Although I'm slowly noticing an improvement in my observations, I think I'm still benefitting more from persistence than expertise! :-)

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14 hours ago, jetstream said:

Great report Paul, very nice catches in there- you will see the spiral nature of M101 soon I think. I'm surprised you didn't see any color on Jupiter- you couldn't see bands at all?

If the scope wasn't equalized this could have an effect on the ability to see color, was Jupiter wobbly or just too bright, what eyepiece?

 

13 hours ago, Piero said:

Super duper! :)  A lot of galaxies in there! I'm jealous! :D 

Were your eyes dark adapted when you were seeing Jupiter? If so, try to look at a light source before looking at Jupiter. To me the best time for Jupiter is at twilight or dawn (although I am too lazy for waking up early to see Jupiter nowadays..) when the eyes are not dark adapted. At that time the eye cones are still well active. Simply put, the cones are sensitive to colours, not the rods.

Thanks Gerry, Piero!

Interesting you caught me on Jupiter. I actually hadn't given it much thought beyond the conditions being hazy/milky, but what you've said strikes a chord. Perhaps I jumped to an easy explanation too readily. I saw bands but no colour. Normally I see the colour with no trouble. 14 and 6.7mm ES82 eyepieces, and I wasn't particularly well dark adapted. However, the scope was brought straight out from a cold (not freezing) garage and wasn't equalised to the outside which was just above freezing. I wasn't expecting miracles in the scope at 180x until it equalised, but it's very interesting to hear that this can impact colour too.

Piero, time to start planning your next rendezvous with the new Dob to catch some of these too! :-)

 

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2 hours ago, alan potts said:

A nice report, as I said a few weeks back there really are some good reports in this section of the forum and many of them from up and coming new members, well done. Some clear sky here might be nice.

Thanks Alan. Fingers crossed for good weather for you soon. I think I read elsewhere you weren't too well. Hope you're on the mend and fighting fit again soon, if not already.

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19 minutes ago, Size9Hex said:

Piero, time to start planning your next rendezvous with the new Dob to catch some of these too! :-)

Unfortunately, I cannot go back earlier than 21 April! :( .. but weather permitting, I will do my best for making a good report out of it! :rolleyes: 

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Great report on hitting the nail on the head again!!  I agree it is a total surprise to see Lyra and Cygnus reappear this time of year.  Next thing you find yourself doing is trawling those rich fields much earlier in the year than expected!  Noting your experience with M101 for a future attempt.........enigma is right!

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