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Piero

Nice star hopping!

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Promising evening since this afternoon! :) I was checking the sky from the window at work every 20 minutes. It was not very cold when I left home. Once in the field, a bit of warming up with old friends before going towards more challenging targets. The conditions were certainly not the best due to the high Moon in the sky. However.. why not doing something a bit unusual? Just before leaving a soft layer of mist was rising from the field. My bike and telescope were both frost on the surface (not the optics!). Cycling back home when frozen is not really a pleasant thing, but the memory of what just observed is sufficient for warming up the thought! 

Overall a session with a lot of fun looking for faint/ very faint targets, and observing the beauties in our neighbourhood! :rolleyes: 

 

Date 17/03/2016
Time 20:00-22:30
Location Cambridge, UK
Altitude 12m
Lunar Phase Waxing gibbous 72%
Temperature 3C (NE 8 km/h)
Seeing 1 - Perfect seeing
Transparency 5 - Clear
Telescopes Tele Vue 60 F6
Eyepieces Delos 12, Delos 8, PM2.5x
Filters  

Beta Ori Dbl Star 45x
Rigel. Just a preliminary test for seeing condition. Split was clear at 75x.

M42 Ori Neb 75x, 112x
E and F invisible. I believe what I missed tonight was enough darkness. Anyway, I will persist.

M109 UMa Galaxy 45x
Vacuum Cleaner Galaxy. I did not really hope to spot this due to the Moon, but eventually it revealed more difficult that what I thought. I could not spot anything in there. Despite the high position in the sky, gentle telescope jiggling, averted vision, relaxation of the non-observing eye, and dark adaptation at the eyepiece for about 15-20 minutes, did not help. Not even a faint trace of it. I have not found a reference for its surface brightness, but I believe it is fairly low for a Messier object. Mag is 9.8.

NGC5466 Boo Glob CL 45x
Still very low in the sky. Due to the moon placed high in the sky, I star hopped directly with the 45x (1.5 deg fov) from Alpha Boo (Arcturus), crossing 12 Boo until reaching the checkpoint stars Boo 11 and Boo 9. Star hopping in this desolate land of sky covered by moon skyglow and limited fov was quite fun actually. From Boo 11 I could spot NGC5466 initially with averted vision, but later also directly. It appeared as a faint little cloud. No star was resolved of course. Despite its mag of 9.10 and low position in the sky its view was feasible.

M3 CVn Glob CL 45x
After spotting NGC5466 (see target for reference), I reused the checkpoint stars Boo 9 and Boo 11 for reaching M3. This was well visible at 45x and appeared as a grey large cloud. Some granulation was also detectable, although no star was resolved.

M53 Com Glob CL 45x
Star hopping from Eta Boo (Muphrid). Quite a nice walk in the space. Once I reached the Sand Shovel asterism, M53 was very easy to spot. Grey cloud visible with direct observation. The Sand Shovel is made of 6 stars forming a kind of hexagon and four stars forming the handle. M53 is located just below the handle.

NGC5053 Com Glob CL 45x
I tried this target last year without succeeding and decided to try it again as it is very close to M53. Its mag is 9.8. I spent about 30 minutes at the eyepiece without spotting anything. When I decided to give up, and moved the telescope a little bit more than the usual jiggling, I thought I saw an extremely faint patch of gray light. I came back and repeated the action for 10 times. For 7 times I managed to see that vague shapeless gray patch. It did look very different from NGC5466 and I guess this is a much more sparse globular cluster. While checking its surface brightness on the Internet for assessing whether my statistics was due to my brain or had some foundation, I found this thread http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/61738-globular-clusters-m53-and-ngc-5053/ , where D. Knisely reported that he managed to spot it using an 80mm. So maybe I really spot it with a 60mm?

Moon - Satellite 75x, 112x
This was terrific. The view was definitely crisp. I could see many small craters and minute details that I did not expect. Superb view.

Jupiter - Planet 75x, 112x
How many features tonight. At 10pm at 112x, I could see the North and South equatorial belts, a faint North temperate belt, the North and South polar regions, four satellites of which one was placed just close to the North polar region, the shadow of Ganymede Callisto on the North polar region, and I believe I also spotted two festoons on the low part of the North equatorial belt.

 

Errata: It was the shadow of Callisto, not Ganymede.

Edited by Piero
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Great read! Yeah Jupiter was memorable tonight, as was the moon. I normally consider the moon the spoiler of DSO hunting ... I think I'm coming around to appreciating it better, and have started reading about features to go after.

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Great report, NGC 5053 is a small ticklish target, wait until you hit M5. We were awed by it at SGL. It's glob and Galaxy season !

clear skies ! 

Nick.

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Really impressive session once more Piero with some great description. Good work on all those targets, particularly with some moon light and good point highlighting relaxing your non observing eye, I think that relaxing your facial muscles is helpful and something to aim for when concentrating on a difficult subject. You are clearly pushing your excellent equipment to its full potential. I think that also, a reference should be made in your introduction credits to your Bicycle, which is providing terrific service. How long does it take you on average to reach your destination? 

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11 minutes ago, scarp15 said:

Really impressive session once more Piero with some great description. Good work on all those targets, particularly with some moon light and good point highlighting relaxing your non observing eye, I think that relaxing your facial muscles is helpful and something to aim for when concentrating on a difficult subject. You are clearly pushing your excellent equipment to its full potential. I think that also, a reference should be made in your introduction credits to your Bicycle, which is providing terrific service. How long does it take you on average to reach your destination? 

Thanks Iain :)

I agree, relaxing the non-observing eye really helps when trying to detect very faint features both for DSOs and planets. I don't have to cycle too much. It is about 15 minutes each way, but I also have to cross the railway which is a bit tiring with the telescope in my backpack, eyepieces on the left and tripod on the right shoulder (about 6 kg in total), and wearing snow trousers! On the 2nd April I will move in a new house which has a garden! So weather permitting, I will observe more frequently, hopefully 2 times per week at least! The other good thing of that place is that it is at the border of this town so, cycling to the countryside is generally much faster! Looking forward to it! :)

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Superb report Piero.  All the more impressive given the brightness of the moon. 

Good luck with the house move.

Chris

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Another really good early morning read for me before I go and get milk. I managed a short session last night with the M/N 190mm myself but just didn't feel like it in the end so cut short with just a little bit of Jupiter viewing. I did see two moon come from infront and one from behind ( I think ), they wandered out like a pair of double stars. This would have been too early for the UK as it was when it was not properly dark here and as you maybe know I am 2 hours in front of you.

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Lovely findings Piero!  I wasn't aware of the sand shovel but must have used it to hop recently to M53.  Well done for getting a glimmer of 5053, that's a tough one.  This is Class II out of IX which makes it one of the tighter globs out there.  M53 and M13 are V's. It's closer to us and just a bit smaller at 10.5' than the neighboring M53 which shows how much smaller in mass it is. I'd love to get a good look at this to see how much different it looks being a tight one.  Will have another go once the moon backs off again.

Good ol' Coma Berenices, eh?!!!

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47 minutes ago, Special K said:

Lovely findings Piero!  I wasn't aware of the sand shovel but must have used it to hop recently to M53.  Well done for getting a glimmer of 5053, that's a tough one.  This is Class II out of IX which makes it one of the tighter globs out there.  M53 and M13 are V's. It's closer to us and just a bit smaller at 10.5' than the neighboring M53 which shows how much smaller in mass it is. I'd love to get a good look at this to see how much different it looks being a tight one.  Will have another go once the moon backs off again.

Good ol' Coma Berenices, eh?!!!

Thanks Kevin :)

NGC5053 is very very difficult, especially with a small aperture. It was just a faint patch of grey without defined borders and only detectable with averted vision and moving the telescope. The eye was dark adapted at the eyepiece for 20-25 minutes. I did this by covering my other eye and protecting the observing eye so that the only visible thing was the glass of the eyepiece. The exit pupil was 1.3mm, dark enough to allow dark adaptation, but bright enough to reveal that patch of light. I just recognised it because it was in the exact location as shown in Stellarium Mobile. No feature was visible, and clearly no star. Even so, 3 times out of 10 was not detectable to my eye.

Edited by Piero

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Here's what we're aiming for!  Big difference between the two :)

image.thumb.jpeg.b154823c90e345bd816e1b6

 

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Very good report as always Piero. I don't have much problems with my non-viewing eye as I keep it open when viewing. An old habit from my microscopy days.

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