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.... Or so it seemed there were certainly enough horses around me!

The clouds decided to budge outta the way at 11ish but I was still a bit busy sorting some things out and finished up by midnight.  Work the next day though so I was left with a dilemma...   Well, common sense prevailed so I went out to do some astronomy! However, keeping it reasonably sensible (for a change) and rather than a standard marathon session I promised my good Wife I'd be out for only a short while.  To keep things simple I packed my 80ed and camera tripod for an uber quick setup with only a couple of EPs - My 36mm Baader Aspheric and SW 22mm.  This was going to end up a bit more a test really of what the 80ED can do with a little bit more darkness and more importantly further away from local LP and at least get out after the disappointment of Monday night's rubbish night where I packed up early having seen naff all due to rubbish transparency and woeful dew.

I walked a bit further instead of going to my allotment which is reasonably dark and opting instead to go with my lightweight setup to Common Ground close by but at least going a little further away from light pollution. It does indeed make a difference! iPhone app SQM reader gave a reading of 20 and pretty sure I can improve on that going further out to the west (got a couple of locations earmarked that I can possibly cycle to just need to work out the logistics of carrying the scope).

I entered the Common gates around 00:45 and there were quite a few horses mulling about doing whatever it is horses do at that time of night. Actually there were loads of them. I made may way through them without trying to startle them and made my way to the highest point at a reasonable distance away from them.

After spending all of 1 minute setting up (gotta love a grab n go setup) - on to M101. Directly above me proved to be rather a challenge with such a setup and my 80ED focuser is starting to slip (need to tighten it up a bit) but really it is not too happy about gripping a 2" diagonal and a hefty 2" eyepiece.  It was just about managing with the Baader EP but the SW 22mm was a no go (it's reasonably heaver)  Perhaps for the future I'll stick to just taking my plossls and Orthos!    Star hopped from Mizar following the line of bright stars 81, 83, 84 and 86 Uma directly to M101.  Bang!  There is was... :)

M101: Thought this would be a challenge with the limited aperture but to be honest it showed much more clearly with the 36mm EP that I've ever seen it with the C8 in my allotment. A decent sized core surrounded by light haze.  I tried my 22mm and managed to get it to hold for a little while with the thumbscrew tightening the focuser but it was still slipping if I didnt hold the whole thing up.   With the 22mm (very briefly) I could make out a considerably brightening of the area and slight patchiness in contrast.  It was too frustrating though to keep going so I went back to the lighter 36mm and observed it a while taking in the view before moving on to M97 and M108

M97 No filter required it was just about visible direct vision but much better with averted vision showing a small circular bit of fuzz.

M108 a small fine light area the shape of it showing more easily with averted vision as an extented oblong however I could not see any detail outside of the core.

M65 / M66 distinct spiral galaxy form long oblong both showing a considerably brighter central core with the 36mm.  Fascinating to see them within the context of such a large FOV.   With the 22mm the area outside the core was more more visible with the main core fading slightly away.

NGC 3628 to make up the Leo triplet. Just visible with averted vision but a tricky customer! Long ghost like apparition that soon faded from view. Pleased to have got this one though with the 80mm frac!   So my mission is to find a place where NGC 3628 is visible direct vision easily with the 80mm :)  Close to mag 6 NELM required?

I had a quick scan around Cygnus... So many stars! The Milky Way looked absolutely astounding with the wide field view of the 80mm scope and 36mm EP. I could not see the Veil with it but then I had no filter with me and it was still rather low down. Naked eye the Milky Way was just about visible although this should be better in a month or so.  I spent a little while just bombing around the area of the Milky Way with a big cheesy grin on my face.

Well that was it it was close 1:45am and I packed up my stuff.  Not too far away I noticed I was being observed myself by 4 horses.  I'd just got everything stuffed into my back pack and scope in its bag and they decided to make a bee-line for me.  Good job I'd decided to pack up as possibly horses and optical equipment don't mix terribly well.  Still, It was a shame to have to go on such a wondrously clear night that wasn't freezing but I think I may now make another trip further out to get even darker.

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Nice report. Normally, words like '"a short while" and "astronomy" never go hand in hand, except of course when clouds spoil the views! Hehe! ;) 

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Sounds like an exciting observation evening, with animals in the vicinity.

My uncle used to own a horse and a Porsche car and for some reason had them in the same garage. The horse once walked over the car. You don't want that to happen to your scope.

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LOL!  Linda - yeah they're big horses at that   Late afternoon we'd been walking there with my two young daughters and there's possibly around 30 or so of them of various sizes in the distance started to stampede towards our vicinity.  We kept a watchful eye but they banked around and slowed up.  Beautiful things but you can't be too careful when they're in a group.  The one at the end of the night followed me out pretty much to the gate like he wanted this intruder out ;)

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Nice report and worth the effort after the short journey. All I can do at the moment is write a report on all the ways I can get wet and the different rain drop sizes, wind direction could add to the length of the report though.


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