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AlentejoSkies

A night with the planets

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What a great night that was.

Out with my 6 inch f/8 dob watching the planets, first time for a while that I'm on my own so I get out the special reserve kit. Most of the time I'm showing others the sky and there I soon found that people see more with the most basic equipment. But today I can use the binoviewers, push the magnification a bit and take the time to watch, not just to look.

Jupiter to start. Everything working okay, tube is cool. Seeing is really good ! 6mm SLV showing its worth for the first time. I have a lot of experience in optics but very little in astronomy, so each observing session is a revelation and coming together of theory and practice. When I got this eyepiece last year I just couldn't handle it, thought is was a poor match for the OTA, but now I love it. Learned so much over the last months, just basic stuff like tube-nudging technique, careful focusing, relaxing the eyes...

So now it's time. It's after midnight and I want to see Mars. And there is detail tonight!! Not a lot, but there is a grey bit, and there white!! That counts as detail.

Saturn. Low, but let's have a look. 6mm in. I have my first confirmed Cassini Division sighting! A defining moment for a novice observer. It's undeniably there. But at f/8 the 6mm is probably pushing it a bit, I want to try 8mm. Only way at the moment is WO binoviewer with two stacked 1.6x barlows, so I guess we are at about 8mm focal length, that's anyway the only way to reach focus with the binoviwers. Wow, wow, wow, Cassini confirmed and more. Saturn is pink compared to the rings. There is structure visible, this is unbelievable! Saturn is crisp and clear like it's just been born.  I never knew my scope could do that.

Those WO 20mm wide angle eyepieces in the binoviewer are good I guess, and the Barlow too, but it can't be that they are better than the SLV? Surely not massively better. Is it the advantage of two eyes? Am I somehow able to do better internal image processing like this (or did the seeing just suddenly get really really good?)

What has changed over the months? Mostly me I guess. I know a bit more what to look for, take a bit more care. I was also watching Saturn last night, not  just looking. There were moments when I forgot to anaylse the image, and just watched the planet from curiosity, and suddenly I saw details jump out as if seeing a friend's face in a new light.

So I had to start the day by writing. Anyway a bit tired to jump straight into work. Thanks for listening.

Douglas

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Sounds like a great session. Jupiter can show a lot of detail when the seeing is good. I have also noticed that it takes some time to notice certain detail. It helps to look at the planet for a longer time. But as you say, next time you will see it much more quickly, because your brain has learned what to expect.

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nice one, sounds similar to what I was doing ok Sunday, but with better seeing conditions.

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Great report Douglas. I love nights where it all just works. For me the poorer sessions have been valuable but you can't beat it when it's good. :)

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Very nice report and things we'll get even better as you gain experience.

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Hello Douglas sounds like you had a really great night

Regards

Tom.

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That's a great report of what seems like a very enjoyable sessions.

Good luck and cloudless nights.

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Hi Douglas, that's an absolutely great report, very inspiring, it is what we all come to astronomy for.  Clear skies!

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