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Autumn Dawn Watch session


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I've been hopeful of getting out while the moon is well away but the past week has been difficult with clouds and rain. 4am was quite clear and stars were shining brightly so I quickly pulled out the 152. The air was fresh and clear with a number of tumbling white clouds moving at speed. However there were big enough gaps to make for a fine session under skies as dark as I can get at home.

M45 Pleiades

A northerly breeze was a fair compliment to the brilliant glow of the Pleiades, framed well in 2.8° and looking pretty spectacular even in the 50mm finder!  Naked eye I could make out at least six of the cluster despite the breeze. In the scope these hot young stars are a bombardment on the retina and make for a fine introduction to winter viewing. My eye is always drawn to the middle to double ΣΙ8 Along with Alcyone.

Mel 25 Hyades

From the cool blues of M25 it was then on to the Hyades and orange companion Aldebaran α Tau.  Mel 25 is a huge area so not possible to bring it all together in this scope but my favorite has got to be the triangular asterism around θ.  The primary stars make the triangle with two fairly bright stars at each apex.  There are a few faint stars in the background and if you can fit K5 Aldebaran into the FOV this is great. Sadly the 152 doesn't do red very well, so α Tau looks more like a burnt white. 

M1 Crab Nebula

I've not looked at this for a long long time and this is richly rewarding!  It must have been dark enough last night because it was very easy to find at low power.  The smoke puff stood up to a bit of magnification and the view in the ES 8.8 was quite good.  Surprisingly the UHC seemed to worsen the image. I don't recall using the O-III which could be better.  Nearby Σ742 is easily split at 100x of two fairly equal magnitudes and is a nice bonus!

M43 & M42 

Clouds were herding me back toward Orion, so go ahead, twist my arm and make me look at the Orion Nebula!  I'm loving the aperture of the 152 on this complex of doubles, gasses, quadruple systems and more. The bright northern edge of Orion is like a white seagull; that is until I put the O-III filter on.  Then the nebula doubles or triples in visible size which is fantastic.  With the 31mm Nag I can take in the whole of the sword region with a few of the obvious doubles at the southern end being split. We are very fortunate in the northern hemisphere to have this vista........makes up for not having Eta Carina!  M43 was a nice puff of gas around the bright star off the northern end without a filter.  The O-III seemed to detract a bit of M43 unless that was my imagination.

The advancing dawn was putting a finish to the session though I quickly got M81 and M82 in view. Skies were turning brighter though so not much more was possible. It's cooler, it's wetter, there's dew, but Winter is coming with some more fine views in store!  What's missing is a set of planets to pick at dawn :) 

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33 minutes ago, Special K said:

 What's missing is a set of planets to pick at dawn :) 

Lovely report Kevin 

Mercury should have been visible this morning - but perhaps a bit later? 

And Jupiter 'The Boss' will be there soon!

Kerry 

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Nice report, Kevin.  Low power Pleiades is always mesmerising no matter how "seasoned" an observer you are.  Come to think of it, like you, it's been a while since I've looked at the Crab,

Just put the scope out for a session this evening; hoping to visit a variety of deep sky fare in Delphinus and as many galaxies in Pegasus as my energy and work-night-conscience will allow!

Paul

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9 hours ago, kerrylewis said:

Lovely report Kevin 

Mercury should have been visible this morning - but perhaps a bit later? 

And Jupiter 'The Boss' will be there soon!

Kerry 

Thanks Kerry, I hadn't looked up times for Mercury.  I've got very tall trees in the distance to the east so usually have to take a short trip to the edge of our park to get an open view. I'm looking forward to seeing The Boss again soon!

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