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With the extra time I have at the moment, and the weather being so good, I’ve been catching up on a few jobs I’ve been meaning to do. One of these is the re-spotting and recollimation of the mirror on my newt. I found I didn’t have any ring binder re-enforcers but made something similar by hole punching a self-adhesive label and carefully cutting out.
With the collimation done and the sun setting I was keen to see whether my time had been well spent. I think it was November when I last had a proper evening of astro, my efforts earlier this week got hazed out, so I was looking forward to this!
First up was Venus in the early twilight. Using my binoviewers and a couple of filters in combination (a ND0.9 and the baader neodinium) I got some encouragement with some good sharp views. I could almost swear I could see a little detail but I’m sure that was just wishful thinking. I also tried a UHC and O111 filters as I had some, but they didn’t show anything better. In fact, the O111 had the peculiar effect that after a few minutes observing a bright green target, when I came to look up at Venus by eye, it appeared a bright and angry orange colour, like Arcturus on steroids.
After Venus I chose M45 and then the open clusters in Auriga and this was where my earlier work really showed its value. So many pin sharp little stars, far more than I recall when I last viewed these targets. I always feel surprised at how good these targets are though with M37 and 38 the best of them, being a bit more compact.
I also had my new TS80mm frac out to see what I could catch and to compare views of the same targets. All were pleasing, albeit smaller in scale. I was also glad to be able to spot M65 and 66 in Leo. Obviously not as good as in the bigger newt which will show the triplet of galaxies in the same field. Still, I’m happy to know I can pick those up in my local skies with this little scope. It bodes well for darker sky trips in future.
I followed up with some globs and ended with M13 in Hercules. Always a favourite, but by now a thin film of ice was settling on the scopes and my chair so it was time to call it a night.
I’ve been really cheerful today as a result of getting some scope time in, which just shows the value of a good hobby in times like these.
Thanks for reading.
After a pretty dreary September and part of October, I was finally able to get out with students to do some viewing. Here are some of the objects viewed over two nights using Starlight Live software on my Borg 77edii (f/4) and Borg 125SD (f/5) with a Trius 694 mono camera. In most cases an IDAS NB-1 "nebula" filter was employed to help with the suburban light pollution in our skies. The first night (mainly 125SD) was much steadier and drier, but along the coast we take what we can get when it isn't raining! ;-D
It's so much fun to see these objects from less-than-optimal skies... I often intend to quit much earlier, only to find myself saying (over and over!) "... oh, look, <object> is coming up... I should just have a look at that before I pack up." And then another hour goes by!
- Greg A
Eastern & Western Veil
Comparison of FOV between two scopes on the NA Nebula
Again, FOV comparison on the Elephant Trunk Nebula
And again, with the Rosette Nebula
Pacman Nebula through the 125SD:
And Crab Nebula:
And the Cocoon Nebula:
Finally, a few wider shots of objects using the Borg77: Flame/Horsehead, California Nebula, Pelican Nebula and Andromeda Galaxy:
Date: Tue 4th September. 2200 – 0220am.
Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm).
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Night Vision Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11), Panoptic 35mm (f4.2 x17), Panoptic 27mm (f5.4 x22).
Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD, Astronomik 12nm Ha CCD.
As “big dob” has been working through the Sharpless catalogue this past couple of months, I have been making use of the Sharpless tables in the back of my Bracken Astrophotography Sky Atlas to track which objects I have seen and add a “tick” rating depending on the “wow factor”.
I wanted to make good use of my new “AZ5 GTi” goto mount to aid me in this experimental flight through big dobs favourite Sharpless objects BUT the Sharpless object list is not available in the SysScan handset .
I created a spreadsheet of the multi-ticked objects and using Sky Safari I added a reference to a nearby object that was either from the NGC, IC or SAO catalogues that are in the handset (or so I thought – it turns out the SAO catalogue stored in the handset is a bit random and I had to make some “on the fly” adjustments to alternative SAO stars as I went along).?
Here is the “updated" flight list of 32 sharpless objects to be targeted, adjusted to only contain SAO stars that actually are in the SynScan handset (shown in the second column should you wish to take the same flight...)
- All viewing was done using a 55mm Plossl & Astronomik 6nm Ha filter unless otherwise stated.
Sh2-54 – “n” shaped with spikes of nebula coming away from the main shape. A small brighter circular patch is seen within.
Sh2-86 – A bright patch of nebulosity with a star cluster inside.
Sh2-101 “Tulip” – A small bright patch with two bright stars inside. It was sitting amongst lots of easily seen lanes of nebula. Nice.
Sh2-102 – nothing.
Sh2-103 “Veil” – The star attraction of the night. The view was nearly up there with big dob, there was just so much to see (in a 107mm scope). I could almost get the whole thing into the FOV of the 55mm Plossl too. It was so good that I have to map it out in sections to get it all down…
- NGC6992 – Strangely was not standing out as the brightest bit (like it usually does) all parts seemed to hold their own in the view.
- Pickering’s Triangle – Looked lovely with varying strand sections showing the triangle shape.
- E, F & NGC6979, G – To both sides of Pickering’s triangle were further bright stand-alone sections of nebulosity.
- Thin thread – I could see the thin thread with some averted and concentrated efforts. And to my amazement there was a semi-circular nebula shape to the side of the thin thread that I have not noticed before!
- NGC6960 – Was showing the split into three “antlers” at the top and the whole thing just kept on going up and over the top meeting the thin thread which had split into two wider lanes by now.
I am astounded at the view as it was nearly up there with the 20” – Stunned and disbelief abounded
Sh2-105 Crescent – Lovely and bright in the 35mm Panoptic. The whole of the “9” was not showing but scintillation was hinting where the fainter sections are to be found.
Sh2-106 – Possibly a very thin patch around a star?
Sh2-112 – small bright patch
Sh2-115 - larger, fainter & squarer in shape.
Sh2-119 – Three parallel lanes of nebulosity. The centre lane was the thickest, the right side lane was fainter and the left side lane was pretty thick too.
Sh2-124 – Large nebulous patch with a small bright “question mark” shimmering shape in the centre. The small shape was sh2-124.
Sh2-125 Cocoon – Appeared small & bright. There was a distinct 3D effect going on as it appeared as a “circle” with an additional mirrored side behind it.
Sh2-129 Squid – A large curve of nebula with two distinctly thicker sections within it. No sign of “the squid” within it though.
Sh2-131 Elephant trunk – A much better view than the other night, the nebulosity was thick and lush. I could make out plenty of large darker sections with averted vision and the gain turned down. The actual trunk sections were quite elusive and I got the best view of them by changing to a 12nm Ha Filter (which brought out some extra stars as a bonus too).
Sh2-132 Lion – Not really a lion! I can see the “mane” section bright and clear. Averted reveals a much larger structure behind the mane and below but I don’t see a “lion”. I can see some black lanes within the bright “mane” section.
Sh2-135 – Long lane of nebulosity running down to a separate patch of nebula (to one side). There is a small brighter nebula patch seen to the side as you run down the long lane.
Sh2-142 Wizard – Bright side section with spikey appearance. There is a black area cutting into the bright section. After some time the black section took on the appearance of a “Wizard with outstretched arms”. In the big dob, I just see a flying horse! This view was very different to the dob.
Sh2-152 & sh2-153 – Tiny glistening patch. And seen just below is sh2-149 which is very tiny too.
Sh2-155 Cave – The cave is tiny but looks like I expected – triangular shape surrounds the black centre cave section. Sh2-154 shows as a nebula patch in the same FOV.
Sh2-157 – Its all there! It appears as a faint and fine elongated circular shape with a mirror image to one side. The top section is thick and lush, the two descending curves are much finer.
Sh2-158 Brain – Tiny and very bright. Seen in same FOV as sh2-157 and the Bubble nebula.
Sh2-162 Bubble – Small and bright in the 55mm. There is the sense of a “black hole” in the area where the bubble is found. I switch to the 35mm Panoptic for more magnification and the tiny black area takes on a circular appearance. I tried the 27mm Panoptic but the view was too dark.
Sh2-168 – tiny, faint patch.
Sh2-170 – small circular patch of nebula close-by to CED214.
Sh2-171 NGC7822, CED214 – A bright rounded “mask” section with separate nebulosity curve above also has a separate long thick lane underneath. Nice.
Sh2-173 Mask – nothing.
Sh2-184 Pacman – Large, bright nebula with thick black lane coming in from the side. The black lane was varying edges. The nebula has varying width as you look to the sides of the black lane.
Sh2-188 Dolphin – A tiny bright “glistening” curve shape.
Sh2-190 Heart – Wow, my first view of the Heart with Night Vision and it’s everything I hoped for. Lovely intricate detail and larger than the FOV. Two brighter patches with variation within them. Breathtaking!
Sh2-191 Soul – Just underneath is the leg-less foetus! Large bellied body and head very sharp and clear.
That completed my planned observing. I observed 30 of 32 Sharpless objects (in a 4" frac). It was a marathon and only achievable in one night with goto!
By now its 0200am and I am getting cold. Everything is wet with dew but the skies are still clear, there is some brightness in the East as the Devils Orb starts to rise… I can see the seven sisters so I decide to “keep on going”…
NGC1499 California – Had to see this before I read some NV reports from someone else (to spoil my reveal). Almost a Wow! It sits in the FOV of the 55mm Plossl nicely and shows the thick outer lanes clearly. I can see the pointy centre section of the lower side and I can see the black hole “eye” in the upper side. The outer ends are nice and clear too but there is something lacking (I reckon the sky is filling with water and this is confirmed as I look south to see the “wet haze” of a rising mist.
NGC1491 – reveals as a small shimmering bright patch.
M33 – I decide to finish of the Triangulum. All these nebula are nice but Galaxies are my thing. I remove the 6nm Ha filter and settle down on my chair.
At first look M33 is small and just as with traditional viewing, you need to give galaxies some time for your brain to tune in. The upper arm out the NGC near the star is the first to appear at 12-3 o’clock position. I turn down the gain and then come back up in steps to the point where the upper arm is there and wait…
Then a tiny bit more gain and now I see a circle of spirals surrounding the centre core.
Keep looking… I see an outer arm curving in the 6-10 o’clock region
Now the galaxy is going… gain up… no still going…
I look up and to the south the “next village” has disappeared, the mist has descended…
I decide to pack up and get into the warm house…
Thoughts of the observer
The real highlight of the night was the Veil complex for sure, I was expecting something else to jump to the front of the queue but I have never seen the Veil this good in a small frac, I even saw a curve section that I have never noticed in the dob before . [I did not see the section that @jetstream was asking about though].
The Heart was a close second though, it was amazing in all its glory.
Many of the flight objects were small or tiny and this is where the big dob cannot be matched. The extra magnification available from the long focal length makes it a killer tool for these tiny nebula!
I am most heartened by my early look at M33, its still not best positioned and I had some moon and wet sky to contend with. Still I did see the arms in a 4” frac so that’s not too bad, the 20” dob should also up the game on this object once he has the NVD attached...
Date: Fri 31st August 2018. 2145-0010hrs.
Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm).
Eyepieces: Ethos 3.7mm(x162) & 6mm (x100)
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Night Vision Eyepieces: Panoptic 27mm (f5.4 x22) & 35mm (f4.2 x17), Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11).
Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD, Astronomik 12nm Ha CCD.
Moon: 80% ☹️
Second time lucky?
After my problematic first light attempts on Wednesday, I was very keen to get outside again and see if I could turn things around. The weather had been nice all afternoon and the skies remained clear at 2100hrs as twilight came down. I got the Borg 107FL setup & mounted in the house, this time I had the dew strap and handset on as well, then opened the French doors are carried it out to the patio (it’s as light as a feather (almost))!
Still a couple more trips needed
After identifying all the bits needed to get going (on Wednesday), tonight I was more prepared and had my eyepiece case lid laden with the books, torches, pens etc that I needed. The night vision was setup and inside together with my Astronomik filters. Which just left my Battery box and the two power cables for scope & dew strap. Three trips needed in total (an improvement on the other night).
Am I in sync with SynScan?
Nervously, I powered up the scope, and entered the date & time into the handset. I had the 6mm Ethos loaded for alignment so pushed on and selected Altair (I have the star names coming up in Alphabetic Order now so this was an easy choice – another first night improvement!). I centred the star in the finder and it was nicely in the 100 degree FOV, I defocused it to a big ball then centred, down, left, up, right (as per my learnings from first light).
Next, onto Arturus and repeat the above.
“Alignment Successful” the handset announced.
I pressed the “Messier” button and entered “13” (which should be close by)
I looked in the eyepiece and refocused, to my surprise there is was, M13, success at the first attempt! (That’s three hours saved on the first night) ?
I popped back inside to inform the Mrs that it was aligned and she was welcome to pop outside for some introductory Night Vision viewing at her convenience. (She is too short to use the dob – has to stand on a block of wood - and hates all the nudging, so this tracking mount is just what is needed).
Moon – the Moon was due to rise at 2215 and I expected maybe an hour before it comes over the Pennines and next door. So, limited darkness. Up above the Milky Way was showing nicely at 2200 with two spiral arms seen meeting in Cygnus overhead with a lovely black band in-between. The Moon was a pain from about 2300 as expected.
Clouds – The first hour had clear skies, then cloud filled from the West and passed over. After that a layer of thin cloud remained but occasional patches were available.
Observing report of our targets
M13 – After viewing with the Ethos 6mm for a short while, I changed to the 55mm and added the PVS-14 Night Vision. M13 presented now as a lovely propeller, small but perfectly formed. Ideally I would have increased the magnification (DeLite 18.2mm) but she wanted to see some nebula.
Crescent – Starting with a bright easy target. I added the 6nm Ha CCD filter to the diagonal. With the 55mm Plossl, the crescent was small and clear to see, lacking some detail as I could not see the whole of the reversed “9” shape but it was early. The Mrs had a look after checking an image in Sky Safari “This is what you are going to see…” type of thing…
Gamma Cygni region – Very nice. Lush nebulosity was seen and panning round via the handset revealed plenty of lanes of nebulosity. I think I will be able to see plenty of Sharpless nebulas with this setup (but not when my wife is waiting for a sky tour!)
North American + Pelican – The NA was lovely and bright with a fainter Pelican sitting to the side. The beak of the Pelican was clear but the body section was incomplete. The brighter sections of the NA nebula stood out nicely. ?
IC1396 “Elephant Trunk” – IC1396 was visible tonight after being almost invisible two nights ago but there was still a lack of detail within IC1396 and no trunk. I would try again later when it’s darker.
Bubble – This time I had three nebulous objects in the FOV (it was two on first light), the circular bubble was not visible at this low magnification, but I reckon I will get it on new moon with more magnification (Delite 18.2mm?). Sh2-157 was one of the patches in the FOV! - it was just possible to see the “heart” or “squid” shape sitting next to the Bubble nebula in direct vision. ?
Veil – The eastern section was very clear. Pickering’s triangle was faint but there and the western section slightly brighter too.
At this point, my wife decided she had had enough and cloud was pretty much everywhere. I could see two planets to the south and had no inclination to pack up my new scope until absolutely necessary!
You got to pick a planet or two
Saturn was up first. I removed the NV gear and inserted the Ethos 3.7mm. Saturn was nice and “contrasty” in the huge FOV but it was wobbly, wobbly, wobbly. I got a decent focus but there was no sign of Cassini division in the wobbly planetary image.
Ah well, on to Mars we go. Mars showed as a lovely bright orange disk. It had the wobbles too (just like Saturn) but I did my best to get the disk as sharp as possible and settled down on my chair to observe it. I could see a white patch at the top of the planet and a dark crescent like shape in the central region. I checked “orbit” in Sky Safari to get the current face and there was some dark stuff centrally. As I kept observing a second white cap became apparent on the bottom of the disk too.
The 3.7mm Ethos seems a good match to this scope, the exit pupil is larger (0.66mm) than the Borg89 due to the faster speed and I feel that it performed better in this session than I had managed with the smaller sister scope. The planetary images were bright and sharp, just need some decent conditions now…
Wonder if Sagittarius is still there?
The clearest part of the sky remained the low south, I had no clue whether Sagittarius was still above the horizon, but entered “M16” into the handset to find out…
M16 Eagle – The scope slewed to a stop and was clearly above the horizon. I put the 6nm Ha filter back in and the NVD + 55mm Plossl. I looked in the eyepiece and there was the Eagle head and body shining brightly. I could see extra nebulosity (other Sharpless) above and to the left of the Eagle. The edges of the Eagle were a bit fuzzy so the sky wasn’t top notch but at least I could see something. I looked intently at the two central stars for the Pillars and a tiny black “V” was winking from there. I proceeded to change to the Pan35 for more magnification and now the Pillars of Creation were stable, tiny but stable. ?
Now I tried the Pan27 for more magnification but found the image a bit dark. I swapped in the 12nm Ha filter for more light to the NVD and was rewarded by a nice sharp view of the Pillars. The rest of the view was more washed out than with the 6nm Ha filter but the detail in the nebula was more easily seen!
M17 Swan – 55mm Plossl & 6nm Ha. Nice view of the bright main section with a very black hole in the circular section. The surrounding nebula was visible but not to the same extent as previous sessions with the Borg89. I could see some other Sharpless to the side of the Swan.
M8 Lagoon – Down to the Lagoon and the overall shape was large and clear. Again it was not the best I have seen it but it is low and the Moon was up.
Triffid – Always a nice object with NV. The black lines stood out clearly in the small flower shape. It looked best with the Pan35.
Get outside and look up
As Sky at Night like to keep telling us! I looked up and it had semi-cleared overhead, the “big W” was coming over the house and I wanted to try the Heart and Soul…
Heart – On Wednesday I got two bright small patches. Now I see lines of curving nebulosity tracing out a shape but it’s not a Heart. I was a bit puzzled but I concluded that there must be some strange reflections or something in this area of the sky as the Heart was “overwritten” by two circles of brightness. I panned around but these bright circular patches remained there in the exact same place each time? ?
Soul – That’s more like it, the foetus body was pretty clear, the head less so. By now, the moon was over next door and lighting up the patio.
CED214/NGC7822 – The “parachute” was a bit of a let-down. I could see a square patch and a sausage shape next to it but compared to the “wow” I got with the 20” this was pretty thin gruel.
I revisit some of the above targets, generally the moon was now in the way along with the ever present layer of thin clouds. At around 0010 I decided to give up.
Thoughts of the observer
It has been my experience that “first lights” are generally a disappointment but that “second light” gives you your mojo back. This indeed proved to be the case tonight. The SynScan trauma was forgotten and I actually felt some familiarity with the handset and its usage…
The 107FL performed admirably on the planets and it seems a good match for the Ethos 3.7mm SX so I was pleased about that.
I saw some great targets under a pretty dismal sky (apart from the first hour) and I have now forgetten how hard some of these targets used to be even on good nights.
The highlight for me was the unexpected sighting of sh2-157 and I think this bodes well for some serious Sharpless hunting come the new moon. I will target the large Sharpless with the Borg 107FL and the small Sharpless for the 20”…
I have long ago exhausted my own pool of data and am waiting for astrodarkness to return in a month or so. Fortunately, the group of Norwegians (including @Ola Skarpen@Xplode) that has set up the SkyEye remote obsy in Spain has kindly let me work on their excellent Ha and RGB data of IC405 collected in February. Thanks a lot guys!!
I put extra emphasis on the blue central structure making sure it did not get overwhelmed by the strong signal in the red and Ha channels. I did not use the Lum data provided as the stars in the Ha and RGB data looked better. Instead I used a bit of Ha as Lum (Ha also mixed 50:50 into the red channel). Aligning and Deconvolution in PI. All the rest in PS CS5. I also made an experiment of only processing the green and blue data to see what it would look like without the Ha/Red signal (although I added RGB data to the stars).
Info: TS Optics Photoline 130 f/6.62 with a Moravian G3-16200 on a 10 Micron GM2000 HPS II. Focal reducer:APM Riccardi 0.75x. Astrodon Blue Tru-Balance E-Series Gen 2: 25x300", Astrodon Green Tru-Balance E-Series Gen 2: 25x300", Astrodon Red Tru-Balance E-series Gen 2: 25x300", Astrodon Ha 3nm 50mm: 190x300". So totally 22.1 hours.
So here is first the HaRGB image and then the blue/green data on its own.
Comments and suggestions most welcome of course. It was for example quite difficult to decide how dusty I would make the image - the Ha data contained a lot of it.