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Halloween Observation Night

Date: 31 October/ 01 November 2016 @ 22:30-01:00AEDT
Location: Robertson
Equipment: Celestron 8SE on CGEM, Televue 31mm Nagler Type-5, 17mm Ethos, 2X 2" Powermate, Astronomik UHC Filter


I finally had a clear moonless night of observation, it just happened to be on Halloween night. I was looking for a new spot in the mountains where I could setup and a couple of months ago I came across a nice little oval miles away from the city and light sources so I was hanging to check it out. When we arrived, there were people having a BBQ and playing tennis with all of the court lights on, this was a bit of a bummer but I figured that they won't be forever and eventually we'll have a clear night of viewing, they left just after 22:30. Once they left and lights were off we had some nice views of 47Tuc, Tarantula Nebula area,  Orion Nebula, The Sculptor Galaxy, NGC362 Globular Cluster, The Helix Nebula, an Open cluster in the south near/around Theta Carnia, Uranus and Neptune.

47Tuc: The globular cluster clearly stood out with its millions of glistening stars becoming denser toward the core. As I was observing the cluster in the 17mm Ethos, a slow moving and bright satellite flew past it. Those views are an event that makes a already great view even better. The view of 47Tuc were all awesome using both 31mm Nagler and 17mm Ethos with and without the 2X powermate.

NGC362: This  globular was a lot smaller and fainter than 47Tuc but still had a lot of individual stars all around it and individual stars visible within the core. Not as impressive as 47Tuc but still a nice view through the 17mm Ethos that's very easy to see with direct vision.

NGC 2070: The Tarantula Nebula was a very nice view in all powers. The loops around a obviously brighter tentacular center were faintly visible, especially when observing it using the averted method. I started the viewing using the 17mm ethos through which I saw a fair bit of detail on a quite big tarantula nebula in the eyepiece.
The surprising view was when I had a look at it through the 31mm T5 Nagler. The FOV was large enough and magnification low enough for being able to position the Tarantula in left lower with nebulosity amongst hundreds of stars to the right visible where a bit of the large Magellanic cloud was coming into the FOV. There was some fuzziness and nebulosity above it, I thought what a great view, this would make a great photo. The view of the tarantula system through the Nagler was amazing, I saw nebulosity, hundreds of stars and it was all easy to see.

M42/43/Running Man: Orion Nebula was a bit of a disappointment. Granted that I was waiting for the Orion nebula to come above the trees and it was not very high in the sky at the time, but I am comparing it to the view I had in the past. The shape was visible, with the trapezium clearly visible with the stars being very stable and sharp points of light, so I figured that the seeing was good, so why do I not see more detail in Orion Nebula? I saw way more nebula and detail in the past. I added the UHC filter in the eyepiece and sure it faded the stars but it did not bring out more detail like it did before, actually it made the view worse! Using both the Nagler and Ethos, in both magnifications the nebulosity was not as defined and clear as in the past but definitely there.
M43 was not as defined as I saw from the dam at the start of the year, back then the "comma" shape was clearly visible and even detail visible with in it, not tonight, I was struggling to see the comma shape.

The Running Man was nearly visible, I actually think that at times I saw the running man shape, about as good as I remember seeing it at the beginning of the year, so seeing was (most likely) good so why am I not seeing the nebula like before? 
I started to investigate. First I checked to make sure that the corrector plate was not fogged over, it was not, that I removed the real cell filter in the back of the scope on the visual back thread, thinking that maybe it takes away from the view. When comparing with and without it, I saw no difference, even suspected the dew shield perhaps causing some kind of a slight blockage and compared with and with out it, no difference, finally I re-collimated the mirrors, they were slightly out, but after collimation it again made no difference. I put it down to a combination of Orion nebula being too low in the sky just above the trees and in the direction of the city. Here I'll mention that the sky did seem quite bright, I thought that maybe my eyes were dark adapted and it seemed like it but maybe not, more on this later with my experience when I was packing up for the night.

I guess I have no choice than to try again and see if a darker/more transparent sky will make a difference next observing session.

NGC253: The Sculptor Galaxy was relatively easy to see, whether inverted or direct vision I could see a brighter center in a squashed oval, cigar, shape. Occasionally I think I saw some darker "cracks" through the brighter core along with 3 to 5 faint stars glistening within the elongated shape. Sculptor is big in the FOV so I kept it on the 31mm Nagler, the Ethos did not make the view any better or easier to see. I could see the galaxy clearer the more I looked at it and feel like I didn't spend enough time looking at it.

NCG7293: The Helix Nebula was a faint but a big ghostly smoke ring in the 31mm Nagler. It is very faint but the smokey ring can be made out using averted vision, or slowly moving the view with the keypad set to "3". I could make out the central neutron star, very small and faint but definitely there. Next time I observe this object I'll have to try looking at it through various filters instead of just bare, maybe more will be visible.

Southern open star cluster: visible with eye as fuzzy patch closer to a dust cloud rather than stars but in binoculars and in the scope was visible as heaps of scattered stars, Looking at a star map it seems to be the cluster around Theta Carina. Looked like hundreds of pin point stars were spilled into the FOV. Quite a nice view, no nebulosity visible within its vicinity.

Uranus: It is a pale greenish tiny disc that's discernible from the stars around it due to its color and a little disc as opposed to a point of light, I saw no moons.

Neptune: Neptune was a pale tiny grey-blueish disc barely bigger then the two stars next to it. As with Uranus, I didn't spend much time on it since there's no hope of seeing any more detail.

As a last object due to its late rising this time of the year, I wanted to see the rosette but it wasn't above the trees by 01:00 when we left. Still I found it in the eyepiece and identified the 7 stars located in the center making a rhomboid shape. I read online that this nebula is one where a UHC filter really makes it stand out, so I had to try it.

The center stars were still behind tree tops and sad to say that with and without the UHC filter I did not spot any nebulosity. This object will have to wait a couple of months for a darker night and when it's higher in the sky.

The 31mm Nagler, 17mm ethos, 2" 2X Powermate and the Astronomik 2" UHC filter is all we took... Honestly you don't need any more than this to observe using a 8" SCT. This combination covered various magnifications and limited fumbling around in the dark for eyepieces or filters allowing more time at the eyepiece.

We had some great views tonight and I can't wait to be in a dark site when the seeing is even darker with less or no sky glow.

Surprisingly the Astronomik UHC made the views worse on all occasions. Not like the Lumicon that gave me the wow views on the past, unfortunately the Carina Nebula was below the horizon so I couldn't test on it, the Carina is really breathtaking through the Lumicon UHC. Next time I'm going to compare the Astronomik 2" to the Lumicon 1.25" which I didn't have with me, I'm hoping that it was just the seeing otherwise I'll eBay it and get the 2" Lumicon.

Another combination I want to try the 2" TVs with is through the f6.8 reducer.

It seemed like there was heaps of skyglow. We made sure that we were in total darkness, no lights except purely red lights. Yes lots of objects and stars were visible, more than from home but when we were packing up when I turned on the car head lights and we were hit by white light destroying our night adaptation. After we were packed up, I turned off the head lights and I looked up and to my surprise the sight was similar to "dark adapted" eyes!!! Perhaps it was a night of bad seeing after all, which would explain the lack of nebulosity and detail within. The skyglow was obviously quite severe and it wasn't the best I've seen in a dark site, but still an awesome night of observing, leaving me with a hunger for more.


Thanks for reading, clear skies,

Mariusz

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Nice one Mariusz. Interesting to read of some observing from down south in some areas of the sky that are lost in the murky horizon or well below it from here. I recall Orion looking bizarre standing on its head when I was in your part of the world a number of years ago!

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22 hours ago, Size9Hex said:

Nice one Mariusz. Interesting to read of some observing from down south in some areas of the sky that are lost in the murky horizon or well below it from here. I recall Orion looking bizarre standing on its head when I was in your part of the world a number of years ago!

Thanks... 

 

You get used to it.. but as a bonus the Moon is the right way up here, the man in the moon is actually correct.

That observation night through the 8" SCT was the last time that the NS8 will be taken out to a dark site since my 14" GOTO Dob arrived... woo hoo.. I certainly the extra size will be worth it.

 

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