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Funky nebulae


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I decided to have a bit of a snooze before heading out and woke up at 12:30 feeling pretty refreshed and quickly got my stuff together, thermos filled with tea and headed quickly to my site...

It seems that things are moving fast... Constellations are flying by and being lost - just a sign of not enough sessions for the last few months. At the moment my quest for the Herschel 400 has been somewhat on hold. The last few outings have been definitely a question of trial and error with the new 12" dob seeing what works, getting the balance right and steering a big tube of steel trying to find my mojo once again. Trying to do this in freezing and dewy conditions hasn't been the easiest but it's coming together nicely at last and I'm fairly sure my secondary will not dew up quite so readily once I've fixed sorted out the dew shield for it. It was cold and close to 0C, frost already covered everything.

Sooo... It seemed only fitting to hit M42/M43 first. This time I started with the 62x and moved up to 136x and 223x. It's amazing how much power this nebula can take. With each increase fainter detail popped in to view especially at 223x the complexity of the nebula structure is outstanding. M43 standing well separated from M42 although somewhat fainter it is a very distinct shape.

I went up to the Flame nebula and tried with the 24mm but still this was a no show. I think the transparency wasn't all that as the Running Man also wasn't showing tonight with the humidity I think attempting reflection nebulae was not going to be a success. So I moved on...

Time for something new... I hopped on over to the Rosette nebula which showed a nice cluster but no nebula so I popped in the Baader OIII filter on my 24mm EP. Bam! The effect was immediate - filling the FOV was an intricate network of nebulosity. Faint, yes but quite wondrous and beautiful. I'm sure that will show even better on a night of good transparency.

With the OIII still in place I moved up to NGC2264 - Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone nebula. This is a nice looking open cluster and marked area of nebulosity appeared just north of 15 Mon which was reasonably bright. However the actual cone itself could not be distinguished.

NGC 2022 Planetary Nebula (mag 11.7) - Easy even a low magnification to see this - like an out of focus star this is much more interesting at 223x with the 6.7mm EP - Looking like a small smoke ring it's shape a little difficult but I could tell that it was not circular.

Up to M1, this time I immediately found it without any faffing about - a decent size patch (smudge) that resembled and out-of-focus thumb-print. Bright enough at 68x but losing pretty much anything interesting with the 11mm (136x)

Onwards to the Flaming Star (IC405) but this was refusing to show anything nor with the OIII or UHC filter.

NGC 1893 was a touch more successful. A light cluster of stars and touch of greying region in three regions of the cluster.

M36 - medium size cluster with plenty of bright stars. Nice.

M37 - Stunning! I can't remember re-visiting this and in fact I may have only logged it before observed with binoculars - so I was glas to have re-found this one with larger aperture. It's a stunning cluster with a bright(ish) orange central star and half the FOV is filled with a myriad of pin-point stars with reasonably variance is brightness throughout.

M38 - Another really pretty cluster. Not quite up to M37 but very close. Again a huge amount of stars in this cluster could be seen taking up 1/2 the FOV.

My mirror had some dew on it and was beginning to freeze - still it didn't seem to be affecting clusters that much.

I went for M51 which showed the two cores but not much else. As well I hopped over to the Leo Triplet and while all three could be seen it was pretty much like looking through fog. 

Double Cluster showed great as always and the Pleiades although no nebulosity.

I had a quick look at Jupiter but the seeing was awful and too low down really as well as the dew issue.... So I decided to call it a night.

So... by the end though I was quite happy. Much faster object finding - once I've got the dew busting shield and better transparency I can get back to properly hunting H400 objects. Still, a few new ones tonight though which was great.

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Great report, Dave.  The view of Orion through a 12" is really quite special, isn't it?  Did you make out the E and F stars?  I bagged E earlier in the week and have F in my sights for this evening. I'm also planning to look at a lot of the reflection nebulae in Monoceros, but as you point out success very much depends on the transparency.


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Hi Paul,

Many thanks! Yes, I'm loving the view of Orion with 12" ... it really brings it to life.

i noticed the E star.... the scope and possibly eyepieces were still cooling down even though the scope lives in a shed there was reasonable temperature difference so with Orion being hit first object I noticed that the stars were still not hugely sharp at the point. Still, E stood out but no sign of F.... perhaps next time!

Good luck with the reflection nebulae.

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