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Littleguy80

Race the Moon

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Littleguy80    679

With the Moon due to rise around 22:15 last night, I was on a mission to get as much observing in as I could before the sky got too bright. While I was waiting for darkness to fall, I spent some time with Saturn. As it was a slightly higher in the sky than my recent viewings of it, I was hoping I might get a better view. Unfortunately the seeing wasn't great so there wasn't much detail to be seen. Still lovely to see the ringed planet and it's largest moon, Titan, though.

With darkness starting to take hold, I moved onto Epsilon Lyrae, the Double Double. Nice split at 180x using my 5mm ortho. The first pair split easily compared to the much tighter second pair which had only a tiny gap visible to confirm the split. Next up was M51. I spent most of the summer using SkySafari to star hop my way around with my low power eyepiece. Over the last couple of sessions, I've quite often used the simple method of eyeballing the location with visible stars and my Telrad. I've been pleasantly surprised by how many objects I've found this way and normally much more quickly. M51 wasn't exactly jumping out but was noticeable at 38x. I moved up to 50x for a closer look. With averted vision, the bright cores stood out well among the dimmer grey fuzzy patches of the two galaxies. 

Patchy cloud started roaming across the sky so I had to endure periods of waiting for a cloud to move past my chosen target. The open  cluster of NGC 6633 found it's way into my eyepiece during one of the periods of waiting. A very nice loose cluster with a number of brighter stars making a good bonus find. My main target was the planetary nebula NGC 6572. It's well known for it's bright blue-green colour. It's a very small nebula which I think is what makes the colour more noticeable. On finding it, I went straight up to 180x mag and felt slightly disappointed by the colour of the nebula. I then went back down to 38x and the colour became much more intense. There's definitely a balance to be struck with magnification when looking for colour.

The clouds had now cleared out, so I decided to try for the Iris Nebula (NGC 7023). Finding the right area didn't prove too difficult but seeing the nebulosity of the nebula proved beyond me on the night. I experimented with magnification as well as trying both my UHC and OIII filter. One of the challenges of being a beginner in the world of astronomy is picking realistic targets. On this occasion, I'm not sure if it was an unrealistic target or simply conditions on the night. 

With the Moon now above the horizon, time was running out so I settled on another planetary nebula, NGC 6543. I've seen the Cat's Eye Nebula before so finding it was fairly easy. I've read about the technique of "blinking", passing an OIII filter in front of the eyepiece to confirm the sighting of a nebula. It was very effective and the nebula stood out well against the background as the filter passed across the eyepiece. Like NGC 6572, the blue green colour of the nebula stood out most at lower magnification. At 180x, there was less colour but it was noticeable how much bigger the Cat's Eye Nebula is compared to NGC 6572 which even at high magnification wasn't much bigger than a star. I spent a while looking for the brightening of the central star at the centre of the nebula but wasn't able to detect it.

The Moon now started to rise above the roof line and so brought to an end to the evenings viewings. I packed up with the happy content feeling that a good session brings.

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Galen Gilmore    366

Nice report Neil!

Yes I agree that trying to choose target that are within our capabilities is hard. I remember spending all night trying to find the Helix Nebula before finding out that it is just too dim to be seen with a small aperture scope.

 

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domstar    314

A very nice report. I do love M51 but haven't seen many planetary nebulas. I should give them more of a try.

 A bit off topic, but looking at your signature, what are your thoughts on the difference between your 24mm and 32mm eyepieces? Given that your 24mm has a larger field of view, do you feel the need to use the 32mm at all and what for? Apologies if it's not the right place to ask these questions but your scope, although a Newt, is not too far away from mine in terms of aperture and focal length.

 

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Littleguy80    679
6 minutes ago, domstar said:

A bit off topic, but looking at your signature, what are your thoughts on the difference between your 24mm and 32mm eyepieces? Given that your 24mm has a larger field of view, do you feel the need to use the 32mm at all and what for? Apologies if it's not the right place to ask these questions but your scope, although a Newt, is not too far away from mine in terms of aperture and focal length.

Excellent question! The 24mm and 32mm actually give the same field of view. The main difference is that 32mm is lower magnification but more critically has a larger exit pupil. I bought the 32mm recently has an experiment to see if I got better results using a larger exit pupil with my UHC and OIII filters. So far I've found that the North American Nebula was noticeably easier to see with the 32mm and the Veil was definitely brighter too. I'm not a fan of the long eye relief on the 32mm though. I still feel like I need more time with the 32mm to decide how much improvement there is with it. If I'm not using a filter then I'll always go with the 24mm as it's a much better quality eyepiece.

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Littleguy80    679
25 minutes ago, Galen Gilmore said:

Nice report Neil!

Yes I agree that trying to choose target that are within our capabilities is hard. I remember spending all night trying to find the Helix Nebula before finding out that it is just too dim to be seen with a small aperture scope.

 

Thank you! I think it's so difficult to judge because a small aperture scope can see an awful lot under dark skies. Conditions play such a big part in it. A few weeks back I tried for M51 and couldn't see anything but I'd seen it before so I knew it was just down to the conditions on the night

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Stu    14,115

Excellent report Neil, a successful night!

I must admit I'm rubbish at star hopping whilst cloud dodging. I get all disoriented if I can't see a large part of the sky! That when goto becomes handy, if you can see enough stars to align it of course!

Talking of 'blinking' with a UHC or OIII, I assume you've tried the Blinking Planetary NGC6826? Direct vision shows the central star, flick to averted vision and the Nebula appears. Nice green colour too.

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Littleguy80    679
7 minutes ago, Stu said:

I must admit I'm rubbish at star hopping whilst cloud dodging. I get all disoriented if I can't see a large part of the sky! That when goto becomes handy, if you can see enough stars to align it of course!

Talking of 'blinking' with a UHC or OIII, I assume you've tried the Blinking Planetary NGC6826? Direct vision shows the central star, flick to averted vision and the Nebula appears. Nice green colour too.

I definitely struggle with the cloud dodging too. I normally can't things quickly enough to make the most of the gaps. I'm hoping for some binoculars for Christmas which should be better for those type of nights.

I have seen the Blinking Planetary but it's on my list to revisit. The first time round with most of the planetaries I've seen, I only really looked at them with a UHC/OIII filter. I'm now going back and looking at them unfiltered as I'd like to see which of them I can see the central star in. Plus the Blinking planetary is a particularly fun one. I want to get my kids to have a look at it playing hide 'n' seek with them :) 

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alan potts    3,588

Very nice report,I am a bit like you and do not like the Moon around though I do enjoy a look up to first quarter and no doubt last if I bothered to get up. Saturn was not to talk about even from here where I  10 degree advantage over anywhere in the UK. The weather has been very hot for this time and seeing lowish was awful, heat rising I imagine.

Alan

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scarp15    1,899

Good report nice haul of planetary nebula. The Iris nebula NGC 7023, diffuse reflection nebula is very challenging as a visual target and I do not think that a filter will assist, there are two very dim Collinder class open clusters in the vicinity, dark sky, low humidity, no thin cloud might potentially determine a hazy feature. 

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Littleguy80    679
50 minutes ago, scarp15 said:

Good report nice haul of planetary nebula. The Iris nebula NGC 7023, diffuse reflection nebula is very challenging as a visual target and I do not think that a filter will assist, there are two very dim Collinder class open clusters in the vicinity, dark sky, low humidity, no thin cloud might potentially determine a hazy feature. 

Thank you! NGC 7023 is listed as mag 7 so In theory looked like a good target for me. Although I've not seen any reports of people observing it which is normally an indicator that it's a more challenging target. I've often wondered whether the heart and soul nebulae are good visual targets too. I've seen lots of great images of them but no reports of visual observations of them

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scarp15    1,899

The Heart nebula IC 1805 I believe to be a more viably achievable target, although the Soul IC 1848 is feasible but more of a challenge.  This emission nebula will respond to a UHC filter , low power, wide field. According to my notes, I have as yet to successfully observe this to, NGC 896 is a bright knot section to the North Western edge of this 2.5 degree nebula and forms the easiest feature to visually determine. Near the centre is the open cluster Melotte 15, which also might potentially be feasible to visually detect nebulosity. Good luck with this, I believe that this will respond to smaller aperture telescopes, just the obligatory dark transparent sky, dark adapted eyes as standard requirement and a degree of patient concentration. 

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