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scarp15

Pleiades and Merope Nebula

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Looking forward to the Pleiades gaining in prominence and for opportunities to observe the associated reflection nebula around the brighter stars. Diffuse reflection nebula, the Merope nebula, NGC 1435, is the easiest and more commonly known to detect. Close to the star Merope, there is also a more challenging nebula, Barnard's Merope Nebula, IC 349. A low power, ultra wide field eyepiece, at a dark site when the Pleiades is high and when transparency is good will for a variety of aperture, provide stimulating observing for M45. No filter will assist with determining the reflection nebula and optics need to be clear of any condensation.  

Who else is looking forward to this Autumn / Winter pursuit and is anyone aiming to grasp the Barnard nebula or the additional challenge of the associated IFN (Integrated Flux Nebulae) surrounding the Pleiades?  

  

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A fine target Iain, the Pleiades are always a welcome sight when they appear.

I've struggled to see nebulosity in M45 for years, rarely being under a dark enough sky, and even when I am I'm never quite certain if I'm seeing it, or simply haloes caused by condensation, however slight. Early on in my observing career I got really excited thinking I was seeing dramatic nebulosity but worked out after a while that my primary was dewed up ;) 

Simply put, it is always something I aim to see but have yet to convince myself I have!

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I am fairly sure I've seen nebulosity in the Pleiades with my 10" Dob from darkest North Devon a few years ago. The open cluster is one of my favourite targets. There is a tiny triangle of stars near the centre like little diamonds. Gorgeous. 

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Always a beautiful sight, Iain, and this year I'm particularly looking forward to the widefield view in my 70mm ED.. But I can usually squeeze the whole thing in in my 12" dob with a low power eyepiece, so also looking forward to it in the 31mm Nagler.  In the dob, the nebulosity is clear.  I wonder whether it will be so in the 70mm....

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M45 was the first Messier I saw through my telescope. I was observing it Friday night through some thin cloud. I was pleased to pick out a star as being orange/red in the centre of the Pleiades. HD 23463 according to SkySafari. Picking out the different colour stars in clusters is one of the ways I’m trying to train myself to be a better observer. I’ve never seen nebulosity but am certainly planning on keeping an keen eye out to see for it over the winter. 

Do binoculars help with seeing the nebulosity? I know low power and large exit pupil can help with some targets. 

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Probably the first asterism to capture peoples' attention and imaginations, the Pleiades has long been a personal favorite! It looks like a miniature version of Ursa Minor - or as is commonly called: The Little Dipper. Silly - I know.

I've been turning my attention to the Pleiades and Area more these days than before the epizootic of 'White-Nose Syndrome' killed-off 9/10ths of the indigenous Little Brown Bats. This disaster resulted in an explosion of Mosquitoes - and rarely before seen diseases - like the West-Nile Virus - spreading here in the 'North Country.' No amount of Mosquito-Repellent helps much deter a literal cloud of these 'Blood-Suckers' from feasting on you!

So the Autumn-Sky gets a much greater amount of my attention these years. As regards the Barnard-Loop and other enticing denizens of these skies, they're certainly on my mind. And the Pleiades makes a fine place to begin my wanderings from. But I certainly miss the warmer nights and the vast, rich star-fields of the Summer-Triangle's guideposts. I've been looking into mesh-suits woven using 'No-See-Um' netting.

A new fashion-statement for astronomer's here in the North Country.

Alas, Little Brown Bats -

Dave

A Little Brown Bat -

59d18d54e7987_LittleBrownBatd.jpg.11765049a3b61c0287b9f9fbd478adc1.jpg

 

For the Mosquitoes -

59d18db92be1b_No-See-UmSuit.thumb.jpg.5ca9ed03f165320024d880602c7b5d70.jpg

 

 

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9 hours ago, Stu said:

A fine target Iain, the Pleiades are always a welcome sight when they appear.

I've struggled to see nebulosity in M45 for years, rarely being under a dark enough sky, and even when I am I'm never quite certain if I'm seeing it, or simply haloes caused by condensation, however slight. Early on in my observing career I got really excited thinking I was seeing dramatic nebulosity but worked out after a while that my primary was dewed up ;) 

Simply put, it is always something I aim to see but have yet to convince myself I have!

Stu - I've seen the nebulosity around Maia (NGC 1432), Merope (NGC 1435), Alcyone (vdB 23 - the brightest one), and Electra (vdB 20) - all very faint, and helped by good transparency, but definitely there, since other bright stars did not exhibit the same fuzziness.

Doug.

 

8 hours ago, Littleguy80 said:

M45 was the first Messier I saw through my telescope. I was observing it Friday night through some thin cloud. I was pleased to pick out a star as being orange/red in the centre of the Pleiades. HD 23463 according to SkySafari. Picking out the different colour stars in clusters is one of the ways I’m trying to train myself to be a better observer. I’ve never seen nebulosity but am certainly planning on keeping an keen eye out to see for it over the winter. 

Do binoculars help with seeing the nebulosity? I know low power and large exit pupil can help with some targets. 

Have another go at M45 Neil!  See above - I was using the ST120, with mags around x25 to x50; exit pupils 4.8 to 2.4mm.  This is what I reckon is a decent "contrast range" - any higher (in poor skies) and the contrast with the brightish sky is bad; any lower and the brightness of the object itself diminishes.

Chart attached for guidance!

Doug.

 

P1050941.JPG

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10 hours ago, Stu said:

A fine target Iain, the Pleiades are always a welcome sight when they appear.

I've struggled to see nebulosity in M45 for years, rarely being under a dark enough sky, and even when I am I'm never quite certain if I'm seeing it, or simply haloes caused by condensation, however slight. Early on in my observing career I got really excited thinking I was seeing dramatic nebulosity but worked out after a while that my primary was dewed up ;) 

Simply put, it is always something I aim to see but have yet to convince myself I have!

Snap! Ok, I've only had one year's worth of experience but can only say I've seen lots of condensation in the Pleiades.

Edited by David Levi
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That is terrible news concerning the brown bat population Dave, reading up on WNS on Wikepedia, I hope that there are incentives to find a cure and to protect and preserve the remaining population.

Thanks for posting that chart from Pocket Sky Atlas and your observation description Doug, it is a good reference.

As Paul has said in a dob, the nebulosity is clear, I believe that with very good transparency / dark sky and no condensation issues the Merope nebula at least will be a binocular target. One aspect I might try this season is to use a narrower field of view eyepiece to try and isolate Merope from the nebula to potentially gain an image with a bit more clarity. The Barnard, occasionally referred to as the mini Merope, will be a very tough target, it is quite small and requires Merope to be isolated, in addition to a high power field of view and averted vision, potentially possible from 8" aperture.    

Edited by scarp15
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You will see some IFN (or galactic dust, whatever the name) around the Merope area Iain, and for this the VX8 might be a good choice and in particular if you have something like a 42mm LVW...

The view of the Pleiades nebula in a refractor is very pleasing to the eye even with the reduced amount seen.

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Look forward to your account for M45 with your 200mm f3.8 dob Gerry.

 

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48 minutes ago, scarp15 said:

Look forward to your account for M45 with your 200mm f3.8 dob Gerry.

 

Hey Iain, I'm waiting for your galactic dust report! You will see it for sure, right near Merope, catch a lane for contrast and it appears.

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I look forward to seeing the Pleiades with the Tak! :) 

Regarding the nebulosity around the brightest stars, I noticed some "clouds" but this was definitely too faded to state that that was a reflection nebula there. Aside from this, it is a wonderful target, so it will be a pleasure to visit it again. 

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Like @Stu I've yet to convince myself I've seen it properly but I recall one night of fine conditions and I could have sworn there was a glow around Merope.  That was quite some time ago and might have been with the 130P. 

The Pleiades are an attractive bunch and recall being so impressed with an old photo years and years ago in an astronomy textbook from the library.  The diffraction spikes in the picture made them even more elegant.  

Sorry to veer off course a little but is M45 more appealing in a reflector or a refractor?  Either way is great if you can see the reflection Nebula, heh?! ;) 

Edited by Special K

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2 minutes ago, Special K said:

Sorry to veer off course a little but is M45 more appealing in a reflector or a refractor?  Either way is great if you can see the reflection Nebula, heh?!

I don't think it matters which, but you do need a nice short focal length to get a wide enough field of view. Enough space around the edge to be able to see the complete cluster, but enough power to make it interesting. Stars in a good frac are beautiful and normally my preference, but I guess some nice diffraction spikes look quite pretty too :) 

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