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David Levi

Now I know...

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David Levi    215

....what all the fuss is about. Last night I was up in the Brecon Beacons again taking advantage of the clear skies and last quarter late rising moon. When I was there two weeks ago, I failed to find the Helix Nebula in the constellation Aquarius. I had gone to it quite late in my session on that occasion and lost a battle to observe it with a tree low down in the south west. Tonight I went to it early, star hopping my way from Skat (δ Aqr) via 66/68 Aqr and finally υ Aqr from where it is very close. First I put in my UHC filter and at 59x magnification using my 17.3mm eyepiece a large circular cloudy object could be seen. It was still quite faint so I then tried my OIII filter and it brightened up considerably. Although, I still couldn't make out the central hole that Turn Left At Orion shows in it's sketch.

What is all the fuss about? After this success and with the OIII filter still in the eyepiece I decided to have a look for the Veil Nebula. I had failed to see it from my back garden a few months ago. I was using Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas as my map and could easily see, naked eye, the star 52 Cyg which is on the edge of the Western Veil. Swinging the telescope to the star and lining it up in the finderscope I then took a look through the eyepiece. What a sight! I was completely blown away by it. Now I know what all the fuss is about. The nebula snaked it's way through 52 Cyg and beyond like a ribbon streamer thrown through the air, fanning out into a wide tail. Seen through the filter the nebula is really dense in places. It was thrilling to move the telescope's slow motion controls and ride along the stream from top to bottom.

After taking in the view I was keen to try for the Eastern Veil. I moved back to ε Cyg and worked my way down the wing of the swan the short distance to where the Eastern Veil should be. A look through the eyepiece delivered another wow out loud moment. It was so long, arcing gracefully through the sky, dispersing into a wider nebula towards the bottom.

I then spent probably the best part of half an hour switching between the two nebulae amazed at the sight. I tried to see Pickering's triangle but apart from my imagination I can't really say that I saw any defined shape of a nebula.

I observed other targets last night, mainly galaxies. The usual suspects all looking magnificent under the dark skies. Nothing new apart from the galaxy C30, in a ridiculous attempt with my 8" telescope to see Stephan's Quintet. However, last night will live long in the memory as my first sight of the Veil Nebula in the same way that I remember my first view of the Orion Nebula. Fantastic!

 

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Paul73    2,497

Great writeup. 

The veil under dark sky is very special indeed! I'm not sure that I've ever tried the Helix. It is now on the list.

Paul

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MarsG76    1,522

Looks like you had one of those rare night we all crave... that night that is breathtaking and keeps us hungry and hoping for more....

Excellent stuff.

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Stu    14,817

Great stuff David! Welcome to the Veil Appreciation Society :). Under dark skies it is a wonderful object as you now know :) 

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domstar    441

Great report and I appreciate you writing how you star-hopped. I looked at my bank statement last week and decided not to buy any filters for a while. You've got me thinking.

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David Levi    215

Hi @domstar, I got a UHC filter quite quickly after starting with astronomy but I took almost a year then to buy the OIII filter. The UHC filter didn't impress me (probably why I then delayed buying the OIII filter) but the Astronomik OIII filter has already paid for itself with the enjoyment that it has given me. What I've learnt from this forum is that it matters which filter you buy. The Astronomik OIII filter is excellent but the SkyWatcher UHC is only average at best (in my opinion). Of course, dark skies matter.

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John    17,533

Great report :hello2:

IMHO the Veil Nebula is worth the cost of a wide eyepiece and an O-III filter on it's own. Superb object !

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scarp15    2,088

Good session and Stephenson's Quintet might be out of reach, but NGC 7331 a brighter member in that vicinity would be achievable.

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David Levi    215

Hi Iain @scarp15, I saw NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30) as my gateway object to not seeing Stephan's Quintet. It was a nice little galaxy to view. I was pleased to get there as with so many background stars on display it was difficult to star hop from the star Matar (η Pegasi) using the Pocket Sky Atlas.

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John    17,533
53 minutes ago, David Levi said:

.....I saw NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30) as my gateway object to not seeing Stephan's Quintet....

Nice way to put it :icon_biggrin:

Sounds like the way that (so far) spotting the Flame Nebula has been my gateway object to not seeing the Horsehead Nebula :rolleyes2:

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jetstream    4,075
2 hours ago, John said:

Nice way to put it :icon_biggrin:

Sounds like the way that (so far) spotting the Flame Nebula has been my gateway object to not seeing the Horsehead Nebula :rolleyes2:

Nice one John :grin:

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jetstream    4,075
3 hours ago, David Levi said:

Hi Iain @scarp15, I saw NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30) as my gateway object to not seeing Stephan's Quintet. It was a nice little galaxy to view. I was pleased to get there as with so many background stars on display it was difficult to star hop from the star Matar (η Pegasi) using the Pocket Sky Atlas.

Under the skies you had some of Stephans Quintet will be visible in your scope. Try the 8mm Delos and the 5mm XW, swinging the scope a bit to pick them up. They are faint...and can pop in and out of view, depending on the telescope.

Pickerings Wisp is big and likes a wide TFOV- I use a Lunt 20mm HDC these days and it works really well and will illuminate your eye a bit better than the 17.3 Delos.

Great report BTW!

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Paul73    2,497

Gerry has got the right idea. Worth a go with some magnification. They are quite small (and very faint).

@jetstream Interesting re the Lunt 20mm. Very impressive. The 17.3mm Delos is one of the very best eyepieces on the market. What do you mean by 'Iluminate the eye' ?

Paul

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David Levi    215

I didn't have my computer with me last Sunday night and don't own a smart phone so I was having to rely on the Pocket Sky Atlas. This meant that there were just so many stars visible compared to the few that were on the page that it was difficult to guess which of the star like objects was indeed Stephan's Quintet in order to focus in on them. Maybe I was being a bit defeatist, brought on by the already considerable first time effort it took to find the galaxy C 30. Thanks @jetstream and @Paul73 for the encouragement and advice about magnification. I will definitely have a go again the next time I go to a dark sky site - sooner rather than later hopefully.

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mapstar    5,578

The Helix nebula is impressive when you get a good view of it. What really impresses me is the size of it.

The veil is something else. From a really dark sky it has an ethereal glow that is like electrified smoke. 

I agree that NGC7331 is the gateway to stephans quintet amd this superb cluster of galaxies is a difficult spot with transparency being key for me anyway. This years viewing hasn't had any really transparent skies as yet. 

All in all some nice targets to enjoy. Clear skies 

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jetstream    4,075
5 hours ago, Paul73 said:

What do you mean by 'Iluminate the eye' ?

Hi Paul, it refers to exit pupil really but this term might be misunderstood. Exit pupil describes the area that the eye will receive light or "illumination". I was hoping to give the OP a hint as to what might work - the 100 deg eyepiece AFOV "engages" more receptors, along with its greater TFOV and also the larger exit pupil will illuminate more of his eye,all this possibly giving him a "brighter, more contrasted" view of Pickerings Wisp. Works for me.

Note most galaxies follow a bit different rules I find, the advice above was for diffuse emission nebula.

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jetstream    4,075
4 hours ago, David Levi said:

star like objects was indeed Stephan's Quintet in order to focus in on them.

David, these galaxies in Stephans Quintet look nothing star like, you will see a cluster of three cores together as faint patches, possibly bouncing in and out of averted vision. They do not look like the very faint round glow that some galaxies present as, at least not for me. The Delos are proven deep sky eyepieces perfect for this object IMHO.

Eagerly waiting the report!

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Stu    14,817
4 hours ago, David Levi said:

I didn't have my computer with me last Sunday night and don't own a smart phone so I was having to rely on the Pocket Sky Atlas. This meant that there were just so many stars visible compared to the few that were on the page that it was difficult to guess which of the star like objects was indeed Stephan's Quintet in order to focus in on them. Maybe I was being a bit defeatist, brought on by the already considerable first time effort it took to find the galaxy C 30. Thanks @jetstream and @Paul73 for the encouragement and advice about magnification. I will definitely have a go again the next time I go to a dark sky site - sooner rather than later hopefully.

That's where I think a smart phone or tablet with SkySafari can be really useful. You can easily fine tune the display to a certain field of view, orientation and with the limiting magnitude of the stars visible set to match what you are seeing. Makes it much easier to focus in on the particular target. In this instance shown there is a 1 degree fov and stars down to mag 14.0, correct image and the Quintet centre of field.

IMG_4651.PNG

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Paul73    2,497

OK. Thanks. Got it. Larger exit pupil = Light hitting more receptors! Good advice.

Obviously there is only so far that this works. When the exit pupil gets larger than the pupil can dilate, we loose contrast. But, at 20mm this won't be an issue. I guess that this is why the TV Plossls are often quoted as the best Horsey hunting eyepiece in f4-5 Dobs. That is why my Horsey kit is TV 20&25mm Plossls, Lumicon AND Astronomik Hb filters and a f4 16" Dob! (I really want to bag this baby!)

Srangely, more magnification tends to cut out background sky lightness which highlights small contrast differences between the object and the background sky.

I'd try both approaches. Give the Veil a go with an 8mm. The detail jumps out at you!

Paul

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Paul73    2,497
16 minutes ago, jetstream said:

David, these galaxies in Stephans Quintet look nothing star like, you will see a cluster of three cores together as faint patches, possibly bouncing in and out of averted vision. They do not look like the very faint round glow that some galaxies present as, at least not for me.

Almost 'clover leaf' in appearance and, yes, probably fading in and out of view with averted vision.

Stu is dead right about sky safari. Try reading it with the non observing eye to preserve full night vision.

Paul

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David Levi    215

Your SkySafari screen shots always look great @Stu 

5 hours ago, Paul73 said:

Stu is dead right about sky safari. Try reading it with the non observing eye to preserve full night vision.

Until last Sunday I had been in the habit of taking my computer with me. I have a 12V adapter for it that plugs into the battery that I use for my dew removal hairdryer. However, the last time I was under dark skies I thought that the screen was interfering with my dark adaptation vision even with Stellarium set to night mode (red). I will take the computer next time though as Stephan's Quintet obviously needs all the weaponry I can muster to get close to it. After finding accurately the right area of sky in which to look I can switch the screen off and get dark adapted again.

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Stu    14,817
7 minutes ago, David Levi said:

Your SkySafari screen shots always look great @Stu 

Until last Sunday I had been in the habit of taking my computer with me. I have a 12V adapter for it that plugs into the battery that I use for my dew removal hairdryer. However, the last time I was under dark skies I thought that the screen was interfering with my dark adaptation vision even with Stellarium set to night mode (red). I will take the computer next time though as Stephan's Quintet obviously needs all the weaponry I can muster to get close to it. After finding accurately the right area of sky in which to look I can switch the screen off and get dark adapted again.

Have you thought about getting some red acetate to cover the screen? It makes a big difference on a laptop. With the iPhone you can dim the screen right down with the accessibility options. For the faintest objects it can take a long time to get your dark adaptation back again, anything up to an hour I think so worth considering.

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mapstar    5,578

I'm still a traditionalist and like a good star chart, although some software out there like sky safari is very good.

One of the mob uses a nexus with his phone and it is really good, whilst another uses the ipad as a reference. 

NGC 7331 is a wonderful galaxy in it's own right but managing to pull even a couple of the members of the quintet out will be challenging but very satisfying.

The quintet is also known as Hickson 92 and there are quite a few others you may like to try such as Seyferts sextet, the box and Copelands septet to name a few. Look them up they also fall into the Arp atlas too. I hope to be looking myself over the coming week and a half with the rest of the mob in the isle of skye. 

Happy hunting 

Edited by mapstar
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wookie1965    1,389

Good luck in Skye for clear nights our little soiree looking bad forecast has changed every day now says 3 days and nights of cloud. 😂

 

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