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mapstar

Mob views in Skye

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The mob arrived in Skye on the 18th of November.

The journey up had been a steady one and all were in good spirits. A few photo's had been taken to document the trip and I'm sure these will get added as the others manage to get themselves sorted after the trip home. All in 6 of us went this year and the bungalow was a good base for the crew 

First night had broken cloud with the Milkyway occasionally popping through. A bit like last year the inky black backdrop made it look like silver dust. We settled in and left setting up the scopes till the next day as the gaps were too infrequent to be of any use.

The bungalow has a nice drive around the front which is ideal for setting up the scopes and it didn't take too long before the banner and scopes announced we'd arrived and were ready for what was to come. Cloud cover for the next three nights meant the scopes remained under wraps but at least they'd be well cooled by the time the skies opened up. All six of us waited patiently. 

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(Photos by Estwing)

During the day we all made several trips out taking in the various photo opportunities of wildlife and landscapes.

The forecast had looked a little grim but was totally wrong on the Wednesday and as the day rolled on the sun came out and huge patches of blue sky started to appear. Whilst this was happening myself and Mike got the wraps off the scopes and collimated them ready for dusk. 

After a bite to eat we all headed out. The temperature had dropped to around freezing point and there was barely a breath of wind.  I started my viewing just after 5pm and the constellations were really popping out. Ursa Major was horizontal and I picked up M81 and M82 in the finder without it being fully dark. They looked good but a bit murky? about an hour later the reason was revealed and the aurora could be seen visually with a great pillar rising to the west of Alkaid. Not sure if Danny managed to capture this as he was wondering around doing widefield. Scott had a bit of a disaster which meant he'd just be taking in the views through the Dobs.

I dropped down to M51 and then back up to M101 just for a quick view and in the darkening skies were easy pick ups in the finder but the spiral arms were there in each using the 13E. A nice sight and one that really would just get better as the night raced on.

My main target for the evening was Hickson 55, so I returned to M81/82 to start my hop across. I did seem to spend quite a bit of time tracing the milkyway from horizon to horizon as it's a rare sight and only really possible from an unpolluted sky like this. The others were the same and I hope Danny got some good shots of it. The aurora died down about 9pm.

UGC 5612 and 5688 were my first two galaxies bagged. The first an odd shape with a star at one end but brighter at around mag 13. UGC 5688 was a lot fainter and an edge on what I could make out. 

I moved on quickly to NGC 3622 in ursa major and NGC 3682 on the border of Uma and Draco. 3622 was an easy face on spiral quite bright and 3682 was very similar. I steadily worked my way over taking in the NGC 3654 to the north of these near Draco. Small face on similar to the other two.

NGC 3735 is a very nice edge on galaxy and compared to the five galaxies in hickson 55 it was huge.  Mag 11.9 and a really easy view I didn't dwell too long before finding the small line of galaxies to the north.

Hickson 55 is a small chain of 5 galaxies which really are faint. The brightest of these is Mag 15.9 and laid in the middle. I located the dim line with the 13E in but was unable to separate any of the five so I changed eyepieces, not once, but twice and ended up with the 4.7E in to boost the contrast and try to pull the cores out. I could see the middle galaxy UGC 6514 coming into view with averted vision and maybe the top and bottom one. Calvin had a look and could see the same although it was difficult to say for definite. Overall I was pleased with being able to at least make these out. I found out an hour later that the bottom of my shroud near the primary had been unzipped (2ft) so the contrast  might have been better had I returned but like the rest we were keen to get as many views as possible.

Mike was on the Veil and so after straining my eye's on H55 I went for some easy viewing and Calvin also turned the 18" on it.  With the Lumicon O111 and the 21E in the whole thing came alive the whispy remnants just jumping out with 3D like properties. Everyone had a look and the extent in the unpolluted skies was staggering. The eastern veil was the best for me but all the delicate bits in between meant you would need a couple of hours to trace it all out. Mike spent some time on this with Danny grabbing views.

Having not looked at many nebula I was keen to try the Crescent but for some reason struggled finding it as I was looking too low in Cygnus. Calv landed my scope on it as I was finding it on my chart. Nicely framed in the 21E the large broken bubble was impressive and the edge was easily traceable. I swapped to the 17E to give what I would say was up there as one of the best views of the evening.

The skies had now dropped to full darkness and the Aurora had disappeared so back to Draco and the triplet which Calv had not viewed before. These are a nice view in the same field and easily spotted by both of us. Edge on, Elliptical and face on spiral. Brilliant.

The fireworks galaxy was one I've viewed a couple of times this year and so I made my way to that on the border of Cepheus/Cygnus. The open cluster NGC 6939 was easy to locate and put the view in the right place. A nice cluster of stars which didn't hold my attention for long.

NGC 6946 really impressed and I could trace the large spiral arms and HA regions with direct vision. It is roughly similar in size to M51 filling half the field of view in the 13E. Steve had a good look and said it's the best he'd ever seen it. I had to agree the darker skies really making the difference. The arms are not as sharp as M51 more like a smaller version of M33.

Mentioning the usual suspects I had a look at M33 and it was easy to see the arms and inner NGC's. Mike had viewed M31 earlier in the night and was really impressed with it's extent. It really does go on some way when the light pollution is at a minimum.

Whilst near to Cygnus I visited the Fetus nebula NGC 7008 which was just like a smaller version of the Crescent. I tried the 8E in and this pulled out a lot of detail. An impressive object with the right skies and aperture :wink:

Calvin and Mike were looking at M74 and you could detect the spirals in this. What a sky it was turning out to be. Cloud was looming on the horizon though.

Back to Draco and the Triplet myself and Calvin dropped down below this to pick up the huge edge on galaxy that is NGC 5907. Stretching across a third of the fov it had a brighter side to it and a very symmetrical shape to it rather like the silver needle galaxy in Canes Venatici.  Not far away and a quite similar NGC 5965 was another edge on which impressed. In the same area I managed to bag another three galaxies NGC 5963, 5969 and 5971 the latter two of these were not on my star chart so had to look them up after.

M102 was the last proper view for me and although large it wasn't a good view due to the cloud.

Orion was up by this time but being so low on the horizon the Views were terrible through so much atmosphere. The cloud was also moving in fast and had devoured half the sky so we decided to call it a night. It was just past midnight the scopes were frosty but the views had not been.

The wind picked up Thursday night and my scope cover lifted enough to expose the bottom of the scope. Rather than worry about it all night I decided to pack it away in the car as the forecast for friday night looked poor with 100% cloud.

I left early Friday with a snow fall as in Dannys pic below. 

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The A87 on the way home was 4" deep in snow with a fair few vehicles stuck. The scenery was spectacular though covered in the white stuff. The first 120 miles of the 465 miles home were snow lined

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Clear Skyes

:thumbright:

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Nice report mate. As I read it I almost thought I was there with you...............Oh hang on :icon_biggrin:

I had a real blast meeting up with everyone again. Always a pleasure to observe with you guys :thumbright:

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super stuff Damo..ok,ok i'll admit...that 17ethos does give mighty fine views.

Draco triplet, stunning and a bit of detail in it also! the Crescent was wonderful and so much on show...The Veil was the best view I've had of it,not 3D more like 4K Steve said!!!. Ngc's with structure along with Messier's as good as you will see them make this a special place. If only we could get 3 maybe 4 clear nights!...a real shame for Scott's mishap but I was only too pleased to show him the nights jewels .....great report and read mate, let this be an inspiration to get more people to dark skies.

Edited by estwing
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Cheers fellas. That huge pillar from the aurora was something else.

Hopefully Danny will add a couple of photos :thumbright:

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7 minutes ago, estwing said:

 If only we could get 3 maybe 4 clear nights!

That'd take 6 months to write up :eek:

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Brilliant report Damo. Really had a fantastic time and great to meet up again(even with a imager) the views that night were stonking and the veil and crescent were the best I had ever seen so much structure it was like a image but better. Will add more when I'm sorted. 

Thanks dob mob 

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11 minutes ago, mapstar said:

Cheers fellas. That huge pillar from the aurora was something else.

Hopefully Danny will add a couple of photos :thumbright:

just picked up the laptop matey they a comin!

really nice write up on the night Damo.

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29 minutes ago, faulksy said:

 Will add more when I'm sorted. 

Thanks dob mob 

Look forward to it Mike :headbang:

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Just now, mapstar said:

Totally mint, cheers Danny :thumbsup: 

made sure it was the first on i edited :) theres about a dozen more which i'll make my own thread for but feel free to to use them in here.

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Great report Damian some objects there I wont get to see unless I get aperture fever but it is great to read about them. 

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Absolutely ace ! We did no better with skies down in light pollution land. Superb report , takes a lot to put these together. Can hardly wait to get up there next spring,

old Nick.

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Great to read of you guys having a blast, enjoyed the piccies too.

Thanks for taking the trouble to post.

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17 minutes ago, cotterless45 said:

Absolutely ace ! We did no better with skies down in light pollution land. Superb report , takes a lot to put these together. Can hardly wait to get up there next spring,

old Nick.

When in the spring Nick as it would be great to take in Leo Virgo and Coma up there as well as ursa major the other way round :grin:

Edited by mapstar
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Great report Damien and superb accompanying pictures, as you mentioned in my thread, they can take a bit of putting together these reports, above all else, sharing the account of these adventures with everyone is very rewarding. 

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"When in the spring Nick as it would be great to take in Leo Virgo and Coma up there as well as ursa major the other way round :grin:

Sure will, October 2015 we had 10 consecutive clear nights, that combined with walking, came back like a zombie! ( no change there,as my wife said).

Will never forget M33 and NGC 891 opening up . Can't  even see them from home ,

clear skies , old Nick.

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Quite a right up, Damian! Thanks for taking the time to put all this together :)  It really gives us back yard pea shooter scope users a feel for what it must be like under dark skies with a great big photon bucket. A great read and nicely illustrated between you. Looking forward to more of Dan's pics too.

It sounds like you had a blast when the skies played ball, nice one! :) 

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