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alanjgreen

14Dec - First light report - APM 16x70 ED

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I arrived home from the cinema (after watching The Last Jedi) at 2330 and the sky was clear up above. We had driven through some low mist on the way back and there were clouds off to the side of the scene. I am planning for a DOB session tonight (when sky is predicted clear) so I though "why not get the Binos out?".

I had received my Manfrotto monopod quickly from Amazon but it had taken over a week for them to send me my "Amazon Basics tripod with Pistol Grip" so I had been unable to use the monopod until now.

Anyway, after deciding "thats a plan", I got changed into some warm clothes and packed my ipad into its weatheproof case (I would use the ipad on the garden table for target selection...)

As I am a bino novice and I am short sighted to boot. I use my scope without glasses and intend to use binos with contact lenses but I couldnt be bothered with all that tonight. So I plonked my glasses on the garden table and looked up... It was the usual fuzzy mess but I can pick out the major stars and I have some idea what I am looking at, "How hard can it be?"

"I'll start with something easy", i thought...

Pleiades - Easily spotted naked eye (even a fuzzy blury eye!). It was tricky to get them in the bino fov. I altered the monopod height a couple of times, then tilted with the trigger grip and then found them. I widened my stance and gripped the monopod grip (the Manfrotto has a nice grip section that means you dont have to hold the cold metal :) ). The pleiades filled the fov and were a lovely sight. There was nebulosity glow around the main bright stars and the background was lovely and black.

M36,37,38 - Onto some nearby open clusters. A quick look at sky safari (left and up) and off I went. Well, they took a bit of finding. They were high in the sky and I had to get the monopod extended then it still wasn't enough. In the end I picked up the whole lot (bino & monopod) and scanned the higher sky. [ The monopod seemed to act as a 'balance bar' and made the binos less wobbly even though I was using them "hand held". Finally, "a fuzzy patch!!" (not sure which fuzzy patch?) so I scan the area and find two more patches to the right. It was M37! I moved between the three clusters. If the monopod had been grounded then I would have stayed longer... but they were easily seen against a background of many stars (did I say the sky is really black in these binos?)

Crab - Looked for but did not find it.

Christmas tree cluster & Cone - I found the Xmas tree cluster and it was pretty but it didn't excite me as much as finding the smaller fuzzy Messier clusters moments before.

Rosette - I moved down to the area of the Rosette, this is my first time with binos so I didn't know what to expect (please can someone tell me below?). Anyway, I found an area densly packed with stars and possible a faint hint of a cloudy essence (maybe this was it or maybe wishful thinking?)

Alnitak - Into Orion and the flame area of Alnitak. Not much to see here except the star itself.

[By now, I was starting to use the trigger more and finding this was becoming my "first move" rather than try to lengthen/shorted the monopod legs]

M42 - M42 was easy to find and looked white and cloudy. I could see two bright stars within, one had the look of a double if I remember correctly. It was a nice height for the monopod so I stayed for a while to take in the view. [ did I say the background sky is lovely and black in these binos :) ]

[Onto some targets that are too low for the DOB from my shed]

M46,47, 48 - I centered on Sirius then swung to the left, I bumped into M48! Slightly trickier, but not a problem, I was soon onto M46 & M47.

I decided to grab some galaxies, so I headed for Cassiopia and M31... In my fuzzly short sighted view, I could see the "W" of Cassiopia and I know that three of them point to Mirach. So I centered the binos on Mirach. It was tricky but manageable...

M31,32,110 - From Mirach I panned right and these was M31. It was huge in the FOV (unexpected). M110 was sitting out to the right (Can I really see M110 at x16 magnification = yes I can). I look to the other side of M31 and tucked close-by I see M32, its small but bright enough to be easy. I am still amazed that binos can pick out M110 as I try to pick out the lanes in M31. The core is bright and the dust disk extends endlessly out into space. Maybe I can see the black lanes crossing the disks but I cant see the black lanes running up the side. I go back to M110, it really has impressed me to see this in binos :)

M33 - I pan left back to Mirach and continue left to M33. A small fuzzy patch comes into the FOV. Compared to M31 then theres "no much to see here", but if you know how hard it is to see this in a scope then to see this lovely disk feels like a real achievement!

[I decide that I need MORE galaxies, so I set off to the side of the house where I can see the Plough coming around from the east.]

M51 - I had started with M101 but couldn't find it. So I moved to the easier M51. I centered the binos on the first star in the handle of the plough (Alkaid) and panned right. A fuzzy blob came into the view. M51. It was smaller and less bright than M33 but it was good to see it.

M101 - with this success, I went back to M101. Pan left back to Alkaid then a bit more left and up, nope. Back down. A faint fuzzy passed through the FOV. There it is! It was bigger than M51 but much fainter. I checked it out as at the same time I put my hand into my pocket (it was a very cold hand).

[clouds were gathering in the east, my hand was cold, my glasses were abandoned on the garden table!, I decided to call it a night...]

Overall, I was very impressed with what I was able to find. The binos provided a lovely black sky. The stars were lovely and sharp. The galaxies that I picked were bright and clear.

Finding the small open clusters (tight and fuzzy) was good. [As a fan of nebula and galaxies, I am not sure that I can be converted to wide field star viewing so I may need to work on a way to get filters into the EPs and get some more nebula into the view... something for me to ponder. But a great way to spend an hour on a cold evening, it will certainly allow me to easily drop down to brighter targets towards the horizon.

Clear skies, Alan

 

 

 

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Very nice report, you bagged a lot of nice DSOs. You have clearly been bitten by the bino bug. Picking up M110 with bins does not come as a surprise to me, I have done it in 10x50s. One area to check out is that around the Double Cluster. Apart from the Double Cluster itself, there are many other fuzzies in the neighbourhood.

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Excellent details. Sounds like you got an exercise workout while Star-gazing. Thanks for the report. 

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