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Full moon nebula huntin


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@Stu, @GavStar and myself met up for a bit of club observing Thursday night… cloudy so good that we met down the pub. Someone (not sure who) pointed out it was clear, so we headed out to stand and chat under clouds with a chill breeze for more than 2hours waiting for the skies to comply with Sat24. Finally we spotted what looked like the edge of the clouds… the others got ready to polar align. OK observing under a near full moon is not ideal.. but it does help with setup and checking your charts! 
So what to look for… using Gavins new  “magic eyepiece” we headed straight for the Horsehead, just visible, the flame slightly more so above. We were using a TEC160 on a goto panther mount, with 55mm plossl and the TNVC adapter to the intensifier, using  a 6nm hydrogen alpha filter to “help”. The gain control worked really well to tune the balance of brightness (and noise) vs detail. The “white phosphor” giving a very neutral and “natural” view.
Right, where next? Up to the jellyfish ic443, nice gentle curve easily visible, checked on the monkeyhead nearby. We then cruised down to the seagull which filled the view and then tried to ferret out the medusa Nebula… it evaded us this time. Swept over the the pacman, the heart and then the California nebula. The latter as two broad nebulous bands crossing the field of view. We need to try a smaller scope to give a bigger field of view for these really big nebulae.

Swapped in a longpass filter and checked on M35 which looked great, M3? and then M81/82, very clear dark lane in the latter.. Clouds finally made a return and we packed up the wrong side of 1am, feet nearly frozen solid. Seemed like many of the streetlights had turned off as well, which is interesting to note. Going to be fun to poke this setup at nebulae when the skies are a little bit more conducive to observing.


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Nice write up Peter.

The California nebula was the most impressive to me - very bright and obvious - the two lanes standing out well. It surprised me because previous viewings have not been as good on this object. I think there may have been some cloud haze reducing transparency in some parts of the sky eg around horsehead.

The open clusters m35, m36, m37 and m38 were very nice showing good concentration of stars which really brought the structure of these clusters out.

M82 is my current fave galaxy - we got some nice detail with the middle dark lane in the galaxy showing well. I’d like to try some higher mag eyepieces in a darker sky to see if more can been seen with this setup.

Shame the leo triplets were clouded out - I like this group of galaxies as well. 

It was good to be introduced to more h alpha targets - thanks Peter 

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Interesting, it throws away the rule book this technology. I can discern visually the two strands comprising the California, when circumstances for conventional observing are optimum, more so elusive, not describable as very bright. Interesting concerning the Medusa Nebula, very low surface brightness of a quite largish object, I encountered it a couple of years ago, just about discernible, averted vison helped and definitely no moon in sight, so probably one for you guys and using this system next new moon. Clearly this electronic assisted observing has its place and would be interesting to read upon your dark sky trip. For now, looking forward to a dark sky trip in next two weekends perhaps, relating what can optically be seen, barely seen, cannot be seen within a vibrant concentrated star-field.

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Will try to be more detailed with the write up next time, when you’ve spend several hours in the cold under clouds you tend to want to get as much done as you can. There were a good few things we could have had a go at that, but slipped my mind. One thing we need to do is find a way to “wiggle” the field of view to help make the nebulosity more obvious… something that is easy to do with non tracking mounts. I’ve (just) seen the medusa with my enhanced 80mm, but it wasn’t much to talk about. The cocoon or helix are better. Let’s all hope we get some clear skies for next new moon. Maybe we should agree on a few objects to compare?



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