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alanjgreen

First Light: Borg assimilated into Black Ops Astronomy (Night Vision)

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Date: Wed 23rd May 2345-0245am      

Scope: Borg 89ED f6.7 (fl 600mm) on Sky-tee2.   Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.

Eyepieces: 55mm (f3.2 x11), 35mm (f5 x17), 27mm (f6.5 x22), 18.2mm (f9.6 x33).

Filters: Baader 610nm Red, Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD.

Moon: 68%

 

First Light: Borg assimilated into Black Ops Astronomy (Night Vision)

I have owned my PVS-14 Night Vision monocular now for about a month and so far have concentrated on the climax to galaxy season by viewing the biggest galaxies in an attempt to see as many spiral arms as possible before the sky rotates them away and the darkness disappears. All my usage so far has been with my 20" Dobsonian.

With my old enemy, the Moon, also now spoiling my dark skies, it was time to get out the Borg89 and deploy some filters to defeat the moon.

 

Proof of Concept

I had setup around 9pm to make sure my red dot finder was aligned with the scope (at least the Moon is good for something :) ), and to test reaching focus with the Televue 55mm Plossl which needs loads of out-focus! I have been using a short 150mm tube on my Borg as I had previously been using it with Binoviewers. I have screwed an extra 50mm tube into the main scope body but even with the draw-tube fully extended, I could only reach focus by lifting the 55mm Plossl eyepiece about 5mm up & away from the diagonal (Luckily, it’s a click-lock diagonal and capable of holding the eyepiece firmly even when lifted). With the initial testing completed, I moved everything back inside to wait for it to get dark later...

 

Always Have a Plan

The plan for the night was in two parts (1) grab some Globulars & Galaxies to familiarize myself with the new setup and then (2) move onto the Milky Way later when it swings into view.

 

Part 1: Find some easy Globulars and Galaxies

I was using a manual mount (sky-tee2) and Sky Safari 5 (on ipad) where I have field of view circles on screen showing me what I should be seeing in the eyepiece and allowing me to manually jump around the sky using “2 circles up and 1 circle right” type of movements.

 

M13 – With the 55mm Plossl (x11), M13 was easily located and a tiny fuzzy ball was seen. I added the Baader 610nm Red filter which helped to darken the background but it was only when I switched to the 27mm Panoptic (x22) that the outer stars of the globular started to resolve and a decent view was had. The Globular was still tiny in size but accepting smaller scale is part of the price of "Black Ops Astronomy".

 

M51 – I moved onto the Whirlpool. After messing about on my knees with the red dot finder I got the scope to the right area and quickly located the double galaxy at the eyepiece with the 27mm & 610nm Red filter still loaded. I was impressed to see hints of a circle surrounding the galaxy! I upped the magnification to x33 with the 18.2 DeLite but the background became much darker and although the image scale improved, I felt the circle of arms was less visible that with the 27mm.

(The Night Vision device is f1.2 so it responds better to faster scope speeds, scope speed is increased by using longer focal length eyepieces – I have added some spec detail to the top of this report).

 

M51 – Right time to increase the speed. In with the 35mm Panoptic and 610nm filter. Now there was a definite circle of spiral arms twinkling around the tiny galaxy (x17 magnification). The bridge to the nearby NGC was not seen. Finally, I moved to the 55mm Plossl (x11) and was surprised to see a tiny circle surrounding the galaxy. Seems incredible that you can pull out arm structure at x11 with a 68% moon nearby!

 

M101 – Onto M101 nearby. With a bit of faffing I finally got the small-ish hazy patch centered. It was still a decent size in the 55mm with 610nm filter but with no detail seen within. I decided to remove the 610nm filter “just for a laugh”. The galaxy became brighter with fleeting glimpses of what looked like a circle arm structure (similar to M51) but thicker/chunkier. This structure was only glimpsed with averted and much concentration but an astonishing result really considering the Moon and tiny magnification.

 

Part 2: Exploring the Milky Way

I used the red dot finder to centre the scope on Antares which was pretty low to my southern horizon but easily located.

 

M4 – I had the 55mm Plossl loaded with no filter. When I looked in the eyepiece I could see a large bright well resolved patch of stars next to Antares. “What’s that?”. Consulting Sky Safari, it was M4. It appeared much larger and more resolved than M13. I have never viewed M4 before (it’s too low for my Dob from my Obsy/Shed) so that’s a new Messier for my list!

 

M80 – I navigated over to M80 which turned out to be a disappointment after M4. It was just a tiny fuzzy star at this low magnification.

Right, onto the main event. I decided to just pan up through the sky until I bumped into some Nebula. I attached the Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD filter to the diagonal.

 

M17 Swan – 55mm. The first nebula that I happened upon was M17. Although, I did not recognize it as M17. I had to consult Sky Safari to try to work out what I was looking at! (I have viewed the Swan many times and I know what it looks like – or I thought that I did until now. Wow!) It appeared as a white hot upside down “V” surrounded by nebula on all sides (So much more than the usual “tick”). The familiar circle of nebula to one side was there if you looked but it was lost in the full (previously unseen by me) nebula structure.

M17 – 35mm. Image scale improved and a second lovely view of this nebula. Maybe it was slightly dimmer with the loss of focal ratio but memorable for sure.

m17.jpg.5b0a24909519f6de726f843e154fcb45.jpg (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw)

Now, knowing where I was in the sky meant that a quick pan over to M16 Eagle was next…

 

M16 Eagle - 55mm. “I can see an Eagle”. What more can I say, it looks like an image! I can see the head, the outstretched wings and a very bright body. :)

M16 – 35mm. "I can see the Pillars of Creation". Admittedly, they were tiny! But black gaps in the bright body are there. Never thought I would see them and definitely not with an 89mm scope!

m16.jpg.5dc6c6d27f754cfe8758be8744cedc83.jpg (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw)

 

What could beat that? Well, I only had a few minutes to wait before I stumbled onto the M8 Lagoon nebula. Wow, that just beat the Eagle nebula hands down. I was mesmerized! The view was so good that I am struggling to find an image on the internet to match the view!

 

M8 Lagoon – 55mm. Wow, the nebula is so bright and thick that it stands out and punches you in the face. It looks like you are looking into a swirling black hole. Plenty of variations is brightness within the thick nebula help to give the view real depth.

M8 – 35mm. The detail is breath-taking, lovely long dark lanes revealing lovely shapes and structures within the very bright nebula. I could not tire of this view!

m8.jpg.637df52cd1dd2d278a71c12ecaea09f2.jpg (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw)

 

M20 Triffid – 55mm. Seen in the same field of view as M8. It was a poor second to the Lagoon mainly due to its small physical size at the eyepiece (Remember this is x11 magnification). However, the 3 pronged black lanes within were clearly visible.

M20 – 35mm. View much improved with larger scale. Lost some brightness from the nebula due to loss of focal ratio but the inner detail was easy to see.

m20.jpg.2ffdfcb59aea35f16d47d7277266c6c1.jpg (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw)

 

Beaten back by the Dew

I moved onto Cygnus and the North American nebula but the view seemed poor in comparison to what had come before. This surprised me as I can see the bright North American nebula naked eye at x1 magnification using Night Vision and a 1.25” Astronomik 12nm Ha filter. A quick look with my torch down the front on the scope showed that the Borg had succumbed to Dew :(

 

Final Thoughts

I had a great night. The view of the Lagoon will stay with me forever! The weather is set fair here in the UK so I know that it won’t be too long before I get outside again. I still can’t get over the fact that Night Vision can defeat the Moon. I live in a dark place, SQM 21.6 and when the Moon is up then I am forced to stay indoors – NOT ANYMORE!

 

Clear Skies,

Alan

 

Note: The images that I added are not mine. They are the closest I can find to what I saw, although I only observed them in black and white (no colours) but with varying shades & brightnesses in-between.

Edited by alanjgreen
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Really enjoyable report, Alan. No black ops here but really enjoyed my views of M16 and M17 earlier in the month. M8 was probably my favourite target last summer. Did the massive drop in aperture make much of a difference to the NV besides image scale?

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14 minutes ago, Littleguy80 said:

Really enjoyable report, Alan. No black ops here but really enjoyed my views of M16 and M17 earlier in the month. M8 was probably my favourite target last summer. Did the massive drop in aperture make much of a difference to the NV besides image scale?

I have never viewed the stated Sagittarius targets in the big dob but I have for example viewed the Crescent nebula with the 6nm Ha filter in big dob and the difference in brightness is HUGE. The Crescent was better than an image, so bright and so much detail, plus the long focal length of big dob gives me scale too.

I can only assume from my own personal use of NV that these Sagittarius targets would move to another level with all the extra brightness and scale on offer from big dob. The detail would be astounding I am sure.

The smaller aperture and smaller focal length offers a wider field of view and this is where I struggled with big dob the other night on North American nebula and Gamma Cygni - they are just too big! You may have a very bright image but you cannot get the whole nebula into the view.

I have viewed all Sagittarius targets in a C11 SCT and I can say that the M16 Eagle for example was a "puff of dust" at best. The M8 Lagoon was too low to get more than a black lane between two bright patches. Now we are into a whole new ball game...

I am lucky to have the best of both worlds.

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen
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6 hours ago, alanjgreen said:

I was mesmerized! The view was so good that I am struggling to find an image on the internet to match the view!

 

Say's it all Alan, fabulous session and good referencing with images. I look forward to NV accounts on the Veil, as this is an example of a nebula, that is capable of equalling if not potentially superior visually to that of images.  

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Great, informative report Alan.  Who needs huge apertures and a new Moon??  ?

Doug.

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8 hours ago, alanjgreen said:

 

Right, onto the main event. I decided to just pan up through the sky until I bumped into some Nebula. I attached the Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD filter to the diagonal.

 

M17 Swan – 55mm. The first nebula that I happened upon was M17. Although, I did not recognize it as M17. I had to consult Sky Safari to try to work out what I was looking at! (I have viewed the Swan many times and I know what it looks like – or I thought that I did until now. Wow!) It appeared as a white hot upside down “V” surrounded by nebula on all sides (So much more than the usual “tick”). The familiar circle of nebula to one side was there if you looked but it was lost in the full (previously unseen by me) nebula structure.

M17 – 35mm. Image scale improved and a second lovely view of this nebula. Maybe it was slightly dimmer with the loss of focal ratio but memorable for sure.

m17.jpg.5b0a24909519f6de726f843e154fcb45.jpg (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw)

Now, knowing where I was in the sky meant that a quick pan over to M16 Eagle was next…

 

M16 Eagle - 55mm. “I can see an Eagle”. What more can I say, it looks like an image! I can see the head, the outstretched wings and a very bright body. :)

M16 – 35mm. "I can see the Pillars of Creation". Admittedly, they were tiny! But black gaps in the bright body are there. Never thought I would see them and definitely not with an 89mm scope!

m16.jpg.5dc6c6d27f754cfe8758be8744cedc83.jpg (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw)

 

What could beat that? Well, I only had a few minutes to wait before I stumbled onto the M8 Lagoon nebula. Wow, that just beat the Eagle nebula hands down. I was mesmerized! The view was so good that I am struggling to find an image on the internet to match the view!

 

M8 Lagoon – 55mm. Wow, the nebula is so bright and thick that it stands out and punches you in the face. It looks like you are looking into a swirling black hole. Plenty of variations is brightness within the thick nebula help to give the view real depth.

M8 – 35mm. The detail is breath-taking, lovely long dark lanes revealing lovely shapes and structures within the very bright nebula. I could not tire of this view!

m8.jpg.637df52cd1dd2d278a71c12ecaea09f2.jpg (this is the nearest image I can find to what I saw)

Alan

These are phone photos I took a couple of weeks ago of the swan, eagle and lagoon nebulae in sqm 21+ skies with no moon, using a 100mm Tak, 32mm plossl, 6nm Ha filter and photonis NV 4g monoculars.

So very similar situation and kit to yours. Did your views look like these photos? My views did.??

 

050CA58C-197E-43CA-9415-85AA8F985E9D.jpeg

4FE0C9A7-B656-46EB-AEDF-69621D81899F.jpeg

7313644F-F6E9-4A89-BF62-618989F79826.jpeg

Edited by GavStar
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1 hour ago, scarp15 said:

Say's it all Alan, fabulous session and good referencing with images. I look forward to NV accounts on the Veil, as this is an example of a nebula, that is capable of equalling if not potentially superior visually to that of images.  

NV doesn’t seem to work that well on the Veil in my experience. Here is a photo from sqm 21+ dark skies. The eastern part is decent but the western part isn’t that clear.

 

3A1B591D-D430-482F-87F0-DF0322591F36.jpeg

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39 minutes ago, GavStar said:

NV doesn’t seem to work that well on the Veil in my experience. Here is a photo from sqm 21+ dark skies. The eastern part is decent but the western part isn’t that clear.

 

It is interesting learning of the behaviour for NV in responding to different subjects, based upon your own and other pioneering UK experiences. Look forward to hearing of further encounters applying this technology and for equally traditional dark sky seeking approaches. 

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I’ve viewed through Gavin’s NV under light polluted skies through his 160mm (I think?)  I think the beauty of his phone shots are that with the exposure lengths used, they are able to fairly accurately replicate the eyepiece views. You can see how the results improve under the much darker skies on the IOW, something I would love to experience some day.

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2 hours ago, GavStar said:

Alan

These are phone photos I took a couple of weeks ago of the swan, eagle and lagoon nebulae in sqm 21+ skies with no moon, using a 100mm Tak, 32mm plossl, 6nm Ha filter and photonis NV 4g monoculars.

So very similar situation and kit to yours. Did your views look like these photos? My views did.??

 

050CA58C-197E-43CA-9415-85AA8F985E9D.jpeg

4FE0C9A7-B656-46EB-AEDF-69621D81899F.jpeg

7313644F-F6E9-4A89-BF62-618989F79826.jpeg

Certainly the Lagoon looks similar. 

The swan is not the same. I was on much lower power and the swan looked more "V" shaped with the rest of the nebula being far greater in size. I really did not recognise it as the Swan, which I have seen many times before with high mag in a C11 and it was a different view and feel altogether.

I would say the Eagle was similar but with more head and outer wingspan areas. 

Next time out, I will get the 27mm Panoptic out for more magnification and see what I get. My hands were cold and I was wearing gloves so I stopped changing eyepieces at this point.

You would probably get more of the outer nebula by sticking with the high speed of the 55mm. It's a different view at each speed used...

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen

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18 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

Certainly the Lagoon looks similar. 

The swan is not the same. I was on much lower power and the swan looked more "V" shaped with the rest of the nebula being far greater in size. I really did not recognise it as the Swan, which I have seen many times before with high mag in a C11 and it was a different view and feel altogether.

I would say the Eagle was similar but with more head and outer wingspan areas. 

Next time out, I will get the 27mm Panoptic out for more magnification and see what I get. My hands were cold and I was wearing gloves so I stopped changing eyepieces at this point.

You would probably get more of the outer nebula by sticking with the high speed of the 55mm. It's a different view at each speed used...

Alan

Alan,

The reason I posted my images is that NV doesn’t produce views like photographic images - it has a character all of its own - for emission nebulae this is like huge aperture visual observing but it’s never going to produce the detail of long exposure processed photographic images.

Gavin

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11 hours ago, alanjgreen said:

Note: The images that I added are not mine. They are the closest I can find to what I saw, although I only observed them in black and white (no colours) but with varying shades & brightnesses in-between.

 

45 minutes ago, GavStar said:

Alan,

The reason I posted my images is that NV doesn’t produce views like photographic images - it has a character all of its own - for emission nebulae this is like huge aperture visual observing but it’s never going to produce the detail of long exposure processed photographic images.

Gavin

I think with both of you making the point as clearly as this we are well advised that while nv does do some amazing things, it doesn’t yield “processed photographic images”...

But good to have the point Alan made in his first post echoed, so we don’t rush out purchasing it  thinking it might... ??

Edited by Stargazer McCabe

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7 hours ago, Stargazer McCabe said:

 

I think with both of you making the point as clearly as this we are well advised that while nv does do some amazing things, it doesn’t yield “processed photographic images”...

But good to have the point Alan made in his first post echoed, so we don’t rush out purchasing it  thinking it might... ??

Yes, but I hope it’s clear that the NV views that I have shown are very different from the images in Alan’s first post. 

Even with the qualification, I don’t think the photographic images are a helpful illustration of what the visual views are like using NV monoculars. But others can make the judgement for themselves.

Edited by GavStar
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The view with these new variable gain tubes is much closer to a “normal” view than one expects, the blue tinge is not noticable. @GavStar images are a very good way of conveying what you would see with your own eye. Good “try before you buy” information, unlike imaging where it takes much effort to generate great final images. 

Hiwever I do seekniut deep mono hydrogen alpha images on the web to help me have a reference to guide/confirm what  I think I can see.

 

Peter

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6 hours ago, GavStar said:

Yes, but I hope it’s clear that the NV views that I have shown are very different from the images in Alan’s first post. 

Even with the qualification, I don’t think the photographic images are a helpful illustration of what the visual views are like using NV monoculars. But others can make the judgement for themselves.

Alan’s disclaimer was perfectly clear to me. But it never hurts to “belt and brace it” if others hadn’t read his post as carefully... ??

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35 minutes ago, Stargazer McCabe said:

Alan’s disclaimer was perfectly clear to me. But it never hurts to “belt and brace it” if others hadn’t read his post as carefully... ??

Agreed, it is worth setting realistic expectations, particularly when the kit costs so much! It is awesome stuff, and I doubt I will ever have as good a view of the Horsehead nebula again, but it it is definitely not like looking at a live long exposure image.

I tweaked Alan’s original image as best I could but even taking it to mono, adding a tint and softening a bit it is still not an ideal reference vs the actual images which are available. I think it is the finer resolution that you don’t get which makes the biggest difference.

AC3EB834-1CCB-48F6-B3C7-79FD55DE7E26.jpeg

2AC89337-92A5-41FC-B897-6A6B0F3699AC.jpeg

D6F12712-926D-4C8D-995C-B61712E5633D.jpeg

D9D56035-4C3E-4C92-9D44-52EEE2B104A6.jpeg

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I should add that as PeterW says, the visual image doesn’t really have a significant blue tint. I think it’s the auto white balance on my phone camera going into overdrive. Turning my images into mono is probably a better representation.

in addition the Ha 6nm filter removes a lot of the fainter stars that are shown in the photographic image - only the brighter ones are shown in the NV eyepiece with that filter. Of course with a different filter (eg 685 long pass) you see loads of stars (but lose the emission nebulae)

BA3BE5D9-CCAC-41E1-B4E5-6E09553A622B.thumb.jpeg.c7c16b698be7a83035ffeca0f5ddd921.jpeg

 

Edited by GavStar

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49 minutes ago, GavStar said:

I should add that as PeterW says, the visual image doesn’t really have a significant blue tint. I think it’s the auto white balance on my phone camera going into overdrive. Turning my images into mono is probably a better representation.

in addition the Ha 6nm filter removes a lot of the fainter stars that are shown in the photographic image - only the brighter ones are shown in the NV eyepiece with that filter. Of course with a different filter (eg 685 long pass) you see loads of stars (but lose the emission nebulae)

BA3BE5D9-CCAC-41E1-B4E5-6E09553A622B.thumb.jpeg.c7c16b698be7a83035ffeca0f5ddd921.jpeg

 

Can you over ride the auto white balance Gavin?

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15 minutes ago, Stu said:

Can you over ride the auto white balance Gavin?

Yes but getting the correct level takes a bit of trial and error (and I quite like the blue ?). But next time I’m taking photos I will take a range and see how it goes.

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1. With the feedback received, I will cease posting images in my observing reports

2. I shall continue to post observing reports as I refuse to be bullied off this forum!

Clear skies,

Alan

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2 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

1. With the feedback received, I will cease posting images in my observing reports

2. I shall continue to post observing reports as I refuse to be bullied off this forum!

Clear skies,

Alan

There is no bullying here Alan, there is nothing wrong with differences of opinion. The comments have all been polite and are meant to be helpful and to keep expectations realistic for anyone looking to make such an expensive purchase.

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10 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

1. With the feedback received, I will cease posting images in my observing reports

2. I shall continue to post observing reports as I refuse to be bullied off this forum!

Clear skies,

Alan

Speaking from experience, Alan, Internet forums can be a nightmare. It’s often difficult to interpret tone. I’ve gotten myself upset over things that are probably not at all what I think they are. I value your reports and advice and consider you a valuable member of the forum. I’m sure nothing posted was intended to do anything other than help those who may be interested in NV. Keep on posting :) 

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Anything that helps people understand what has been seen and can be seen if fair game. Sometimes a deep sky image might be the only way... with the right proviso. Let’s all keep pushing the boundaries and encouraging others.

PEter

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2 minutes ago, PeterW said:

Anything that helps people understand what has been seen and can be seen if fair game. Sometimes a deep sky image might be the only way... with the right proviso. Let’s all keep pushing the boundaries and encouraging others.

PEter

Peter, the thing is there are now many adequate NV images out there (on SGL and CN) to illustrate the reality, and if I expected to see even a mono version of that image for my £6k+ then I would be disappointed.

Totally agree that it is great to support progress and adoption of the technology. Pioneers like yourself have selflessly given your knowledge to others who can now reap the benefits, all good.

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As I read Alan's report, my own perception (and perhaps the intention), was that the accompanying images were there to serve as reference points in terms of the nebula characteristic, but not judgmental as an actual observed view. I felt that the images gave the report an additional presentation perspective and that Alan's written descriptions are insightful to gain a sense of the visual experience, without distorting this from the images.

I can fully appreciate the inclusion of Gavster's phone images, conveying more of a clue to the reader in terms of a visual encounter. This quite exciting approach to contemporary visual astronomy, is gaining ground and just may require a bit more 'work in progress' to become more completely established by those currently driven to use and share the experiences. A little more time perhaps for 'settling in' to clarify a compiled reporting format, best expressing this technology. Mean time the quite individual and complementary accounts are working just fine. Who knows, in twelve months from now, perhaps there will be one of two more SGL members also compiling NV reports, as for myself, I will enjoy reading them, maybe one night get a view at a regional star party.  

   

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      Scopes: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob & Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm).
      Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.
      Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (Dob f2 x38, Borg f2.6 x11). Filters: Chroma 5nm Ha filter.
       
      Introduction.
      Last time outside was the 8th November and I had a great night with the Borg 107FL and Night Vision identifying many new “areas of interest”.
      See my report and sketches here: 
       

      But then we have had three weeks of clouds!

      Anyway, last weekend we got three clear(ish) nights outside so I decided to use the Borg 107FL as a spotting scope to identify further areas to then check out with the Big Dob. It seems that it is easy to look straight through faint nebula and not see the bigger picture with the greater magnification proving a disadvantage with the dobsonian.

      This report will cover a mix of two sessions (Night one – Borg 107FL) and (Night Two – 20” dobsonian). I will detail my wide field observations and sketch and then follow up with the detailed greater magnification/aperture view of the exact same area accompanied by a photo from Sky Safari with locations marked.
       
      Area of interest 1 – Heart & Soul nebula region.
      Starting with my wide field observations, here is a sketch I made of this area of the sky.

      The big thing I found was a rectangular structure that is attached to the side of the Heart nebula. It had some brighter areas within it and a smaller parallel line inside it. There was an obvious “loop” coming from the “mole head” part of the Heart and beyond the loop I saw a small patch and a longer snake patch too. I have marked some of the smaller Sharpless (sh) that I saw on the sketch as well.
      After quite a long time examining the Heart, I slewed to the Soul (foetus) next door, where some nice intricate interior detail and brighter mouth and chin areas were observed together with a couple of small Sharpless just of the sides were also noted.

      Now, onto the Dob observations from the following night. Here is a Sky Safari view…
       
      GSC 4051-1604 – large faintish patch fills fov. Stars have cleared black areas inside. Double star in a black patch stands out.
      TYC 4054-1657-1 - marks the right angled corner of faint box extension to heart nebula.
      HD 15022 – Triangular shaped patch fills fov. Some small black areas inside.
      GSC 4046-0016 – a “line” section. Two brighter patches stand-out.
      TYC 4050-2042-1 – return section of “loop”. Exiting & returning to the “mole head”.
      TYC 4056-1055-1 – Long curving corner section of faint nebula lane coming from the Heart.
      TYC 4051-2885-1 – Junction of two curved loops (curved X shape), brighter central area with black patch & stars inside.
      TYC 4059-0328-1 – very faint large section of reflection neb. Plenty of black helps the nebula to stand out.
      GSC 4058-0834 – “house” shaped star cluster set in a large nebula patch.
      TYC 4052-1055-1 – small nebula patch (part of a long thick curvy lane that winds along here).
      SAO 012401 – very tiny, bright nebula patch.
      HD 20798 – small circular patch next to a star (the last in a line of stars). Black circular area too.
      TYC 4049-0064-1 – double lane of nebula. One side brighter with some brighter patches too.
       
      Area of interest 2 – Flaming Star region.
      It was time to revisit the Flaming star region. I familiarized myself with a look at my sketch from last time out then started to note and sketch further nebula details seen at the eyepiece. I could see a sketch what looked like loops of nebula coming from the main bright blobs (sketched as dashed lines). There was a clear right angled corner piece above IC417. I then hit the multi-patched area of sh2-233/235 which looked great. On the other side there was a sweeping curved section that ended in a double patch (maybe sh2-227). I could see a small bright blob below that (guessed as NGC1778 but may be something else sh2-228?). Finally, I noted a small patch hanging off the side of the Flaming star itself. Here is my sketch from 28th November.


      Now, onto my 20” dob observations from the following night…

      TYC 2393-1581-1 – oblong patch to LHS of tail of Flaming star.
      HD 243596 – patch between IC410 & Spider.
      HD 36834 – thick lane of nebula brighter section connects to HD35345.
      TYC2415-0413-1 – large patch connected to HD35345.
      HD 36212 – large nebula patch with many stars.
      SAO 058274 – large nebula patch under the pinwheel cluster.
      More work needed here...

       
       
      Area of interest 3 – Fox Fur & Rosette region.
      Next, the Fox Fur & Rosette, which is proving to be a great area to explore with a small wide field scope. The Fox Fur is rising rapidly up the list of “great nebulas of the night sky”! Once again, I started by checking my sketch from last time out and then worked to see and sketch further details… Here is what I ended with…



      It’s really hard to find a decent image of this area wide field. Everyone seems obsessed capturing the tiny Cone and misses out on the vast lush areas greatness! Search for “Fox Fur Nebula Rosette” and you can find some – it’s well worth it. 
      This time I noted some of the black detail inside the thick “comma” shape and also a smaller detached patch above.
      I cannot reach this region from my shed so there is no dob confirmation text.
       
      Area of interest 4 – IC434 & Horsehead region.
      Onto the expansive region that contains IC434 and the horsehead. Last time out I noted a long extension to the left hand side and down parallel to IC434. This time I was lucky enough to see even more. IC434 was a complete rectangle of nebula surrounding Sigma Orionis in its centre. With more time I began to notice a separate nebula lane running up the left side of this. It was fainter and ended with a curvy section around Alnilam at the top. The bottom end was right angled as shown below in my sketch…
       
      I cannot reach this region from my shed so there is no dob confirmation text.
       
       
      Finish with the search for some Comets.
      I was out again on the 30th November where I managed a couple of hours observing before fog descended. The highlight was that I bagged four comets as follows:
      Equipment: 20” dob, 27mm Panoptic (x77 magnification), PVS-14 Night Vision.

      C/260P McNaught – A small fuzzy blob next to a star. No core to speak of.
      C/114P Wiseman-Skiff – (found WEST of where Sky Safari says it is so beware!) It appeared brighter than C/260P. A small fuzzy patch with wide brighter core (but not a bright “dot” core).
      C/2018 N2 (ASSASN) – Easy. Bright dot core and halo surrounds. Next to 2 stars LHS.
      C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) – Very Easy. Bright dot core and dust halo. Small tail heads NW.
       
       
      Epilogue
      The above approach proved a success, identifying potential areas for detailed searching with the dob in advance really helped me to focus where I looked with the dob and helped me to linger longer at a location waiting for nebula to pop out at me.
      I will be relocating the dob to the back of the shed for the next new moon so Orion and the Rosette can be reached. Then I can firm up some more exact locations thanks to the push-to connection to Sky Safari that the dob has (via a Nexus wifi unit).
       
      Clear Skies,
      Alan
    • By alanjgreen
      Date: Friday 8th November 2019. 0300-0600am
      Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm).
      Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.
      Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11).
      Filters: Chroma 5nm Ha filter.
      Moon: 0%
       
      Introduction.
      It’s now been over a week since the “never ending” clear skies went away. With the full moon approaching I saw an opportunity to maybe get out for a few early morning hours after the moon had set.
      The skies were clearing when I went to bed and the Devils Orb was already giving the appearance of daylight outside.
      I had a short restless sleep with the occasional peek to see if the moon was still lighting the edges of my bedroom curtains. Once I was satisfied that it had gone and having taken a few minutes to “motivate myself”, I slipped out from the warm bed and headed downstairs to get dressed.
      It was pretty windy outside which meant the roll-off shed would not be used tonight so I prepared the Borg107 for a trip outside onto the patio. It took me 20 minutes to get ready before I relayed my kit outside.
      I quickly performed a 2-star alignment for the Skywatcher AZGTi mount and headed to M45 to test it out…  The Pleiades were all bright and sparkly in my fov set against a lovely black background (“looks good” I thought to myself).
      I had no real plan for the session, so I decided to look at the brightest areas of Orion plus some of the larger Sharpless from my “Best of Sharpless”.
      I added the Night Vision PVS-14 to the TeleVue 55mm Plossl and added the Chroma 5nm Ha narrowband filter to the front of my 2” diagonal.
       
      NGC2244/Rosette.
      Where else to start but my favourite nebula – The Rosette! It appeared bright and mid-sized (at x11 magnification). Thin bright lanes seemed to trace out the “petals of a flower”. Multi-toned fainter nebula filled in the gaps, then with the dark black central hole and cluster to complete the view. I lingered a while before slewing down and into three spread-out nebula patches (sh2-280, 282 & 284). They are all different which makes them more appealing. The first is a circular patch with two small dark circular shapes inside (sh2-280), then we have an oblong shaped patch (sh2-282), finally on the other side of a bright star we arrive at the circular patch sh2-284.

       
      NGC2264/Cone/Fox-Fur nebula.
      Now for the first “surprise bonus” of the night. I centred on NGC2264 and when I looked in the eyepiece I found the fov filled with faint multi-textured nebula. I located the MINUTE Cone nebula, it was very tiny but a clear black triangle nevertheless! I traced the parent Fox Fur into what looked like a “comma” shape. This comma shape was sitting above a right angled long thick lane. Below this I found a mid-sized curved lane and followed this down and left to arrive back at the Rosette.
      I decided to make a sketch of the large area just covered as the individual segments were so clear to see (and you do the daftest things when only half awake!)
       

      I found the Xmas tree in the tail (of the comma) slightly brighter. I noted a dark lane running through the comma tail section.
       
      IC405 Flaming star/IC410/sh2-230
      I have had recent success with the sh2-230 undefined area around IC410/405 with the big dob. So it was time to see what the 4” aperture of the Borg could tease out of this region. This is a beautiful detailed large section that really comes out well under low x11 magnification. IC405 and IC410 are immediately obvious. The magnificence (intricate detail) of the upper head section is not so striking at this low magnification but you then notice that the Flame is larger than expected and in fact has an extra patch that seems to extend the tail section further out. IC410 sits by the side and has the appearance of “a mask”, I see two black eyes cutting into the small bright shape. Above IC410 there are two tiny patches (Spider and Fly) then above them I see a large faint circular patch (unknown). To the left of this and above the Flame is a double curved lane which has several brighter sections visible within it (sh2-230) which I have seen before. But my eye is drawn further left and up where there appears to be a huge circular edge (unknown).

       
      NGC1499 California.
      While looking at Sky Safari, I decide to see NGC1499 (another nebula where the big dob has been working hard recently). Wow, this area is great at low magnification. The “traditional” section of the California is the brightest and easily seen in its entirety but it’s the large extension section to the right (that must be at least the same length again!). Then while examining the tail and crown sections at the left end, I begin to notice a huge structure that seems to sit behind the California nebula. I sketch out what I can see. This background section is vertical where the California appears horizontal. It is faint and has curves under the California where it seems to meet a large faint patch (that has 6 bright stars inside), I add these to the sketch…

       
      IC2177 Seagull nebula.
      Looking for big and bright nebula, I choose to see the Seagull next… The traditional “head and shoulders” fills the fov. I slew around and trace out a large additional structure leaving the “top shoulder” and travelling right and then down to finish at an extended “foot” patch just above the Duck nebula. I sketch out the Seagull and then hunt around for any patches (I know there are plenty to small Sharpless around here). I find two small patches at the end of an extended “leg” section (I thought that one of these was Thor’s Helmet but after slewing to that later then I think I am wrong so I need to revisit and sort out what they are?)

       
      Sh2-240 Spagetti.
      I pick a large nebula from the best of Sharpless, sh2-240 next. It appears as a large circular faint shape. There is a central vertical zig-zag section and I see several hortizontal-ish black lanes travelling through the patch (as I get my eye in). There is definitely lots to see here and its deserving of its place in the “best of Sharpless”.
       
      M42/M43/NGC1973, Orion and the Running Man.
      Okay, I’ve waited long enough! I slew to NGC1973. The only thing you see at the eyepiece initially is M42 of course! It’s so bright and wonderfully detailed. At this low magnification it reminds me of a “bird in flight” with bended wings. The “fish head” is the brightest section but I am fond of the blackness that spews from the fish head and seems to spread out and around M43 next door, it is black as black can be. M43 has an intricate shape inside its almost complete circular patch, but I speed by to seek out the Running man. Tonight the bright patch is clear as day and as I look on a black shape within the bright patch comes and goes, it’s not a “pair of legs” but it’s a black patch within nevertheless.
       
      Flame/IC434/Horsehead.
      I slew directly up from M42 and a bright patch comes into view, over to the right a bit and there is IC434 bright and thick. The horsehead is tiny but clearly visible and having a decent shape tonight. However, I am completely drawn to the long nebula bend section to the left which runs down from the Flame too. I do not remember noticing this section before but it’s been a year since Orion was here and I cannot remember everything that I see!

      I now manually slew up from the Flame to find a thick horizontal nebula lane running across the full fov. I follow it right and then down and back under until I find myself back at the Orion nebula (M42). I guess this is Barnards Loop. I had earlier searched for it to the left of Alnitak (as that’s where it is with the dob but this “star diagonal” used in refractors regularly sends me the wrong way when I try to retrace the big dob steps!
      Angel Fish – Huge and bright. Way too big to see the fish at x11 magnification. I do my best to tease out some features but it is just too huge!
       
      NGC2174/Monkey’s head.
      Instead, I move onto the Monkeys Head. It appears small and bright but as usual I see “Mickey Mouse” with the refractor and star diagonal turning things around. I slew around and pick out two patches above, one is sh2-247 the other is unknown. I slew below and find the wonderful tiny triple nebula sh2-254,255 & 257 (another Best of Sharpless member).

       
      NGC2395 Medusa – A small shimmering crescent moon shape is observed.
      M1 Crab – A small shimmering patch. With time at the eyepiece I see a bright circle around the outside and the occasional jumping line details within but cannot hold the interior in my view.
      NGC2359 Thor – A small faintish semi-circle.
      IC443/IC444, sh2-249 – The triplet of nebulas all fit into the fov and are a lovely sight that takes a good while to look around and take it all in. The Jelly fish (IC443) has lovely “tenticles” section that breaks backwards RHS. There is a small bright patch directly in front of IC443 (IC444) and then behind this the large oblong nebula structure sh2-249. I see the fine black lanes within sh2-249 next to Tejat Posterior (bright star).
       
      Sh2-265 – Picking another large Sharpless object, I headed for SAO 112667. I found a small bright patch (sh2-263) then above that a huge bright nebula that after slewing around, reminded me of a “walkie-talkie”. It had a pointed section at the upper LHS. And an interesting double lane at the lower sections.

       
      Sh2-260 – Next I picked sh2-260 (which I have only ever seen with the big dob). I slewed to SAO 112142 where I discovered a very large faint nebula shape. It was larger than the fov and seemed to appear as a “thin teardrop” shape. I cannot find any images of this so at the moment it is unknown to me.
       
      Epilogue.
      I noticed the sky brightening from around 0550hrs so I headed for a last look at the Rosette and Flaming Star regions before deciding to pack up at 0600hrs.
      I am glad that I made the effort to get up as I felt like I got “more than I imagined” from my session (which sent me back to bed happy, if a little cold – at least I had my hot water bottle to bring my feet back to life).
      I think that I have concluded that I need to get the widefield Borg 107FL out more frequently, when it’s cold then the dob in the shed is a much more appealing thought.
      -          I have added an unexpected 7 entries to the “Ag1-xx” nebula catalog for the unknown/extra patches that I will need to come back and confirm… (up to 97 entries now).
      I also now have some lingering memories to help me through the barren spell of the full moon (out here in the dark countryside, the full moon is a real killer!).
       
      Hope you enjoyed the read and my sketches!
      Alan
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