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Date: Wednesday 14th November. 2230-0430hrs
Scopes: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob & Borg 107FL f5.6!
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.
Night Vision Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11), Panoptic 35mm (f4.2 x17).
Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD.
The weather forecast showed there would be a slowly clearing sky later in the evening with a possibility of clear sky during the early hours so I made a tentative plan that involved using both the big dob and later the Borg 107 if the opportunity arose.
The clearing sky was late arriving and I did not get my first view of the departing moon (through a gap in the clouds) until after 9pm. I stayed in front of the TV for another hour and by 10pm there were stars visible with clouds remaining to the North and East.
After two barren weeks this was enough to trigger me to start getting changed and then carry my equipment down to the shed to make a start on the Milky Way overhead with the 20” dob.
Thoughts of the observer.
I thought that I would start with the conclusion/outcome of the evening which was that I managed to find and view 30 new Sharpless objects!
I am now looking through my six pages of notes taken over the 6 hours of viewing I managed last night. I was forced inside by an increasing wind, tired eyes and a few cold finger ends.
The night started with a three hour big dob session where I managed to collect nineteen new Sharpless objects as well as having a few memorable re-visits of some recently viewed with the Borg107.
With the dob, the standout objects included the Sharpless cluster (sh2-254 to sh2-258), surprisingly the Crab nebula (sh2-244) gave a completely different view in Ha! The large size of the supernova remnant sh2-223 was wonderful. Finally seeing the huge circular nebula sh2-278 that circles around Polaris. And the amazing Medusa (sh2-274) which I have never managed to see before. I then had a two hour session with the Borg 107 where I managed to collect another eleven new Sharpless objects.
With the 4” frac, the standout new objects was sh2-265 which looked like a massively magnified Orion Nebula with a similar winged appearance but over a huge area much greater than the FOV at x11 magnification. I also managed to put my finger on why the Monkey Head nebula (sh2-252) looked like a side view of Mickey Mouse with the frac – the mirror diagonal flips the image! Last night’s first view (for me) of the Monkey Head with the big dob and NV was astonishing. I just said “Wow” out loud – it was just like an image of a Neanderthal man. Later with the Borg 107, I was again treated to the alternative “frac view” of Mickey Mouse as “the penny dropped!”
Right let’s get into the detail of the new (to me) Sharpless objects.
Part1: Big Dob targets “some of the gaps” remaining in its Sharpless journey.
I had the TeleVue 55mm Plossl and Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD filter loaded.
Sh2-228 – a small bright patch. Averted reveals a fainter surrounding section too.
Sh2-226 – a small faint patch.
Sh2-227 – a large faint patch. When I turned down the gain intricate dark lanes/patches were revealed within.
Sh2-225 – a medium sized patch (next to a “W” star formation). The centre seemed to be a slightly brighter patch.
Sh2-242 – a medium sized bright fuzzy patch around a star. Star is offset, closer to one side.
Sh2-241 – Decent sized but faint triangular shaped patch with a small bright blob to the right hand side.
Sh2-233 – tiny patch around a star.
Sh2-247 – medium sized, easily seen patch.
Sh2-249 – very large patch. Faintish and seems to be falling away from a bright star above. Oblong shape with black vertical lanes within. Nice.
Sh2-254 to sh2-257 – A great target. A bit like Stephan’s Quintet but much easier! There are three patches in a line. The first is larger than the other two which were a similar size. I saw a tiny patch in between the first and second and slightly above them but I could not find the fifth member of the group.
M1 crab (sh2-244) – I was not expecting much from M1 but boy was I in for a surprise! The crab appeared to me as a “multi-celled organism” being totally made up of many small bright circles/bubbles throughout its whole surface area!
Sh2-223 – A very large supernova remnant. A large curve in the shape of a semi-circled can be traced but you need to nudge around as its very large.
Sh2-224 – Another supernova remnant. This one appears as a small curve seen close to a bright star.
Sh2-178 – Encouraged by Jeff Morgan, I finally remembered to point the big dob towards Polaris. I was rewarded by being able to trace the edges of what is a huge nebula that encircles Polaris at a large distance. The edges were easy to see and easy to nudge along.
Sh2-204 – Showed as a thick lane. This image looks like more of a curve so I will need to revisit for another look…
Sh2-274 Medusa – I managed just about to get down to the Medusa from my shed. There must have been a very tiny percentage of the big mirror on the target as it was very low behind the shed wall BUT what a lovely view! I saw a wonderful, bright crescent outline with jagged edges. It seemed to shimmer at the eyepiece.
Time to swap scopes.
By now, it was around 0130am, the skies had completely cleared and I was running out of new targets to challenge the dob (from its current location within the shed). So I packed up, returned my gear back inside. Unpacked and setup the Borg, then headed back outside. I had the Skywatcher AZ5 GTi goto aligned and was ready to start at 0230am.
Part2: Borg 107 fights back and shows that it has much to offer in the Night Vision Sharpless search.
Sh2-265 – Huge! It looked like a tsunami wave sweeping across the sky! It reminded me of the winged shape of M42 but this was on a completely new scale. It really is huge and I had to pan around even at only x11 magnification with the Borg. I could pick out black detailed section withing the central section of the nebula.
Rosette – This is not a new target but I have to include it as the view through the Borg appeared to resemble the “face of a young puppy dog” (remember that its flipped by the mirror diagonal), I could see two black eye sockets, the nose and open oblong mouth. The only thing missing was the ears! I revisited a couple of times later for another look and the puppy dog was still there!
Sh2-280 – This is an easy patch visible just below the Rosette nebula. Patch seems to have 2 eyes in black sockets and averted vision shows that it extends out to one side.
Sh2-282 – Easily spotted just below sh2-280. More of a thin oblong shape.
Sh2-284 – a large easy patch below and left a bit from sh2-282.
Sh2-293 & sh2-295 – A visit to the Seagull nebula was next to try to spot two tiny Sharpless just off one of the wings. With averted I could make the tiny nebula out but if you did not know they were there then you would miss them (as I did on my previous visit).
Sh2-278 – This was very hard. With averted and plenty of effort then I can make out a faint curved shape.
Sh2-304 – Very large nebula. Long and thin. The edges can be traced. Very faint.
Sh2-312 – Huge squared! Lanes of nebula can traced over an immense area.
Sh2-306 & sh2-302 – I can see one tiny bright patch then just out of the fov I see a medium sized patch too. I was able to confirm that the medium sized patch was gum6 using the goto.
A night to remember
My sharpless count now stands at 153 of 313, so nearly half way there...
During the night I revisited many other “favourite” objects with both of my scopes but I don’t have the stamina to write any more notes on them now as they have been described before.
I managed a handheld x1 viewing session once I had got all the kit packed away back inside and I performed a comparison between the 1.25” Baader 7nm Ha filter and the 1.25” Astronomik 12nm Ha filter as they were fitted directly to the front of the NVD with a 3D printed adapter.
I concluded that the 7nm Ha filter provided more contrast and a little more detail as I scanned through Seagull, M42, IC434, Flame, Angel fish, Barnards loop, Rosette, Cone, Jelly fish, IC410/Flaming star, California and the Heart & Soul. I found the x1 nebula a little less giving than my previous night out so the conditions must not have been at their best, it was certainly windy by this time.
Date: Thursday 1st November. 2100-0115hrs.
Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm).
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Night Vision Eyepieces: Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11), Panoptic 35mm (f4.2 x17), Panoptic 27mm (f5.4 x22).
Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD, Astronomik 12nm Ha CCD.
The Borg is back in town!
After a couple of short sessions with the dob since I returned from holiday, I decided that tonight I would go with the Borg 107FL. I got the scope mounted and setup as best I could inside, then opened the double doors and carried the whole lot outside on the patio, where I left it to cool down. I was once again surprised by how light the whole setup is to pick up and carry outside (and my back was most grateful).
After a couple of false starts (with passing clouds), I finally got changed (into three layers of clothing) and headed outside just before 9pm.
I am out of practice with the AZ5 GTi 2-star alignment which resulted in a failure on the first attempt, I chose stars too high in the sky and the extra contortions needed to look through the red dot finder at the zenith were not appreciated. In the end, I restarted my alignment and selected stars better placed around 45 degrees or so.
Anyway, this time it all ran smoothly and when I selected M31 as a test, sure enough, there it was just off centre in the fov.
It was a cold night!
I had my heater tape installed on the scope from the start (and running on half power), later in the evening I had to add the eyepiece heater tape as the view started to deteriorate. By the end of the night scope, mount, battery box and eyepiece box were all iced up and all needed a towel to remove the water once I was back inside.
It was a great night!
I have four pages of notes to go through this morning. My targets were varied and placed across the sky (The Borg on the little goto mount does give me more freedom to move around the sky than I get when using the big dob which is restricted by the shed walls as to where I can target on any night.
I had a general plan in mind, start on galaxies, then head to some of the larger objects in Cygnus, across through Cassiopeia and maybe into Orion if the sky is still clear and time is on my side.
A Galaxy appetiser
M33 - I started with M33 (one of my favourite objects) as I am keen to see what I can achieve with the 107mm scope. I had the 55mm Plossl (with Night Vision device attached) in the scope and no filters. I could see a single sweeping arm going out from the core at the top and over to the right, out to NGC604. Around the core was a circle of arms with clear blackness between the circle and the core. Under the core the galaxy was indistinct and all I got was a fuzzy patch. With averted the full extent of the galaxy was revealed but the detail within was lost to my eyes.
6946 – Onto the fireworks galaxy (with which I had finally seen the arms with the big dob and night vision recently) to see what I could achieve. First impression was one of how small this galaxy was in the fov. I could see the hazy patch of the galaxy (and another hazy patch nearby). As I spent time at the eyepiece then a similar circle of arms started to be hinted around the core of the galaxy, but as much as a tried I could not pick out the “2 fingers” of arms that I see with the dob. I got more of an impression of one big swooping arm.
891 – …was my next target, but some clouds had moved across and I had to move into Cygnus early. I intended to come back but forgot all about it (as you do).
A trip through the large nebula…
IC1396 – I started with the Elephant trunk. With the 55mm Plossl (x11) and 6nm Astronomik Ha filter, IC1396 filled the fov and I had to nudge around the get at the edges. The view was filled with a nebula cloud. The cloud was fairly dim but there were several black sections within incl. the black centre patch. Below the centre patch I could clearly see the two sections of the Elephants trunk in direct vision. I spent time exploring the whole structure until I was satisfied that I had seen it all.
Sh2-119 – This is a nice target for a small scope with Night Vision. It is large enough to fill the fov and you see a “three pronged fork” like structure. Two prongs are thick and the third a little thinner.
NGC7000 NA – The North American was looking good and very bright to boot! I scanned around then over to the Pelican which looked perfectly formed as it looked back at me. I just can’t get enough of the Pelican, its just mesmerising. I nudged further across and into IC5068
IC5068 – I passed through several line sections in a curve shape. Looked like “Morse code” trying to tell me something?
LBN289 – Onto LBN289. I have been trying this target in the big dob (see my previous post 29-Oct) and wanted to see what the Borg would make of it. I was pleasantly surprised. I saw a long thick horizontal section of nebula (longer than the fov) there was a break at 45 degrees part way along back towards 7 o’clock direction. At the bottom of this section was a patch of nebula that looked like a “mitten”. The “mitten” had a long vertical lane of nebula passing up behind it. There was even more nebula off to the right hand side. Which of this nebula is LBN289 I do not know, some of it or all of it? Either way, it was a satisfying result for the Borg.
IC1318 – What a view! I nudged through endless nebula covering a huge area! Thick lush lanes in all directions. Intricate black fine details on show within. I bump into the Crescent and the Propeller as I nudge around. (Some lovely detail to be had in the Crescent both in the detailed shapes of the curve - there is a clear notch in the centre of the curve as it moves out from the centre – and in the curve itself where the edges are non-uniform and variations in thickness and brightness can be seen). I then bump into sh2-112 and sh2-115 out near Deneb.
Veil – Not as giving as it was in the Borg’s last visit, the central area was mostly blank. I could see the east, west, Pickering’s and the curve that’s sits next to the thin thread, but the thin thread and some brightness was missing. There was a wide expanse at the top of the Veil and several bright patches here and there.
Sh2-86 – Onto a “target of interest” for me. This nebula has a “pillar of creation” style black finger poking into it, so far I have not seen it. It has now passed beyond the reach of the dob from the shed. Anyway, I goto NGC6820. With some study I can discern two black fingers but the actual scale of the target is unknown to me. I note a long black finger with a line of 5 stars within – scale is as large as the cluster. I also note a smaller black lane with three offset stars more in the cluster itself. I don’t think it was either of these and the “pillar or creation” is smaller still and maybe needs the dob to see it. If I get another chance then more magnification is needed.
Bubble and friends – I head over to bubble and from there observe, sh2-157 (nice size and easy to see but less bright than the Borg’s last visit), sh2-158 (small and bright), sh2-159 (faint patch), sh2-162 (bubble seen and nebula extending all around), sh2-161 (patch to side of bubble & sh2-158).
IC1805 Heart – Magnificent. Bright. Stands out like Cinderella’s carriage! I can see the tiny “mole head” nebula to the right in nice detail. There is a bright spot below the Heart (sh2-192/3).
IC1848 Soul – Less bright than the Heart but clearly a “Baby on its head”. I can see brighter patches at the “Nose” and “Chest” making a nice “Bay of brightness”. There is a separate small patch just off the baby’s backside (sh2-198).
The Flame is on fire
Its now 2330 and I can see Orion in the East. I enter “IC434” into the goto…
IC434 Horsehead – I am using the 55mm Plossl and 6nm Astronomik Ha filter. I look into the eyepiece and I can see the long lane of IC434, the horsehead, Alnitak and a large Flame nebula all in the fov. The Horsehead is more than a “notch”, a definite nose shape is there – but it’s very small. My eye is attracted to the Flame, it looks majestic and does not know why we all lust after seeing the Horsehead. “The Flame is on fire”. As I look at the flame, the shape becomes a “T-Rex”, it is beautiful.
Barnard’s Loop – Some x1 naked eye Night Vision viewing.
I have just attached the eyepiece heater and I wait for it to take effect. I nip back inside and get my 1.25” 12nm Astronomik Ha filter. I attach it directly to the front of the NVD using a 3D printed adapter. I switch on and look to Orion…
Barnard’s Loop – Wow, there it is! Direct Vision and its huge. It sweeps right down the left side of Orion, curls underneath and heads back up the right side (maybe the Witchhead). It must be enormous. My eye is then drawn to a very bright nebula seen to the left of Orion (must be Rosette) and then another even larger nebula patch just to the left (it seems to be 4 nebulas in one), this must be sh2-273. I pan upwards and there is the Flaming Star, a little further and there is the California. Up again and into the Heart and Soul. I am having so much fun…!
Barnard’s Loop – With the scope, you just keep bumping into the wide bright endless vertical highway. It’s traceable with ease and just goes on and on. X1 handheld was the best way to “see it”.
Back to the many Nebula within and around Orion.
Right, Back to the scope and it has to be the Rosette to confirm my x1 sighting.
Rosette – Wow! Speechless. I already love the Rosette with the Dob but now I am in love with the Rosette. It’s a beautiful Rose, the lanes make the outlines of the petals and the blackness is the petals. It fills the fov and it’s the highlight of the night for me. I can’t wait to get the dob and night vision on this target – it may blow my mind?
Sh2-173 – Right, the Cone. Firstly, when you point the scope, night vision and Astronomik 6nm filter at NGC2264 you are not prepared for how large this nebula is. The Cone and its cluster are lost in a sea of nebula. Its much bigger than the FOV! I am used to seeing the Cone with the Dob and I am just lost in all this nebula – where exactly is the cone? Gradually, I orientate myself and realize that NGC2264 is the medium sized brightest blob just below centre. I start to map the bright stars from a picture in Sky Safari to the view and there is the Cone. But it is so, so tiny at x11 magnification. I feel bad saying that I can see it because it is just so small.
When I consider this wonderful huge nebula in front of my eyes, I am lost as to why we are all so excited about this tiny spec. I remember my quest for the “pillar” in sh2-86 and I know why we do it… I go through a period of trying Pan35, Pan27, Astronomik 6nm & 12nm Ha filters but I cannot get a better view of the tiny Cone than with the 55mm. I was amazed at how sh2-173 almost disappeared when I put in the 12nm Ha filter then jumped back again when the 6nm Ha filter was re-inserted. There is no doubt that 20” and Night Vision is going to get the Cone. But I re-iterate that sh2-173 is so much more than “the cone”. Flaming Star – The sky is brightening slightly (maybe the moon is starting), I head up to the Flaming star and it’s a lovely sight at the eyepiece (but it’s not alone), its thick shapely right angle is sharp and clear. As you look into the eyepiece there are several other clumps of nebula and you need to orientate yourself to what is there.
I can see the right angle shape of the Flaming Star.
Below is another bright circular nebula (sh2-236/IC410) which has some lovely black central shapes coming and going. To the right I see two more less significant but clearly visible nebula (sh2-234/IC417 & sh2-237), I nudge right a little farther and three separate nebula appear (sh2-232, sh2-235 & sh2-231/3) 235 is large and quite faint, 232 small and bright. M42 – I was not sure whether the brightness of M42 would be too much for the NV but I have to have a look! I turn down the gain and set the goto. WOW! It is small (x11) but perfectly formed. I can see M43 easily to the right and in-between is a jet black cloud of gas. M42 appears as a fish head taking a bite out of this blackness. The upper wing of M42 curves all the way back and connects into a billowy cloud structure. The lower wing extends out and down and away from the main nebula. I could go for more magnification but why bother, this is a lovely view and I stay a while.
Sh2-261 Lowers Nebula – Two central stars emerging from what looks like a “tunnel of nebula”. Stars are in a black area and the nebula surrounds but extends on one side.
NGC2174 Monkey head – This is a great nebula. I thought that it looked like a side-on view of Mickey Mouse’s face as I looked at it. It was really nicely framed in the fov. The “face” had the palid appearance of white skin with some darker stuff around the sides. The nose seemed to have a “bobble” on it.
IC443 Jellyfish – A clear half-moon shape with a brighter curved side was clearly seen. This is a SN remnant also known as sh2-248.
Time to call it a night.
By now I was cold and everything that I took outside had a thin layer of ice on top.The Devils Orb was also rising.
It took a few trips to get all the stuff back inside.
I found that I “still had the buzz” so I attached the 1.25” 12nm Astronomik filter and went back outside for a couple of minutes of x1 handheld!
Thoughts of the observer
It was nice to finally get the Night Vision onto IC434 and see the horsehead with ease. I already knew that the Flame was a better target than the Horsehead and it was nice to have this confirmed once again. The Flame has so much to give, don’t waste too much of your time on the Horsehead. The x1 experience around Orion was great. I knew Barnard’s Loop was big, but it really is BIG. I did not know the Rosette stood out so brightly as it actually does. At the eyepiece the Rosette was wonderful with NV. Sh2-173 (area around the Cone) is just so big. Even at x1 it looked like four nebulas in one. The Cone seems a sideshow when you see just how big and expansive sh2-173 actually is (with a wide fov). It was fairly featureless but endless. It was quite difficult to focus on NGC2264 as it was so small and insignificant inside this huge structure. (Can’t wait to see the Cone with the Dob though ).
Luckily I did find my Hot Water Bottle after my last outing and I was able to put it near my feet at the bottom of the bed (as I lay there still wearing my inner layer of clothing) waiting to warm up and fall asleep…