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Clearing the cobwebs....


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With a clear sky predicted after a wet day and a local club deciding it wasn’t meeting, I decided to clear the cobwebs out of my larger scope. Collected all the bits from all round the house and assembled the 8”f4 on the EQ6 and laser collimated it. As I live with many direct streetlights I used a foot long flocked light shield on the front end to make the scope look more impressive.
Using the starsense made goto alignment and finding things a breeze (just let it get on with it) though it was only towards the end of the evening I bothered to refer to the manual to find out how to correct out the “finder to main scope” pointing error that was about half a field of view… good to know for next time, so goto is then always perfectly centred. I also seem to now need reading glasses to use the handset which has a 2line display vs th old one line.

First aim was to work out the (rough) spacing for my baader coma corrector on the TS XWA 20mm ultrawide eyepiece as there’s been all this talk of “rich field” and I thought I might as well have a go. The huge field (2.5degree) frames many of the usual objects very well, of course it’ll work much better under darker skies, but still plenty of stars to play with (compared to the few visible naked eye). It’s nice to be able to “climb into” the eyepiece to look around, compared to my normal “narrow” Nagler view, lots of annoying little satellites crossing many of the views. Upping the magnification Mars was a nice disc, but a bit wobbly with little detail visible.

I was mainly chasing globular and open clusters and bright nebulae in the area of the sky I have access to, partially inspired by looking at the images in the Cambridge Photographic star atlas for interesting looking things. M29, N6960, M13, M27, M11, M57, M92, M56, IC4665, N6883, M15, M26, event tried for some low objects before they went behind the tree, M22 and M25.  Sagittarius has already gone behind the tree in the garden when it gets dark, should have tried this a few weeks back or set the scope up a few meters further away.

After a while I thought it would be worth switching in the prime focus NV to pull in more stars and resolve the globs, now resolved (though small), using a 685nm long pass filter to take the edge off the local light pollution. Now I can see M71 which was too faint to see previously. Lots of very dense star fields with loads of nameless little asterisms. Picked up faint M71 and M33 as a noticeable dim fuzz, far fainter than M31 that extended beyond the field of view, with M110 and m32 clearly visible. Finally switched to hydrogen alpha filteration for going after nebulae. M27 took on the classic asymmetric apple core shape and M57 a bright, clear ring. The Western veil was lovely, the triangular wisp and eastern veil were much less obvious. The field of view is much smaller than I typically use and so many of my usual objects are now way bigger than the field of view and harder to pull from the sky background. The Gulf of Mexico in the North America obvious as a dark “cactus” shape between it and the pelican. Similarly IC1318 was obvious around the “butterfly area”, spilling off in all directions. The cocoon was nice and obvious, IC1396 not obvious at this scale. Wanted to go for other nebulae down in Cygnus, but they lack the NGC/IC IDs that Starsense knows about.

Going to have to get round to making using the NV afocally with a 55mm eyepiece to enable a wider and brighter view, by running closer to f2. I also need to research options for connecting SkySafari to my starsense as many nice open clusters and galactic nebulae are not in the handset  database!
I’ll get an SQM Reading next time.. though 18.5 is “good” from here usually. I should see if  I can get the council to consider part night lighting as if they went off after midnight it would have been a great help.


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Sounds like successful night Peter, despite that local club not meeting .... ;)

I had no idea you had such kit, glad you got a chance to dig it out and that it is all clearly functioning well. A very decent set of targets found, nice report.

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