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4 Sept - Borg 107 flies through Big Dobs Sharpless "favourites" list

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Date: Tue 4th September. 2200 – 0220am.
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.
Moon: 37%


As “big dob” has been working through the Sharpless catalogue this past couple of months, I have been making use of the Sharpless tables in the back of my Bracken Astrophotography Sky Atlas to track which objects I have seen and add a “tick” rating depending on the “wow factor”.
I wanted to make good use of my new “AZ5 GTi” goto mount to aid me in this experimental flight through big dobs favourite Sharpless objects BUT the Sharpless object list is not available in the SysScan handset frown.gif.


I created a spreadsheet of the multi-ticked objects and using Sky Safari I added a reference to a nearby object that was either from the NGC, IC or SAO catalogues that are in the handset (or so I thought – it turns out the SAO catalogue stored in the handset is a bit random and I had to make some “on the fly” adjustments to alternative SAO stars as I went along).?


Flight Plan
Here is the “updated" flight list of 32 sharpless objects to be targeted, adjusted to only contain SAO stars that actually are in the SynScan handset (shown in the second column should you wish to take the same flight...) :)



Observing Notes

- All viewing was done using a 55mm Plossl & Astronomik 6nm Ha filter unless otherwise stated.

Sh2-54 – “n” shaped with spikes of nebula coming away from the main shape. A small brighter circular patch is seen within.
Sh2-86 – A bright patch of nebulosity with a star cluster inside.
Sh2-101 “Tulip” – A small bright patch with two bright stars inside. It was sitting amongst lots of easily seen lanes of nebula. Nice.
Sh2-102 – nothing.
Sh2-103 “Veil” – The star attraction of the night. The view was nearly up there with big dob, there was just so much to see (in a 107mm scope). I could almost get the whole thing into the FOV of the 55mm Plossl too. It was so good that I have to map it out in sections to get it all down…


-    NGC6992 – Strangely was not standing out as the brightest bit (like it usually does) all parts seemed to hold their own in the view.

-    Pickering’s Triangle – Looked lovely with varying strand sections showing the triangle shape.

-     E, F & NGC6979, G – To both sides of Pickering’s triangle were further bright stand-alone sections of nebulosity.

 -   Thin thread – I could see the thin thread with some averted and concentrated efforts. And to my amazement there was a semi-circular nebula shape to the side of the thin thread that I have not noticed before!

 -   NGC6960 – Was showing the split into three “antlers” at the top and the whole thing just kept on going up and over the top meeting the thin thread which had split into two wider lanes by now.

I am astounded at the view as it was nearly up there with the 20” – Stunned and disbelief abounded :)


Sh2-105 Crescent – Lovely and bright in the 35mm Panoptic. The whole of the “9” was not showing but scintillation was hinting where the fainter sections are to be found.
Sh2-106 – Possibly a very thin patch around a star?
Sh2-112 – small bright patch
Sh2-115 - larger, fainter & squarer in shape.
Sh2-119 – Three parallel lanes of nebulosity. The centre lane was the thickest, the right side lane was fainter and the left side lane was pretty thick too.
Sh2-124 – Large nebulous patch with a small bright “question mark” shimmering shape in the centre. The small shape was sh2-124.
Sh2-125 Cocoon – Appeared small & bright. There was a distinct 3D effect going on as it appeared as a “circle” with an additional mirrored side behind it.
Sh2-129 Squid – A large curve of nebula with two distinctly thicker sections within it. No sign of “the squid” within it though.
Sh2-131 Elephant trunk – A much better view than the other night, the nebulosity was thick and lush. I could make out plenty of large darker sections with averted vision and the gain turned down. The actual trunk sections were quite elusive and I got the best view of them by changing to a 12nm Ha Filter (which brought out some extra stars as a bonus too).
Sh2-132 Lion – Not really a lion! I can see the “mane” section bright and clear. Averted reveals a much larger structure behind the mane and below but I don’t see a “lion”. I can see some black lanes within the bright “mane” section.
Sh2-135 – Long lane of nebulosity running down to a separate patch of nebula (to one side). There is a small brighter nebula patch seen to the side as you run down the long lane.
Sh2-142 Wizard – Bright side section with spikey appearance. There is a black area cutting into the bright section. After some time the black section took on the appearance of a “Wizard with outstretched arms”. In the big dob, I just see a flying horse! This view was very different to the dob.
Sh2-152 & sh2-153 – Tiny glistening patch. And seen just below is sh2-149 which is very tiny too.
Sh2-155 Cave – The cave is tiny but looks like I expected – triangular shape surrounds the black centre cave section. Sh2-154 shows as a nebula patch in the same FOV.
Sh2-157 – Its all there! It appears as a faint and fine elongated circular shape with a mirror image to one side. The top section is thick and lush, the two descending curves are much finer.
Sh2-158 Brain – Tiny and very bright. Seen in same FOV as sh2-157 and the Bubble nebula.
Sh2-162 Bubble – Small and bright in the 55mm. There is the sense of a “black hole” in the area where the bubble is found. I switch to the 35mm Panoptic for more magnification and the tiny black area takes on a circular appearance. I tried the 27mm Panoptic but the view was too dark.
Sh2-168 – tiny, faint patch.
Sh2-170 – small circular patch of nebula close-by to CED214.
Sh2-171 NGC7822, CED214 – A bright rounded “mask” section with separate nebulosity curve above also has a separate long thick lane underneath. Nice.
Sh2-173 Mask – nothing.
Sh2-184 Pacman – Large, bright nebula with thick black lane coming in from the side. The black lane was varying edges. The nebula has varying width as you look to the sides of the black lane.
Sh2-188 Dolphin – A tiny bright “glistening” curve shape.
Sh2-190 Heart – Wow, my first view of the Heart with Night Vision and it’s everything I hoped for. Lovely intricate detail and larger than the FOV. Two brighter patches with variation within them. Breathtaking!
Sh2-191 Soul – Just underneath is the leg-less foetus! Large bellied body and head very sharp and clear.


That completed my planned observing. I observed 30 of 32 Sharpless objects (in a 4" frac). It was a marathon and only achievable in one night with goto!


By now its 0200am and I am getting cold. Everything is wet with dew but the skies are still clear, there is some brightness in the East as the Devils Orb frown.gif starts to rise… I can see the seven sisters so I decide to “keep on going”…


NGC1499 California – Had to see this before I read some NV reports from someone else (to spoil my reveal). Almost a Wow! It sits in the FOV of the 55mm Plossl nicely and shows the thick outer lanes clearly. I can see the pointy centre section of the lower side and I can see the black hole “eye” in the upper side. The outer ends are nice and clear too but there is something lacking (I reckon the sky is filling with water and this is confirmed as I look south to see the “wet haze” of a rising mist.
NGC1491 – reveals as a small shimmering bright patch.
M33 – I decide to finish of the Triangulum. All these nebula are nice but Galaxies are my thing. I remove the 6nm Ha filter and settle down on my chair.
At first look M33 is small and just as with traditional viewing, you need to give galaxies some time for your brain to tune in. The upper arm out the NGC near the star is the first to appear at 12-3 o’clock position. I turn down the gain and then come back up in steps to the point where the upper arm is there and wait…
Then a tiny bit more gain and now I see a circle of spirals surrounding the centre core.
Keep looking… I see an outer arm curving in the 6-10 o’clock region


Now the galaxy is going… gain up… no still going
I look up and to the south the “next village” has disappeared, the mist has descended…frown.gif
I decide to pack up and get into the warm house…


Thoughts of the observer

The real highlight of the night was the Veil complex for sure, I was expecting something else to jump to the front of the queue but I have never seen the Veil this good in a small frac, I even saw a curve section that I have never noticed in the dob before :). [I did not see the section that @jetstream was asking about though].

The Heart was a close second though, it was amazing in all its glory.smile.gif

Many of the flight objects were small or tiny and this is where the big dob cannot be matched. The extra magnification available from the long focal length makes it a killer tool for these tiny nebula!

I am most heartened by my early look at M33, its still not best positioned and I had some moon and wet sky to contend with. Still I did see the arms in a 4” frac so that’s not too bad, the 20” dob should also up the game on this object once he has the NVD attached...


Clear Skies,

Edited by alanjgreen
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Superb report Alan, love the format too. You've provided some really useful information, I think I will use your Sharpless list on my next trip out with my portable EAA setup (72mm frac @ F3.7 + lodestar + SkyProdigy) and see what I can see. I am primarily an observer under light polluted skies, and EAA allows me to do this, but NV seems like what I really need, perhaps one day.... :rolleyes:

Thanks for providing reference objects to help location. Sadly my SkyProdigy (which I bought second hand as an experiment) has a very limited database and no ability to remote control, so for most of the Sharpless objects I would need to enter the RA & Dec into the handset, which is not the end of the world. :) 


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Very detailed report, initially I thought that sketch looks like a negative photo... till I looked closer at it... still a great set of uncommon objects.


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Very useful list and seems like even low power can reveal plenty of objects. My favourite views are of the heart/soul/north America when lying on the ground looking vertically with my 80mm handheld. 

Sounds like gain control is over-rates... keep it set to 11?!


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The chart is going to be very useful for my TSA120/AZ EQ6 and if preliminary viewing is any indication will be VG.

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46 minutes ago, PeterW said:

Very useful list and seems like even low power can reveal plenty of objects. My favourite views are of the heart/soul/north America when lying on the ground looking vertically with my 80mm handheld. 

Sounds like gain control is over-rates... keep it set to 11?!


The sky is finally getting darker now, I am sure that helps :) 

The Milky Way was immense last night, both spiral arms were showing wide down to about 30 degrees both sides. The black section in between the arms in Cygnus was really black. 

Seems we can finally start to say goodbye to summer.

Shame about all the dew, I had standing water on both the battery box and eyepiece box lids by the end. My Bracken has gone all curvy at the edges :( 

I also had to towel down my eyepieces when I got inside they were soaking  !

All nice and dry this morning when I got up thankfully.

Oh, I also forgot to mention that I got the 2-star alignment success at the first attempt for the second night running - you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!!


Edited by alanjgreen

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After several annoying “not goto” evenings. Not being able to see the pole star and not knowing the names of potential alignment stars I now starsense just sort it all out for me. At least I got someone else to blame when it doesn’t drop me onto what I am hoping to see. How do you find out what objectsvare in the synscan database... i’d like to find “close matches” for other objects


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Massive report and full of useful info, thanks!  The Sharpless catalogue is in my difficult-box due to LP but that doesn’t stop me trying from home all the same!  

Great list!!!

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Gives you some options other than the Horse head.... 


PS bet my LP is worse...

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2 hours ago, PeterW said:

How do you find out what objectsvare in the synscan database... i’d like to find “close matches” for other objects


I used Sky Safari in the first place to highlight the sharpless object, then clicked a bright star in the FOV, "info" then shows me the SAO number.

- remember to zero fill the numbers from Sky Safari to 6 digits by adding leading zeros...

On the night, It was a case of trial and error, I tried to pick the SAO using the handset (you enter the first 4 numbers, press Enter, then scroll through a list to get the last two ???) - strange! 

- if it's there, great, press ENTER

- if it's not there, then it's back to Sky Safari (which was open on the garden table and choose another one... etc etc). It seems the brighter the star then the more chance it is in the handset (if that helps?) 

You could cover yourself by noting a couple of backup SAO, just in case you need them?

Edited by alanjgreen

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    • By alanjgreen
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      Supernovae (2 from 4).
      Unfortunately conditions were not perfect and visibility was not good to the low down south where a number of supernovae targets are located. But I attempted the targets that were well placed and available to me…
      NGC 3395/SN ASASSN-19aea – With the 18.2mm DeLite it was easy to find the two interacting galaxies. One galaxy was clearly larger and had a faint curved appearance where the arms were partially visible. There are 3 faint stars close-by for orientation and the galaxy next to the single star is the one with the SN. This larger galaxy definitely had a bright core which was elongated but I could not split the SN from the core. I tried the 27mm Panoptic (for increased brightness with the night vision device) and the field stars were easier to see but I could still not split the core & SN. FAIL. NGC 5371/SN2020bio – My first attempt before midnight was a fail. The galaxy was easily seen in the 27mm eyepiece and its large too. I matched field stars to my view for orientation but there was no sign of the SN.  I revisited this galaxy after 1am and this time the view was improved and I did get glimpses of a faint dot coming and going (mainly going) in the location of the SN! SUCCESS. 😀 PGC 056547/SN2020dxa – This one was easy to find and see! With the 27mm eyepiece you can see two dots (clearly separated) within the tiny galaxy patch. There is a double star above pointing the way to the galaxy and (unfortunately) there is a bright field star LHS causing reflections in the fov! SUCCESS. 😀 UGC 10661/SN2020awa – This galaxy is hard to find. It sits in a small field star triangle (one corner of the triangle has two stars, the other corners are single stars). I tried both 18.2mm and 27mm eyepieces but I could not split the SN from the galaxy core. FAIL.  
      Hicksons (7 new to me).
      Hickson 68 – With the 55mm eyepiece, I could easily see three galaxies straight off (two bright galaxies in a pair with the third separate below). Looking around I could also find two tiny smudges to the RHS (each separate). Hickson 70 – With the 27mm eyepiece, I could see three galaxies that appeared evenly spaced in a line. There was a close pair of galaxies just below them (uneven brightness). Then one additional faint fuzzy off to the RHS. 6 galaxies. Hickson 71 – 27mm eyepiece. Three stars close together are see next to two galaxies that a gap RHS to a tiny galaxy smudge. The last galaxy is in-between (in the gap) and very faint indeed (cannot be held in direct vision). Hickson 69 – 27mm eyepiece. Three galaxies in a triangle formation are easily seen. Wow, there are so many galaxies in and around the fov that I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number and have to keep checking Sky Safari to see if I have the right ones targeted!😀 Hickson 66 – 27mm eyepiece. 3 of 4 seen. Three tiny galaxies seen in a tiny patch in a 2+1 formation. Hickson 45 – 27mm eyepiece. A pair of tiny galaxies are found in-between 2 field stars. There is a possible third galaxy faintly seen underneath. Hickson 49 – On March 1st I failed to find this object (due to the moon) but tonight I found it. 😀There is a very tiny patch of faint fuzzies! There seems to be several very close together. I could see two cores intermittently from within the tiny patch.  
      Cloud started rolling over in patches and I was having to pick my spots (of clear sky) which was painful. With more clear night forecast, I decided to go to bed instead.
      Clear Skies,
    • By alanjgreen
      Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm & f4.1).
      Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.
      Eyepieces: DeLite 18.2mm (f5.8 x115).
      I was out supernovae hunting last night with three SN targets planned
      1= NGC109/SN2019upw
      2= UGC11860/SN2019tua
      3= UGC11979/SN2019tgm
      I am happy to report that I observed 2 out of 3. Here are some notes to help others.
      NGC109 /  SN2019upw

      This one is fairly straightforward as there are few field stars in the area. Once you find the three brighter stars in a triangle then the galaxy is easily seen in the centre. There are 4 faint stars on one side of the galaxy and one on the other. The SN is separate from the core. As I was only using x115 magnification then the split was not straightforward and time was needed to wait and observe for the split to come and go!

      This galaxy was really well placed at the zenith at around 1830 last night. The galaxy was not seen but the SN is there. It takes time to find the right spot but there is a field star "3D cube" just above, once you find the cube then you can find the SN. (See stars marked A,B,C,D on my diagram, the Supernova is X).

      This is the toughest, there are so many field stars that it is hard to find what to match to the internet images. Anyway, it turned out that I was looking in the wrong place but the stars I drew do match the images so I was just a small way off. 
      Look carefully at my sketch and there are two rows of field stars (the 3+2 and the 3, the middle star of the lower 3 is a double), if you can find these two rows of stars at the eyepiece then the SN is in-between these rows as shown by the blue box (added this morning). I was looking further up in a tight cluster of stars where the tiny galaxy appeared to be (my mistake!).
      Happy hunting!
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