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JOC

Got out last night - tried a new viewing spot

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Yesterday afternoon it was looking glorious and all boded well for a clear night, could I be bothered to get the kit out?  Well my bro (the one that makes me bits) had visitors staying over and one had expressed an interest in the moon - which is quite glorious atm and I'd mentioned the scope so I thought I'd make the effort.  I made a quick study of stellarium and it seemed that several planets could be on as well as the moon, but not from where I normally watch where my lower south is obstructed by the house and trees.  Well.......we have got visitors...........So I decide to do something I've not done before and that's to lug it all over to the middle of our field about 150m - the OTA, easy, the base, was glad when I got it there - its a fair weight and an awkward shape, then the powerpack, then the EP's and a seat.   Early on in the evening as it got dark Mars appeared to zone in the finderscope - the tale of this is here:

Anyhow, once I got setup I thought I might as well take a look at Mars - It's larger in the Pentax 5mm, but better/clearer in the 8mm BST - the colour is quite evident and makes a change to see something coloured.  I get the impression that the colour is not uniform across the surface - it seems a bit patchy and mottled.  So I had a look around and a fainter 'star' had appeared a bit to the right - still not much up so I took a swing round, hey...hey that's no star that's the master - Saturn itself resplendent with it ring around it - it's amazing how it hangs there like a little model in space.  Even at 5mm I can't make out a split in the ring system itself, but there is always a nice gap between the planet and the agglomerated 'ring' that I can see.

What next - stellarium reckons Neptune is available.  The goto is slightly off at the moment - I thought I had it sorted, but it's not been landing on the planets spot-on - not a problem with something I can see with the naked eye, but harder to not be spot on on something harder.  So I start to scan round a bit and there it is - a tiny green dot in the sky - I lose it with the 5mm I think due to a lack of brightness, but it's back in the 8mm BST,  then I hear a noise and son appears to take a look at Saturn, so I didn't spend long with Neptune, but Saturn was enjoyed and then Mars, then we took a look at the Moon which never disappoints at any magnification and then I thought of something else to see and we had a goto and a search for the ring nebula, in the finish I spotted this and again the 8mm BST was the winner.  Son disappeared back inside and I thought well I succeeded with the ring, let's try M81 etc.  Well I went goto for them, scanned around and got nothing, then I checked my SGL thread on the mobile for the suggested star hops still couldn't find them (I'm actually convinced they don't exist), then where I'd turned off the wifi signal to force the system use my mobile data it then becomes evident that I've goosed the connection between the scope wifi sender and the phone and hence lost the calibration - Grrrrr.  It took a turn it all off and turn it all on to get back to sanity followed by another calibration routine.

Then the friends and bro turned up so I went through it all again.  The visitors couldn't believe what they were seeing, amazed by Saturn, awe struck by seeing Mars and gob-smacked by the moon (which I think was the favourite of the night), one remained behind when the others went in and went back to the moon for a good 10 minutes, I then rustled up the ring nebula (twice in one night is going some for me) again - totally amazed by that.  Then realising that it wouldn't be far away I found the double double and we then split that with the Pentax 5mm.  I think that the Pentax is THE double star weapon - it isn't as good with fainter objects due to the lack of brightness, but it seems to kick the double stars into touch.

We gave up about 22:10 as it was getting cooler, but I think it was a good session - the field was a long way to take things, but the location offered a much clearer horizon literally all around from and the possibility to look North far more effectively than I do from the garden - there was also less interruption from people coming and going with white lights.  On the downside it was quieter, further for people to come and see, and felt altogether a bit lonelier - far nicer to have visitors share things with though - I do wish I had a regular viewing companion!  Still all in all not a bad night.

 

Edited by JOC
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Great stuff JOC! A highly successful evening by the sounds of it.

M81 can be a tricky beggar, I have failed to find it a few times when using a dob as everything is upside down! I find it far easier in a frac. Get your goto properly aligned next time and you should nail it.

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19 minutes ago, Stu said:

I have failed to find it a few times when using a dob as everything is upside down

You know what I completely failed to think about that aspect when I tried star hopping, maybe I should have done so!

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The field sounds like a winner. One man’s solitude is another man’s peace and quiet!  It’s good to share and the moon is a real crowd pleaser that’s for sure.  

Edited by Special K
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