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My last dark site trip was in July so I really excited to get back to Seething last night. I had a couple of fellow Norwich Astronomical Society members observing with me plus a couple of guys were imaging onsite too. It took a few mins to get the dew heaters connected and finders aligned but I was soon under way. I started with M31, M32 and M110 in the same FOV using the ES82 30mm. I'd forgotten how much difference dark skies make. The size of M31 was much more apparent and M110 was easily recognised as a galaxy compared to grey smudge that I see from my garden. From the bright galaxies to something much darker, Barnard's E (B192/B193). The two dark nebulae form an E shape. It's a strange experience to be looking for the absence of stars but it's very satisfying when you find the target. I use the stars that make up the center of the C section as my starting point. 

Adding an OIII filter, I went off in search of nebulae. Staying in Aquila, I found the Ghost of the Moon (NGC 6781). A large round planetary nebulae with brightening around one side of the perimeter. Kind of like a crescent moon. With crescent's in mind, I visited the Crescent nebula in Cygnus. With dark skies, there's so much more to see of this nebula. I was able to see the full crescent shape. I'm starting to build some familiarity with this object now. One of my fellow observers showed me a section of the Eastern Veil in his 18" dob. The detail was truly stunning. I now took in a lower power views of both the Eastern and Western section. This was the closest I've been to a photographic view of the Veil. Great definition. I could trace sections of Pickering's triangle quite well too. The North American Nebulae was the natural next stop. Thick nebulosity filled the eyepiece. The shape was clear as day but what really caught my attention was the Pelican Nebula. I've never had much luck seeing this but last night was different. The two nebulae both stood out well with a clear dark lane separating them. I've made regular visits to the NAN from home and I feel like this really helped when I got to view it from darker skies.

At Seething, there's gap between a line of trees and the clubhouse. The contents of this gap held my next target, the Helix Nebula. Another target that I've view a few times in poor conditions. Tonight the views were excellent. The large planetary nebula shone through brightly. The denser nebulosity around the edge, which gives the planetary it's name, contrasted well against the thinner nebulosity within. A triangle of stars sat around it. One of the imagers popped over and had a look saying he'd always wanted to see it. Sharing the views is part of the fun at Seething. As it was nearby, I also picked up the Saturn nebula. A fun and bright little planetary. 

The OIII filter now took a well earned rest as I went off to look at Neptune. I hoped that the darker skies would help me to see Triton. Alas it was not meant to be. This target has really got me stumped! It feels like it should be in reach of my 10" dob. I moved onto a new galaxy for me, NGC 891. I never managed to see with the 130mm scope I was using last winter. Seeing it last night explained why, it's quite faint even in the dob. I wasn't able to pick up the dark lane. This will be worth some revisits over the winter as it moves higher in the sky. The Fireworks galaxy also surprised me by being quite faint. My observing buddies were having issues with dew at this point so I now wonder if the transparency had taken a dip with all the moisture in the air. Despite this, a visit to the Pleiades was rewarded with a sighting of the Merope nebula. Again, I was able to trace this further with darker skies. I know there's still a lot more there than I can see though.

My H-Beta filter got it's turn as I aligned the dob with the California nebula. Whilst it was quite subtle, I didn't have any trouble tracing the full extent of this though there are areas where it's more obvious than others. Following that I tried the Flaming Star nebule in Auriga. I've never seen it before and I can barely say that I've seen it now. I found it much more challenging than the California nebula but did see some faint nebulosity. My finder had now got a bit dewy making finding M33 more difficult than usual. It was worth the effort. I got a great sense of the spiral arms and the nebula, NGC604, was clear as day.

The gap between the trees and the clubhouse came to mind again. Despite being quite low, I was able to find the large but bright Sculptor Galaxy. The galaxy is more or less side on giving it a long thin appearance. This proved to be another crowd pleaser with my fellow observers.  Comet 64P Swift-Gehrels is currently in Andromeda and has proven too faint to be seen from home. After much searching last night, I was finally able to grab an observation of this. Small and faint between two stars, it appeared like small nebulous circle. I was only able to see it with averted vision and it reminded me of my first views of Comet 21P back in July. Only the fourth comet I've seen! I followed that with Iris nebula which is a bright reflection nebula. Averted vision really brings out the nebula. I finished the session with M1, the crab nebula. I remember this as being a little rectangle shaped patch of nebulosity. Instead, I found a textured oval shaped nebula. I really got a sense of the nebula which I know so well from photos. A really pleasing way to end the night.

 

 

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Sounds like a great night Neil, I have to say dark skies make such a difference>
Went to a darker sky last week and was wowed by the observing, few hours at home last night and not s much wow as oh.
What 0111 filer are you using, is it the Astronomik one listed?
A look through an 18" must be quite something indeed if the step from 6" to my 10" is anything to go by.
 

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Great report Neil and an inspiration for people to get out there.

Clear night on Skye tonight so will give 6946 a bash and the cone along with some Hicksons. 

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Great stuff Neil, a really successful night, good to get out there! If we get any clear skies at SGLSP then I will have a go at some of your targets with the 14".

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Lol. I thought this was a Manchester City / United thread. Great report !

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It is a real treat isn't it when you get back to a dark sky after a fairly lengthy absence. Great session Neil and diverse mix with some quite challenging objects. As you had described with i.e. North America / Pelican or Crescent nebula, revisiting enables you to grow accustomed and see more. This will also become apparent with The Flame, as Orion becomes progressively seasonally more into play, determining structural features will gradually take on more shape, the same would also apply to the California. Good transparency as you had encountered will be necessary of course. Good work with reflection nebula; Iris Nebula, NGC 7023, a small faint glow around the star and quite a challenge.  

An interesting one, if you get another dark trip, PN; NGC 246 Skull Nebula in Cetus. Had been looking forward to a trip to Kielder this weekend, forecast not looking to good and so considered wellies and not scopes, now storm Callum has been mentioned so might have to abort, but that's UK amateur astronomy for you.   

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7 hours ago, Alan White said:

Sounds like a great night Neil, I have to say dark skies make such a difference>
Went to a darker sky last week and was wowed by the observing, few hours at home last night and not s much wow as oh.
What 0111 filer are you using, is it the Astronomik one listed?
A look through an 18" must be quite something indeed if the step from 6" to my 10" is anything to go by.
 

Dark skies are like getting a free upgrade to your telescope! It was indeed the Astronomik OIII. The 18” was very impressive. I saw M57 through and the number of fainter stars I could see around it was amazing. I didn’t see the central star but it probably just needed a bit more mag than we were using. 

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3 hours ago, estwing said:

Great report Neil and an inspiration for people to get out there.

Clear night on Skye tonight so will give 6946 a bash and the cone along with some Hicksons. 

Cheers Calvin. Have fun in Skye. I have a feeling your views of 6946 will be more impressive than the ones I enjoyed last night :) 

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3 hours ago, Stu said:

Great stuff Neil, a really successful night, good to get out there! If we get any clear skies at SGLSP then I will have a go at some of your targets with the 14".

Thanks Stu. Was great to try out some of the new gear under dark skies. Fingers crossed for clear skies at SGLSP. Was hoping to go but sadly I am required at work. I’m looking forward to some reports from the party though :) 

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2 hours ago, scarp15 said:

It is a real treat isn't it when you get back to a dark sky after a fairly lengthy absence. Great session Neil and diverse mix with some quite challenging objects. As you had described with i.e. North America / Pelican or Crescent nebula, revisiting enables you to grow accustomed and see more. This will also become apparent with The Flame, as Orion becomes progressively seasonally more into play, determining structural features will gradually take on more shape, the same would also apply to the California. Good transparency as you had encountered will be necessary of course. Good work with reflection nebula; Iris Nebula, NGC 7023, a small faint glow around the star and quite a challenge.  

An interesting one, if you get another dark trip, PN; NGC 246 Skull Nebula in Cetus. Had been looking forward to a trip to Kielder this weekend, forecast not looking to good and so considered wellies and not scopes, now storm Callum has been mentioned so might have to abort, but that's UK amateur astronomy for you.   

Thanks Iain. Felt really good to be under dark skies again. I’m really looking forward to observing the Flame over the coming months. I dream of seeing the horse head but have told myself that it’s unlikely to happen this year unless I get an exceptionally transparent night. It’s been seen from Seething with 12” scopes so I hope my 10” gives me a chance. Whatever the outcome I shall enjoying trying!

 I still find it a strange concept that repeated viewing reveals more detail. You would think if it’s there then your eye would see it. There’s no doubt that it’s true though. I’ve seen it for myself!

I wanted to see the Skull PN last year but never managed it. Thank you for the reminder. I shall add onto the list :) 

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Nice report fella. Nothing like the ambience of a dark sky to observe under.

Keep up the good work. 

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17 hours ago, Littleguy80 said:

Thanks Iain. Felt really good to be under dark skies again. I’m really looking forward to observing the Flame over the coming months. I dream of seeing the horse head but have told myself that it’s unlikely to happen this year unless I get an exceptionally transparent night. It’s been seen from Seething with 12” scopes so I hope my 10” gives me a chance. Whatever the outcome I shall enjoying trying!

 I still find it a strange concept that repeated viewing reveals more detail. You would think if it’s there then your eye would see it. There’s no doubt that it’s true though. I’ve seen it for myself!

I wanted to see the Skull PN last year but never managed it. Thank you for the reminder. I shall add onto the list :) 

That's it really, gaining subtle definition applies to each visual observation as you become more intimately familiar with the subject, whatever it maybe. Perhaps equally as you grow in competence with using your equipment and observing ability. Knowing what to look for helps in terms of characteristics, descriptions from other competent observers.  You will get the Horse Head Neil, that is a certainty. My first opportunity was with an experienced observer, who was familiar, accustomed to viewing it. This was with my then 12" dob, 20mm nagler and a borrowed H-beta filter. He went on to say that it was his best view yet and guided me a little in explanation as to where and what to look for.  What did I see,,,nothing. It became quite a quest after that, until I got it. I do not actually consider it a difficult object anymore and I look forward to 'seeing' it this season. 

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1 hour ago, scarp15 said:

That's it really, gaining subtle definition applies to each visual observation as you become more intimately familiar with the subject, whatever it maybe. Perhaps equally as you grow in competence with using your equipment and observing ability. Knowing what to look for helps in terms of characteristics, descriptions from other competent observers.  You will get the Horse Head Neil, that is a certainty. My first opportunity was with an experienced observer, who was familiar, accustomed to viewing it. This was with my then 12" dob, 20mm nagler and a borrowed H-beta filter. He went on to say that it was his best view yet and guided me a little in explanation as to where and what to look for.  What did I see,,,nothing. It became quite a quest after that, until I got it. I do not actually consider it a difficult object anymore and I look forward to 'seeing' it this season. 

It’s quite amazing to see how the detail slowly comes through. I was really surprised by how much of the crescent nebula I could see in this session. It was only a few months ago that I first observed it and even then just a small section of it.  

The horse head should prove a great challenge. It’s reassuring to hear that you went from seeing nothing to now seeing it with relative ease.  No doubt there’ll be reports of my various attempts over the coming months :) 

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caught the Horse head again last night , tho conditions were not great.

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Great report Neil, Seems like the O-III filter was well used.

The Ghost of the Moon (NGC 6781) sounds very interesting, going to put that one on the to do list, thanks.

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