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mapstar

At last clear Skye's

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 Having arrived on Skye in the early evening on Saturday the heavens gave us quite a few clear spells to enjoy the milkyway and grab a few widefield photo's and naked eye views. After that it would be another three days before the weather finally broke enough at night9 to give us some more astronomical delights.

 Rain, rain and more rain makes this one of the wettest places I've ever been. A trip to Fairy pools confirmed this by all three of us getting soaked with only Calvin remaining relatively dry due to a full brace of waterproof gear. The landscape on Skye is weather beaten and windswept to say the least. The amount of water cutting it's way through the landscape is staggering and makes for some epic scenery.

 Tuesday's sunset brought with it an hour of broken light cloud that also gave a nice Aurora show. Grabbing the camera's and tripods we all made the best of it with some terrific views. The Aurora creeping down over Dunvegan bay with it's green and purple hues just visible naked eye. I managed a few shots in another thread here:- Aurora Tuesday night

Although good Tuesday the Aurora really did show on Wednesday evening but the wind had also picked up during the day with some pretty hefty gusts. After setting up the 22" in relatively calm conditions (see here Dob setup) I enlisted the help of Estwing to do the dob dash and move the scope around the side of the bungalow to provide sheltered views.

 I left the camera doing my first ever Astro timelapse which I shot over an hour (see here  Aurora timelapse). After this it was onto the proper old school viewing through two mirrors and a quality chunk of glass. Steve continued to take shot's throughout the evening whilst also grabbing a few views here and there.

 First target was purely to align the rigel and finder with the main scope. Vega it was and once tweaked it would've been rude not to drift down between Sheliak and Sulafat to take in the ring neb M57 which I'd later compare with NGC 6894 the diamond ring. I did a few familiar targets just to dust off my star hopping abilities and drifted over to M29 the cooling tower just below Sadr in cygnus. The small asterism was easy to pick out

 I didn't remain long as I then dropped the scope to Alkaid and M51. Amazing how low down Ursa major is from up here. The view wasn't a patch on the best I've seen it but I could make out the spirals and the bridge but all were murky.

 M101 above showed it's vast  spiral structure and was a slightly better view than M51. I could easily pick out it's H11 regions NGC 5471, 5462, 5450/5447. Nice but I was quickly coming to the conclusion the transparency wasn't quite what I'd hoped for.

 M81 and M82 were looking as good as always with bodes galaxy the best of the two.

 I was fine tuning my star hopping so went back to Cygnus and slotted in the O111 filter for this season's first views of the crescent nebula NGC 6888. To anyone else this would've been a fantastic sight but I was disappointed after seeing it from the very same spot last year and it being almost photographic in it's qualities the outer structure and central spine were visible but the delicate internal web's and brightness that wowed last year just wasn't there. I could see the outer shell even without the filter so this proves how light pollution free these skies are.

 I viewed a small open cluster here IC4996 which is a tight knit group of young stars and worth a quick look for those into that kind of thing. I marked it down and continued.

 I took in the O111 views of the eastern and western Veil through the 21E and both looked nice but Galloway is where I've seen this best.

 The diamond ring NGC 6894 was the next bag for me lower down the eastern side from the Veil.  The Lumicon O111 was still in again I did try the UHC but the former gave the best views. The outer diamond star was bright but at mag 17 I gave up on the central star with the transparency just not up to looking for it.

 Onto the western wing of Cygnus and Kappa Cygni NCG 6798 was an easy pick out. A small elongated galaxy I was back to familiar territory of the aperture. Moving back towards Sadr I viewed  UGC 11465 before the blinking planetary nebula graced the eyepiece.

 NGC 6826 The blinking planetary Nebula was nice and bright with a blue hue to it. A few blinks later and I was off onto a different part of the sky.

 I settled in Pegasus and the familiar NGC 7331. I've viewed this a fair few times and could pick out 3 of the other galaxies nearby NGC 7340, 7335 and 7337 but missed the fourth which I have noted before. Moving onto Stephans Quintet which had been a discussion during the rainy days. I hoovered up all 5 after some eye strain and Steve grabbed a view actually pulling them out faster than I did.

 The other side of peg and onto Andromeda. NGC 891 was large and the dark 3d dust lane was there. Nice but not quite zinging.

 The blue snowball NGC 7662 was probably one of the best sights of the night with it's bright blue and inner structure visible.

 Pushing the scope on I landed it in Draco to look for ARP30. Hopping from Theta Draconis I quickly picked out NGC 6095 an easy magnitude 12.6 face on spiral galaxy.Next and onto two more galaxies NGC 6223 and 6224. I missed quite a few others as they were not marked on my star chart but plenty to see even with the poor transparency.I chalked a few more but never did spot ARP 30?

 I headed for the cats eye nebula whilst up here and hopped off Chi Draconis finding the galaxies NGC 6651, 6689,  and the pairing of 6621 and 6622 on the way which I could just make out the strange shape of.The cats eye neb NGC 6543 was a nice sight and I changed to the 8mmE for a better look. The outer shell around the inner star looked good and I thought I caught a hint of blue but not as good as previous sightings.

 With my feet aching I walked over and spent 10 mins with Estwing looking at the Orion Nebula and also the HH. Orion was nice although no hint of any colour other than the usual turquoise and the trapezium E and F stars were quite difficult in the breeze to pull out. The HH was really poor compared to how I saw it at Galloway but at least it was there un-stabled!

 We spent a bit of time trying for the Cone neb NGC2264 as Monocerus rose. No luck so we had a look at the rosette nebula which seemed to stretch on forever.

 During the night we had quite a few meteors and a couple of fireballs grace the session. Think Steve caught the best views as me and Calv had our heads down a lot of the time.

 It was by this time just gone 4am and the temperature was still in double figures. Steve had retired to the lounge so we decided to call it a night and with the weather looking inclement again both scope's were stripped and put away.

 We finally turned in around 5am after a few drinks and target discussions.

 Cheers guys another good, if not quite a perfect night of viewing.

Edited by mapstar
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:thumbright: Ace report Damo.

Best view of the quintet i've had  mate :) (I need to get to get out to dark skies more :D ) 

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9 minutes ago, swamp thing said:

:thumbright: Ace report Damo.

Best view of the quintet i've had  mate :) (I need to get to get out to dark skies more :D ) 

Cheers buddy was worth the trip

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A lovely detailed report mate, yes it wasn't the best night we've had but it was at least a night under the treasures of a true dark sky....pity it wasn't an ARP night but here's to more all-nighters with good company.

Clear skies and many thanks to you and Steve for a great week.

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32 minutes ago, swamp thing said:

(I need to get to get out to dark skies more :D ) 

Not on your own there mate

5 minutes ago, estwing said:

Clear skies and many thanks to you and Steve for a great week.

Was a pleasure 👍

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Very nice report - thank you.

You guys have spurred my interest in the crescent nebula even more. I’m getting a 16 inch dob shortly so am looking forward to giving this object more time with both normal glass and NV.

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Hi Damian, again you make the  reader feel as though they were viewing the skies with you!

I feel a book coming on 😀 ,keep up the commentary  ,it`s always an interesting read,

Regards

Mike

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Great report Damian apart from the Orion Nebula I dont think I could catch any of them with my pea shooters. 

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8 hours ago, GavStar said:

Very nice report - thank you.

You guys have spurred my interest in the crescent nebula even more. I’m getting a 16 inch dob shortly so am looking forward to giving this object more time with both normal glass and NV.

Good to hear..in good dark skies that bucket will soon be full of photons...I recommend you get the secret deep and hidden treasures books by O'meara, great books.

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Thanks all. 

Always a pleasure to get out and share the experience. 

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