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Geoff Barnes

As Good As It Gets!

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Oh golly! How i wish you all could have been with me last night!

It had been a warm summer day, clear and calm, and I was a bit concerned the seeing might be a bit wobbly, but as the twilight darkened and the first bright stars started appearing I could already tell there was no twinkling at all. Sure enough, as the sky filled with more and more stars they were all rock steady, even Sirius.

With gems like Orion, the Pleiades and Hyades coming into my view for the first time since getting my SW 12 inch Dob I was so excited to have the chance to put it through its paces in conditions better than I've ever had before.

I started with the Baader 8-24 zoom as I usually do and went straight to the Pleiades at 24mm. Sparkling white diamonds against utter blackness, with their faint nebulous gas clouds clearly there, but alas only half of them, I really do need a much wider angle EP for such a target, but that's for another topic.

Orion was now appearing above the trees to my northeast and the Great Nebula was quite a sight just with naked eyes! I swung the Dob up and over to The Hunter and WOW! No filter needed, the gas cloud was there, bright and clear. Even at 24mm I could easily see A,B,C,and D of the Trapezum in the centre. I knew from many reports on SGL that the E and F stars were a challenge so in I zoomed up to the 8mm max of the Baader (187x). Really? Elusive? E and F were so easily visible I wondered what all the fuss was about! This was the confirmation I needed that I was experiencing remarkable seeing tonight. I decided to put on my Astronomik UHC filter to see what difference it made, but apart from slight hints of colour I felt I really preferred the brighter, sharper image without.

Okay, if the seeing is this good I thought to myself, let's try another stiff challenge - Sirius B. Over to the Dog Star now also up above the tree tops and zoom up to 8mm again. Oooh, too bright! Like someone shining a torch in my eyes, I felt I needed a moon filter to dim it a bit. Anyway, I found by squinting a bit and with a bit of averted viewing I could tone down its brightness enough to enable me to see it more easily, and there it was, fractionally above at about 11 o'clock - Sirius B. I checked with my SkySafari app on my phone which confirmed it. Amazing!

I must have spent about an hour switching between all the above mentioned targets (whilst applying liberal amounts of mozzie repellant, as they were out in force tonight!).

By now some of the jewels in the lower southern sky were beginning to come into view above the trees, some of which I had not seen before. The Large Magellanic Cloud, was now clearly visible by eye as a large roundish grey smudge,so I spent some time investigating its goodies, the Tarantula Nebula being the standout. A spooky thing and aptly named with its many arms sprawling out from its centre. I tried it with the UHC filter which showed a bit more colour, but again I preferred the brighter, sharper view without, the seeing was so astonishingly good I was seeing things that should normally need a filter!

I did a quick shift over to the east of the LMC to have a look at 47 Tucana, an old friend I'd seen many times before, but such a great sight. The second biggest, brightest globular cluster in the sky after Omega Centauri, I actuallly prefer it, it has a brighter core and its outer stars seem more distinct, Omega Centauri if anything has just too many stars to take in I find.

Early hours of the morning now and just as I was thinking of going to bed, lo and behold, what is that glowing in the southeast just clearing the trees? Yes, the Carina Nebula! I've never been able to see it because of those trees, and here it comes! Had to shift the Dob over to the far side of the lawn to see it above the trees, but oh boy what a gorgeous thing! So much to see, so much going on I felt I would need to stay up all night to take it all in. Swirls and whirls, globular clusters and inky black clouds, it really is Orion Nebula on steroids!

I knew this was the best viewing I was ever going to have from my own back yard, it was just extraordinary, as if there was no atmosphere at all to get in the way. I really felt reluctant to leave but my eyes were exhausted and so was I. I finally just stepped back from the scope and looked up, and took it all in, it was a warm summer night, but it gave me shivers just just to see it all so clear and so bright.

Sorry to ramble on so long, hope some of you got through it all, it was just the best. ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nice write-up. The buzz never fades...every time you point your scope up toward the sky, it's there, awaiting you. 

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Great report Geoff !

Made me wish I was back in Oz - it's been mostly cloudy and miserable since we got back.

Your 12" is on song and doing what the aperture was made for by the sound of it. Well done on E & F trap and Sirius B.

I wish I'd been able to view 47 Tucanae with your scope - it was great with the 8x56 binoculars that I had and naked eye visible from the darker spots but the big aperture must make it a truly stunning sight.

Keep on sending those reports back - I'm saving up for our next trip ! :grin:

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Excellent report Geoff. Your enthusiasm is infectious. I wish I was there, it sounds fantastic. I was attempting to get frost bite last night observing in at -4°C.

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Wonderful report Geoff. reading of others enjoyment is the next best thing to observing ones self.
Good luck and look forward to your next report.

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Great report, Geoff! Would love to see those Southern Hemisphere targets! Your excitement is truly infectious!

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I certainly did make it all the way through; very enjoyable report of what sounds like an amazing night!

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Great report!

Next time out I'd be trying that new 32mm eyepiece with your UHC on the Horse Head nebula-its going to work. The nice Baader zoom will show you the next door Flame neb nicely with no filter, segments and all.  Tell us what you see with the 32mm plossl pointed between Merope and Alcyone....

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2 hours ago, jetstream said:

Great report!

Next time out I'd be trying that new 32mm eyepiece with your UHC on the Horse Head nebula-its going to work. The nice Baader zoom will show you the next door Flame neb nicely with no filter, segments and all.  Tell us what you see with the 32mm plossl pointed between Merope and Alcyone....

I didn't bother searching for the Horsey as I thought it was only visible with an H-Beta filter. You think I'll see it just with the UHC?

I may have to wait quite some time for such amazingly clear skies again too!

Edited by Geoff Barnes

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Great report Geoff , Sirrus B withinn the first attempt!!

Great job on the E and F too.

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9 hours ago, Geoff Barnes said:

I didn't bother searching for the Horsey as I thought it was only visible with an H-Beta filter. You think I'll see it just with the UHC?

I may have to wait quite some time for such amazingly clear skies again too!

If your skies are dark, 21mag+ and transpsarent you definitely have a chance with your UHC- which one is it- the UHC or UHC-E? Your 12" f5 has enough focal length and eye illumination with the 32mm plossl (and the 24mm zoom setting, maybe) to see it. Try the neb its in-IC434 first and then look for the notch. As a test of skies try the Flame no filter with the Baader zoom, in your scope it will have 2 segmented tracks with a bridge across the top. If the Flame doesn't show  well the HH is out in my experience.

Eagerly waiting reports!

 

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I'm being spoiled, the seeing was superb again tonight, much cooler than the other night and the transparency maybe just a tad poorer with occasional twinkling of stars but much better than usual.

Well I focussed on Alnitak and could clearly see it was surrounded by pale grey fuzziness and then moved it over to the field stop to counter the star's brightness.

With the Baader set at 24mm and the Astronomic UHC attached I spent at least 15 minutes searching intensely the area just above it (Orion is uppside down here).

I looked and I looked but.no luck, couldn't see any sign of the Flame Nebula. I tried to convince myself that I was seeing something there but I really wasn't. 

It is probable that my skies are just not quite dark enough here but it may also be that I would have seen it with an H-Beta filter in place. 

Anyway, I took advantage of the conditions to have another superb session revisiting all those gems I saw the other night, and went to bed happy! 

Edited by Geoff Barnes
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1 hour ago, Geoff Barnes said:

I'm being spoiled, the seeing was superb again tonight, much cooler than the other night and the transparency maybe just a tad poorer with occasional twinkling of stars but much better than usual.

Well I focussed on Alnitak and could clearly see it was surrounded by pale grey fuzziness and then moved it over to the field stop to counter the star's brightness.

With the Baader set at 24mm and the Astronomic UHC attached I spent at least 15 minutes searching intensely the area just above it (Orion is uppside down here).

I looked and I looked but.no luck, couldn't see any sign of the Flame Nebula. I tried to convince myself that I was seeing something there but I really wasn't. 

It is probable that my skies are just not quite dark enough here but it may also be that I would have seen it with an H-Beta filter in place. 

Anyway, I took advantage of the conditions to have another superb session revisiting all those gems I saw the other night, and went to bed happy! 

I did some testing of the Flame Nebula with various filters recently. It’s best with no filter as it’s a reflection nebula. It can be seen with a UHC filter though. IC434 and the Horsehead normally require an H-Beta or UHC filter although with sufficiently dark and transparent skies it can be seen without a filter. I’ve only manage to see it once with an H-Beta filter though. 

 

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I've just been studying this wonderful YT video in the hope that next time I'm able to find the elusive Horsehead, or at least be looking in the right zone.
 

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