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Marvin Jenkins

Messier madness

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Last night was incredible, the conditions really good. I always know I am in for a treat when I can see the Pyrenees late afternoon some 150kms away. I decided to do some research early evening instead of just getting out there, setting up, and casting around, then scratching my head to work out what I am looking at.

The other thing, like many of us is work pressure, so a midnight cut off is sadly normal for me. Plus the moon rise middle in the night, so I thought that would be perfect. I cannot tell you how much that prep made a difference. Spent an hour on Stellarium and SN7 to single out target constellations best placed for viewing from my position. I then looked up all the Messier objects in the chosen nine constellations.

Scutum, Ophiuchus, Serpens, Sagittarius, Aquarius, Vulpecula, Sagitta, Cygnus and Lyra. Turns out there were 22 M's in those constellations that I have not yet seen! Made a list, tucked it in my Messier list folder, packed all the gear onto my carp barrow and walked to the top field.

Now I have to say that I had not seriously thought about looking at all of them as I am quite realistic. Six to seven would have made my night as I am not the kind of person who's rushing to 'complete the list' without taking it all in, but like I said last night was amazing.

I am currently using an Orion ST 130 newt on an neq5 synscan goto V5. Big downside to this scope is the focuser which should never be fitted to anything unless the thing is to thrown in the bin. I just installed an SW PDS 2inch focuser to this little tube and the difference is...... Stellar. I am going to post a thread with pictures in DIY astronomy heading once the weather turns cloudy. So here goes, everyone of them in 2 hours! with my small notes, and all for the first time.

M11 Scutum, Wild duck cluster. Noticeable single bright star in the center. Higher magnification, appears to be offset to one side.

M26 Scutum, Open cluster. Very open, small group of perhaps 5-6 stars grouping in the center.

M14 Ophi, Glob cl. Strange looking, very opaque, like a distant diffuse galaxy.

M10 Ophi, Glob cl. Diffuse, but more compact and a little tighter, brighter, can just recognize it is a cluster.

M9 Ophi, Glob cl. Very small faint glob, without knowing it could have been a planetary nebula.

M107 Ophi, Glob cl. So faint I can barely see it, without goto impossible at my aperture.

M16 Serpens, Eagle Nebular, Cluster + Nebulosity. Can see an open cluster, two bright white stars in the center, no nebulosity. (disappointed)

M17 Sagittarius, Omega Nebula. WOW, looks like a diffuse edge on galaxy with a bulging core, big and bright.

M18 Sagittarius, Open cluster, Black swan. To my eye it is so open as to appear as a star field.

M25 Sagittarius, Open cluster, My notes say.... Open cluster for sure.... obviously not impressed at the time!

M24 Sagittarius, Open cluster + Nebulosity. No wonder this is given special mention, richest bit of sky I have ever seen.

M23 Sagittarius, Open cluster. The most perfect OC I have yet seen, really set off by a dark surrounding.

M8 Sagittarius, Cluster + Nebulosity. Sublime star cluster, two bright stars of equal magnitude and equal distance either side of the central point. Right star has a large patch of nebulosity next to it.

M22 Sagittarius, Globular cluster. Now that's what I call a glob! Not diffuse or distant, I can really see it is made of stars.

M2 Aquarius, Glob cl. One of the smallest, tightest, faintest globs I have ever seen. Surrounded by dark sky, it has to be a prime target for photography.

M27 Vulpecular, Planetary Nebula, Dumbell Neb. I have marked this as one of the main targets, didn't disappoint. I can make out the shape, surprised how big it is, quite bright too. Must have been some bang!

M71 Sagitta, Globular Cluster.Very small and diffuse amongst a dense starry background.

M39 Cygnus, Open Cluster. Just looks like a lot of stars.

M29 Cygnus, Open Cluster. Ditto.

M56 Lyra, Globular Cluster. Very tiny, can't really much of it.

M57 Lyra, Planetary Nebular. I love Plan Nebs, weird little cotton balls in space. Rather taken by these strange 'odd ones out' of the starry sky.

Totally incredible and I couldn't sleep after, so I was wrecked for work this morning anyway. Should have continued for another hour. Going out again tonight for another session with planning, but this time I am going to slow down and enjoy the view. I hope thousands more of you will be doing the same.

Marvin 

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Great report, that's a good haul of targets!

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Fantastic Marvin, what an excellent night! I love that area of sky, just so much to see and so many wonderful target! Thanks for the report, a really good reward for all your preparation!

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Thanks everyone, the carp barrow is loaded and I have a much smaller list this time. About 8 M’s and four NGC’s. Calm down and breath.

The sun is down and the light is failing. Almost time to move out.

Good luck and good seeing everyone. I will post again tomorrow, probably with questions as the nebulae viewing for me is a bit hit or miss.

Marvin 

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From the sublime to the ridiculous. Two nights of polar alignment woes. Swear I am not doing anything different but when it comes to three star alignment the mount is more than a constellation away from chosen target.

Pay back for 22 Messiers in one night. I am going to do a day time calibration of the polar scope and whole set up then run through all the synscan info to see if I am imputing something wrong.

Two great nights missed. I can’t be the only person who has stood in the dark and argued and shouted at an eq.

Hopefully back in the hunt tonight.

M

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38 minutes ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

Two great nights missed. I can’t be the only person who has stood in the dark and argued and shouted at an eq.

Nope. Been there, done that! 😥😥🤣🤣

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Fantastic session.  I've always been of the mind to not go down the GOTO route.... But when you realise the progress you can make and the great objects you can view ...it's definitely something that could change peoples minds - including mine!

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Goto opened my head and played with my grey matter. I know that to the purist, I could have found all these from setting circles and I can’t disagree.

The problem I find myself in, is that with cheap kit the setting circle method was useless even with lots of knowledge. At the beginning I had no idea about the night sky so team them up and you have stupid combined with uneducated.

Goto solved one of these points (probably still stupid) Now I can’t make it work I am back to square one. Tomorrow a full shake down of the whole set up..... probably find I am imputing the day month year rather than month day year. If I get to the bottom of it I will post it on here no matter how embarrassing.

Marvin  

 

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I'm not sure there's any such thing as a "purist", though I'd not bother with the setting circles on most mounts...

I found all the Messier objects by star-hopping, but it was a lot of work for some of them.  There were nights when I knew I'd seen "something", but was it actually what I was looking for?  It might take several attempts over a few weeks to be sure, given the varying conditions.  It's a different mind-set, rewarding and frustrating probably in equal measure.  I don't begrudge anyone who just wants to hit the buttons on a handset and spend the time observing.  Do what makes you happy.

James

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