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GavStar

A trip to Argentina and Chile with night vision monoculars

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In July I went on a 8 day trip to Argentina and Chile to see the recent total solar eclipse with my dad. 

The eclipse was awesome with fantastic blue skies from our viewing location in Bella Vista in Argentina. Here’s a phone shot I did of the eclipse.

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However, this post is not about the eclipse. 

I’ve never observed the Southern Hemisphere night skies with a scope before, so I couldn’t resist also taking my 95mm Baader refractor with me. Coming from Europe my pvs-14 is also itar-free so I also took along my Photonis 4g intens with me.

Unfortunately due to the trip scheduling, there was only one night I was able to observe which was the night of the actual eclipse itself - this turned into quite a long day! The skies were very dark at this pretty remote location in Argentina but unfortunately the hotel lights were quite bright bringing the sqm reading down to around 21.

Initially I just scanned with Milky Way at 1x with the nv, both unfiltered and with my 5nm ha chroma filter. The Milky Way was just stunning unfiltered, with the heart of our galaxy directly overhead. The detail and contrast of the dark lanes with the white fluffy bits was something to behold. By a large margin the best views I’ve ever had of the MW. I also scanned with the ha filter attached and a little surprisingly for me, there wasn’t massive amounts of emission nebulae visible in the south. But what there was did rather stand out (in particular eta carinae, of which more later) as per this phone image I took at 1x mag.

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I then set up the 95mm Baader. I had limited time since it was getting late and I had to catch an early coach in the morning. Therefore I decided to focus on a couple of showcase objects.

First up, using the 41mm panoptic, 0.75x reducer and 5nm chroma ha filter was eta carinae itself. The fov was around 3.5 degrees with a magnification of 10x. The object just fit into the fov but wow the view was just filled with nebulosity - one of my very best night vision views I’ve had, surpassing the vast majority of northern sky emission nebulae. 

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Just above this was the so called ‘running chicken nebula’. Not as stunning or bright but still a lot of fun to observe. 

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I searched around for the LMC or SMC but unfortunately they were too low in the sky and obscured by some trees.

With it getting quite late, I went for my final showcase object, the Omega Centauri globular cluster. I decided to increase the magnification to 30x by using an 18.2mm delite (fov just over 1 degree). Even with the relatively low magnification, this globular looked incredible - like nothing else I have seen before. The eyepiece views were more impressive than the phone image since the core didn’t blow out. 

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Coincidentally when I got home I stumbled upon an image I took of m13 using the exact same setup of 95mm Baader, 18.2 delite and nv monoculars. The side by side comparison (see final image of m13) did make me gasp - I didn’t realise that omega centauri was so much bigger than m13. Just shows what us northerners are missing... 

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A great trip to see a fantastic total solar eclipse, topped off by a lovely few hours under the southern skies with nv. I don’t think I’m going to get another opportunity anytime soon but I certainly won’t forget the views I got.

Edited by GavStar
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Cracking report Gavin! That Eta Carinae image is amazing, must have been incredible to observe live.

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Nice one! I was in Bella Vista also for the eclipse but the best skies were from San Pedro de Atacama, were Omega Centauri and Eta Carina  through a 300 MM SCT were absolutely fantastic, so much detail never seen before.

 

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Amazing report, the Omega Centauri M13 comparison is hard to believe but there it is in black and white (literally). Which scope did you use?

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23 minutes ago, RobertI said:

Amazing report, the Omega Centauri M13 comparison is hard to believe but there it is in black and white (literally). Which scope did you use?

Robert, I used my 95mm Baader refractor. Since I was also taking my 60mm lunt in hand luggage that was enough for me to South America! 😀

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Wow Gavin - missed this thread earlier, and slightly regret having found it because I thought my views of M13 and M92 in Spain recently were pretty special. Omega Centauri is just spectacular, and like you I hadn’t realised how much a leap it represents over our relatively modest Northern Hemisphere globulars. I’ve come very close to seeing it in the past but have never taken a telescope quite far enough south. Agree that Delite 18.2 is superb for these objects with night vision. Great report.

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