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Ships and Stars

Aperture rocks! A highly memorable observing 'blurb' through a Stargate 500p 20" dob.

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

Last night was the best night of astronomy I've had in my short time delving into this passion. It was simply incredible. Fortunately my dear friends the midgies have departed Scotland for another season. This means I can now stand at the scope without ingesting a lungful of tiny biting insects and concentrate on what I am observing. Always a plus!

Two nights ago I went to my local dark spot with my 200p SW reflector. It was wonderful. LP map shows Bortle 4, but I would actually say it was a 3 or possibly a 'bright 2' when the lights go down a bit in the wee hours.

Last night, I took the 20" dob and parked up. I am finding it easier and easier to move this beast around, but it's still a little bit of work to set up at the end of the day (literally). It can't all be so easy!

I'm fairly new to astronomy and my scopes haven't seen a huge amount of use. After several failed attempts to get the GOTO working, I finally sussed it last night. It was just a few simple things really - small errors on my part such as a misplaced washer which blocked the azimuth from using its full range of motion, combined with a limited view at home which prevented me from doing a successful align. A huge relief to get the GOTO up and running, but I now feel a bit like I'm cheating!

I don't feel guilty enough to not use the GOTO however😁 Frankly, it's brilliant and was putting objects bang in the centre of the EP.

I arrived about 6pm yesterday so plenty of time to set up. I left my counterweights at home and thus ended up strapping a small vinyl bag of tools and tyre jack to the underside of the mirror box with a tie-down. Worked really well actually! Can fine tune by removing a spanner or two.

A few drops of rain blew through just before dusk but then rapidly cleared off, so all systems go.

I tripped over the power cord after my first successful align. And then did it again a minute later after my second align! Will need to tidy that arrangement up or put some of my glow tape on the cable. Plenty of practice then doing an alignment, haha.

M57 Ring Nebula for starters, I've been playing with my Baader 36mm aspheric quite a lot lately, I like the wide views. The Ring was fairly small through the 36mm but bright and crisply defined with an apparent faint blue tint. I then swapped to the 21mm Ethos and OIII which stayed in the focuser most of the night. 

Next stop was NGC6960, Western Veil Nebula or 'Witch's Broom Nebula' which was mind-blowing. It appeared as a silvery apparition which threaded right across the sky and extended well past the FOV from the 21mm Ethos. Scanning along its wispy tentacles was amazing. There's something unnerving about viewing it, it gives me goose-pimples, just otherworldly. The Eastern Veil and Pickering's Triangle in the central area were also clearly prominent, albeit slightly less luminous than 6960. The Veil was also clearly visible without the OIII, but with much more 'background noise', i.e. stars competing for attention.

Following this, I slewed over to the Cocoon Nebula, but only saw a very dark lane practically void of stars. That was interesting in itself as it was so apparent by virtue of its darkness.. I don't know if I bumped the scope alignment of if I was just too impatient to punch another object in to the handset, but didn't spend a huge amount of time chasing it. In hindsight, I think I slewed to the wrong end of the dark lane. I'll find it next go.

I then lined up on the Crescent Nebula which was easily visible, lots of fine filamentary details observable after some time studying it. A beauty.

Next was Dumbbell Nebula which practically looked 3D through the big dob, just jumped right out at me. Another simply amazing sight. I spent quite a long time staring at it and could easily see the entire shape and structure extending from the 'Apple Core'. I remarked last night it looked like it was hanging inches in front of the scope. That's sheer aperture working I suppose!

At the end, I spent some time just slewing around and having a mesmerising look across the sky, just taking in the depth and variable magnitude of stars that a big scope can display. I was already running on three hours' sleep from the previous night and by this time, I was starting to crash but was on a natural high. I crashed into the bed happily.

Can't wait for another clear night with the big dob. I was a bit worried a few weeks ago that I'd bought something I didn't have the time or skill to fully appreciate, but getting the GOTO up and running and being able to rapidly slew to various objects really put things into perspective. My 200p is a wonderful, portable scope, but in comparison, 20" of aperture is simply a completely different level. It is like the difference between a small grainy 640px video and high definition 4k with the brightness cranked right up.

Tonight I shall stay in, sleep well and dream about how much discarded glass is needed to cast a 36" mirror blank and how many years it would take me to figure it...

 

Clear skies all

 

 

 

 

IMG_20191002_194742888_2-1600x1200.jpg

Edited by Ships and Stars
another typo
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A great night by the sounds of it, we need to make the most of them, guess they're even rarer in Scotland.

Managed a few hours imaging down in the LP south after beating the rig into submission 😂

Dave

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Sounds like a good viewing session - makes me need to get to a dark sky location asap with by 14" dob

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18 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

A great night by the sounds of it, we need to make the most of them, guess they're even rarer in Scotland.

Managed a few hours imaging down in the LP south after beating the rig into submission 😂

Dave

I'm planning on making some detailed notes this season on LP. It's quite bright next door at a local business. I'm trying to talk them into installing motion sensors when the have a major refurb in December. For now I hang a small cardboard blind on the gutter next to the closest light. It makes quite a difference! A very cold and crisp winter night in the Cairngorms under low bottle 2 should be a cracker, can't wait but we don't get too many! I'd like to try imaging with my eq5 and 130PDS but that's a bit step up for this impatient observer, ha.

23 minutes ago, PaulM said:

Sounds like a good viewing session - makes me need to get to a dark sky location asap with by 14" dob

I'd be interested to know how a 14" does, I bet it's pretty good! I reckon viewing from a proper dark site really opens things up. I'm going to compare visual this winter from town, just outside town and my best spot in the Cairngorms and see how big the differences are.

Cheers all! Clear skies.

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Excellent report. I enjoyed reading it despite the pangs of jealousy.

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Great News on getting the whole setup - up and running - Ive been looking out for a good report on this since you picked this beast up back in the summer.  It does sound like a bit of an effort - but the results seem to make it more than worthwhile....

Mark

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1 hour ago, domstar said:

Excellent report. I enjoyed reading it despite the pangs of jealousy.

Thanks, it was a great evening. Getting some darker skies out of town makes a smaller scope seem much larger as well. I would have been happy using the 200p as well.

 

28 minutes ago, mark81 said:

Great News on getting the whole setup - up and running - Ive been looking out for a good report on this since you picked this beast up back in the summer.  It does sound like a bit of an effort - but the results seem to make it more than worthwhile....

Mark

Thanks Mark - it's been a long road and time is limited. I'll probably be in a bit of hot water tonight for staying out past two days! I can set the scope up quite quickly now, even seems to hold collimation after reassembly. It's a great scope!

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3 hours ago, Ships and Stars said:

I'm planning on making some detailed notes this season on LP.

Looking forward to your report!

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Amazing! Sounds like an absolutely fantastic night!

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Nice report. Nothing beats a big dob under decent skies. Worth all the hassles with setting up, using a ladder, small field of view etc. Just being out visual only, the right thyme and plaice (thanks, Peter!) - enjoy your great lifetime scope, and keep on posting!

Stephan

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That kinda report makes people reach for their wallet!  Stunning isn't it?...that 21mm ethos was made for big mirrors...when teamed with a 20" mirror under dark skies it is quite simply one of the best moments in observing.....targets are better than photography ...no picture can give you the depth and 3d look that the 21 gives you...incredible. 

Just put a cushion on the floor when you swing it on M42 later in the year...

Fantastic night and a wonderful report. 

Clear skies...oh and welcome to the dob mob.

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15 hours ago, Ships and Stars said:

The Veil was also clearly visible without the OIII, but with much more 'background noise', i.e. stars competing for attention.

This is a VG sign, and seeing it no filter is a great bonus.

Congrats for a great night with the 20"!

Try that scope on IC1318 near Sadr.....

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Thanks everyone. I'll add IC1318 to the next list. (rubs hands). I'm already looking for new targets as the autumn moves into winter. We have decent seeing at least a couple of days every few weeks here in the NE, we are in a bit of a 'rain shadow' courtesy of the Cairngorms which blocks some rain and cloud from advancing eastwards over us.

Orion Nebula should be something else. I'll also pick up an Hbeta filter for the Horse Head, has to be done (or attempted anyway). 

When it gets colder conditions should basically improve even more (less humidity I think) and hoping to get back to the Bortle 2 site in the Cairngorms for a night like I had back in February, the sky was just unreal. 

I guess I'm unofficially in the dobmob now?? Very cool! I love my dob!

The 21mm Ethos certainly came into it's own, especially with the OIII. I am also looking for a 2" filter that allows slightly more light in, perhaps some type of UHC.

Can't wait for the next bash! 

Clear skies all

 

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Great report and terrific scope, the dark lane leading to the Cocoon will be B168 The Dark Cigar, the Cocoon is quite a challenge though. As you mention include a good quality H-beta and also include a UHC filter. Lots to look forward to this winter, the Flaming star in Auriga, The California and so on. Just out of interest, I know the Cairngorms quite well, roughly which part do you head to?  

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I have the Astronomik UHC 2"...highly recommended. 

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52 minutes ago, scarp15 said:

Great report and terrific scope, the dark lane leading to the Cocoon will be B168 The Dark Cigar, the Cocoon is quite a challenge though. As you mention include a good quality H-beta and also include a UHC filter. Lots to look forward to this winter, the Flaming star in Auriga, The California and so on. Just out of interest, I know the Cairngorms quite well, roughly which part do you head to?  

Thanks Iain, definitely had the Dark Cigar, didn't spend a lot of time looking for the Cocoon, but now you say it's a challenge, I will definitely try again! The A93 between Spittal of Glenshee and heading north towards Braemar is all quite dark, a solid Bortle 2. There are some large laybys and parking areas a few miles south of Braemar, that's pretty good but random headlights can be annoying as traffic passes. There are some spots off the road a bit more though which shield most of it. Heading up and over the Lecht there are also some good parking places. Just anywhere in the Cairngorms really you can find a decent layby, especially some of the smaller side tracks with little to no traffic. The eastern glens are good too near Tarfside and Glen Doll/Glen Clova and also Glen Lethnot. I've never had anyone bother me and not parked illegally, that is to say too far off the road to constitute trespassing in a motor vehicle under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (10m I think). There are dozens of places spoiled for choice up here. West coast is darker, but that's quite a long journey for me through Inverness. Towards Ullapool I bet is incredible. 

11 minutes ago, estwing said:

I have the Astronomik UHC 2"...highly recommended. 

Thank you, I have the Astronomik OIII I picked up second hand but like new, it seems quite good. Just thinking something a bit less restrictive on light transmission might allow me to see more details. 

I really appreciate everyone's comments, especially tips for what to see with a larger scope, it's taken me a while to get to this point but worth it. Work has slowed down a bit now so I'm glad I went for the big dob in the spring and some nice eyepieces over the summer (all bought second-hand but basically as new or excellent condition) when things were busy because I wouldn't have been able to buy another one now!

Hopefully back out in the next week or two for some more amazing views and will try from home to see what impact LP is really playing now I have a baseline idea to compare with.

Clear skies all 👍

 

 

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A magnificent read Mr Stars, including the minor misshaps! Your enthusiasm really jumps out of the page.

It must be great having a local dark spot like that. I'd probably need to start wearing a monocle and disappear into the wilderness! 😉

 

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9 hours ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

A magnificent read Mr Stars, including the minor misshaps! Your enthusiasm really jumps out of the page.

It must be great having a local dark spot like that. I'd probably need to start wearing a monocle and disappear into the wilderness! 😉

 

Thanks very much! I'd been waiting and struggling to get the time for a night like that for quite a while. It was excellent, though I wish I'd had a little more sleep the night before so I could have stayed awake up a bit longer, but not an official complaint, mind! The dark sky spot isn't too far away, quite a few trees on one part of the horizon, but no traffic at night and off the main road.

Under a mile of cloud and near-torrential rain today like much of the UK, hope everyone's high and dry.

Looking to clear this evening here amazingly. I'll believe it when I see it.

Can't wait for another good night with the big dob. Now I have the GOTO up and running I'll plan my targets a bit better. Cocoon Nebula is on the list as I hear it's a bit challenging.

Clear skies all (eventually!) 

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Nice report. Glad you got to see some good suff. I’m back at SGL starparty in November at Lucksall, so plan to scoop up more faint fuzzies with my Skywatcher Explorer 250P-DS I bought off Pitbull on here. Got some very nice views in my Bortle 8 skies, so can’t wait to see what it’ll pull out in the Bortle 3 skies at Lucksall. Saw the Veil last time I attended back in 2017 in my 8” SCT, so hoping to see much more with the extra 2” aperture, plus new stuff too, as long as the weather plays ball of course! :) 

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1 minute ago, Knighty2112 said:

Nice report. Glad you got to see some good suff. I’m back at SGL starparty in November at Lucksall, so plan to scoop up more faint fuzzies with my Skywatcher Explorer 250P-DS I bought off Pitbull on here. Got some very nice views in my Bortle 8 skies, so can’t wait to see what it’ll pull out in the Bortle 3 skies at Lucksall. Saw the Veil last time I attended back in 2017 in my 8” SCT, so hoping to see much more with the extra 2” aperture, plus new stuff too, as long as the weather plays ball of course! :) 

Thanks Gus. A 250p under darker skies should reveal quite a lot I'd think! The OIII filter makes a huge difference, want to try a UHC and test the difference. I wish I had the time to go to a Star Party, but they are all quite far away.  One of these days!

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Whilst the Imaging fraternity do get deserved accolades for their deep sky creations, observers should not feel in any way
left out. On the contrary, reports like the OP's are every bit as rewarding as looking at the splendour of  colourful  Deep Sky  objects.
Reading observing reports are just as exciting to us all I'm sure imaging reports , and they fit easily alongside our imaging colleagues work equally well.
Many thanks for your post SSC, It is a wonderful read, and we look forward toforum more from you.

There is a Dob Mob on our Forum' and they would love to have you join their happy band.
Best Wishes.
Ron.

 

 

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On 04/10/2019 at 16:55, Ships and Stars said:

Thanks Iain, definitely had the Dark Cigar, didn't spend a lot of time looking for the Cocoon, but now you say it's a challenge, I will definitely try again! The A93 between Spittal of Glenshee and heading north towards Braemar is all quite dark, a solid Bortle 2. There are some large laybys and parking areas a few miles south of Braemar, that's pretty good but random headlights can be annoying as traffic passes. There are some spots off the road a bit more though which shield most of it. Heading up and over the Lecht there are also some good parking places. Just anywhere in the Cairngorms really you can find a decent layby, especially some of the smaller side tracks with little to no traffic. The eastern glens are good too near Tarfside and Glen Doll/Glen Clova and also Glen Lethnot. I've never had anyone bother me and not parked illegally, that is to say too far off the road to constitute trespassing in a motor vehicle under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (10m I think). There are dozens of places spoiled for choice up here. West coast is darker, but that's quite a long journey for me through Inverness. Towards Ullapool I bet is incredible. 

 

Can quite understand that there will be numerous potential locations accessible within this magnificent landscape. Would you plan on wild camping or do you have a camper van? Winter ought bring some favourable arctic influenced conditions, a clear dark sky will be quite something. The Linn of Dee would perhaps be good to. The Cocoon is achievable with a H-beta or perhaps a UHC.

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