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Littleguy80

The joy of widefield

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Weather and tiredness have pushed astronomy to the side for me recently. The last two nights I put the dob outside to cool and was then too tired to do any observing. The arrival of a new eyepiece today gave me the extra little push I needed. I've been looking for something in 40mm focal length region and decided to go for a 40mm Aero, which came up secondhand this week for a shade under £50. With my Equinox 80 refractor it gives 12.5x magnification and a huge 5.4 degrees TFOV. My skies at home are around 5 - 5.5 NELM so I wasn't too sure how well the 6.4mm exit pupil was going to work.

I started in Cassiopeia, using the red dot finder to align on Ruchbah. The hazy glow of NGC663 was immediately obvious and I soon realised that I had a clear view of M103 too. I have 10x50 binoculars and the views were not dissimilar. It was much nicer with the steady view through the refractor and without my arms getting tired from holding the binoculars. Panning over, I next found the delightful NGC457. From there I went to the double cluster in Perseus. Whilst the lower power widefield lost much of the detail I'm used to in the dob, it added so much context to the view. I really enjoyed seeing the way these clusters fitted in the wider star fields. Nothing exemplified this better than Kemble's Cascade. The fine chain of stairs sparkling all the way down to the tiny cluster, NGC1502.

Open clusters were a winner but what about galaxies? Andromeda was the obvious first choice and the bright core showed well. With some careful study and verification with SkySafari, I also picked up M32. I looked for M110 but I didn't see anything definite for this. I felt very confident that this would show well at my dark site though. Over to Ursa Major and the pairing of M81 and M82. Bode's showed quite well straight away but the Cigar took more patience. Averted vision was able to bring out the side on galaxy. 

The Moon was rising so I looked for areas of the sky that weren't yet showing signs of Moon glow. In Lyra, I place Sheliak and Sulafat in the centre of the eyepiece. I thought I was pushing my luck trying for M57 but there was a distinctly fuzzy looking star in the right place. SkySafari was again used to confirm the observation. The Ring became the first planetary nebula of the night. I screwed in the Lumicon OIII filter and moved over to Cygnus. The faint Eastern Veil was the first thing to catch my eye, soon followed by the Western Veil. Both faint but clear with direct vision, comfortably sitting in the same field of view. The North American Nebula, required a bit of time to become clear. Over the course of 5 minutes it noticeably gained in prominence as my eyes adapted to the view. I took a punt at moving over to the Crescent nebula. A nebulous glow grabbed my attention straight away. SkySafari proving that my eye had successfully detected the nebula.

With the OIII filter now removed, I gave a little chuckle of delight as I looked upon the pinpoint stars of M29. There was something so lovely about recognising the little cluster. The larger cluster of M39 was like an arrow head within the larger star field of the Milky Way. Albireo was quite a close double star at 12.5x mag and every bit as pretty. The coathanger hung in the sky and made a fun diversion on the way to finding M27. The dumbbell was easy to spot. My evening drew to a close with an averted vision observation of M71. It was fun to be eeking out views of these bright Messiers at low power. Normally easy targets made challenging.

All in all, I'm very please with the 40mm Aero. It's a great pairing with my refractor and really opened up the skies for some fun and engaging observing. 21 objects observed in just under an hour. If I'd lost any enthusiasm for stargazing these past couple of weeks then it's now been fully restored!

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Cracking report mate glad you're back in the saddle....Galloway for part of the mob end of this month...hoping for lots of reporting!!..clear skies!

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Nice!!

Along time ago I had an 80F5 with a 32m plossl. This summer I picked up a 30mm wide field for an 100F7 and had so much fun that it reminded me why I always had fond memories of the 80F5. Wide field is can be such a joy and really can be a inexpensive way to enjoy the night sky. Everybody should just do this from time to time it's so relaxing and entertaining. 

Kevin.

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Good session Neil and good effort getting out when feeling a bit fatigued. I noticed that wide field ep on AB&S good to learn that you got it. A positive initial session, very interested to hear how you get on when at a darker location and also to fully apply that 6.4mm exit pupil.   

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1 hour ago, scarp15 said:

Good session Neil and good effort getting out when feeling a bit fatigued. I noticed that wide field ep on AB&S good to learn that you got it. A positive initial session, very interested to hear how you get on when at a darker location and also to fully apply that 6.4mm exit pupil.   

Thanks Iain. I’m very pleased to have good results from a budget EP. Very much looking forward to getting it under dark skies. Those star fields should be even more impressive. I also plan to try it with an H-Beta on the California Nebula 

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Great report, I'm with you on the weather and tiredness front. I've skipped many opportunities recently as it takes too long to catch up if I let myself get too short on sleep.

It's been small scope grab and go only for a while but I've been enjoying it a lot.

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4 minutes ago, Paz said:

Great report, I'm with you on the weather and tiredness front. I've skipped many opportunities recently as it takes too long to catch up if I let myself get too short on sleep.

It's been small scope grab and go only for a while but I've been enjoying it a lot.

Thanks Paz. I’m normally pretty good about getting out but work has been super busy lately. I’ve only had my little frac since May but it’s been fab for getting out for quick sessions.  

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Great report. I don't have a 40mm but my 30mm Aero gets the most use of all my eyepieces. It always makes me want to try the Bubble Nebula with it but I don't think I have the aperture to see it.

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2 hours ago, domstar said:

Great report. I don't have a 40mm but my 30mm Aero gets the most use of all my eyepieces. It always makes me want to try the Bubble Nebula with it but I don't think I have the aperture to see it.

Thanks Dom. I think the Bubble Nebula is particularly tough but you never know unless you try. There’s a lot of things that I’ve managed to see that I never thought I’d be able to. 

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Nice one Neil and great to be out again.

Galloway for possibly 10 nights and fingers crossed lots of memorable star hopping sessions. 

Looking forward to some very nice views and lots of galaxies :icon_biggrin:

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Brilliant report just shows you dont need high mag to see so many beautiful objects.

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4 hours ago, mapstar said:

Nice one Neil and great to be out again.

Galloway for possibly 10 nights and fingers crossed lots of memorable star hopping sessions. 

Looking forward to some very nice views and lots of galaxies :icon_biggrin:

Thanks Damian. Wow 10 nights! Have an awesome time. Looking forward to your report :) 

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2 hours ago, wookie1965 said:

Brilliant report just shows you dont need high mag to see so many beautiful objects.

Thanks Paul. I was really impressed with just how much could be seen. Lots of fun with a small scope and a single eyepiece!

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Something about widefield views.
Low power can be a very relaxing way to track your way around the sky.
I think that is why I always like 150mm f5 Newtonians.

Edited by Alan White
typos of course
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