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vineyard

A stint with the horse's head

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I completely lost track of how good the skies were last night until just checking SGL late at night to see multiple reports of people playing (thank you!).  A quick setup with an old Vixen 102mm SP achromat I just bought, to test it (and some EPs that came with it) out.  For an old lady, her optics were still brilliant.  She'd come with the green manually driven eq mount on alu tripod (so definitely undermounted - wooden legs needed).  The new old-EPs put through the works were a TV 40mm smoothie, 20mm Circle T erfle and 12mm Nag T2 (along with a 15mm Delite & 4mm Radian I already had for comp).  I also figured I'd test some filters (Baader Neodymium, Baader UHC L-booster, and an old Lumicon O-III).

A really wonderful stint of viewing.  My wife joined, and we started with the Pleiades, hopped across to Betelgeuse, before eventually ending up with the horsehead.  The scope disappeared looking at the Pleiades, the tripod didn't.  It was really nice star-hopping around, like on a space-walk.  My wife actually liked the TV40mm the most - both for its wider FOV and eye-relief (she uses glasses) - the closer in magnification didn't do much for her.

The 4mm was just too much magnification on Betelgeuse (especially on such an undermounted setup).

This was my first time with a Nagler and boy do you need to re-weight things.  I was most uncertain about the eye-relief, but actually it wasn't a problem at all (quite comfortable in fact) so now I know I can go down to 11mm ER :) .  Once tweaked, I can see what the attraction of the Naglers is - the FOV with the magnification.

The Baader neodymium didn't seem to make a massive difference to the viewing (but we have lots of LED street lamps in our area now so is that it?).  The UHC L-booster did make the background sky darker so I want to definitely spend more time with that on a proper mount with my normal 4".

The O-III w the Nagler on the horses head was just the best way to end the night.  The whole thing in one FOV with the wispiness spreading against the black black background.  I'm just getting back into astronomy, and the last time I properly looked at this nebula was in my teens with 10x50 binos - ie, a v different view!  It was just wonderful - I could have spent a lot longer out there.

Takeaways for me: the 4mm Radian goes, a 24mm Panoptic and wider-than-Delite FOVs (Delos, new Naglers) are to be researched more, and perhaps a filter wheel since living in heavily LP skies in a city, proper filters make a huge difference even for visual?

Clear skies all!

 

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I've never managed the horse head visually though I have managed to image it faintly using a DSLR. I may have to invest in a Olll filter. I have easily seen the associated Flame nebula  visually without a filter with a 200mm Newt .Its great to hear tales of starhopping,thanks.

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Hi Lee, I couldn't claim to have seen it as spectacularly as the photos show it!  I found the O-III made the nebulae stand out more.  So what visually was at first just a blur in the EP (the flame) could be seen to stretch for wider, and then almost like a tail extends away (towards where the horsehead is I guess).  I couldn't spend enough time to get properly dark adjusted to let details come out (also everytime you look up from the EP the local light pollution just kills you).  You could tell there was a bump along the tail where I guess the horseshead would be.  I just liked seeing the whole thing - the O-III really made a big difference so I reckon with an 8" you should have a cracking chance (although will defer to others far more experienced than me).  Made me wish I had a mono camera setup with filters - something for the distant future though.  Cheers!

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I had a look for it with my 8.75” from my London skies last night with a uhc filter- not a hint of any nebulosity. Didn’t think to try an oiii but I read that Hb is good for bringing it out- which I don’t have yet...

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Hi Vin,

It was certainly a nice night out there last chilly. Pretty chilly too!

The Horsehead and Flame are pretty tough targets even in much bigger scopes, and easily washed out by light pollution even with filters. I've never seen either despite using some biggish scopes under reasonably dark skies (mag 21 ish).

I guess your reference to viewing it with binoculars also seems to be at odds with what is normally possible.

Without wishing to appear rude, are you sure you are not referring to M42 and M43 rather than the Flame and Horsehead? Descriptions I've read of the Horsehead visually even in big scopes are along the lines of 'a little bit of blackness over something a little less black', rather than wispiness filling the eyepiece which is more how I would describe M42.

As said, no offense meant, am just genuinely puzzled 🤪😁😁

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I think Stu makes some valid points. With my 12 inch dob and an excellent H-beta filter the Horsehead Nebula has proved a very challenging target needing the darkest skies, lots of research and practice sessions and even then I have only barely glimpsed it as a slight darkening against the background nebulosity (which is very faint in itself).

An O-III filter actually makes it harder to see than with no filter at all.

There is a dark rift within M42 (the Orion Nebula) that has been mistaken for the Horsehead Nebula by others in the past ????

This area is known as the "fishes mouth":

image.png.c2806c13dc3538d26d4957d865044f37.png

 

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Hello,

I have to say Stu you have made me chuckle at my own stupidity!  No offence taken at all - in fact thank you (and to John for the drawing) for the gentle corrections.

I just remembered it all as Orion's Nebula from my teens (and that it had lots of distinctive features).  I must admit I had to google Flame & Horsehead (as proper nouns) when the names came up earlier in this message trail, and on wikipedia this in the image gallery pinged well with the shape and relative orientation of what I saw (obviously not with that level of fine detail, but the shape & orientation of three distinctive regions marked up on the attached jpg).  And I just thought oh, ok those must have been the Flame & Horsehead regions then.😂

Now on further research I see that crikey that region is awash with smaller sub-regions!  And that of course M42 & M43 also have similar shaped regions.

So, based on John's drawing I guess it must have been M43, the FIsh's Mouth & the Sword!

Thanks for the corrections.  Hopefully it stays clear tonight so I will head out again and have a look see - if this time I come back with Flame & Horsehead then it must be the absinthe.

Cheers both!

Vin

(PS - that wikipedia photo of the proper Flame & Horsehead is pretty good going with a C6 though isn't it!)

(PPS - I'm changing the title of this thread too! 🤣)

Marked up region map (Orion).jpeg

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Don’t worry, good to hear you managed to see some good detail in Orion, darker skies will show more of the wispiness. It’s about the time of year people start trying to see the Horsehead...  saw it last week, Orion was very wispy too.

Peter

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1 hour ago, PeterW said:

saw it last week,

Huh hum.....

....with Night Vision, for the sake of full disclosure 😉😉

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3 hours ago, vineyard said:

I have to say Stu you have made me chuckle at my own stupidity!  No offence taken at all - in fact thank you (and to John for the drawing) for the gentle corrections.

Tee hee! Oh I am relieved 😁. Always tricky to point these things out.

Well, at least that's all sorted now. M42 is pretty spectacular for any of us regardless of experience, so is one to be celebrated anyway!

I kind of lied about not having seen the Horsey myself. I have indeed seen it, from my light polluted back garden with a 4" scope......and ££££ Night Vision monocular borrowed from Gavin!

One of my bigger ambitions is to spot it just using a big dob under dark skies. I shall manage it one day!

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