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Touring Orion February 12th

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The forecast showed a clear sky and no moon for a few hours this evening, so I chose to drive to my local dark site. I had decided to concentrate on the constellation Orion, and had a list of several objects. I used a 102 mm f7 refractor and the Baader zoom + 2x barlow, giving me 30x to 178x magnification. 178x didn’t look good this evening. Everything seemed a bit hazy, and it was almost liked I couldn’t reach focus. A combination of poor conditions and low exit pupil? I really need to learn more about these things. Because of this I mostly stopped at 120x or 143x. I really need to begin to write down at what magnification I was able to spilt the double/enjoyed the view the most, because I’m pulling everything from memory now.

Orion Nebula: Impressive as always, both with and without a UHC filter. Snapped a few pictures with my iPhone at both 30x and 72x, and they clearly showed green and purple colors.

Trapezium: Cranked up the magnification, and concentrated on the Trapezium. I can’t remember at what magnification I managed the split. No sign of E and F even at 178x, but I wasn’t expecting that anyway.

Rigel: Managed the spilt, but it was harder than expected. I don’t think the viewing conditions where optimal this evening. Especially 178x didn’t look very good.

Betelgeuse: I always enjoy doing Rigel and Betelgeuse after each other. It’s such a nice contrast between the cold, pale and white Rigel, to the warm orange Betelgeuse.

Sigma Orionis: Unable to split the A and B components, but D and E was easy enough.

Collinder 69: A nice open cluster without too many objects. I enjoy the contrast between the yellow outlier Phi2 Orionis (not really a part of the cluster?), and the rest of the stars that all look fairly pale white/blue to my eyes.  

Lambda Orionis: zooming in, I squeezed out separation. From reports I’ve gathered that this one shouldn’t be all that difficult, so either my inexperience shows or the conditions really were bad. I might have to do a star test the next time I take the scope out.  

I ended the evening just panning around at low magnification. I really do enjoy operation at low mag. Splitting doubles are fun enough, but everything just looks better with a bit of surroundings and context. I think I will concentrate on “easy” doubles next time, to be able to look around the neighborhood at the same time.

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That sounds like you had a great session.  Just below M42 there's some nice views around Struve745 / 747.  NGC 1981 just above the nebula is also worth a look 😀

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Great report, sounds like you pushed the envelope under challenging conditions. I now keep a journal recording all my sessions. You can record all the intricate details of your observations without having to rely on memory and it focuses your mind, like revision did at school 

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