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dec 20 - clear and didnt freeze nads off


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Last night (20th) was the first night in ages and ages that was clear, not brass monkeys and I wasn't sick. I got the chance to have a look through my new (second hand) APM 20/40x100 45 deg binos :( and also have a good look and compare with the 10 inch dob.

Although the LP as always was awful the seeing and transparency seemed really really good until about 10.30 when the transparency just seemed to plummet (can that happen?) :scratch: . Anyway, here goes -

Auriga clusters – easy to find (!) with the bins and really nice to see them in a big wide field. M37 (?) the lowest one probably best cos there were nicely resolved stars and also that hint of more stars that makes clusters look really special. The view through big bins is particularly nice – for some reason, even though the mag was lower than i'm used to, the cluster seems to be bigger – don't ask me why – maybe cos the field is bigger or using two eyes. As always, the clusters were disappointing in the dob – the background is just too bright. At x40 the bins were a bit disappointing – the image was considerably darker and the colours of the stars less bright and (obviously) the FOV was much smaller.

The best thing about Auriga was seeing at 20x a lovely double – I believe one component (that the books describe as bluish but looks lime green to me) is known as one of the “runaway” stars (which is an interesting story in itself...) (AE Auriga/ HIP24575? - the one in the flaming star nebula I think). Its companion is very yellow and they make a lovely pair – a bit like gamma andromeda - the big binos really seem to pick up colours nicely. I suspect if you were at mag40 or higher you wouldn't see this pair as a double as the separation would be too big (maybe?)

M81 and M82 – always chuffed when I can find them – pretty easy in the bins and that made them easier to find in the dob. I wouldn't say they were particularly impressive in either – 2 faint smudges in the dob and 2 very faint smudges in the bins. Still, with galaxies its knowing what they are and where they are :shock: that gives me a buzz. Also, they were pretty low in the sky so there's hope yet.........

Gemini – I was looking for M35 and saw in quite short space of time 3 or 4 faint meteors, maybe mag 6-8 (at a guess) all heading through gemini's feet area and up towards Auriga or a little south of Auriga. Interested if there are any other reports of these or if they might be part of a regular shower?

M42 (of course) was great for a number of reasons. I saw (for the first time) the e star very clearly in the dob and glimpsed the f – Hurray! Also, I cleanly split Alnitak at x400 (no that was a joke – as always Alnitak just looked like a star but if I sort of squinted a bit and looked a bit away and stood on one leg and sang jingle bells I thought I might have seen a little bulge in the side........ or maybe not). Through the binos at x20 M42 was very very nice – again, I got the impression that it was much bigger at x20 in the bins than x40 in the dob but I'm sure I saw a greater extent of nebulosity and better contrast against the sky in the bins – again, I wonder of the 10” Dob suffers more from the LP. At x20 in the bins the trap looked like 3 stars; at x40 I very clearly saw 4. Interestingly, using ne eye only, I couldn't resolve all 4 stars. I also saw 3 stars of sigma orionis at x40 in the bins.

then, the transparency got really poor so I went in and watched my big fat greek wedding :D

So, all in all a really lovely night. I heard somewhere someone say time spent looking at the stars is added to your life. That's how it felt last night.

I will post a separate review of the binos in the equipment review section.


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Thanks for this Dan, and congrats on bagging the E and F stars.. well done!

"The view through big bins is particularly nice – for some reason, even though the mag was lower than i'm used to, the cluster seems to be bigger – don't ask me why – maybe cos the field is bigger or using two eyes."

I think using two eyes gives more depth perception and allows our brains to see more, which makes the target seem bigger than it does in the comparatively 'flat' view of using one eye. Well anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. :(

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Very nice report Dan, and very interesting I'm glad you bagged the E and F stars, well done (I'm still waiting for some clear skies to have a go at them). The Auriga clusters are marvelous! :(


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Nice report Dan. 20x80 bins are a good size and the Auriga clusters a great place to show them off. I had a look at M81/81 on Saturday night with the 20x80's and found i could see the basic difference in shape between the two. With the smaller bins they are just faint smudges. And the Double Cluster was awesome :(


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