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26th Dec / 08 - First Light!!


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so my first go ever with a real telescope (12" skywatcher dob), which incidentally, i recieved the day previously (for Christmas) and i was gifted with some moderately/intermittantly clear skies! admittedly not knowing the sky hugely well, and the clouds not helping, i didnt see anything particularly amazing, or well i did, but not in the way you might imagine, we'll get to that later..

my first target was betelgeuse, simply to line up the finder with the primary properly - 15 minutes of fiddling around with it with the assistance of a friend later, we had it in the center of both scopes, great!

so i swung it over to Orions belt and for awhile was trying to locate M42 above it (the whole upside down image thing is really throwing me, if you know a patch of the sky reasonably well especially) after realising my obvious error however, we managed to get it focused on M42, straight away we were able to see the 4 main stars of the trapezium, which i was quite happy with! although i was dissappointed by the lack of structure in the Nebula itself (it almost looks to have more structure in binoculars)

at this point it clouded over very quickly, one moment it was completely clear, the next - clouds everywhere, it was like they spontaniously formed overhead, not to worry, some take out pizza and a drink later, we were back outside with clear skies, i swung it over to the pleiades and was happy with the view it gave of them, it can see a real lot of stars where my Binoculars only see 10 or so, infact, it seemed no matter where i pointed the darn thing, it saw alot of stars, great stuff!

so then we decided to try and look at M31 or M33... at first we found cassiopeia and looked accross, then spent a good few minutes debating which triangle shape was actually the right triangulum constellation, after finally settling on the (right) one, we looked around for M33 in the finder scope and with binoculars, but were unable to get a 100% confirmed sighting of it, and couldnt get the primary on it, as i strained to point the finder scope in the right direction, my friend shouted something along the lines of "OH SHI- LOOK AT THAT" so following his hand pointing to the sky (not that it was necessary) i was greeted with the most amazing sight i have ever seen, a huge orange fireball skimming accross the atmosphere, easily visible with the naked eye, bright Orange (much more so than betelgeuse for example) and Brighter and larger than Venus, it didnt break up and dissappeared over the house, i can only imagine it bounced back off the atmosphere and back into space, id imagine it was more than a spec of dust considering the display it put on, very satisfying! i ran inside the house screaming at my dad to help me find my phone, locating it i ran outside and was able to get one quick shot of it, its small in the relatively low quality phone camera, without magnification, but even pointing the camera at sirius you see *nothing* to give you some idea how bright this thing was to even show.

anyhows, shortly after... yep, you guessed it, it clouded over again, so we brought the scope in, and i noticed some banding that looked like a spider had walked allover it with butter, deciding it was ice/dew, i hairdryered it, and was relieved to see it dissappeared and reflected my face back at me perfectly thereafter :)

thats my first observation report anyhows! hopefully i can get it out somewhere dim soon! thanks to my friend lee for helping out and in particular spotting the not overly inconspicuous fiery ball of fire.

thanks for reading!

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Very nice report. :)

The secret with M42 is to keep looking ad try a sketch if you can. It is amazing how much detail appears as you look.

I have seen a couple of bright meteors and they are a fantastic sight. :p

Cheers

Ian

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I agree....

Keep looking at it for at least 5 minutes. During this time the seeing will improve and the detail jumps out. Also try averted vision this means just looking of to one side and objects seem to appear.

Great report and i bet that fireball blew you away.

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