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bomberbaz

Horsehead - Planning ahead

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I have tried on a few occasions for the horsey but never managed to see either it or the flame for that matter.

For some the horsey is something of a holy grail. To be honest of the many reports I have read, it doesn't sound as though it is that spectacular, more of a, "I have seen it" kind of object rather than it was something of beauty. 

I realise we are some time of Orion being available again but time is something I have plenty of at the moment so I am building up a file of things I  want to knock off so to speak.

Anyway, in the reports or references I have been reading, I have been able to gather and/or confirm a lot of information, much of which is perfectly obvious, some not so. 

The darkest sky you can get yourself under, pretty much a given tbh. The seeing also needs to be spot on  and settled.

No moon. You will get away with a small smiley but as above the darker the better.

HB filter is the best filter you can use on this object, preferably one of the high end variety. However a good quality UHC filter will work if you have those pitch black skies and good seeing. 

A exit pupil of no less than 4mm up to 7mm depending on your age and your eyes own dark adjusted pupil. Remember, lost light here means you lower the chance of bagging this object. I had my own eyes exit pupil checked by an opticiian. They said 6mm. My max exit pupil is 55.mm. The optimum exit pupil for this object and also the HB filter seems to be between 5 - 5.5 mm

Aperture. The bigger the better really, and a faster DOB appears to be the preferred weapon. I have read a couple of reports of people seeing it in a 6" frac but this is exceptional and not the norm. A 10" dob has been suggested as preferred minimum.

The object is situated very close to the bright star Alnitak, you need to get this star out of the FOV. It will affect your viewing and reduce your chance of seeing it.  From what I can find it won't particularly kill your night vision, but it will draw your vision and make it harder to spot the object. This is not the same response in all reports, just seems there are a lot of report saying the same or similar. I think from my own experience it "may" cause retinal memory ghosting akin to a flashbulb going off.

Before you have a bash at the object, try spotting the flame nebula first. If you can't see that, forget the horsey.

FOV is the last one that to be honest I am stuck on, can't find a reference anywhere. The horsey itself is small, but the nebula behind it (IC 434)  which forms the backdrop to allow you to see it is quite a large object. I am given to understand that 1 degree is a desirable TFOV here but according to the attached it could be up to 1.25 or maybe even more.

 horsey.jpg.43cfaec54687dff17b0dd02f5f43b4f8.jpg

Problem is I have no observer reference I can find. The above is an image. As we all know our own capabilities fall far short of electronic ones. 

So to get to my planning ahead question, (yeah, yeah I know I took long enough 😄 ) what does anyone else know about this fov query. I have two EP's that will do well at the supposed desired exit pupil size. Ones FOV gives me a little over 1 degree, the other comes in at 1.75 degrees. However the bigger FOV one pushes the horsey away from the centre of the EP in an effort to remove the glare of Alnitak. The one degree glass seems the ideal answer but just looking for other opinions. 

TIA 

Steve

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I have seen the Horsehead Steve, after many, many tries. Here is my report when I did it:

As you will gather from that, it was highly unspectacular and barely "there" at all but having repeated the observation a few times since then, I am confident that I have seen the thing.

I was using the 24mm Panoptic which gives 66x and a true field in the 12 inch dob of around 1 degree. I was also using an Astronomik H-Beta filter. So your reckoning is about right I would say.

Probably the toughest and least distinct thing that I've observed I reckon. It also needed the darkest and most transparent skies that I get from my back garden and lots of extended and maintained dark adaption of my eyes. Much more than I usually do. An observing hood would probably have helped here.

As Jeremy Perez puts it on his excellent website (linked to above):

".....it's like trying to see a little bit of nothing with a little bit of less than nothing resting over it...."

Good luck with the Horsey :smiley:

 

 

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33 minutes ago, John said:

 

".....it's like trying to see a little bit of nothing with a little bit of less than nothing resting over it...."

Good luck with the Horsey :smiley:

 

 

hahaha, that last bit made me laugh a little more than I should have.

And your post has summed up nicely in a few sentences what It took me to say in a far more long winded effort. Thanks, I think 😄 

Seriously though, as well as the HH my list is compiled of some quasars too when the opportunity is given again. I guess they are a massive amount of not a lot too when considered along the same lines as the HH.

Thanks

Steve

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Already got the link but thanks anyway John.

But I totally agree, It's amazing when you try to process in your mind that what you are viewing occurred before the dinosaurs were here on earth and while earth was like Venus is now.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, bomberbaz said:

You will get away with a small smiley

Nope.

 

7 hours ago, bomberbaz said:

FOV is the last one that to be honest I am stuck on, can't find a reference anywhere

This does matter IMHO, as does using a low scatter eyepiece. Larger dobs can get away with scatter rich 20/21mm 100 deg eyepieces as the long FL narrows the view and the HH is bigger in the EP.My 24" shows the HH no filter with the 20 APM and 21E at .82 deg TFOV.

You are right about the 1 deg TFOV IMHO and even a bit less is better. You have a 25mm Vixen plossl- perfect!

My 25mm Super plossl shows it as does the 25mm TV plossl.

Question Steve- what filter do you have?

Kudos for your planning btw- you will see it no question and yes seeing the Flame, no filter is a pre requisite.

Edited by jetstream
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3 hours ago, jetstream said:

Nope.

 

This does matter IMHO, as does using a low scatter eyepiece. Larger dobs can get away with scatter rich 20/21mm 100 deg eyepieces as the long FL narrows the view and the HH is bigger in the EP.My 24" shows the HH no filter with the 20 APM and 21E at .82 deg TFOV.

You are right about the 1 deg TFOV IMHO and even a bit less is better. You have a 25mm Vixen plossl- perfect!

My 25mm Super plossl shows it as does the 25mm TV plossl.

Question Steve- what filter do you have?

Kudos for your planning btw- you will see it no question and yes seeing the Flame, no filter is a pre requisite.

Its an astronomik HB Gerry. I pondered a long time before shelling out the cash for this. Was a lot of money for an item that is little used and to date has only one confirmed capture, I bought it 3 years since.

 

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Not so sure on FOV....seen it a Bala with UHC 21ethos...twice at Isle of Skye HB 21ethos and in Mapstars 22" with 13ethos...its much bigger than I thought..tho the dobs are.. 😁

Seen the flame a few times at SWSP in Brecon

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5 hours ago, bomberbaz said:

Its an astronomik HB Gerry. I pondered a long time before shelling out the cash for this. Was a lot of money for an item that is little used and to date has only one confirmed capture, I bought it 3 years since.

 

Perfect!

I use one myself with great success.  Have you tried the California neb? or the edge of Barnards Loop? All do able under dark skies 21 mag plus will do it and transparent.

In response to @estwing FOV experience, he is right that large dobs make the HH bigger-image scale. However his TFOV with the 21E is 1.2 deg with the 18" f3.9 and I personally dont like upping mag such as with  the 13E at f4 ish, too dark for me espc with a filter.

To stack things in your favour Steve, use a high quality Hb-check

low scatter eyepiece @ 5.3mm exit pupil -25mm NPL-check

looking for a small thumbprint at 1200mm fl- check

seeing the edge of IC 434 where the thumbprint resides check - IC 434 will either appear as a "line" or funnel

dark, transparent skies?....

This challenge object is well worth the effort and will increase ability to see other faint objects.

 

 

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oops forgot- completely dark adapted- check!

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IMHO great "Horsehead" eyepieces are either the 20mm or 25mm Tele Vue plossls. The light transmission on those is really high from measurements I've seen. Higher than most other comparable eyepieces. I also reckon the 18mm Baader Classic ortho is good for this task.

"every little helps" :smiley:

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Thank you John, Gerry and Calvin.  Your input has been very helpful and much appreciated by myself.  Not wishing the summer away but looking forward to Orion's return.

Steve

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Posted (edited)

Hi Steve,

Lots of good info above and good idea to think ahead for this one. The HH was a biggie for me so I spent a lot of time planning. Looking back at notes/reports, November 29th last year was the first time for me. It was something I had been really wanting to bag. I saw it a number of times between Nov and Feb, conditions permitting. Even once through binoviewers! There's a long-winded report here on that under deep-sky observing.

I used both a 12" and a 20" dob with either a 17.5mm Baader Morpheus or 27mm Orion flat edge EP and Astronomik Hb. With the 12" dob under 21.5-6 SQM I could just 'detect it' for fleeting glimpses until eye fatigue won and I stopped. I never saw it with direct vision. The 20" dob under 21.85+ SQM - bang, right there, but still a very, very dim scene, you have to let it soak in with excellent dark adaptation. 

Preparation: 

- I used Stellarium on a desktop PC in 'ocular view' with a 17.5mm Morpheus to get an exact FOV through the eyepiece, and I think this tool makes a big difference. Keep Alnitak well out of the FOV when thinking about EPs and FOV. Alnitak is way too bright.

- Stellarium is very, very handy. You'll have to manually enter your scope's aperture and focal length, and manually enter all the specs for the eyepieces you want to try on it, but once you do this, the scope and EPs will be in your Stellarium 'ocular library'. A fun tool.

- Again, I wanted Alnitak completely out of the FOV. It's very bright. I try not to even look at it on the way to the HH. 

- I also downloaded several good astro photos of the HH and surroundings to learn the stars to hop from. 

- Remember if using a dob, things will be upside down.

- Good call on the Astronomik Hb filter - that's what I use.

- Weather - try for a night when the Met Office, FLO Clear Outside and Ventusky are all in agreement for clear skies, as you'll have to make a fair journey for dark enough skies.

- Dark skies, dark skies, dark skies. A somewhat educated guess, partially based on sites I have seen it from -  at least 21.5 SQM, preferably 21.6 or more.  I have tried numerous times under 20.3 SQM at home with a 20" dob and never felt like I was even close. Don't know your range, but pick the darkest place you can find within an hour or two of home unless you're really lucky on location!! Car parks for hillwalkers are a fav of mine. Make sure you can park there, perhaps visit in advance. Nothing worse that driving half the night and find it's rubbish or not accessible! Garsdale/Garsdale Head in the Yorkshire Dales shows 21.76 SQM and looks potentially the best spot nearest to Burnley. 

Viewing using every trick (I know) in the book:

- Carrots help boost rhodopsin. Probably overkill, but I eat half a carrot a day as soon as I see a weather window approaching. 

- On the day, avoid bright lights if you can, especially LEDs and intense direct sunlight before heading out on the big night. Wear sunglasses in the daytime, etc. 

- Know the time of night (using Stellarium again) when the HH is highest in the sky. Closer to zenith = less atmosphere to deal with and that bit darker skies if you are unsuccessful early on in the evening. Even ten degrees higher makes a nice difference I think. 

- Dark adaptation! No phones, no nothing for at least 20/30min. I even cover the red LEDs on my power supply. I also wear a hood and I consider it an absolute must for maximum contrast. Get comfortable and have fun. 

- Keep several different focal length eyepieces to hand so you can quickly swap without fuss at the scope if one doesn't work for you. I don't know what scope you are using but yes, exit pupil around 5mm is a good starting point. 

- The immediate area of HH is really easy to find, but knowing exactly where to look will add a great deal of confidence and eliminate potential frustration and head-scratching, driving home wondering if you really saw it or just think you saw it (note - speaking personally here!) The photo below is what I use. Dropping down from Alnitak, there will be a pair of stars, a gap, then two sets of two stars. Draw an imaginary line from star 1 to star 2, and the HH will fall inline about 1/3rd of the way between them.

I will try and update this, I've more to add, but I've a wife and two kids screaming at me for the past 20 minutes while I type and I have to take a break.

Hope this helps. 

 

hh1.jpg

Slide3.JPG

Edited by Ships and Stars
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15 minutes ago, Ships and Stars said:

 

 

I will try and update this, I've more to add, but I've a wife and two kids screaming at me for the past 20 minutes while I type and I have to take a break.

Hope this helps. 

 

 

Mine are preoccupied doing a 1000 piece jigsaw and I made tea tonight so they are quite happy for now. 

Not much more to include based upon the advice already presented. 

This had been said in other threads, so not entirely my own. M1 in Taurus is a good target to concentrate on before moving onward to the Flame and potentially B33. It will enable you to visually engage with a relatively bright object whilst gaining in dark adaption and responding towards stepping into more faint and diffuse territory. In our traditional photon gathering approach to detect the Horse Head Nebula, it is crucial to learn and memorise the exact location and correct orientation. There are very good online resource references from dedicated observers drawings and using dobsonians to print out, I may include one or two later. Unlike most other dark sky subjects, the Horse Head is considered on the margin of visibility, to encounter it at all requires certainty that you are located corrected and you know what to look for. 

Assuming all other circumstances are in motion, such as Orion is high in the south etc, averted vision is the key to seeing the nebula 'pop'. Therefore become relaxed in posture, patient and permit your eye to fully engage and relax. When you have seen the Horse Head Nebula, you will know it and you will be able to see it again and again. The larger the aperture the better the chance. 

Good luck for when the time comes (I don't blame you for planning for later in the year) and I hope that it is nothing like as dramatic as the the first time I encountered it. That is to say I just 'got it', when all of a sudden a car turns up, pulls into my remote small parking area, steps out puts a flash light onto my face. A local curious Police Officer, good banter followed and a sky tour but blimey what a way to kill off your first Horse Head encounter, I had to wait an age before I got another chance.  

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1 hour ago, Ships and Stars said:

Hi Steve,

Lots of good info above and good idea to think ahead for this one. The HH was a biggie for me so I spent a lot of time planning. Looking back at notes/reports, November 29th last year was the first time for me. It was something I had been really wanting to bag. I saw it a number of times between Nov and Feb, conditions permitting. Even once through binoviewers! There's a long-winded report here on that under deep-sky observing.

I used both a 12" and a 20" dob with either a 17.5mm Baader Morpheus or 27mm Orion flat edge EP and Astronomik Hb. With the 12" dob under 21.5-6 SQM I could just 'detect it' for fleeting glimpses until eye fatigue won and I stopped. I never saw it with direct vision. The 20" dob under 21.85+ SQM - bang, right there, but still a very, very dim scene, you have to let it soak in with excellent dark adaptation. 

 

- Dark skies, dark skies, dark skies. A somewhat educated guess, partially based on sites I have seen it from -  at least 21.5 SQM, preferably 21.6 or more.  I have tried numerous times under 20.3 SQM at home with a 20" dob and never felt like I was even close. Don't know your range, but pick the darkest place you can find within an hour or two of home unless you're really lucky on location!! Car parks for hillwalkers are a fav of mine. Make sure you can park there, perhaps visit in advance. Nothing worse that driving half the night and find it's rubbish or not accessible! Garsdale/Garsdale Head in the Yorkshire Dales shows 21.76 SQM and looks potentially the best spot nearest to Burnley. 

 

 

 

 

I actually went near there last time out just before the lockdown came into play. The weather was not playing ball though, there was a bitter, cold wind from the North and the skies were ok but not good enough for dim objects.

There was also a pub near to the ribblehead viaduct with outside lights on, roughly half a mile from me. I rather foolishly didn't think to travel just the  extra half mile to get it out of direct view and when it went dark, it was throwing a shadow the outside lights were that bright. 

Anyway I have checked out this spot on the LP map Ribblehead viewing spot and it has no direct site of the pub and seems to have a great south view. The extra travel moves the pub round to the west too. I intend checking this spot out before I commit to it this time, the SQm reading is 21.71.

Quick question to anyone, will an sqm of 21.76 be a huge improvement on the 21.71 ?

Steve

 

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6 minutes ago, bomberbaz said:

Quick question to anyone, will an sqm of 21.76 be a huge improvement on the 21.71 ?

Steve

 

Ah right, excellent so you know the area. I've not been through there I can remember. I lived in the midlands for about 6 or 7 years before moving to Scotland, but mostly went to the Peak District.

I don't think 21.76 will be much difference from 21.71. They're both well within what I would look for at a minimum for quality sky darkness. Defo try and stay away from direct lighting, I know it's hard. There always seems to be that one place somewhere really dark that has an unshielded 1,000 gigawatt beacon outside their door!

I never asked what scope you were using? My goal this coming winter is to see it with my 40x100mm observation binoculars with an Hb filter on one side and UHC on the other. I reckon I have a decent shot on the right night. The story goes on CN some fellow in Florida claims to have seen it with 15x70s with Hb filters taped on! 

A few other musings I never got to put in my first post - once you've seen the HH, it becomes easier to see it from then on, and with smaller scopes.

Folks are right - if you can see the flame nebula, then you have a good shot at the HH. In fact, once you've seen the HH on that night, don't forget to go back to the flame and spend some time on it - it's really cool. I think Iain pointed that out in a post before. I was so obsessed with the horsehead, I didn't stop to appreciate the flame nebula which is more engaging anyway. The HH is cool though once you've clocked it!

Also if there are other faint objects in the area, if you can see the HH then it's of course a good night to see those too. Personally, I find the Cocoon nebula harder than the HH, I still can not say 100% I have seen the Cocoon! The Hb filter will come in handy for other nebulae too. 

All the visual DSO crew here on SGL helped me with advice, especially Iain and Gerry, John and a whole load of other people 👍

1 hour ago, scarp15 said:

Mine are preoccupied doing a 1000 piece jigsaw and I made tea tonight so they are quite happy for now. 

M1 in Taurus is a good target to concentrate on before moving onward to the Flame and potentially B33. It will enable you to visually engage with a relatively bright object whilst gaining in dark adaption and responding towards stepping into more faint and diffuse territory. 

Good luck for when the time comes (I don't blame you for planning for later in the year) and I hope that it is nothing like as dramatic as the the first time I encountered it. That is to say I just 'got it', when all of a sudden a car turns up, pulls into my remote small parking area, steps out puts a flash light onto my face. A local curious Police Officer, good banter followed and a sky tour but blimey what a way to kill off your first Horse Head encounter, I had to wait an age before I got another chance.  

Iain - mine have calmed down temporarily! I have to do stuff when I get the chance, it's not easy, haha. 

That's good advice on M1, it's directly observable, but still fairly faint, a good warmup before B33 to get into the groove. 

It figures police show up with a torch when looking for the HH! Maybe they got a tip-off ;) 

I'm looking forward to the HH again, but we've had some nice weather lately. 

 

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43 minutes ago, Ships and Stars said:

Ah right, excellent so you know the area. I've not been through there I can remember. I lived in the midlands for about 6 or 7 years before moving to Scotland, but mostly went to the Peak District.

I don't think 21.76 will be much difference from 21.71. They're both well within what I would look for at a minimum for quality sky darkness. Defo try and stay away from direct lighting, I know it's hard. There always seems to be that one place somewhere really dark that has an unshielded 1,000 gigawatt beacon outside their door!

 

Haha, yeah well the pub had 3 very bright lights, but get them out of direct sight and it should be fine. If not, I have found a couple of other lay byes further along the road where it should be. As I said, I shall recce this time.

43 minutes ago, Ships and Stars said:

I never asked what scope you were using?

 

Currently have a 10" F4.7 dob (1200 FL), however, currently considering buying a Taurus T350 14" F4.8  (FL 1700) with 96% reflection mirrors. I looked at this last week whilst I was browsing TE's website. I had been looking at the Orion 14"inteliscope truss but the weight put me off at 62KG, I am not getting any younger. Then found this T350 which has a total weight of just 23KG 😯, John found the manufacturer website for me 👍. I said, trying to convince myself that I was only "considering" buying it. I have been thinking about this scope since I found it a lot and so I am now 3/4 committed to buying. 

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5 hours ago, bomberbaz said:

Thank you John, Gerry and Calvin.  Your input has been very helpful and much appreciated by myself.  Not wishing the summer away but looking forward to Orion's return.

Steve

Get thee sen up Galloway..me and Damo are going...fantastic campsite, fantastic dark skies 

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Oh...and it is a kinda....is that it object, but it's the capture..that's where the kudos is. 

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...and then there's the cone...😩

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4 hours ago, bomberbaz said:

I actually went near there last time out just before the lockdown came into play. The weather was not playing ball though, there was a bitter, cold wind from the North and the skies were ok but not good enough for dim objects.

There was also a pub near to the ribblehead viaduct with outside lights on, roughly half a mile from me. I rather foolishly didn't think to travel just the  extra half mile to get it out of direct view and when it went dark, it was throwing a shadow the outside lights were that bright. 

Anyway I have checked out this spot on the LP map Ribblehead viewing spot and it has no direct site of the pub and seems to have a great south view. The extra travel moves the pub round to the west too. I intend checking this spot out before I commit to it this time, the SQm reading is 21.71.

Quick question to anyone, will an sqm of 21.76 be a huge improvement on the 21.71 ?

Steve

 

You can see it from Burnley Steve. Dark adaption and a transparent night are key. I live only a few hundred yards from you, and although I'm not claiming to have seen the horse head itself, I have seen the flame many times and IC434 once from home, - and I was using a 4" refractor!  Dark adaption is key, so devising some method of blocking out surrounding stray light is a must. I have a small run-off roof observatory which is blacked out inside, but even so, I still had to cover my head and eyepiece using a blackout blanket. Its a long haul, as it takes about 20 mins under the blanket just to get dark adapted, but by letting your eye naturally scan the area, trying to keep Alnitak out of the field, eventually you'll first see a shard of light (IC434), then a wall of black nebulosity becomes more and more evident. Using averted vision I convinced myself I could see a tiny notch roughly where the horse head should be, but I didn't see the head. More aperture would be needed, at least from my location.

The sketches below offer a reasonable representation of the view through my scope at the time. I used a prism diagonal so it's a mirror image.502996078_2020-05-0423_58_33.thumb.png.77eee883e6da4d2a0b7c6a097188031b.png979882791_2020-05-0500_00_10.thumb.png.b8b9d617f6ae9e1d6f53d545cea28a4a.png

 

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8 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

You can see it from Burnley Steve. Dark adaption and a transparent night are key. I live only a few hundred yards from you, and although I'm not claiming to have seen the horse head itself, I have seen the flame many times and IC434 once from home, - and I was using a 4" refractor!  Dark adaption is key, so devising some method of blocking out surrounding stray light is a must. I have a small run-off roof observatory which is blacked out inside, but even so, I still had to cover my head and eyepiece using a blackout blanket. Its a long haul, as it takes about 20 mins under the blanket just to get dark adapted, but by letting your eye naturally scan the area, trying to keep Alnitak out of the field, eventually you'll first see a shard of light (IC434), then a wall of black nebulosity becomes more and more evident. Using averted vision I convinced myself I could see a tiny notch roughly where the horse head should be, but I didn't see the head. More aperture would be needed, at least from my location.

The sketches below offer a reasonable representation of the view through my scope at the time. I used a prism diagonal so it's a mirror image.

Great observation Mike.

Was there any particular reason for deploying the Extender Q that night, i.e. do you think it contributed to your success?

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26 minutes ago, JeremyS said:

Great observation Mike.

Was there any particular reason for deploying the Extender Q that night, i.e. do you think it contributed to your success?

Hi Jeremy,

I'm not certain why I used the Q. It may have been that I'd purposely attached it so I would have a slightly higher power and therefore a darker sky background, so as to improve contrast. Or, I was just too lazy to unscrew the thing after using it for lunar or planetary viewing. May be a bit of both?  I did think the extender-Q was fantastic. It was just a pain to screw together in the dark. I might get the push fit version for the DZ.

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Didn't know you was in Burnley area mike, hello. 

You may know the holiday inn express then, well my house is exactly opposite that. A car park full of lamps and 3 uplighters for thier flags 20 yards over the road from my back garden. SQM reading 19.5, could be even lower for me.

There isn't a chance in hell of spotting it from my garden. 

Great report though and I do envy you of your circumstances. Light polution map gives the whole of Burnley as a mess of red though,

 https://www.lightpollutionmap.info/#zoom=10.999017178569716&lat=7136160&lon=-251411&layers=0BFFFFFTFFFFFFFFF

Best I can manage that is worthwhile from garden are Moon, planetary and doubles. Even globulars aren't worth going for. Yes my garden is rubbish haha.

Steve

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From a post on another forum, the carrots don’t work, but breathing properly does (don’t hold your breath when observing!)

This year the “Horsehead season” has opened early, bit like finding xmas decorations in the shops?!

Peter

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