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My first night's observing


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Morning all.

I'm still buzzing from the last 3 hours fun. I've been observing with binoculars for years, but tonight was the first night with my new 8" dob (Bresser), and it went so much better than I expected. Bearing in mind that in Edinburgh now, astronomical twilight is the best I can get. It's Bortle-6 here too, with some nearby streetlights and railway yards to the south, with lots of spotlights.

Anyway. I started with Leo. Always fancied finding the triple - but no luck. So I had a shot at M13 in Hercules. I have seen this in bins plenty of times, so knew exactly where to find it. And boom! Using an 18mm EP (x67) is was a lovely blob, I could make out individual stars, even against the light background, averted viewing helped. I tried my 6mm plossl (x200) and I was surprised how nice it looked. Really 'glittering' even though it was rushing past the view so quickly.

Then I tried M92, but couldn't find it.  It was still hard to find much in the finderscope, let alone do any star hopping - not for my noob skillz.

Next I had a look at double double. Easy enough to find, but with the 6mm, I could only split one of the pairs. Not sure if it was the viewing, my eyes, the plossl, or just lack of experience. It's not my best eyepiece, though.

Anyway - nearby was M57 the Ring Nebula, so I thought I'd have a shot, not really knowing what to expect. Wow! It's a nebula, it looks like a ring! It was so clear, both in 18mm and 6mm eyepieces. This was the highlight of the evening for me. I really didn't think it would be so obvious in these conditions.

OK - I was cooking on gas now, and at 1am the sky was as dark as it was going to get. I thought I'd try the Leo Triple again. I got more comfortable and took my time star-hopping using Sky Safari. Still no luck though, trying the 25mm and 18mm EPs. I am very confident I was looking at the correct locations, everything matching-up with Sky Safari, but nope, nothing. It was getting low on the horizon and the LP from the rail yards was obvious.

So for a final shot, I thought I'd try M51, the Whirlpool galaxy. Straight up, almost; star-hopping was a little tricky but I took my time and after a few attempts I found it! Just a couple of pale 'clouds' with averted vision, but definitely the Real McCoy!

Can't wait until we get some dark skies again. The Leo Triple will have to wait until next spring, I guess. 

 

Edited by Pixies
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Great first session with your new Dob, Pixies!

Your report just shows how valuable it is to get some experience with binoculars first, as it helps you to familiarize yourself with the skies first -makes it so much easier to find objecrs with a scope!

Just wait until Orion is available to view again in the autumn...and Mars and Jupiter!

Thanks for sharing..:hello2:

Dave

Edited by F15Rules
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9 hours ago, Pixies said:

Next I had a look at double double. Easy enough to find, but with the 6mm, I could only split one of the pairs. Not sure if it was the viewing, my eyes, the plossl, or just lack of experience. It's not my best eyepiece, though.

Possibly too much magnification. a 6mm will yield a 1mm exit pupil so you're at the point where the airy disk will start dimming stars. 

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Excellent report! Your enthusiasm comes across in spades and reminds me why I still love visual astronomy so thanks for sharing.

Well done on snagging m51- that took me a long time to get in my 8 inch. I'm certain that if you were able to see that then at least two thirds of the Leo triplet will be quite easily available to you when conditions are more favourable- you still may just get a view this year when there's less moonlight about. 

If you got m51 then the m81/2 pairing should be available to you- is quite well placed at the moment 👍

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Great stuff, a really successful first session, far better than most of us managed on our first nights in sure!

If you managed M51 then you should be able to get quite a few other targets even given the brighter nights, it’s not an easy one.

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34 minutes ago, Whistlin Bob said:

Excellent report! Your enthusiasm comes across in spades and reminds me why I still love visual astronomy so thanks for sharing.

Well done on snagging m51- that took me a long time to get in my 8 inch. I'm certain that if you were able to see that then at least two thirds of the Leo triplet will be quite easily available to you when conditions are more favourable- you still may just get a view this year when there's less moonlight about. 

If you got m51 then the m81/2 pairing should be available to you- is quite well placed at the moment 👍

 

30 minutes ago, Stu said:

Great stuff, a really successful first session, far better than most of us managed on our first nights in sure!

If you managed M51 then you should be able to get quite a few other targets even given the brighter nights, it’s not an easy one.

Thanks guys.

M51 was at 70deg alt, so made for much better viewing.

M81/82 - right, that's Sunday night's target!

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OK - update of tonight session - Sunday 10 May. Don't worry, I'm not going to do this every night! This is just a follow-up.

As the viewing is pretty limited just now, especially from my back garden, I started by hunting the same easterly targets as last time. Mainly in Hercules and Lyra. 

M13 (Hercules Cluster), M57 (Ring Nebula) and Double-Double were successful again. I managed to split both of the latter this time, although it felt like I was climbing inside the 6mm Plossl. I'm not a fan of it - I bought it from a seller on here (the 18mm Starguider I got from the same seller is much nicer). I need to think about a different higher-powered EP.

However, I had more success in finding M92 this time. Smaller than M13, when using the 6mm EP it's framed better and its slightly sparser nature makes the brightest stars stand out more. 

After Whistlin Bob's suggestion, I tried M81/M82. I'm getting the hang of the 6x30 finderscope and managed to land on M82 first go. I was down on my knees at the time - so thinking a RACI finderscope will be an imminent purchase. In the 18mm EP I could get both in the one view, but I think they looked better as a pair in the 25mm. Faint - but more obvious than the Whirlpool; M82 is more 'concentrated' than M81, I think. Pleased with myself again, I saw in Sky Safari that NGC 3077 was close by and thought I'd have a shot at it. It was small and faint, but I definitely found it - not that I would have noticed it unless I knew it was there. 12 million light years, blimey!

 

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On 09/05/2020 at 02:46, johninderby said:

Yes a very nice report and pleased that the new dob gave you some great views. 

Can’t wait until Saturn and Jupiter are better placed. 

When are Saturn and Jupiter best placed? I woke up at 3am Monday morning and had a look out the window where they were clearly visible. A quick look suggested July being a good bet?

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10 minutes ago, johninderby said:

Jupiter should be highest in August but Saturn will remain low. 

Ample time to add the 7mm to the collection! When’s Saturn best to view, it’s the one I’ve not seen yet.

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21 minutes ago, Stardaze said:

When are Saturn and Jupiter best placed? I woke up at 3am Monday morning and had a look out the window where they were clearly visible. A quick look suggested July being a good bet?

Jupiter is at Opposition on 14th July, when it will present the largest disk so should show most detail. The altitude doesn’t actually change much, it actually reaches a higher altitude at the moment (17.8 degrees) than it does at opposition (or in August)) when it is nearer 16 degrees. The difference is the time when it transits the meridian (and is at its highest), and the size of the disk we see. At Opposition it transits at about 1am ie in full darkness and will be 47.6 arc seconds across, vs 5.30am ish in brighter skies At the moment, and showing a disk of about 42 degrees.

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13 minutes ago, johninderby said:

Jupiter should be highest in August but Saturn will remain low. 

It’s actually lower in August than now, and is at opposition in July.

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3 minutes ago, Stardaze said:

Ample time to add the 7mm to the collection! When’s Saturn best to view, it’s the one I’ve not seen yet.

Saturn reaches opposition on 20th July, very close to Jupiter so both will be good at around the same time.

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28 minutes ago, Stu said:

It’s actually lower in August than now, and is at opposition in July.

I’m going by Pete Lawrence’s planet viewing guide for August. 2020.

“Jupiter Low evening planet. Manages to reach highest altitude, due south, in darkness all month long.”

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8 minutes ago, johninderby said:

I’m going by Pete Lawrence’s planet viewing guide for August. 2020.

“Jupiter Low evening planet. Manages to reach highest altitude, due south, in darkness all month long.”

Not exactly sure what that is saying, but current altitude at transit is 17.8 degrees, transit altitude at Opposition is 16.7 and in mid August it is 16.1 degrees. Regardless of anything else, best time to observe will be at Opposition with the largest disk size visible and Jupiter visible all night. The only thing I can think of is that in August it is transiting before midnight so is more accessible without staying up until the early hours? Either way, with seeing conditions often better in the early hours, around 14th July is undoubtedly the best time to view, weather permitting of course.

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On 09/05/2020 at 14:02, Whistlin Bob said:

Well done on snagging m51- that took me a long time to get in my 8 inch. I'm certain that if you were able to see that then at least two thirds of the Leo triplet will be quite easily available to you when conditions are more favourable- you still may just get a view this year when there's less moonlight about. 

He he - took 9 months but I got the Leo triplet this evening. I spent so much time in May looking for them but the skies must just have been too bright. Tonight I landed on them first go and all 3 were visible in a single view.

Can't believe I've only been doing this for 9 months now. Feels much longer!

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