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Finally had a gloriously clear night for some DSO viewing. Decided to dust off the 18” dob, OVNI-B night vision goggles and Televue 67mm convertor / 55mm combo, all rested recently due to the poor weather and, when ok, exciting planet action. Also the fIrst time trying a new filter wheel, which is cheap, built like a tank and not easy to use/rotate but does the job allowing a quick comparison between filters; a 642 Astronomik pro planet, 12nm Astronomik and 3.5nm Antlia. I really struggled with the latter last time out back in Autum thinking there was far too much scintillation. But in hindsight that was a Newbie error as I was just using it to scan across the sky rather than at objects the filter was actually made for. More on this later...

Anyway, Dob outside around 4pm, left to cool for an hour or so, aligned the Nexus DSC, swig of left over Christmas Baileys and off we go...

First up, North American and Western Veil nebula. Barely noticeable with the 12nm but really popped with the 3.5. Not a bright view but something completely new for me so quite impressed. Could make out the shape clearly with some real definition. Suspect I need to be at a dark site though for these to really sing. But a good start.

Then tried a couple of old friends with the Dumbell and Ring nebula. Again both really clear and best in the 3.5nm.

A few nudges and up popped Andromeda. 642 best this time. View was amazing. Almost as big and bright as the M13 globular cluster seen back in the summer, but brighter and really impressive against a darker sky. Could also clearly see M32 and just about make out M110 nearby, the latter with some averted vision.

Next tried some fainter galaxies relying on instructions from the Nexus. Appreciate NV probably isn’t best for these but ticked off M33 and a couple of other similar faint smudges. These remain a work in progress.

At this point frostbite was setting in so decided to pop indoors for a hot cuppa.

Round two and by now Orion was coming in to view, something I’ve been waiting for all year. Started with the Flame nebula. Could just about see this with the 12nm but very clear in the 3.5. Easy to make out the shape and detail. Also noticed another faint band of nebulosity almost at right angles and up from the Flame with a large black notch. Oh my, it’s the Horsehead nebula! Not Hubble quality but could clearly make out the shape, Not much scintillation either, which was a surprise. I’m assuming this would be even brighter at a dark site (need to get that portable scope for this). Popped the binoviewer and 24mm panoptics in to compare but zip, as expected.

Another few nudges and had a quick look at the California and Rosetta nebula. Neither earth shattering but could just about make them out.

Finally the main course: M42. Excuse my language. Bl@#dy he££. I nearly fell off my chair and did actually shout something out loud, before running indoors to tell my wife. Started with the 642 (very good) moved to the 12nm (fantastic) and then rotated in the 3.5 (sensational). The whole nebula was perfectly framed in the FOV. So much definition, trapezium clear. And so bright. Unbelievable. Not exaggerating saying this looked like the sort of image you’d see in a book. Also zero scintillation. A completely unforgettable experience.

At this point the clouds were starting to roll in so packed the gear away, moved indoors and celebrated with a wee dram. 3 hours of pure adrenaline fuelled viewing. And all of this from a heavily light polluted backyard in the middle of a city. Only downside is I really can’t see things ever getting any better than this.

Right, off to bed...

 

Edited by Trentend
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Nice report.

I almost want to get one, but the cost always holds me back.

I'm wondering if Rupert at Astrograph will do me a good deal on one as i consider myself a good customer.......😀

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That sounds amazing, particularly considering your location! A rural sky even with a much smaller scope should be mind blowing, don't know how much of a difference it makes, but it should be substantial I'd think. I've a 20" dob but my best views of the California, Rosette and Cocoon nebula were through 15x70s with filters. Go figure! The 20" under dark skies is awesome on galaxies though and most nebulae as long as they fit into the fov, but it's a bit of work loading and unloading and setting up. I'm hoping the price on NV goggles slowly comes down, I'll have to figure out how to get my hands on some. Great report, very thought provoking!

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Good to see you get great results with the narrower filter, I’m still hoping to try some of Gavs filters, see how my old unit could handle them. For big Nebulae, NV works quite nicely with small scopes... people seem to like refractors. Scale the aperture/focal length to the field of view you want. You can see some of these nebulae at 3x.... though they’re a bit wee!

 

Peter

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