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The clouds part at last - sort of!


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Well, I've been chomping at the bit for the last couple of weeks. Santa's left me a SW114P Virtuoso to play with and my birthday, 5 days later, saw me in posession of an ES68 20mm eyepiece to go with it. Needless to say, it's been cold, snowy, rainy and overcast ever since (and before, for that matter). However, last night there were fast-moving couds with some sizeable gaps and intervals and I was determined to have a go, no matter what. The stars looked a bit twinkly but that didn't stop me - I want to see something up there! And the moon wasn't up either, which could help as long as I don't want to see it.

I managed to get a reasonable view of the Pleiades first, first time "proper" view in a scope. I'm sure everyone says it but yes, "wow" is appropriate. Unfortunately, it didn't last long as the next bank of cloud obscured it but the Orion nebula was still on show. Swung around to that and got an OK look. I think the LP here isn't helping and the conditions weren't the best, it was ok and interesting but a bit underwhelming. Also short-lived thanks to cloud but Mars was shining brightly. Popped the Hyperflex in for that and wound it up to "full-throttle". Not expecting much at 70x but it was enough to say it was a tiny, red disk and no star. A few minutes later it disappeared thanks to yet more clouds, hey ho. A visual look around at that point revealed more cloud than sky by a large margin, so I made the mistake of switching the mount off for a while to wait and see if things cleared.

On switching back on a bit later, newbie mistake of not aligning it north, first. Back for a last look at the Pleiades and wondering why it won't stay in view for long - ah yes, that'll be why then - make mental note to re-align or leave it on in future. Oh well, it's looking very cloudy and not much prospect of improvement so I hauled the stuff back indoors - for me and the gear to thaw out! It was bloomin' cold out there, especially on the digits.

Not exactly an exciting start but actually it was really worthwhile. Looks like the ES68 was a good choice and I was surprised that the Hyperflex did much better than I thought it might in a fast scope, especially at its longer end. Views to the edge were actually quite usable, although the ES obviously outdid it for FOV. A good starter pair of EPs I think - I forgot to take the bundled EPs out so I never got to compare.

EDIT: thanks to those who advised me on the EPs a while back, I forgot to say.

Edited by wulfrun
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Hooray !

I confess I saw those ragged gaps in cloud on one of last night's' combined sky-check-and-cat-admission/egress back door openings and thought , hmm, can see approx 10 points of light, all twinkling like the clappers ... nah , shan't schlep the 'scope out . I'm really pleased to hear you made good use of those gaps a mere 80 km or so away to the west. Tonight looks like it might turn out clear ( I use the clear outside forecast but also the BBC online weather forecast which includes an icon for cloud/partial cloud/clear , and it is all crescent moons for round here tonight, 7pm to midnight ... we shall see , or possibly we shall see nowt ... )

Getting a window on the Pleiades was great luck, they are a stunning thing to see in a small 'scope , if they are around I always have a look every session, the 'wow' factor endures. Fingers crossed for a longer session for you soon !

Heather

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Glad you got out! Seems to be wall to wall cloud cover here since my last session in Dec (other than 2 few minute "haze gazes" through to the full moon) guess its a big "welcome to astronomy" ritual :D

I am eagerly awaiting my new EP but I think 2 of them are on 20-25 day wait at FLO so I imagine it'll be a while before any of them come, maybe it won't be so cloudy be then?!

Edited by wibblefish
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Excellent, glad you have seen something.

Yes, the Hyperflex does surprisingly well, even on fast scopes. On M42, of course having a decent filter will help, but even without one you should notice a difference when viewing with/without the moon about. Also, as you have the zoom, have you tried zooming in continuously from the longest setting? You may notice quite an obvious darkening of the background sky at a certain point (and a corresponding improvement in the contrast and visibility of the nebula).

If you believe the forecasts(!) we should be getting a clear night or two over the next 4-5 days.

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33 minutes ago, Zermelo said:

Excellent, glad you have seen something.

Yes, the Hyperflex does surprisingly well, even on fast scopes. On M42, of course having a decent filter will help, but even without one you should notice a difference when viewing with/without the moon about. Also, as you have the zoom, have you tried zooming in continuously from the longest setting? You may notice quite an obvious darkening of the background sky at a certain point (and a corresponding improvement in the contrast and visibility of the nebula).

If you believe the forecasts(!) we should be getting a clear night or two over the next 4-5 days.

Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by the Hyperflex. I haven't had much chance to play around yet so I never got the chance to try what you suggest, although it makes good sense. I also have the SVbony 7-21mm so I want to try them head-to-head at some point, when conditions permit. Only looking at Mars, I just wound the Hyperflex up to the shortest FL & hoped. To be honest, I suspect that the LP here may be bad enough that a filter won't make a worthwhile improvement - but no doubt one day I'll try it. Fingers crossed on the forecast, we do seem to have been cursed for unduly long.

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1 hour ago, SteveWolves said:

Still clear here but am going to be running Wolvas zoom chat meet in a while.

Clear here too! My first opportunity since Christmas eve... 

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Ashamed to say, i passed on an opportunity , it was clear for about an hour last night , but by the time i would have set my gear up i would have had to trawl the whole lot back inside ( not exactly but you know what i mean) . It really made me realise how good smaller set ups are .. a small(ish) scope on a lightweight mount , something i've had before and now i miss. I actually felt guilty in missing a date with the stars . Big chance to redeem myself on Saturday , hopefully .

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6 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

Ashamed to say, i passed on an opportunity , it was clear for about an hour last night , but by the time i would have set my gear up i would have had to trawl the whole lot back inside ( not exactly but you know what i mean) . It really made me realise how good smaller set ups are .. a small(ish) scope on a lightweight mount , something i've had before and now i miss. I actually felt guilty in missing a date with the stars . Big chance to redeem myself on Saturday , hopefully .

I passed on since it was damned cold and I didn't think I'd stand it for long enough to be worthwhile. As it happens, it was the right judgement because later on there was a distinctly heavy haze, bordering on freezing fog.

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13 minutes ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

I am getting new motors for my eq5 today (hopefully) and i'm really looking forward to using them ... have i just put the mockers on a clear sky ? :(

 

SteveWolves' post above didn't, so who knows? I think I should ask him to bless me with clear skies though, when he said it was going to be clear - it was!

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I can't believe its another foggy night ... only 25 miles away over london it looks clear ... zzzz still at least the motors are now fitted to my mount ... and they work and look nice ... even though i can't use them :) 

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2 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

I can't believe its another foggy night ... only 25 miles away over london it looks clear ... zzzz still at least the motors are now fitted to my mount ... and they work and look nice ... even though i can't use them :) 

Gone very hazy here now, 9pm ish but earlier it was clear enough for an hour and a half's "playtime". Came back in due to a combination of the cold, skies hazing over and a dewed-up finder making aiming at anything largely guesswork.

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On 06/01/2021 at 13:40, wulfrun said:

Unfortunately, it didn't last long as the next bank of cloud obscured it but the Orion nebula was still on show. Swung around to that and got an OK look. I think the LP here isn't helping and the conditions weren't the best, it was ok and interesting but a bit underwhelming. 

Great you got a first light. When observing sometimes averted vision is needed to see an object or more of the object being looked at. Have a go next time using averted vision and your nice ES eyepiece. If you have nearby lights could try placing a towel over your head to help keep stray light out from your eyes while observing.

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1 hour ago, happy-kat said:

Great you got a first light. When observing sometimes averted vision is needed to see an object or more of the object being looked at. Have a go next time using averted vision and your nice ES eyepiece. If you have nearby lights could try placing a towel over your head to help keep stray light out from your eyes while observing.

Yes, thanks, it's a thing I'm well aware of but have not yet practiced much being so new to telescope use. Something to hone in the future. I did try it on the Orion nebula but maybe the conditions or maybe my inexperience, it didn't seem to help a lot. There will be other chances no doubt. There are several pesky "security" lights around but I know where they are and I'm accustomed to avoiding their worst effects. I'll have to try the towel trick, that should amuse anyone that notices! Extra warmth as a bonus though ūüôā

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17 hours ago, wulfrun said:

Yes, thanks, it's a thing I'm well aware of but have not yet practiced much being so new to telescope use. Something to hone in the future. I did try it on the Orion nebula but maybe the conditions or maybe my inexperience, it didn't seem to help a lot. There will be other chances no doubt. There are several pesky "security" lights around but I know where they are and I'm accustomed to avoiding their worst effects. I'll have to try the towel trick, that should amuse anyone that notices! Extra warmth as a bonus though ūüôā

I spent alot of my last session with a deep parker hood over me and looking down, three bright streetlights at odd angles are trying to shred my night vision most evenings!

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I got out last night.  Looking back at my logs the last clear night I was able to get out was 22nd Nov 2020!

Got sight of:

Eskimo nebula: no filter this time.  Averted vision could see the nebula as green and direct vision the star within only. With oiii filter last time it was blue.

Hubble variable nebula: also no filter and appears white/grey.

Christmas tree cluster

Crab Nebula: almost missed it.  It was probably about as faint an object as my eye will detect. However it is pretty big.  Absolutely no detail just an elongated oval of smudge.  Looking in to buying a UHC filter which might help?

Rosette Nebula: Couldn't see the nebula but saw the saw cluster.  Again a UHC filter may help apparently?

M36/M37/M38

Lambda Orionis system: Don't usually bother checking out double stars but since the sky was so bright I tried it.  Probably try a few more.  Very little separation which made it worthwhile when I could make it out.

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