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Early Moon and Mars


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Clearish night forecast tonight and it does indeed look that way :smiley:

As my 12 inch dob cools down I've been catching some early views of Mars and the Moon with a 7.2mm - 21.5mm zoom eyepiece so that I can adjust the magnification to suit.

The seeing seems steady currently. Mars 8.6 arc second disk clearly defined at 221x with some dark areas showing across the southern hemisphere of the planet.

The Moon's phase is really nice just now. The Rupes Recta (Straight Wall) and the Birt craters are very close to the terminator with strong shadows strongly emphasizing the rugged folds and clefts in the lunar landscape. The Apollo 15 landing site in the Lunar Apennines is also really well placed and illuminated. The sinuous form of the Hadley Rillle can be traced as it wriggles through the foothills and crosses the plain in front of Mount Hadley which Scott and Irwin explored in the Lunar Roving Vehicle.

The Lunar Alpine Valley is very nicely presented as well. The illumination looks suitable for spotting that elusive rille that runs down the valley floor perhaps ?

Hopefully this will continue for a few hours yet to make up for the past 10 days or so of unremitting cloud cover here !

If it stays clear, as well as the usual Orion favourites and some Leo galaxies I'd like to try and see that supernova in NGC 4414 while it still has some brightness in it:

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/369912-supernova-2021j-in-ngc-4414/?tab=comments#comment-4023877

 

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Well done John. I set up the 12 inch dob plus all the eyepiece a few hours ago to view moon, mars and uranus. Forecast total clear skies no cloud all night plus the early hours. I had to deliver something to my son (out for 10 minutes) in that time it poured down with everything getting totally wet. You would not believe the mess.

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2 minutes ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Well done John. I set up the 12 inch dob plus all the eyepiece a few hours ago to view moon, mars and uranus. Forecast total clear skies no cloud all night plus the early hours. I had to deliver something to my son (out for 10 minutes) in that time it poured down with everything getting totally wet. You would not believe the mess.

Sorry to hear that Mark.

I have a scope cover on standby but it looks OK at the moment here.

Uranus is just 1.4 degrees from Mars so easy to find tonight - just go "down" a bit from Mars. Both easily fitting into the field of view of my 9x50 finder and I can just about fit the pair in the same field with the 12 inch dob if I use the 31mm Nagler. Uranus disk looks bluer tonight than last time I observed it. Perhaps that is the proximity of the bright Moon having an effect ?

Got to have a break for supper now. Fingers crossed for more of this later 🤞

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Was out about an hour ago with my little Tak FS-60Q and the Moon was crystal clear with some amazing detail, however not the same story with an increasingly small Mars! 
Out later with Tak FC-100DL if weather stay clear...oh and when I’ve done the dishes🤞
 

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27 minutes ago, John said:

I'd like to try and see that supernova in NGC 4414 while it still has some brightness in it:

Typical, tonight would have been an ideal chance at this one. Unfortunately I've been asked to cover a 12 hour day shift tomorrow so it's suddenly become a school night even though I'm still on leave until Monday. The supernova won't be clearing the house until 3 or 4am so it'd have to be an all-nighter.

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Just exploring some of the nice crater chains close to the terminator before the Moon goes behind our house.

Fascinating features. This one is in the walled plain of Deslandres, to the south of the Rupes Recta:

https://www.cloudynights.com/uploads/monthly_01_2020/post-252462-0-38761700-1578099412_thumb.jpg

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Despite my earlier problem with the Dob I decided to take out the 130P Heritage and undertake the same observing programme. John because you mentioned Deslandres I started there. Using my 9mm and  6mm Orthos with the Baader barlow I had excellent views of this area. The Moon was very stable and I was able to go up to 244x which is pretty good going with the Heritage.

Moved over to Mars and some nice markings and then down to Uranus which at 244x was a nice disc.

Took in a few doubles - started with the Trapezium then Rigel and ended with Sigma Orionis picking up the 5 stars.

The Heritage was placed on a Skywatcher AZ Pronto mount and the slow motion cables worked well. This is an excellent lightweight quick grab and go 5" setup.

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I set up at half 7 john and set about hunting down 'the winter favourites'

3 hours worth before it started getting frosty here, so called it a night as i need to be up at 6 in the morning.

But its nice to be able to get out and observe, and its been weeks since the last decent night.

The seeing did indeed seem decent earlier on but i thought it had deteriorated  a bit by the time i called it a night.

I was using my 140mm refractor, a Mk 5 bino and pairs of 24 & 19 Panoptics + 15 & 12 APM Flatfields.

Lunar views were amazingly sharp earlier on but when i looked at Mars with some more mag i could still see some thermal plumes.

Half an hour later they had subsided. Probably my last Mars session of this apparition. I too could see the darker areas on the disk and Its certainly getting smaller with an obvious phase.

The M42 Trapezium split beautifully, with what seemed like acres of space between them. But try as i might, i still couldn't see the E or F components.

I thought at times i could make out the E but it was so so faint. I'm sure its there, and my scope is more than capable optically, but i just think 

its 75% my light polluted skys and 25% my 53 year old eyes that are hampering my efforts.

Rigel was an easy split. I didn't look at Sirius as it was obscured behind low trees. 

 

 

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I'm still out there. I've got the Tak 100 out as well to give the dob some company.

It's fun comparing the views of targets with such a difference in aperture.

The seeing is not too bad here but is not 100%. The dob is splitting stars down to an arc second separation but the star images are not tight and text book like the Tak refractor shows.

Both scopes showed the Eskimo Nebula rather well, the dob at 338x and the refractor at 225x. The central star and "layered" structure of the nebula was visible in both scopes but the contrast between the central zone of the nebula and the outer layer (the Eskimo's parka hood) was more marked with the 12 inch scope as you would expect.

The 12 was showing Sirius B intermittently as the seeing fluctuated but the 100mm Tak didn't although the view of Sirius A through the refractor was much tidier.

Trapezium E & F very obvious with the big dob but just E tonight with the smaller refractor.

The challenging triple star Tegmine (Zeta Cancri) showed as a single star plus a touching pair with the refractor whereas the 12 inch dob split the close pair clearly.

Good fun and nice to be out :smiley:

 

 

Edited by John
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Took the mak and little dob out, having pegged a tarp out for them and me to stand on and  avoid being consumed by the mud formerly known as my garden.

Started with the mak,  the Moon was really clear, scarcely a wobble in the view right up to my kit's limit of 187x (without the barlow, which I don't much like using )  fabulous detailed views , spent some time taking it in, only my third clear night since December 20th, and it all seems quite novel again !  Mars was less co-operative,  so I shifted to Uranus instead as it was a lot easier to find than last time I got the chance  . Checked that I could see Uranus in my binoculars, and came indoors to email friends who I know would like to see it with their binoculars too .

Checked the BBC online weather forecast, which suggested 43% chance of precipitation 11-12pm, so brought the kit in , hope to get back out when the Moon sets behind the houses to my west around 1am and give the dob a bit of an airing.

Heather

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I've packed the scopes in now. It's still clear but it has got a little "milky". I was finding mag 9.5 galaxies none too easy and then I noticed a fine fogging on my primary mirror as well as a milkiness in the sky. The galaxy with the SN in is a mag fainter so I figured that tonight was not really a good one for that challenge, all in all.

Plus I'm cold and fancy a glass of warm Shiraz before turning in :wink:

 

 

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Same here John.... I've had a lovely hour or two.... I'd almost forgotten what it felt like... but it's gone 'milky' here too and I've gone cold through to the bone.
Big smile on my face though.... I've missed it so much  :blush: 

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Great reports, it was amazing to get to view the night sky last night but got to cold in the end, my report is in another thread here but I'm still buzzing now, got lots of images and captures to look through today, clear skies 

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For me the highlight of the evening was splitting 32 and 52 Orionis that  John  suggested in an earlier post.

First I bagged 32 Orionis which was easier, I used 9mm eyepiece at the Mak giving 300x and the pair were clearly split in roughly SW-NE direction.

With the same magnification I could only get 'elongated egg shape' from 52 Orionis due to unsteady seeing so I went down to 6mm and 450x, crazy magnification but it worked. They were clearly separated at the first diffraction ring in moments of steady seeing. What makes it possible is that both components are of equal magnitude. This was my first 1'' double, very happy!

I think I got a hint of Sirius B, north-east of the primary but the heat plumes of the houses were making Sirius a rainbow blob and I was freezing and had trouble keeping still at the eyepiece at that stage so this will be continued on another night. Saturday looks good here! 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Nik271 said:

For me the highlight of the evening was splitting 32 and 52 Orionis that  John  suggested in an earlier post.

First I bagged 32 Orionis which was easier, I used 9mm eyepiece at the Mak giving 300x and the pair were clearly split in roughly SW-NE direction.

With the same magnification I could only get 'elongated egg shape' from 52 Orionis due to unsteady seeing so I went down to 6mm and 450x, crazy magnification but it worked. They were clearly separated at the first diffraction ring in moments of steady seeing. What makes it possible is that both components are of equal magnitude. This was my first 1'' double, very happy!

I think I got a hint of Sirius B, north-east of the primary but the heat plumes of the houses were making Sirius a rainbow blob and I was freezing and had trouble keeping still at the eyepiece at that stage so this will be continued on another night. Saturday looks good here! 

 

 

Some excellent catches there with the big mak ! :thumbright:

 

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16 hours ago, John said:

The Rupes Recta (Straight Wall)

Thanks, John - I was just about to look up what that weird straight line was that I saw last night. I thought it was an optical defect at first.

I managed to carry on until about 10.30 dodging clouds, but gave up when they came over at two different levels simultaneously.

Still, it was nice to get out after a long lay off. I was surprised to find M81/82 even with the moon. M42 still looked good, though I've yet to see more than four stars in the Trapezium. I agree that seeing has been better, but did manage to see Rigel's companion and stayed up long enough to split Algieba, which I'd failed to do with my small refractor on five occasions last year. And the new RACI finder is a dream, my neck is thanking me this morning.

 

 

 

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