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An unexpected evening


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I have been hoping for a decent night sky ever since my 200p dob arrived in early December – it finally happened! Arriving home at 8.00 on Saturday, I couldn’t believe my luck. I checked for imminent cloud banks and then ran around madly, getting the scope outside, wrapping up in lots of layers, and instructing family to turn off all non-essential lights. Even more amazingly, by the time I had everything in place, the sky was still clear.

 

I am really fortunate to be in a Bortle 3-4 area, although there is quite a lot of light around from neighbours, street lights and so forth, but last night the worst offenders didn’t interfere. And no moon, either. Oh, and this was also my first chance to properly assess my new eyepiece, a Morpheus 17.5mm. (Well, so many people speak so highly of it, and what with a new scope an’ all… and then FLO put one in their sale…)

 

Orion was front and centre, so first up was M42 with the Hyperflex 21.5-7.2mm zoom. The nebula looked terrific, with plenty of detail in the gas clouds and the four Trapezium stars showing very clearly. I admired it all for a while and panned around for a bit, zipped down to Rigel – could I split it? My one previous outing with the dob (for an hour, before clouds stopped play) I had spent a bit of time trying to split this and finally got there. It’s definitely easier the second time, when you know what to expect. Back to M42 and time to try the Morpheus. Ah, a real wow moment. I was simply bowled over by the beautiful image filling the view, how big the nebula is, how bright the stars, how much I could see. I stayed with this for a long time, just absorbing it all. Eventually, I tore myself away and went looking for other stuff.

 

Still in Orion, M78 was a nice find, with its two stars clearly visible. Overhead, the Pleiades looked splendid, although I couldn’t detect any nebulosity. I hopped down to Sirius, just in case it was a good night to find the Pup. It may have been, but not for me – not surprised, I suspect more observing experience would help here. Moved on to M41, then Beta Monoceros, my first triple system, then M46 and M47, so ticked off some items on the Messier list. Couldn’t catch either M79 or M93 – a rising haze was starting to obscure the lower sky and I was also having some issues with navigating the dob (I need to sort out a Rigel or Telrad next).

 

I was thinking of moving up to Castor and noticed a faint patch below Gemini – quick atlas check, I had no idea the Beehive was visible to the eye. Another Messier – which looked terrific through the Morpheus. The wind was beginning to pick up again and it was getting very cold, so I swung back to Orion, and had a look at the belt stars, managing to split Alnitak and Mintaka, then drifted about just enjoying the different groups of stars and coming back at last to M42. I stayed with that in the Morpheus until it was just too cold and finally some clouds started to arrive. I moved the dob inside and came back out with my Pentax 10x50s for a gentle scan around the still-clear bits of sky, through the Milky Way, Cassiopeia (lots of fuzzies) and Auriga (M36/37/38). Eventually chilled through and clouded out, packed up about 12.00.

 

It’s been so good to finally get a chance to use the scope properly. I’ve been thrilled with the views through this scope, was wowed by the Orion nebula the first time I used the dob, but I must say the view of it through the Morpheus last night was a step change again. I need more practice to get everything working smoothly and improve my navigation. Lots of tips and suggestions here on SGL, so plenty of food for thought. And I might be getting hooked on doubles….

 

I’ve rambled on a bit, so thanks for reading if you’ve stuck with me to the end!

Edited by aderyn
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Great report Louise :smiley:

It's been a while since I've seen a clear sky here so it's nice to read that they still come along !

 

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Great report - as a beginner its so encouraging to read of sessions that routinely include "not finding things" and realise its a normal part of the process.

Likewise lingering on the views that really take the breath away - they don't come along that often!  Also finishing the evening with a binocular-wander around a few wide-field greatest hits is becoming a routine for me and rounds off a session. Thanks again and here's to clear skies! 

 

 

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44 minutes ago, SuburbanMak said:

 ....sessions that routinely include "not finding things"....

Thank you for your kind words.

... it's a rather long list of 'things not found', as yet, for me! I'm definitely at the beginner stage myself and still getting to grips with navigating around and moving this new scope to target. A Rigel or Telrad are an imminent addition, hopefully in the next couple of days (don't tell the clouds, but there may be some clear sky Tue or Wed), and I'm giving thought to a Wixey gauge and setting circles after that.

All good fun, and what we all need is more chance to get out and admire the view -  I really would like another chance to linger with M42 before it disappears for the summer 🙂

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47 minutes ago, aderyn said:

Thank you for your kind words.

... it's a rather long list of 'things not found', as yet, for me! 

I think that’s also useful. It will help others, but also serve as a reminder for you in future observing sessions 👍🏻

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Really enjoyable read, thank you. As I read it I heard HOWLING wind outside, it made me very jealous! And “naked eye Beehive” is a sign of lovely dark sky, so lucky you! When you get a chance, look also for the Coma Berenices Cluster naked eye, a similarly fuzzy patch roughly at the centre of the arc made out by the “pan-handle” of Ursa Major.

Magnus

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6 hours ago, JeremyS said:

future observing sessions....

... for which I could do with being more organised (if only ...). Saturday turned out a bit all over the place, rather than systematic, which I shall put down to 'oh my gosh, there's stars up there, how much can I look at before the clouds arrive' 😄

55 minutes ago, Captain Magenta said:

Coma Berenices Cluster

Thank you for the suggestion, Magnus - I had to look that one up! - it's added to the list but it's not well placed for me at the moment, too low down in the evening as yet. Something to look forward to. 👍 I'm guessing you're in eastern England at the moment, with the howling wind - I think we may have some interesting weather over here by Friday.

Thank you everyone for your kind comments - of course, it's likely to encourage me to waffle on some more in future 😁

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6 minutes ago, aderyn said:

... I'm guessing you're in eastern England at the moment, with the howling wind ...

Farthest SW Ireland actually, lovely and dark when eventually the skies clear!

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