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Better late than not at all


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A family social "zoom" call was scheduled for yesterday evening and of course it coincided with the first clear skies for a little while. Family has to come first though so I popped a scope (my Vixen ED102SS refractor) out to cool down early on and got on with the virtual socializing. 

By the time I was able to get outside, the moon had dipped behind our house and Orion was well across the sky as well. I could see that the transparency was not the best and it got worse as the evening progressed, unfortunately.

So, as pushing for the more challenging DSO's was probably not going to prove productive I stuck mostly to binary stars, the brighter nebulae and clusters.

Starting with Orion I went for the binaries Eta Orionis, Rigel, 32 Orionis, Sigma Orionis (4th star barely visible tonight), Trapezium A-D with E occasionally and F a "no-show". Finally in Orion, Alnitak was a nice bright split.

Orion's brightest nebulae, M42 and M43 were clear and the much dimmer M78, the reflection nebula a couple of degrees above Alnitak was glowing softly. I put the 31mm Nagler eyepiece into the diagonal which gave me 21x and a whopping 3.8 degree true field of view. It was lovely seeing the whole of the "Sword of Orion" area in the same view and the Great Orion Nebula spreading it's "wings" amongst the pinpoint stars. The Astronomik UHC filter improved the contrast and extent of the nebulosity noticeably.

Staying with the big Nagler / UHC filter combination I moved into Monoceros and the cluster NGC 2244 which lies at the heart of the Rosette Nebula. A lovely open cluster without the filter but with the filter I could just make out the vague smoky "doughnut" form of the Rosette Nebula surrounding the cluster. I was pleased to see these traces of the nebulosity given the less than ideal sky transparency. The extent of the Rosette Nebula is around 2 degrees so you need a good wide field view to take it in plus a UHC filter really helps.

I switched eyepieces to something higher powered to have a look at the lovely triple star Beta Monocerotis.

Moving up into Gemini, Castor split into two bight "headlights" and then, putting the Nagler 31 back in, to the big Messier 35 open cluster and the smaller, less distinct, and much more distant cluster NGC 2158. Crossing the constellation of the twins, the planetary nebula NGC 2392 (The Eskimo) could be seen as a tiny glowing patch of light close to another star in quite a rich star field at 21x. Its interesting to observe targets that you normally use high powers on, at much lower magnifications to see them within the context of their home patches of sky.

Moving across to Cancer now, The low power, wide field was great to observe Messier 44, the Behive cluster with and then dropping down the constellation to pick up the fainter, delicate swathe of stars of the M67, AKA "The Golden Eye" cluster. Back to a high power eyepiece again to have a look at the triple star Tegmine (Zeta Cancri). It was clearly a 3 star system but the closer pair were touching giving a "peanut" or "snowman" appearance.

The sky transparency was clearly starting to dip now so, moving across to Leo, I was pleased to pick up the faint glow of the 9th magnitude galaxy NGC 2903 near the lions "nose". The only galaxy I was able to see during this session.

As the sky was turning more milky and the cold was starting to seep through my outer layers, I rounded off with the lovely golden pair of Algeiba (Gamma Leonis) and finally, as the fainter stars were fast disappearing, found my way to Iota Leonis below the lions belly. I used the Nagler 2-4mm zoom eyepiece to closely examine this interesting binary star. The stars are magnitude 4.1 and 6.7 respectively with a separation of around 2.1 degrees arc seconds (oops !) currently. They are just 79 light years away and the dimmer star is a G3 star, thought to be rather like our Sun. The brighter star is also a spectroscopic binary. These 3 stars are orbiting each other at a distance smaller than the scale of our solar system with the dimmer star orbiting the central pair every 186 years.

The split between the A and B stars was seen at 160x and a little clearer at 221x. I was pleased to get this result considering the deteriorating conditions and the relatively small aperture of the scope. I nice point to decide to end the session and head back into the warmth I felt.

I think the highlights of this session were Orions Sword / M42 at really low power with the UHC filter, seeing traces of the Rosette Nebula around NGC 2244, and getting a split on Iota Leonis.

Observing sessions seem to have been few and far between over the past month or so. I was very glad to be able to enjoy a few hours at the eyepiece again :icon_biggrin:

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Edited by John
To convert degrees to arc seconds !
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Great write-up, John.

I wasn't feeling too good yesterday so decided against going out - a decision supported by pessimistic forecasts, a very hazy moon and frantically twinkling Sirius - but it sounds like I should have made the effort. 🙁

I'm interested that you're getting value from the UHC on M42 and Rosette. I have the same Astronomic version, and while it's certainly made a big difference on some targets like the veil nebula, I haven't been able to detect any difference on M42 (and since it also dims the stars, I actually prefer the view without).
Possibly an effect of my smaller (6") aperture?

 

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3 hours ago, Zermelo said:

Great write-up, John.

I wasn't feeling too good yesterday so decided against going out - a decision supported by pessimistic forecasts, a very hazy moon and frantically twinkling Sirius - but it sounds like I should have made the effort. 🙁

I'm interested that you're getting value from the UHC on M42 and Rosette. I have the same Astronomic version, and while it's certainly made a big difference on some targets like the veil nebula, I haven't been able to detect any difference on M42 (and since it also dims the stars, I actually prefer the view without).
Possibly an effect of my smaller (6") aperture?

 

Thanks.

My scope last night was 102mm so not a big aperture.

I find the Astronomik UHC does make generally a difference on emission nebulae. It is not usually an "in your face" difference such as an O-III filter makes on the Veil, but a subtle enhancement of the contrast and extension of parts of the nebula, in the case of M42, the curved arcs of nebulosity that extend away from the "fishes mouth" seem to lengthen and their shape is more distinctive.

I have not had the Astronomik UHC all that long but so far it has made enough of a difference for me to want to keep it for use alongside my Lumicon O-III. Thats a better result than a few other UHC filters have had for me :icon_biggrin: 

Edited by John
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Thanks for the report John - always good reading.

I think I was out a bit earlier than you and not too far away on the  other side of Bristol.

I did some of the same targets myself with my 120ED too, up to the point of when you got to Cancer by which time I had to give it up. Trapezium E was steady with occasional glimpses of F as seems to be the norm in this scope. Rigel, sigma Orionis and Beta Monoceros all lovely. Must remember to look up 32 and Eta Orionis - not aware of those. I did get to spend some time exploring the moon's terminator as well.

I have much cheaper UHC and I find that on M42  the darkening of the sky it gives make the fainter areas look more definite and 'solid'.

Anyway it was great to get out for an hour or two.

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Very nice report and you made me jealous; i was on a social zoom for most of the clear sky last night, so I feel you, but you at least managed a nice session! Do you find your filters to improve things when the moon is out as well?

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Lovely stuff John, very nice report. You are right about observing sessions being few and far between currently, so it’s good to read about any successful nights! I would love to see the Rosette nebula again, but I really don’t think my skies would allow it. Perhaps I’ll get the old Genesis out and give it a go once the Moon is out of the way again. Do you recall if it is any better with an OUII than UHC?

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13 minutes ago, Stu said:

Lovely stuff John, very nice report. You are right about observing sessions being few and far between currently, so it’s good to read about any successful nights! I would love to see the Rosette nebula again, but I really don’t think my skies would allow it. Perhaps I’ll get the old Genesis out and give it a go once the Moon is out of the way again. Do you recall if it is any better with an OUII than UHC?

I've actually not tried an O-III on the Rosette Stu. I will next time out though !

It's a rather overlooked target for me to be honest - a recent thread on here put it back on my radar though :icon_biggrin:

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26 minutes ago, John said:

I've actually not tried an O-III on the Rosette Stu. I will next time out though !

It's a rather overlooked target for me to be honest - a recent thread on here put it back on my radar though :icon_biggrin:

https://www.prairieastronomyclub.org/filter-performance-comparisons-for-some-common-nebulae/Mr Knisely seem to think that both will do a good job.

https://www.prairieastronomyclub.org/filter-performance-comparisons-for-some-common-nebulae/

 

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A lovely session with a lovely scope, John, a great read as ever..👍.

I managed an hour last night, but as I still didn't feel 100% after my first vaccine jab late on Tuesday, I just got out the little 60mm Carton frac and 9x63 binoculars. 

So I just started in Orion (where else?) , and enjoyed the usual targets with my modest little Carton. I had my Orion bins tripod mounted and they gave some lovely views of the Belt Region.

The small Carton aperture gives a very different perspective compared to using the FS128, for example seeing the 4th Trap star was not that easy or to be taken for granted with the Moon up.. but I did manage to glimpse the brighter of the two faint stars near to the Trapezium, embedded in the nebula to the east (right hand view) of the Trap (Refractor /diagonal upright but reversed view).. does anyone know the magnitude of these two stars? I'd estimate something around 9 to 9.5.for the brighter one?

I also turned the bins to the Double Cluster in Perseus and got a nicely framed binocular view of 5 degrees of both these clusters, and also a lovely view of the Pleiades, again beautifully framed.

I viewed both clusters with the Carton 60mm too, with my 28mm Carton ep giving 25x, and just a delightful sprinkling of tiny glittering points..took me back to.my teens in the 70s when my Dixon's Prinz (Circle T optics) 60mm F15 was my pride and joy!

A different, but very enjoyable little session..☺️

Dave

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8 hours ago, F15Rules said:

The small Carton aperture gives a very different perspective compared to using the FS128, for example seeing the 4th Trap star was not that easy or to be taken for granted with the Moon up.. but I did manage to glimpse the brighter of the two faint stars near to the Trapezium, embedded in the nebula to the east (right hand view) of the Trap (Refractor /diagonal upright but reversed view).. does anyone know the magnitude of these two stars? I'd estimate something around 9 to 9.5.for the brighter one?

Can’t quite work out which stars you are referring to Dave? This image was through my 63mm the other night, though my LP is much worse than yours so I doubt I could see them. Whereabouts on the image were they?

88DFCF21-3F02-4C80-820D-84AF3D47EBC0.jpeg

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Hi Stu,

Great image! I was referring to the two faint stars just closely above, and slightly right, of the 4 main A-D stars of the Trap in your image..

..you have captured the two nicely and they are easy to see when you enlarge your shot (sorry, I don't know how to add a pointer to your image - they are almost immediately above the slightly overexposed 4 Trap stars, in the centre of your image).

I could see the brighter of these two, (the one on the right) with my Carton 60mm, with averted vision, but not the fainter one to the left. 

In the FS128 both of these are easy, direct vision targets, and my previous Vixen ED103s would have shown both readily as well..(and I'm sure John's Vixen he used last night would have shown them both readily too).

I tend to use the visibility of these two stars as a rough guide as to the  transparency of the sky. Three nights ago the Moon was much less obtrusive ( I could see some of the Milky Way through Cassiopeia into Perseus and then via Auriga and Gemini, with the naked eye - but no chance last night with the Moon placed as it was), but that night I was using the Tak and they were very easy with direct vision that night.

My 9x63 binoculars don't magnify enough to show either of these two faintish Orion stars - maybe 15 or 20x60s would?

Also, I don't think the Carton's light  transmission is quite as good as the Telementor, from what I can recall of the one I had until a couple of years ago? Can you see both of the above stars with your Telementor and direct vision Stu?

Thanks for posting the image, you definitely picked up the two stars I was referring to!

Cheers,

Dave

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1 hour ago, F15Rules said:

Can you see both of the above stars with your Telementor and direct vision Stu?

I can’t actually remember Dave, I’ll check again next time out.

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