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First observation report - Fighting with the clouds


Grant93
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Hello everyone,

I would say it was about 80% clear last night, with about 20% low clouds, being in the UK you've gotta take what you get given, sometimes this contains periodic clouds haha 😆. I decided to ditch the imaging gear for tonight due to the periodic clouds, and got out the 10" Dob which has been a bit neglected for a month or so since I started learning about and practicing with my imaging gear. Got it out at about 22:45, to allow time to reach ambient temperature, whilst waiting for that and for it to get darker I collimated the mirrors and alligned the spotting scope, did a test on Artcurus to look for the unfocussed perfect donut. Still quite light, had a quick look at M13, just a blob with no detail!

So whilst waiting for astronomical twilight (No night time here sadly this time of year), grabbed a beer and gave my fiance puppy eyes through the patio door, in hoping she would join me. She responded with her puppy eyes and wrapped herself tighter in her blanket on the sofa, No success there! It finally looked dark enough so I decided to start. Equipment was the 10" Skywatcher flextube, the 25mm Plossl eyepiece it came with (48 Magnifiction), and a 2x Celestron Barlow for them close ups (96 Mag). Bortle 5 back garden.

M13 - Started at this big glob. Being very high in the sky, had a bright core with both 48 Mag and 96 Mag. With 96 Mag was the best I'd ever seen it, core seemed just as bright, but saw a lot of glittery individual stars surrounding, Good start!

M92 - Moved over to M13s neighbouring globular. Not as impressive but still very nice in both 48 and 96 Mag. 96 showed a slight glittery surrounding, couldn't see as many surrounding stars. To be expected when comparing to M13 I suppose!

Clouds hovered over that side of the sky, so I turned to the lower end of the big dipper to do see if I could spot some galaxys I havent tried for before. (Only had the dob since november).

M82 - Happened onto the cigar galaxy when looking for M81, Not a surprise considering they're next to each other, just didnt think I would be able to see this especially during astronomical twilight. Stood out surprisingly well compared to the background of the nightsky, spotted straight away and instantly recognisable. Didn't look like a faded grey blob compared to other ones, I assume this has quite high surface brightness compared to others. Looked like a sharp grey cigar, as the name suggests! All with 48 Mag, didn't attempt 96 Mag as the clouds were heading this way so wanted to find bodes galaxy asap!

M81 - Found this easily once I was done with the Cigar galaxy. This was on my mind tonight because I read somewhere on this forum that its a surprisingly bright galaxy with the spiral arms being easily spotted! Sadly this was not my experience, but that can easily be put down to the seeing conditions, also only being astronomical twilight and the fact it was roughly in the direction towards where the sun sets. However it had a bright core with a shadow of grey surrounding. Similar views in both 48 Mag and 96 Mag.

Both of these galaxys were a surprise to me at how bright they were without perfect nighttime. I've observed the Andromeda galaxy before, which is obviously very big and easy to spot but with no success on anything other than the core. And M51 near the zenith earlier this year at perfect nighttime, seeing both cores and a slight grey outter mist. Personally I can't wait for nighttime come back again for another attempt at M82 and M81, Bodes spiral arms are high up on my list to see!

Clouds arrived. I turned my dob back round towards the house as Lyra was slowly hovering above my house, within the next 10-15 minutes M57 the Ring nebula would be in a good position to observe, so I waited. M57 is the first nebula and messier object I ever spotted when I first got this telescope back in november but quite low on the horizon, it looked like a grey smoke ring as everyone describes. But whilst imaging the other night I had my binoculars out, looking up at the ring nebula although I couldnt see it clearly, I could see a blue glow in its location, between the lower 2 stars of Lyra. Although very very unlikely to see any color in a bortle 5 especially through binoculars (impossible probably), it still got me intrigued to see what it looked like so high through my dob, rather than close to the horizon. So this was high on my list to observe tonight, too bad it started behind my house.

Sadly, when it was in position at around 00:40, clouds filled the sky with very few breaks. M57 wasn't to be tonight, so I packed up my stuff and headed inside. Due to the fight with the clouds, I couldn't really spend longer than 5-10 minutes observing each object, but I must say it was good it have a plan and felt very productive because of this!

Hopefully this is a decent first report that people enjoy reading! Time for a bonus question since I'm rather new to this. Packing stuff away, lids and dust protectors on eye pieces and telescope on straight away to try and prevent dew forming, or leave off until dew forms and disappears? I've heard very mixed answers.

Thank you everyone who gave their time to read my first report!

Grant

 

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A very good read. Bode's and the Cigar often seem about to give up detail and I love looking at them. There's a third, dimmer galaxy right near them too, which I only saw for the first time in May. I'm always put off by the late nights and lack of darkness at this time of year, but your report has given me a bit of a push to get out again. Thanks.

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Nice report Grant! Some good targets seen there. You may want to get yourself some higher power eyepieces, M13 in your scope would look good with more power when the skies get darker again.

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2 hours ago, domstar said:

A very good read. Bode's and the Cigar often seem about to give up detail and I love looking at them. There's a third, dimmer galaxy right near them too, which I only saw for the first time in May. I'm always put off by the late nights and lack of darkness at this time of year, but your report has given me a bit of a push to get out again. Thanks.

It is frustrating having to wait until midnight for just astronomical twilight. But I remember sitting around in winter waiting for them dark nights, and feeling lucky if I got 1 every two weeks. So I feel obliged to take advantage of these clear nights, even if they arent perfect! Hope you get some clear skies and nice views! 😃

2 hours ago, Stu said:

Nice report Grant! Some good targets seen there. You may want to get yourself some higher power eyepieces, M13 in your scope would look good with more power when the skies get darker again.

Thank you! 😃 I do have a celestron zoom and a 10mm which the telescope came with. But as you say, I gotta wait for them proper dark nights (as dark as bortle 5 gets)!

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20 hours ago, Grant93 said:

Hope you get some clear skies and nice views! 😃

Actually, I made it out last night. Just a little session but found 3 new doubles. It was thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding.

Keep writing the reports. It's the best part of the forum for me and it often gives me the little push that I need.

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I agree with @domstar. I love reading others' reports, whether they are targets I'm familiar with, or even ones I could never see unless I travel to the southern hemisphere. 

After a clear night, it's great to have a peek here and see half a dozen or so reports ready for reading during my tea-break!

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On 07/06/2021 at 10:07, Grant93 said:

Hopefully this is a decent first report that people enjoy reading! Time for a bonus question since I'm rather new to this. Packing stuff away, lids and dust protectors on eye pieces and telescope on straight away to try and prevent dew forming, or leave off until dew forms and disappears? I've heard very mixed answers.

Very enjoyable report! Well done on all these targets. I have been blessed with clouds the past week or so.😂

I tend to leave my Dob and EPs open o/n to dry (in the winter if I have frost  on the OTA or heavy dew before coming in or after, I run my dehumidifier in the same room o/n) and put the dust caps, lids etc  in the morning. It is better to let them dry thoroughly than trapping moisture inside that could potentially lead to mildew. Others might advise differently.

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A nice first report, Grant. It's a pleasant surprise to be able to get some good observations, even though we're within a fortnight of midyear.

I agree with the comments above - your 10" Dob in Bortle 5 skies is a very capable beast, but the SkyWatcher stock eyepieces won't really show it at its best (especially not the 10mm).

On the question about cap or no cap when you bring your equipment in, all the opinions that I've seen on this forum have supported leaving them off until the equipment has returned to room temperature and any dew that did form has evaporated, otherwise you're trapping it in with the caps and increasing the chance of fungus. Just try to position items to avoid falling dust getting onto delicate surfaces. I usually leave my kit out in the lounge overnight, but prop the covers loosely against each item.

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3 hours ago, domstar said:

Actually, I made it out last night. Just a little session but found 3 new doubles. It was thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding.

Keep writing the reports. It's the best part of the forum for me and it often gives me the little push that I need.

Good to hear! Might have to try some doubles myself tonight whilst imaging! (If its clear, 1 weather report says clear, other says 90% clouds).

 

31 minutes ago, Pixies said:

I agree with @domstar. I love reading others' reports, whether they are targets I'm familiar with, or even ones I could never see unless I travel to the southern hemisphere. 

After a clear night, it's great to have a peek here and see half a dozen or so reports ready for reading during my tea-break!

I only became familiar with this part of the forum on the day before I had this observation, it was fun reading other people observations, getting ideas, see how other people work around this astronomical twilight. Then when observing I just started taking notes for my own report which made it feel productive. Its also made me even consider sketching!

15 minutes ago, Kon said:

Very enjoyable report! Well done on all these targets. I have been blessed with clouds the past week or so.😂

I tend to leave my Dob and EPs open o/n to dry (in the winter if I have frost  on the OTA or heavy dew before coming in or after, I run my dehumidifier in the same room o/n) and put the dust caps, lids etc  in the morning. It is better to let them dry thoroughly than trapping moisture inside that could potentially lead to mildew. Others might advise differently.

Thank you, haha not had a truly clear night for a week or so here, this was just making do. 😆

And thank you for the advice also. 😃

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2 minutes ago, Zermelo said:

A nice first report, Grant. It's a pleasant surprise to be able to get some good observations, even though we're within a fortnight of midyear.

I agree with the comments above - your 10" Dob in Bortle 5 skies is a very capable beast, but the SkyWatcher stock eyepieces won't really show it at its best (especially not the 10mm).

On the question about cap or no cap when you bring your equipment in, all the opinions that I've seen on this forum have supported leaving them off until the equipment has returned to room temperature and any dew that did form has evaporated, otherwise you're trapping it in with the caps and increasing the chance of fungus. Just try to position items to avoid falling dust getting onto delicate surfaces. I usually leave my kit out in the lounge overnight, but prop the covers loosely against each item.

Yes I can't wait for the solstice to come and go, and watch the nights slowly get darker.

Any eyepieces you would recommend? Other than the stock ones being 25mm and 10mm, I have a 2x barlow, a 2" 32mm Orion Q70 (Love this one), 1.25" Orion zoom (above I mistakedly typed celestron (7-21mm)). The 25mm feels like it gives good views, quite clear, clearer even than the Orion zoom, but I assume that has to do with zoom lens often giving less quality views, but I like the zoom for doubles and hopefully it will be good when Jupiter and Saturn are visible at better hours. But I do see a lot less quality when it comes to the 10mm as you say.

That advice seems to be the go to, I'll do that from now on! Thank you!

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2 hours ago, Grant93 said:

Yes I can't wait for the solstice to come and go, and watch the nights slowly get darker.

Any eyepieces you would recommend? Other than the stock ones being 25mm and 10mm, I have a 2x barlow, a 2" 32mm Orion Q70 (Love this one), 1.25" Orion zoom (above I mistakedly typed celestron (7-21mm)). The 25mm feels like it gives good views, quite clear, clearer even than the Orion zoom, but I assume that has to do with zoom lens often giving less quality views, but I like the zoom for doubles and hopefully it will be good when Jupiter and Saturn are visible at better hours. But I do see a lot less quality when it comes to the 10mm as you say.

That advice seems to be the go to, I'll do that from now on! Thank you!

 

Ah, you do have some more, I misread.

The Skywatcher 25mm isn't too bad, it certainly does better than the 10mm.  I think your scope is F/4.7, so it's going to test any eyepiece.  I'm not familiar with the Orion zoom, though it seems to have some fans. Actually, there are quite a few decent 7-21mm zooms out there that are essentially clones, this may be one of them. As you say, they can be very handy when hunting for doubles.  It will give you, I think, around 60x to 170x, which is a decent range for looking at planets. As has been said, the magnification may be more limited by UK conditions and the low altitudes (at least for Jupiter and Saturn) rather than your scope or eyepieces, but if circumstances allow it, and your zoom plays nice with your barlow, then with ten inches of aperture you should be able to push it a bit higher.

If you're looking around for more fixed eyepieces then the forum is full of recommendations to suit any wallet. There's a great variety of opinion as you'd expect, though many here will tell you that among the best value-for-money buys as a first step up from the stock eyepieces are these.

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As @Zermelosaid the BST EPs are pretty good for the price. I have the 15 and 8 mm for DSOs and planets and they are pretty excellent with my SK 8" Dob. The 25mm is not bad at all (I do not think i have used the box standard 10mm much, 1-2 times?) but I am looking to upgrade it and we had a good discussion here if you want to have a read (I am still getting my head around all the suggestions):

 

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14 hours ago, Zermelo said:

If you're looking around for more fixed eyepieces then the forum is full of recommendations to suit any wallet. There's a great variety of opinion as you'd expect, though many here will tell you that among the best value-for-money buys as a first step up from the stock eyepieces are these.

 

14 hours ago, Kon said:

As @Zermelosaid the BST EPs are pretty good for the price. I have the 15 and 8 mm for DSOs and planets and they are pretty excellent with my SK 8" Dob. The 25mm is not bad at all (I do not think i have used the box standard 10mm much, 1-2 times?) but I am looking to upgrade it and we had a good discussion here if you want to have a read (I am still getting my head around all the suggestions):

 

I think I now have some requests for my birthday! 😇 A bit to wait yet though 😕

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2 hours ago, Grant93 said:

I think I now have some requests for my birthday!

Here's another good recent thread about Starguiders.  There are also links inside to advice on how to choose sensible EP focal lengths as you build a collection.

 

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Super report - really enjoyed reading this thank you. 
M13 & M81/2 are on my regular “greatest hits” tours at the end of a session - objects that really bring home the vastness! 
 

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Nice report Grant, detailed and well written👍🙂.

Regarding post session care of your scope, I'd strongly recommend leaving covers off overnight to allow the natural drying off process to be completed. This is, I suspect, more important for refractors, with their objectives having air spaced elements, but it's a fact that moisture and any optics don't mix..

Regarding the next step in your eyepiece collection, at the 10mm step and an affordable price, I'd recommend the 10mm BCO (Baader Classic Ortho) - unless you need to wear glasses to observe.

They are extremely sharp across the (fairly narrow) field. Contrast is also excellent (good for your faint fuzzies😁), and your barlow should also work well with the 10mm, to give you a 5mm for very good nights (and for splitting doubles!).

If you are wanting to view extended objects that won't fit into the narrow field of view, the BST range do offer a nice 60 degree field which is a good deal wider than the Ortho.

As has already been said, don't let the light nights put you off trying higher magnification..the higher powers actually darken the sky background very noticeably, and often make fainter and diffuse targets stand out better.

Keep those reports coming!👍😊

Dave

 

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12 hours ago, SuburbanMak said:

Super report - really enjoyed reading this thank you. 
M13 & M81/2 are on my regular “greatest hits” tours at the end of a session - objects that really bring home the vastness! 
 

Thank you :D I can very much see why! Was I missing detail on bodes, are the spiral arms quite easy to see under real night skies? :D

10 hours ago, F15Rules said:

Nice report Grant, detailed and well written👍🙂.

Regarding post session care of your scope, I'd strongly recommend leaving covers off overnight to allow the natural drying off process to be completed. This is, I suspect, more important for refractors, with their objectives having air spaced elements, but it's a fact that moisture and any optics don't mix..

Regarding the next step in your eyepiece collection, at the 10mm step and an affordable price, I'd recommend the 10mm BCO (Baader Classic Ortho) - unless you need to wear glasses to observe.

They are extremely sharp across the (fairly narrow) field. Contrast is also excellent (good for your faint fuzzies😁), and your barlow should also work well with the 10mm, to give you a 5mm for very good nights (and for splitting doubles!).

If you are wanting to view extended objects that won't fit into the narrow field of view, the BST range do offer a nice 60 degree field which is a good deal wider than the Ortho.

As has already been said, don't let the light nights put you off trying higher magnification..the higher powers actually darken the sky background very noticeably, and often make fainter and diffuse targets stand out better.

Keep those reports coming!👍😊

Dave

 

Thank you! :)

Sounds like them eyepieces would also be good for moon nights! I'll have a look at them :D

Grant

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