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Excellent planetary seeing conditions!


Nik271
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Similar here in Southampton. Looks clear, Saturn & Jupiter very bright but not a patch on yesterday. No wobbles but the views are hazy. Yesterday I could get 300x on Jupiter. Tonight 170x. There’s also a lot of dew.

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No observing for me tonight, but it looks nice and clear here still. The stars look fairly stable so the seeing looks like it was quite reasonable, typically! Hopefully we have a few more clear night to come.

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Worth going out. The seeing was OK, not brilliant, but the low cloud held off and there didn't seem to be any of the misty high stuff that we've had recently.

Tried a few doubles, couldn't get any of the really tight ones. Diffraction rings were reasonably steady, but it was a bit jumpy. Saturn was OK, I could just about see Cassini. Jupiter was quite impressive, four bands visible and a fair bit of detail in the NEB. The moon was shimmering a bit on the limb, 150x was probably best.

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No luck here , I'd left the 102 mm 'frac outside under a cover ready for rapid deployment ever since some solar viewing around lunchtime, the Sun set, heavy clouds arrived soon after , then the clouds got light and patchy, so I put the mak out to cool. The Moon rose, the widefield 'frac was bought back indoors. Unfortunately the light cloud stayed,, and at 1am I gave up and bought the mak in, unused.

The only thing that is predictable about the English weather is that it is unpredictable !

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12 hours ago, Nik271 said:

I just packed up for the night. The seeing is meh, waited an hour but it's not improving, even at the zenith the stars are wobbly. It's very strange because otherwise is a still and clear night. Grabbed a quick view of M2 and Neptune, but at high magnification it's a lost cause ☹️

I think we were spoilt with the previous night being so wonderful for observations . I was a bit disapointed last night if i am honest and Neptune is still an enigma for me ( damn street light washes a lot out ) . But , a fairly clear night forecast tonight , hopefully better seeing . 

Edited by Stu1smartcookie
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4 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

I think we were spoilt with the previous night being so wonderful for observations . I was a bit disapointed last night if i am honest and Neptune is still an enigma for me ( damn street light washes a lot out ) . But , a fairly clear night forecast tonight , hopefully better seeing . 

These days Neptune is relatively easy to find since it is very close to the 6-th magnitude star HD221148.

You will need some optical finder: step from Saturn to Jupiter and continue the same distance east to Lambda Aqr. Then look for Phi Aqr further east and continue a bit less than the distance from Lambda to Phi further east. HD221148 is one of the few 6-th magnitude stars in the field and hopefully it will be recognizable as a 'double' star with a faint bluish companion - Neptune. I had no problem finding it even in moonlight yesterday. It will look better after 10-11pm when it gets higher in altitude.

If the transparency is decent tonight I will try to see Triton. I've never seen it before and at mag 13  should be just within the reach of my 7 inch Mak. Theoretically.

Edited by Nik271
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32 minutes ago, Nik271 said:

You will need some optical finder: step from Saturn to Jupiter and continue the same distance east to Lambda Aqr. Then look for Phi Aqr further east and continue a bit less than the distance from Lambda to Phi further east. HD221148 is one of the few 6-th magnitude stars in the field and hopefully it will be recognizable as a 'double' star with a faint bluish companion - Neptune

Thanks for the tips Nik ... one bonus is that the moon rises just a little later every night . I only observe up until around 11pm on a school night but im going to give it a go . 

 

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4 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

I think we were spoilt with the previous night being so wonderful for observations . I was a bit disapointed last night if i am honest and Neptune is still an enigma for me ( damn street light washes a lot out ) . But , a fairly clear night forecast tonight , hopefully better seeing . 

You are not alone Stu ! Neptune (or 'My Current Nemesis ' as I think of it) eludes me too ... I think I've looked straight at it a few times, I know I've been in the right area, but can I say for sure I've identified the perisher ? No .

Doesn't help that it's behind the annoying tree when at its highest, in the sky over a couple of street lamps earlier on before current moonrise, and a bad skyglow area for me as it gets further west later ... If a settled weather pattern suggested to me that a drive out to slightly darker skies with a clearer horizon would be worthwhile I'd do it, but not for half an hour of cloud dodging while swamped by moonlight !

Heather

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1 hour ago, Nik271 said:

If the transparency is decent tonight I will try to see Triton. I've never seen it before and at mag 13  should be just within the reach of my 7 inch Mak. Theoretically.

You'd better wait until Friday/Saturday night, when Triton (13.6 mag) will be in 16.2" (arc sec) distance of Neptun, almost the maximal elongation, which is 17". This evening it's just a tiny gap of 10" - even a good Maksutov will struggle with this. I spotted Triton three weeks ago with my 12" under 5 mag skies (after a suggestion by John), and it was not easy, needing averted vision. Phil Harrington ("Cosmic Challenges") rates the observation as difficult (3 of 4-rating) with large scopes (10" to 14" apertures). Perhaps it's better to wait a few days and to try, when the moon isn't up. Very high magnifications of 300x and more will be needed. A real challenge - but, give it a go, and let us know (the motto of the Deep Sky Forum members). Good luck!

Stephan

Edited by Nyctimene
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1 hour ago, Tiny Clanger said:

Doesn't help that it's behind the annoying tree when at its highest, in the sky over a couple of street lamps earlier on before current moonrise, and a bad skyglow area for me as it gets further west later ... If a settled weather pattern suggested to me that a drive out to slightly darker skies with a clearer horizon would be worthwhile I'd do it, but not for half an hour of cloud dodging while swamped by moonlight !

Absolutely , Heather .. i feel even more annoyed as i have such a large aperture scope  and i still haven't bagged the little blighter. lol. The street light acutally gets turned off at 1am ( or so i'm told ) . I have a fairly good southern sky , although no southern horizon to speak of . I think tonight is going to be the last one thats really clear in my area for a few nights so i am going to try and make the most of it . As for the Moon , it rises tonight at 20.05 so its going to be a pest although , Neptune should be do-able . Watch this space ! ( er , no pun intended )

 

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56 minutes ago, Nyctimene said:

You'd better wait until Friday/Saturday night, when Triton (13.6 mag) will be in 16.2" (arc sec) distance of Neptun, almost the maximal elongation, which is 17". This evening it's just a tiny gap of 10" - even a good Maksutov will struggle with this. I spotted Triton three weeks ago with my 12" under 5 mag skies (after a suggestion by John), and it was not easy, needing averted vision. Phil Harrington ("Cosmic Challenges") rates the observation as difficult (3 of 4-rating) with large scopes (10" to 14" apertures). Perhaps it's better to wait a few days and to try, when the moon isn't up. Very high magnifications of 300x and more will be needed. A real challenge - but, give it a go, and let us know (the motto of the Deep Sky Forum members). Good luck!

Stephan

Thanks for the tip! I haven't thought about how close Triton is to Neptune, but yes with such a magnitide difference looks a tall order. I will try in any case tonight, for who knows what the weather will serve at the weekend. As Horace would say : carpe noctem!  (if he was an astronomer) 

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I have seen Triton with my 130mm refractor on a couple of occasions when the transparency was good and it's elongation from Neptune favourable.

It's relatively straightforward now with my 12 inch dob.

I've found the Uranian moons slightly harder - I've only managed to see 2 of the 4 that are theoretically visible with my 12 inch.

 

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Great report Nik - I popped the Mak 127 out last night having seen it clearing over Winchester early evening.  Enjoyed a short session but again lovely views - Cassini division & 3 moons apparent along with 2 cloud bands & prominent shadow of the planet on the rings giving a real 3D effect on Saturn. 
 

Jupiter showed detail in the main bands and a contrasting grey darker area at the N polar region that I’d not previously registered. 
 

Also sneaked a few looks at the Ring Nebula, Double Cluster and finished up running silly magnification on the moon (drawing more detail out up to 340x). 
 

My admiration for the Baader Classic Orthos grows! 
 

Have popped an old Hilkin 60mm out tonight & hope to put it through its paces later.
Met office cloud cover forecast looks good here for a few hours before midnight. 

Edited by SuburbanMak
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6 hours ago, John said:

I have seen Triton with my 130mm refractor on a couple of occasions when the transparency was good and it's elongation from Neptune favourable.

It's relatively straightforward now with my 12 inch dob.

I've found the Uranian moons slightly harder - I've only managed to see 2 of the 4 that are theoretically visible with my 12 inch.

 

I managed to get Triton again with the 130mm tonight:

 

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Great result, John! I'm encouraged that Triton is doable with 130mm scope. I had a look last night at Neptune around 9:30pm but the seeing did not support higher than x200 magnification. Neptune was a tiny bluish disc, best looking at x180 but there was no sight of Triton at this magnification or at x300. I didn't try anything higher than x300. My shortest focal length EP is 6mm which gives x450, I never thought I would need more. Perhaps I should invest in a 5mm or 4mm, just for the special times of great seeing on doubles and planets. 

I also think Stellarium is a bit conservative on atmospheric extinction.

I spotted a couple of dark barges on Jupiter and the red spot at 8:30pm just before it rotated out of view, but it was quite mediocre seeing early in the evening.

 

Edited by Nik271
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20 hours ago, Nik271 said:

These days Neptune is relatively easy to find since it is very close to the 6-th magnitude star HD221148.

You will need some optical finder: step from Saturn to Jupiter and continue the same distance east to Lambda Aqr. Then look for Phi Aqr further east and continue a bit less than the distance from Lambda to Phi further east. HD221148 is one of the few 6-th magnitude stars in the field and hopefully it will be recognizable as a 'double' star with a faint bluish companion - Neptune. I had no problem finding it even in moonlight yesterday. It will look better after 10-11pm when it gets higher in altitude.

If the transparency is decent tonight I will try to see Triton. I've never seen it before and at mag 13  should be just within the reach of my 7 inch Mak. Theoretically.

Great description. Neptune looked the “bluest” I have seen it last night, possibly a combination of its recent opposition and being joined by a white companion star in HR8924. Stumbled on 96 Aquarii too, a double star with a 10.4 mag secondary, an extreme mismatch double target.

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When there is a bright moon close to them in the sky, I've found the colour of both Neptune and Uranus more vibrant than when they are against a pitch black background.

I assume this is a similar effect to that which makes Jupiter seem more contrasty and colourful when observed against a twilight sky.

The downside of a brightly moonlit sky is that it makes finding the fainter planets that much more challenging !

 

 

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20 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

Absolutely , Heather .. i feel even more annoyed as i have such a large aperture scope  and i still haven't bagged the little blighter. lol. The street light acutally gets turned off at 1am ( or so i'm told ) . I have a fairly good southern sky , although no southern horizon to speak of . I think tonight is going to be the last one thats really clear in my area for a few nights so i am going to try and make the most of it . As for the Moon , it rises tonight at 20.05 so its going to be a pest although , Neptune should be do-able . Watch this space ! ( er , no pun intended )

Stu, any luck for you ? I had to wait (again) until  late (or early to be precise) when Neptune had stopped playing hide and seek behind that accursed tree ... no naked eye stars  whatsoever showing through human & lunar sky glow in that part of my sky , and Saturn was too low to be in my view, so no chance of using @Nik271 's helpful nav. hints ! I'd had the mak  out to look at Jupiter/the Moon ,  but also my 102s Bresser 'frac , was left out all afternoon & evening under a cover after some lunchtime solar viewing , and I reckoned I stood more chance with the widefield of the 'frac.

Armed with the 16mm Nirvana eyepiece (which is just lovely by the way,  82 degrees is a big window, and that thing is sharp ) , stellarium ocular view of what the field should look like, and stellariums verdict of what the alt was, I used my little electronic level to set the alt, and scanned looking through the ep until I got that field ... and there it was, a star with a faint grey 'star' close to it. Hurrah ! Spent half an hour peering at the grey point of light at various magnifications , no sign of Triton for me though, hardly a surprise as my highest mag.  ep  only gives 100x in the Bresser. If it's clear tonight I'll try again.  with the  mak which will mean I can push the mag. more if conditions allow.

That's one nemesis vanquished ... wonder if I'll manage all three components of the Leo Trio from the garden this winter  ?  :evil4: I'm sure plenty of new targets will be eluding me to replace them in the nemesis category if I do ... 

Heather

 

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4 minutes ago, Tiny Clanger said:

Stu, any luck for you ?

Alas no, Heather ... i packed away at about 10;30 last night as i have a 5;30 alarm call during the week . Tonight is not looking too promising but , if its ok i will be out a bit later :) 

Isn't it nice to at least be outside and able to view the night sky ? Remembering the shocking weather we experienced last month , September is proving to be a god send for astronomers . 

 

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6 minutes ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

Alas no, Heather ... i packed away at about 10;30 last night as i have a 5;30 alarm call during the week . Tonight is not looking too promising but , if its ok i will be out a bit later :) 

Isn't it nice to at least be outside and able to view the night sky ? Remembering the shocking weather we experienced last month , September is proving to be a god send for astronomers . 

 

Ah that's a shamel, better luck  next time ., hope you get a chance tonight.

H

 

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I finally managed to bag Neptune last night after numerous attempts. Shouts of "yes" emanating from the darkness in the back garden at Vader Towers. 

Now, I'm not certain about this next bit. Just a fraction up from Neptune (dob view) was the faintest point of light coming in and out. A check on Sky Safari and it was where Triton was meant to be. I was only at 180x and I've read that it can take in the region of 300x for Triton. I tried upping the mag with the BHZ and 2.25 Barlow but the image was too dim.

Is it possible at 180x in an 8" Dob, or wishful thinking?

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49 minutes ago, Dark Vader said:

I finally managed to bag Neptune last night after numerous attempts. Shouts of "yes" emanating from the darkness in the back garden at Vader Towers. 

Now, I'm not certain about this next bit. Just a fraction up from Neptune (dob view) was the faintest point of light coming in and out. A check on Sky Safari and it was where Triton was meant to be. I was only at 180x and I've read that it can take in the region of 300x for Triton. I tried upping the mag with the BHZ and 2.25 Barlow but the image was too dim.

Is it possible at 180x in an 8" Dob, or wishful thinking?

It's quite possible with an 8 inch dob I'm sure. I would think more magnification might be needed to tease out the faint point of light but, you never know :icon_biggrin:

Last night Triton was on the opposite side of Neptune from a magnitude 6 star which would be appearing in the same high power field of view. Triton was around 10 arc seconds from Neptune's disk:

This is the newtonian view at high power from Cartes du Ciel:

Chart_1.thumb.jpg.c89ac607f26f14d4228f91b79c4a68cd.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by John
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Thanks John. There was nothing like that amount of separation at 180x  but it was the opposite side to HR8924 listed at mag 6, in the same view. Very faint, in and out of visibility but sure something was there. 

232878149_Screenshot_20210923-231037_SkySafari6Plus.thumb.jpg.a2c5d2626a08d936916ce5dcefdf9e5e.jpg

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I just came back from  a couple of hours of great seeing. Saturn and Jupiter were fabulous but I concentrated on Neptune. Had my highest power EP, 6mm giving x450. It got easier as the time went on, the best moments were around 10pm when I could see Triton with averted vision for long periods of time. It's on the opposite side to Neptune from the 6th magnitude star, and about 1/6 of the way out. There is another much easier 12th magnitude star further out.

I'm thrilled, Triton was only discovered in 19-th century with a much bigger telescope!

 

PS. I made a sketch of the view:

Triton.jpg.21eb965b547e59f6794723a76fc8ec43.jpg

Edited by Nik271
added a sketch of the view in the EP
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