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Urban delights and a 4" refractor


ScouseSpaceCadet
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11th September 2021 was my last prolonged observing session, utilising 10x50 binoculars while camping in bortle 3 skies. Since then a couple of quick sessions on the gas giants.

Tonight the skies finally cleared after weeks of cloud and rain. As dusk arrived I set up the Celestron AVX and Altair Starwave 102ED.

After a rough polar align and a 2 star align I was ready to go. Sadly Saturn had disappeared behind a neighbour's trees so I had a short time remaining before Jupiter followed. Unfortunately right as I started pointing at Jupiter, a thin veil of milky high cloud appeared spoiling the view. Trying over 120x was pointless. So, off I popped for a warming shot of Pusser's and sat down for a ponder. Sky Safari and notebook to hand I decided to sort a sky tour starting from Jupiter.

Nothing taxing, Messiers and doubles. As Jupiter slid behind the trees the sky cleared and the tour began.

The globulars M2 and M15 were the first stop. As expected in bortle 7 skies, fuzzies but easily discernable at low power. Adding mag to darken the sky worked wonderfully and the Vixen 4mm SLV did give hints of the sparkly stars at the cores.

On to a host of easy doubles, despite that I previously haven't observed some of them:

Gamma Equulei - this looked gold to me with a blue companion.

Delta Equulei - Yellow and blue.

Sheat (Beta Pegasi) - My colour blindness kicked in here Gold/Orange?

Mator (Eta Pegasi) Orange/blue.

Alpheratz (Alpha Andromeda) A bright white star and faint companion almost lost in the glare.

The gem Almach (Gamma1 Andromeda) one of the best doubles to observe and a very easy split. Bright orange and green. Quite brilliant and highly recommended if you own a small telescope. Excellent at 178x in the Vixen 4mm SLV. Super colour rendition.

Up to M31. I know this is pointless but I visit our closest intergalactic neighbour every session. In the Altair UFF 24mm, an obvious core with some extra elongated fuzz revealed as by now the sky despite being bright the seeing was pristine.

Along to the firm favourite Double Cluster in Perseus. Wonderfully framed in both the Altair UFF 24mm and OVL Nirvana 16mm. I never tire of this cluster.

Realising the Pleiades was above the house now I had a look and fantastically each star was naked eye visible so the mount was sent to it and the Altair UFF 24mm framed this cluster perfectly. I've seen the famed nebulosity once, but that was late winter with a 6" reflector if I remember correctly.

Finally to finish, M34. I think this was framed nicely in my Altair Flat Field 9mm. This looks to me like a footballer who's just wellied a ball?

Overall a wonderful and very relaxed observing session with a tot of rum to keep the creeping cold at bay. The sky was still fantastic when I came in but fatigue won.

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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1 hour ago, Epick Crom said:

Nice observing report. Almach is one of the best double stars in the entire night sky in my opinion. I enjoyed your description of the Double Cluster as I have never seen it before. Clear skies

The Double Cluster is under dark skies, visible with the naked eye and quite a sight through 10x50 binoculars. Use longer focal length eyepieces for the best view. It really is a fantastic object even in urban skies.

https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/astrophotography/stars/star-clusters/perseus-double-cluster/

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4 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

The Double Cluster is under dark skies, visible with the naked eye and quite a sight through 10x50 binoculars. Use longer focal length eyepieces for the best view. It really is a fantastic object even in urban skies.

https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/astrophotography/stars/star-clusters/perseus-double-cluster/

Thanks mate, unfortunately I can't see the Double Cluster due to my lattitude ( -31 South). It rises less than 2 degrees above my horizon so no chance of ever seeing it :(

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1 minute ago, Epick Crom said:

Thanks mate, unfortunately I can't see the Double Cluster due to my lattitude ( -31 South). It rises less than 2 degrees above my horizon so no chance of ever seeing it :(

Ahh! I see now you're one of our Aussie friends. It is a delight but you have plenty of delights in the southern hemisphere I'll likely never see. 😀

 

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4 minutes ago, wookie1965 said:

Great session Peter I was dying to get out and check my mount out after fiddling with the gears to get backlash out but had a nightmare Wednesday is supposed to be clear so I will have it all sorted for then.

Thanks Paul & all. I was out a good three hours. Not a massive list but the first few doubles I'd not observed and the old favourites were visited for the first time this season with a telescope. It's worth taking the time with the brighter fuzzies, often some detail can be teased out even with a 4" refractor and light polluted skies. I did actually finish with M81/M82 but they were a bit low in the north and in that direction someone else has erected WW2 anti aircraft search lights by the looks of how the gardens & trees 100m away were glowing! So they were barely observable. Good luck for Wednesday Paul. Fingers crossed it's clear, an early evening planetary session would fit the bill. I was hoping to do some Saturn ap last night but the weather looked too so-so and the forecasts just can't be trusted!

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I love reading about your experiences, especially those with your 102ED, as I have a real soft spot for scopes around that aperture. And reading about the fun you have inspires me to get out and take a look myself. 

Last night was crystal clear here, and as I'd just swapped my GP that has sat for many years atop of my observatory pier for a GPDX, I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity. I didn't have any particular target in mind, just a brief mystery tour. As I saw the Pleiades glittering quite high in the east, I thought I'd make it my first target. So I reached for my 17.5mm Morpheus, but made the happy mistake of grabbing the 12.5mm by accident. The Pleiades in the 100mm frac with the 12.5mm Morpheus was simply gorgeous, with nebulosity easily seen surrounding many of its stars. The dark background offered by the 12.5mm along with its wide apparent field, framed a perfect picture. Changing the eyepiece for the originally intended 17.5mm lost the dark background and the impact given by the 12.5mm, and as a consequence, the nebulosity was more of a challenge.

 Next was M31, 32 & 110. The 17.5mm framed all three galaxies well, but again it was trumped by the 12.5.  The Double Cluster was stunning in the 12.5, and sweeping through Cygnus was a delight as a countless peppering of stars and star colours stood out strongly against the sky background. But my favourite object from last night was the beautiful ET cluster in Cassiopeia, although I think it looks more like Sid the Sloth. All in all, it was a very enjoyable session that reinforced my love for my very capable little refractor. The mount works great too, although its currently only manually controlled. 😊

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Thanks @mikeDnight. A flattering statement from an old pro! 😁 These little refractors do give a lot and I'm so glad I took the plunge after going through several telescopes and apertures. 

I do envy your skies. Sadly this little gem has yet to see action under darker skies. There's no doubt it would not disappoint considering the blue/grey night it battles at home.

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18 hours ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Finally to finish, M34. I think this was framed nicely in my Altair Flat Field 9mm. This looks to me like a footballer who's just wellied a ball?

 

I also thought that too when processing some mediocre images from last night. Something like this a la Cave painting style @ScouseSpaceCadet? Or was the ball elsewhere? Could be a game of spot the ball coming on. Glad you had a good night and a few for me to try from your list.

m34-15s-bin2.png

Edited by Dean Hale
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1 hour ago, Dean Hale said:

I also thought that too when processing some mediocre images from last night. Something like this a la Cave painting style @ScouseSpaceCadet? Or was the ball elsewhere? Could be a game of spot the ball coming on. Glad you had a good night and a few for me to try from your list.

m34-15s-bin2.png

Strangely my interpretation of the cluster shape is totally different despite us both coming to the same conclusion!

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A lovely relaxed session, made more so with the rum I expect. Actually had a back yard session myself last night, largely on Jupiter, which here accepted quite high power, no rum but a bottle of Timothy Taylor slipped down nicely, a perk of observing at home. 

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1 hour ago, scarp15 said:

A lovely relaxed session, made more so with the rum I expect. Actually had a back yard session myself last night, largely on Jupiter, which here accepted quite high power, no rum but a bottle of Timothy Taylor slipped down nicely, a perk of observing at home. 

Very nice... I only had one generous neat tot of Pusser's 40% to take the chill off. I've not drank dark rum for oh, twenty years probably but fancied a bottle a couple of weeks ago. Maybe one is enough for me these days. 🙄

These reports I occasionally post are not particularly high brow or well written, however hopefully a newbie will find them useful or someone living somewhere urban thinking there's little point might be stirred to give astronomy a go. That's my primary motivation. I must say the response I receive from members here is cheering. You're a very supportive bunch and it's appreciated immensely.

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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41 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

These reports I occasionally post are not particular high brow or well written, however hopefully a newbie will find them useful or someone living somewhere urban thinking there's little point might be stirred to give astronomy a go. That's my primary motivation. I must say the response I receive from members here is cheering. You're a very supportive bunch and it's appreciated immensely.

They sit very comfortably amongst all the others on here @ScouseSpaceCadet, don’t you worry about that. A very enjoyable read👍

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Thanks @ScouseSpaceCadet for a great observing report. Plenty of ideas and I’ve never looked at the double cluster in Perseus so it’ll be top of my list next time out!

I also got out last night to my local village for an annual astronomy event that has been postponed since the beginning of the pandemic. We mainly focused on the gas giants and Venus earlier in the evening, but the Pleiades were a treat through my FC76-DCU - playing with magnification using the Baader Hyperion zoom. 
 

I’m glad you had a clear night - it was my first one in a while too, and we also
captured a shooting star with an iPhone completely by accident. 

32A7E28A-2043-46BB-AA44-9D5CDA01A5F9.jpeg

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19 minutes ago, Nicola Fletcher said:

Thanks @ScouseSpaceCadet for a great observing report. Plenty of ideas and I’ve never looked at the double cluster in Perseus so it’ll be top of my list next time out!

32A7E28A-2043-46BB-AA44-9D5CDA01A5F9.jpeg

Fantastic. That looks like a great evening. The Double Cluster is one of the few DSOs that actually looks pretty much the same through a telescope as you see in many photos.  Lovely framed in a medium - low power eyepiece and a great object to show people who don't normally observe.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Very nice... I only had one generous neat tot of Pusser's 40% but it took the chill off. I've not drank dark rum for oh, twenty years probably but fancied a bottle a couple of weeks ago. Maybe one is enough for me these days. 🙄

These reports I occasionally post are not particular high brow or well written, however hopefully a newbie will find them useful or someone living somewhere urban thinking there's little point might be stirred to give astronomy a go. That's my primary motivation. I must say the response I receive from members here is cheering. You're a very supportive bunch and it's appreciated immensely.

 

Yes I get that and indeed your report is engaging and informative for urban observing. The mix of targets, combining brighter (Turn Left at Orion) seasonal DSO's and a nice selection of double stars, is quite within grasp for many starting out and urban centred observers. I am usually someone whom will venture out to darker skies, but that hasn't happened for a quite a while. However, as you mention; Andromeda, the Pleiades, The Double Cluster, the Globular's are all there. Then what's more I did not have to pretend to enjoy Strictly, my wife quite accepting that I would be enjoying instead some fresh air. 

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Great report- really enjoyed reading this, lovely descriptions of some urban favourites and definitely for me some new doubles to try.  

Observing in the back garden within easy reach of the drinks cabinet always gives that “gentlemanly pursuit” air for me too! 

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