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What did you see tonight?


Ags
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4 hours ago, wulfrun said:

For the first time ever, I've just managed to clock the ISS going over (well, OK, an hour ago!). Spotted it by chance, had time to grab the binos and follow it. Blimey it's bright! Faded to yellow then red then suddenly gone as it went past about 40 degrees up in the easterly direction. Might even get the next pass!

It was bright earlier wasn't it !

I've been popping in and out to the scope observing a few easy targets at low power. The gusty wind and cold temperatures dissuade me from spending long out there. Some nice low and wide views but the seeing and the wind did not support anything near high magnifications.

 

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Just had a crack at Sirius. Wow I’ve never seen it so bad, it looked like a rainbow! Terrible seeing and blustery conditions but it appears crystal clear outside. Even Rigel didn’t allow a decent split. The trapezium cluster looked splendid amongst the nebula however, saved my little 20 minute session from just frost bitten digits.

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I saw comet C/2021 A1 Leonard this morning at 5:30am!! It's actually quite bright I estimate it at mag 7-8. It's  easily seen in binoculars even in moonlight, and has a small tail. Highly recommend it, the next few days it should get even brighter but closer to the horizon at sunrise. I'll add more details in the binoculars observing section.

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Just popped outside with nothing but my eyes and spotted Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. Quite a bit of cloud plus low temperatures rather off putting but at least we have no snow here, unlike more northerly parts of the UK.

 

Edited by John
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As I suspected, the "Unidentified Fuzzy Object" was (appropriately) the ET Cluster, NGC 457. There are a few clusters around there and with a cloud blowing about wasn't sure at first. But it's two bright eyes are a giveaway. Sketching it was a challenge as I have lost my red light torch. Fortunately the regular torch's batteries are nearly flat!

Tried Polaris again with my 66mm scope. No luck even using a barlowed 6.7 mm. The Double Cluster looked mighty fine in my new 9 mm NLV and especially the 12 mm NLV. Fuzzy cloud started encroaching but had time to take in Almach with the NLV 9 mm - very strong color tonight, a clear orange/blue pairing. I think getting the magnification exactly right brings the components close enough together to give a color contrast effect. But I find if I look to long at a double, the color drains away???

There should be clear patches later, so hopefully I can get out to chase down my favorite clusters -  M36, M37 and M38 and the doubles around them.

Edited by Ags
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I took the Dobsonian out in a gap between snow showers and had my first look at M1, M42 and M45 through a scope of this size.  M1 was vaguely mottled, M42 was in colour and M45 was showing its nebulosity, even with quite a bit of LP.  Oh, and M81 and M82 as well - the latter looking quite crunchy. 

3BD80D52-6C1C-4AC0-9E93-57D53078B168.jpeg

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17 minutes ago, Ludd said:

I took the Dobsonian out in a gap between snow showers and had my first look at M1, M42 and M45 through a scope of this size.  M1 was vaguely mottled, M42 was in colour and M45 was showing its nebulosity, even with quite a bit of LP.  Oh, and M81 and M82 as well - the latter looking quite crunchy. 

3BD80D52-6C1C-4AC0-9E93-57D53078B168.jpeg

lovely, evocative shot. 👍

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Just had a twilight look at Jupiter in good seeing. GRS was centre stage on the SEB and a fine sight albeit a paler pink than in previous years. However, my eye was captured by what looked like two lunar shadows on the NEB equally spaced on either end forming a perfect triangle with the GRS.

I checked with SkySafari and there were no shadow transits due tonight, so I am baffled as to what they were. I have seen plenty of barges and brown spots in the past but these appeared as small round black dots just like lunar shadows.

I encourage all members to have a look next time the GRS is on show and see if the two black spots are there on the NEB.

Intriguing! 🤔

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I had a leisurely session with several pauses for white clouds to blow over. Between the clouds the sky was Bortle 7-8 tonight, so quite good by my standards. I started with a Gamma Arietis, a lovely pair of fierce white stars, nicely separated by my 66mm scope at 60x magnification. 

I switched to star clusters starting with M37. The many twinkling stars are a favorite of mine in other scopes, but the 66mm doesn't have enough aperture to show it well. M36 is sparser but with much brighter members, and put on a better show. I briefly changed to a widefield eyepiece for the Pleiades.

Back to doubles with Struve 872 near Theta Aurigae. A fairly close, fainter pair - another one for more aperture. I must resist the urge to shop! 11/12 Cam was next - it features on the cover of my book so I was keen to see it, but it was too far away from brighter signposts so it eluded me.

26 Aurigae is quite unbalanced, and I would say the 8.0 magnitude companion was at about the limiting magnitude for me tonight. Thinking about faint companions, i took a brief excursion to Ursa Minor to have another go at Polaris. I think I got it this time, an occasional twinkle at the right position angle.

Finished off with Castor, 2.2" separation but clearly split at 60x. Not the best view as it was over houses that were emanating florid thermals. Scope is still out, hoping for a shot at some doubles in Orion later.

EDIT: I did manage the Orion nebula and four Trapezium stars, but then got definitively clouded out.

Edited by Ags
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Thought I’d give C/2021 A1 Leonard a dart seeing as I’d woken up at 5:50am and the skies were crystal clear. Using 15x bins and travelling zenith-wards from Bootes, M3 was easily located, looking excellent in bins I must say. To the northeast of M3 a diffuse, slightly elongated smudge was detectable in the same FoV. If M3 is reported as mag 6.2, my estimate for A1 Leonard is around 6.8-7. It’s expected to increase to mag 4 so definitely one to keep an eye on.

 



 

 

 

Edited by IB20
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1 hour ago, IB20 said:

As a bonus I’ve just seen a beautiful crescent moon, illuminated with earthshine.

This getting up early lark might have legs.

 

1AF49291-A21D-4B16-A0E0-B36545310D05.jpeg

Beautiful wasn’t it? It brightened up an otherwise full drive around the M25 this morning!

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Last night with the 12 inch dob I managed to see 4 of Uranus's moons - that's a "first" for me.

Later my first proper session on M42 this winter season. It looked stunning with the 12 inch. I used the UHC filter to get more extension of the "wings" of nebulosity and that bought out the lime green and pinkish tints in the nebula. Without the filter I used 300x plus to search amongst the billows of nebulosity in the Huygenian region of the nebula for faint stars. E & F Trapezium were very easy, I got a faint star close to the Trapezium which I think is called MT. Trapezium G generally eluded me although I may had had the odd glimpse of that plus H but they are magnitude 15 and the nebulous backdrop makes them even harder I think.

Good piece on going deep into Messier 42 from Sky & Telescope here:

https://skyandtelescope.org/observing/star-trapping-in-orions-trapezium/

 

Edited by John
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@John Just wondering as I don't think I understand your point, wouldn't a UHC filter bring out the lime green in basically anything? I know mine would, thats why I  never use it - too many green stars!

Specifically for spotting dim stars in the trapezium, will anyone produce a minus-UHC filter? Now THAT would be a specialized filter!

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Just a quick look at Venus now, fighting through the wobbly seeing and prismatic atmospheric dispersion but showing as a lovely crescent phase. Hoping I get to opportunity to observe as the crescent gets even thinner. 

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Quick look at Jupiter and Saturn with the 100mm refractor, before the cloud comes over.

The Great Red Spot is just past the central meridian but its seems really diminished compared to a few years back. I really had to look quite hard to make it out clearly.

Seeing is quite good compared with last night and a few other nights recently. 180x working well on Jupiter.

 

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28 minutes ago, Ags said:

@John Just wondering as I don't think I understand your point, wouldn't a UHC filter bring out the lime green in basically anything?

 

The Astronomik UHC isn't too bad with regarding messing around with star colours. I found the same with their O-III as well. I used the UHC on The Owl Nebula and the Crab Nebula last night as well as M42 and the filter didn't tint either of those green.

 

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After last night's session I was left craving a little aperture so I set up the C6 tonight and repeated a few of the doubles, using a widefield eyepiece giving 75x. 

Polaris - very easy to resolve this in the C6 compared to the borderline impossible in the ZS66. The C6 is well collimated now and the star shapes are OK (but still a little SCT-messy).

Gamma Ari was impressive but I would say no more so than in the ZS66. For brighter doubles, aperture does not have much of an advantage, and the neater stars of the little refractor can win out over the brute force of the C6.

Struve 872 was much brighter and enjoyable with the C6; the faint companion was now easy in the larger scope. 

26 Aurigae was very difficult last night in the ZS66, but easy in the C6. 

M36 was a very impressive sight tonight. 

The mount I am using (AZT6 travel mount) seems to work better with the C6 than the ZS66, which is surprising given how much bigger and more narrowfield the C6 is. The sky background was much lighter tonight, both in the finder scope and in the C6, and this detracted a bit from the view of M36. If course I was using a larger exit pupil tonight (2 mm vs 1 mm last night) so that didn't help, maybe next time out I will try my 13.4 mm widefield eyepiece.

EDIT: Went out again for Orion. The nebula was stupendous with mysterious whisps and whorls visible. Strangely the ZS66 showed M43 more clearly last night. Tried to split Rigel without success, perhaps more magnification is needed. Tried Alnitak too, I did not split it (I didn't push the magnification) but it did seem elongaed in the right direction at 75x magnification. Moved on to Lambda Ori (the hunter's head) and was a lovely split with a brilliant primary with a bright little point nearby. Finished with Castor, easy split needs more magnification! Hoping to pick up a zoom in the new year. 

Edited by Ags
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I was up this morning for my first look at comet Leonard.  I am observing in Class 2 Bortle skies and could clearly see a nice tail with my binoculars.  Just close enough to get M3 and the comet in the eyepieces.  Tomorrow morning M3 and Leonard are supposed to be right next to each other, I am going to try to get out with the 8" scope and have a nice view of the conjunction.  Good times!  Cheers!

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I did indeed make it out again for some great views of the comet and a few galaxies.  Toward the end of my session I took the time to just look up to the west, away from the brightening eastern sky, and right around Auriga I saw 2 very bright satellites cross, one headed north and the other south (both so bright that had I not checked to confirm, I would have though one could have been the space station! I don't know what they were.)  As I watched these two satellites cross the sky, a very bright meteor went directly between the two, headed perpendicular to their directions of travel.  Such a cool moment to witness and a reminder to sometimes step away from the eyepiece and look up with your eyeballs for a little while!

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I was treated to nice views of Venus with the phase nicely showing through the disco lights, Jupiter looked quite sharp as well at medium magnification and Saturn (Cassini division coming and going). The cherry of the viewing was ISS doing its pass. It looked really bright on the dark bluish sky. Fingers crossed the clear skies will stay tonight for some DSOs.

 

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