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Observing targets for severe light pollution?


ONIKKINEN
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Looks like its going to be a short/unknown length of sudden unforecasted clear skies tonight judging from current weather. Not long enough for me to drive to better skies but since its been weeks since i last saw anything im tempted to set up just outside my flat for a short(?) session at the eyepiece. I find that i have sudden breaks in cloudiness like these far more often than actual fully clear nights and maybe i could use them for observing. Conditions will be: Bortle 8 and no way to hide from local light sources such as street lights and city lights in general since i will be setting up on a fully lit parking lot just outside my flat.

The Moon is an obvious target and will be nicely positioned in a few hours, but other than that my knowledge of viable targets are lacking. I guess stellar targets such as doubles (never tried), maybe globular clusters? Open clusters perhaps? Planets have already set for this year, not that they were very good to begin with being so low in the sky.

Observing would be done with a VX8 on a Go-to mount.

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You are correct in that brighter globulars in addition to open clusters are still pleasing targets in light polluted skies. I also live in Bortle 8 so lots of experience with this. With Auriga now rising in the east open clusters M36, 37 and 38 are good examples.  The double cluster, M52 and of course M45 also great choices.  Nebulas are hard to impossible except of course for magnificent M42 in Orion.  With planetary nebula the only one I can see in my skies is M57(ring)     You can definitely see M31 (andromeda) but mostly just a small bright core with a little surrounding fuzziness but at least U can see it !  M81 (Bodes) will look faint but visible.  I’m sure there’s more but those are the ones that come to mind. Hope that helps!

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I can highly recommend doubles as an observing choice in Bortle 8++ conditions. If you can still view Lyra from your location, it has a number of lovely doubles near relatively bright stars - all very easy to find. You can download the PDF in my signature which has a number of finder charts. Cassiopeia is also a rich hunting ground with plenty of bright stars acting as signposts.

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I used to live not far from London, also B8, and would generally look at the following targets:

- Polaris and Polaris B: Polaris B a beautiful blueish pinpoint near the Pole star, I never tire of looking at it

- The Mizar/Alcor system, a lovely arrangement including Mizar as itself a nearly-matched double

- Castor, a very nice double

- As a challenge for the skies, try for M81/82 and M51 near Ursa Major ... I could sometimes get those even from near London, just smudges but from B8...

- Epsilon Lyrae, the double-double in Lyra

- M57 Ring Nebula also in Lyra, should be bright enough to see

- Uranus, about 44 degrees up at 11pm from where you are - no doubting it's a planet, a disc

- try for M36, M37, M38 in Auriga

A short selection of what I'd try for, I'm sure others will suggest more interesting doubles to attempt.

Hey hey, Magnus

PS I would add @Stu has much more experience than me from these sorts of skies, although he's recently moved much darker, but I'm sure he can make some great suggestions too.

Edited by Captain Magenta
typos
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Appreciate the comments! 

At the moment going through some cursed mount diagnostics as the mount does not go to the correct coordinates. It goes to sonewhere random and says its there... Maybe i need a manual alt az with 2 moving parts 🤣.

Ill try to slew manually and find some of these.

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Ended up bagging a lot of the aforementioned targets this night!

3 hours ago, tripleped said:

You are correct in that brighter globulars in addition to open clusters are still pleasing targets in light polluted skies. I also live in Bortle 8 so lots of experience with this. With Auriga now rising in the east open clusters M36, 37 and 38 are good examples.  The double cluster, M52 and of course M45 also great choices.  Nebulas are hard to impossible except of course for magnificent M42 in Orion.  With planetary nebula the only one I can see in my skies is M57(ring)     You can definitely see M31 (andromeda) but mostly just a small bright core with a little surrounding fuzziness but at least U can see it !  M81 (Bodes) will look faint but visible.  I’m sure there’s more but those are the ones that come to mind. Hope that helps!

M36/37/38 were actually pretty nice. Lots of faint stars nicely filling the view at 93x and at this power the background no longer looks all that light polluted. Almost looks like cobwebs at a lower power of 44x? Perhaps its because a lot of the stars are averted vision and are coming in and out of view. Double cluster was very pleasant to view, a really photogenic open cluster! First time viewing M42 this year and of course it deserves the name "great" orion nebula. Lots of nebulosity surrounding the trapezium, and some semblance of shap even.

2 hours ago, Ags said:

I can highly recommend doubles as an observing choice in Bortle 8++ conditions. If you can still view Lyra from your location, it has a number of lovely doubles near relatively bright stars - all very easy to find. You can download the PDF in my signature which has a number of finder charts. Cassiopeia is also a rich hunting ground with plenty of bright stars acting as signposts.

I opened your PDF thinking there is like a handful of these. Turns out there there is an awful lot of double stars since you wrote a 250 page guide on them 😅. Im going to have to take this in chunks, maybe per constellation? Anyway thanks for the link, im definitely looking my next sessions targets ahead of time instead of trying to browse it on my phone at -8 and windy! I ended up taking a go-to to Almach, since it was in the synscan list and high enough up to see. Nice and clear separation at 93x, perhaps was even visible at 44x but im not confident enough on that to say it was separated.

2 hours ago, Captain Magenta said:

I used to live not far from London, also B8, and would generally look at the following targets:

- Polaris and Polaris B: Polaris B a beautiful blueish pinpoint near the Pole star, I never tire of looking at it

- The Mizar/Alcor system, a lovely arrangement including Mizar as itself a nearly-matched double

- Castor, a very nice double

- As a challenge for the skies, try for M81/82 and M51 near Ursa Major ... I could sometimes get those even from near London, just smudges but from B8...

- Epsilon Lyrae, the double-double in Lyra

- M57 Ring Nebula also in Lyra, should be bright enough to see

- Uranus, about 44 degrees up at 11pm from where you are - no doubting it's a planet, a disc

- try for M36, M37, M38 in Auriga

A short selection of what I'd try for, I'm sure others will suggest more interesting doubles to attempt.

Hey hey, Magnus

PS I would add @Stu has much more experience than me from these sorts of skies, although he's recently moved much darker, but I'm sure he can make some great suggestions too.

Polaris B was very surprising. I kept looking and changing between 44x-93x-120x and i was sure i cant see it but then i noticed the little companion! It was there all the time, maybe i just thought it was a speck of dust or a reflection? Once i had seen it once i could spot it easily at 93x. Very nice difference in brightness. I also think i saw M51 flicker in and out of view. No shape and nebulosity but the cores of M51 and the companion of the tail were roughly where i would imagine them being so perhaps it was M51? Did a go-to to M81 but at this point synscan decided that M81 was in fact on the ground next to me 🙄. Never did return to try this after troubleshooting that experience. Also never figured out why this happened, but it went away after redoing star alignment from park.

Lyra was getting a bit low in the sky at this time and was very milky. Wasn't able to see much of anything in there, but i will check again one day.

But the highlight was obviously the Moon tonight. The atmosphere got very stable and clear for a while there and i was able to observe at 300x without really any noticeable downsides. The PV 1/10 VX8 has never let me down with knife-sharp views of the Lunar terminator! I probably could have gone deeper but i ran out of eyepieces and barlows to do that.

Also after having mostly done astrophotography i find it very freeing to not have to deal with 40 gigabytes of files on a memory card after the session. The session is done and that's that, i think i could get used to this 🤔.

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13 hours ago, Captain Magenta said:

I used to live not far from London, also B8, and would generally look at the following targets:

- Polaris and Polaris B: Polaris B a beautiful blueish pinpoint near the Pole star, I never tire of looking at it

- The Mizar/Alcor system, a lovely arrangement including Mizar as itself a nearly-matched double

- Castor, a very nice double

- As a challenge for the skies, try for M81/82 and M51 near Ursa Major ... I could sometimes get those even from near London, just smudges but from B8...

- Epsilon Lyrae, the double-double in Lyra

- M57 Ring Nebula also in Lyra, should be bright enough to see

- Uranus, about 44 degrees up at 11pm from where you are - no doubting it's a planet, a disc

- try for M36, M37, M38 in Auriga

A short selection of what I'd try for, I'm sure others will suggest more interesting doubles to attempt.

Hey hey, Magnus

PS I would add @Stu has much more experience than me from these sorts of skies, although he's recently moved much darker, but I'm sure he can make some great suggestions too.

Good list - regular visitor to many of these. 
 

Also on my “always peek” list is the beautiful coloured double Almach in Andromeda and the M31 Andromeda galaxy. 

Edited by SuburbanMak
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https://las-astro.org.uk/docs/Loughton_List_v2_0.pdf Make sure you have straylight  shielding and use an observing hood or similar to keep the direct lights out of your eyes so you can improve your dark adaption. I can see bits of the Veil nebula with binoculars under conditions worse than where @Captain Magenta used to live… 🙂

Peter

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3 hours ago, PeterW said:

https://las-astro.org.uk/docs/Loughton_List_v2_0.pdf Make sure you have straylight  shielding and use an observing hood or similar to keep the direct lights out of your eyes so you can improve your dark adaption. I can see bits of the Veil nebula with binoculars under conditions worse than where @Captain Magenta used to live… 🙂

Peter

I really must try harder then. I’ve tried for the Veil with 10x50 binoculars from where I currently live, 21.8 skies, without success.

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11 minutes ago, Captain Magenta said:

I really must try harder then. I’ve tried for the Veil with 10x50 binoculars from where I currently live, 21.8 skies, without success.

I've seen the Eastern Veil with 11x70 binoculars on an excellent night here and under really dark Dartmoor (Devon) skies but not in smaller binoculars, thus far.

 

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3 minutes ago, John said:

I've seen the Eastern Veil with 11x70 binoculars on an excellent night here and under really dark Dartmoor (Devon) skies but not in smaller binoculars, thus far.

 

I don't think I've seen it at all. Suppose it would be visible from Bortle 6 through the VX8? Its a 20-30min drive away so not that difficult to do.

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3 minutes ago, ONIKKINEN said:

I don't think I've seen it at all. Suppose it would be visible from Bortle 6 through the VX8? Its a 20-30min drive away so not that difficult to do.

I would think so, with the help of a filter.

A UHC filter helps a lot with it. An O-III even more so :icon_biggrin:

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Captain Magenta said:

I really must try harder then. I’ve tried for the Veil with 10x50 binoculars from where I currently live, 21.8 skies, without success.

Must be doable Magnus. I caught it in 7x35s from here (mag 20.8 ish at the time I think), albeit with a UHC and OIII filter fitted.

EDIT I lied! I just checked back on my report and I got the NAN but only very vague hints of the Veil.


I have seen the Eastern Veil in filtered 15x50IS Canons from mag 20.5 ish skies. I think the Veil need a bit more mag because it is finer, whereas the NAN is quite a big lump!

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25 minutes ago, Stu said:

Must be doable Magnus. I caught it in 7x35s from here (mag 20.8 ish at the time I think), albeit with a UHC and OIII filter fitted.

EDIT I lied! I just checked back on my report and I got the NAN but only very vague hints of the Veil.
I have seen the Eastern Veil in filtered 15x50IS Canons from mag 20.5 ish skies. I think the Veil need a bit more mag because it is finer, whereas the NAN is quite a big lump!

Yes I recall reading that ... i.e. you may just have caught hints of it with your 7x35s. I'm going to have to make this my next challenge, as you say it must be possible through say 15x56s from here. I have an Oiii but not a UHC yet. Given where Cygnus is at the moment, there will have to be be lying down involved. My previous attempts have been standing, looking more-or-less straight up and very cold IIRC, so not much attention span to really relax or concentrate.

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…. Like eyepieces I have several pairs of filters now… though I am trying to ”optimise” (read get rid of the ones I don’t absolutely need). By wedging 1.25” filters into the eyecups with 5mm foam sheet it saves me needing to buy any 2” filters!

 

Peter

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3 minutes ago, PeterW said:

…. Like eyepieces I have several pairs of filters now… though I am trying to ”optimise” (read get rid of the ones I don’t absolutely need). By wedging 1.25” filters into the eyecups with 5mm foam sheet it saves me needing to buy any 2” filters!

 

Peter

Love it, what a simple way to save a hefty sum of money.

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