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Binoculars Session - Super Transparency - SW Ireland 30th Nov 2021


Captain Scarlet
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Last night would have been wonderful for a full-on session with my 12” on its big mount. The Moon wasn’t due to rise until after 4am. The sky was mostly beautifully clear, a few cloud-bands came and went, but after a whole day and evening of driving rain and very strong wind, wind which persisted during this session, there was no chance I could manage anything other than a “bins” session.

Some time after midnight it seemed the rain squalls were at an end, the sky cleared, I donned my Dryrobe, Uggs and gloves and dragged a garden-chair to the sheltered side of the house. I took my Zeiss 15x56s.

The sky seemed unusually clear, but I forgot to arm myself with my SQM-L meter and wasn’t willing to go back in to run the cats-trying-to-get-out-at-night gauntlet when fully kitted up with stuff dangling from my neck.

First was M101, a tricky target, which I’ve learned makes a nearly equilateral triangle with Alkaid and Mizar, the first two stars of Ursa Major’s saucepan-handle, on the opposite side from M51. M101 is a much fainter version of M33, a face-on spiral galaxy, one of those known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, though I believe M101 is the “official” Pinwheel. I found it pretty quickly, more easily than a couple of months ago when I first managed to find it through binoculars.

From there I moved to M51, on the other side of the saucepan, forming a 3-4-5 triangle with the same pair of  Uma’s stars. Again, M51 was more easily found than I recall before, though I couldn’t make out its twin cores.

The Coma Star Cluster, aka Melotte 111, was starting to become evident naked-eye as it rose, though that direction is my worst LP direction (towards Skibbereen and Clonakilty, Bandon, Cork behind it all in line luckily all partly shielded by Lough Ine hill) and the Cluster was by then only 10 degrees up. Higher up, it’s generally an obvious patch, not unlike the Beehive. Oddly enough and annoyingly as I write this I didn’t check out M44 the Beehive. Next time.

I turned towards Orion. M42 was as textured as I can ever remember seeing through bins. It really looked like a miniature version of some of the amazing pictures you see here on SGL. Also The “S” asterism through Orion’s Belt perfectly filled the 15x FoV.

I moved up to Meissa, Orion’s head, one of my favourite open clusters. It has a characteristic shape which I struggle to put a name on, but distinctive nevertheless. Plus Meissa herself is a very nice double though this fact was obviously not evident through bins!

I also noticed the Milky Way above and left of Orion, the “back end” of the MW, was much more prominent than I’ve seen before, really quite obvious. I’ve strained to detect it on previous occasions. I even made the mistake last night of thinking it was a band of cloud, but it persisted and was definitely the winter side of the MW.

Next I moved to another “difficult” target, M1 the Crab Nebula. I found it straight away, an oval “not-a-star” patch that I did have to use SS to confirm though. These were 56mm bins, I’m going to have to reduce aperture from now on to see what’s the minimum I can detect it with, now I’m familiar with exactly where it is.

I craned my head and tried to shift lower in my chair to look nearly vertically up at Auriga. The Ladder (as I call it, more commonly called the Leaping Minnow, but I don’t get that at all) was obvious to the naked eye, and beyond it and the so-called Smiley Face, I could detect M38 naked eye for the first time ever. When I raised the binoculars, Oh My God! M38 resolved into myriad individual stars and strongly resembled its unofficial name, the Starfish Cluster. It was utterly, utterly beautiful. I’ve looked through binoculars of various sizes at M38 (and M37 and M36) before, but they’d never looked like this, pristine.

M36 and M37 were the same, lovely patches of obvious tiny tiny white dots, rather than the smudges I’ve always seen through bins before. Very globular-like. Those views will stay with me.

M45 Pleaides Cluster was nice too, and I tried my hardest to discern whether the barely-visible halo-ish glows around some of the stars were their nebulosity, or simply a product of very thin cloud that was just then starting to impinge around then. I have to say the latter, I think.

I finished off the session, 2am by this stage, with a quick look at M33, very nice, and a stare at M31 with M110 and M32 just by.

My most rewarding binoculars session ever, I think.

Cheers, Magnus

 

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Lovely report Magnus. I found myself looking at those clusters in Auriga this morning too with my binos, but they certainly weren’t as prominent as you had for sure. I wasn’t aware that there was a name for the line of stars leading up into M38, so good to know that. I’ll look into the smiley face too as that’s new to me. 

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47 minutes ago, wookie1965 said:

Wow you must have dark skies I have 10x50 bins but cannot see half the stuff you can well done and a great read.

Thanks yes the skies here are dark, last night I measured 21.45 pointing up at the MW. I have measured 22.05 a couple of Easters ago.

But I went out again last night as it was very similar but with my 12x50s this time (the report above was with 15x56s). With the 50mm bins there was no hint of the Crab, and I looked really hard. Nor M101 though that was a bit lower than before as it was earlier. I got just the slightest hint of M51.

I was very surprised that only 6mm extra aperture on 50mm would make such a difference both on those I couldn’t see and the M36/7/8 that I could, but then again it is 25% extra area. And both very high quality binocs.

Edited by Captain Magenta
exterminating an errant apostrophe
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I have never seen M51 from home or the Leo trio with a 6"and 8"reflector or my 4" and 5" refractors that's how bad my skies are. I have a lovely pair of revelation 10x42s but use them for birds I have 10x50 olympus dp1s not the best a a friend on here sent me a pair of Tento 7x50s which are really clear. I could do with a bigger pair but don't know what to go for. 

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“Worst LP direction”… the one streetlight within  a dozen miles of you?! Have you tried filters to go after the harder times see nebulae? 
why trying to keep the cats in? If they want to stay out then more peace for you?

Peter

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Ouch @wookie1965 yes that's the sort of LP I've recently moved away from. I lived not far from @PeterW SW of London. When there, I did manage to see M51 through my 8" newt (a 200p). It wasn't spectacular, but definitely there. With a shroud or shield I'd expect you to be able to detect it from W Merseyside?

Magnus

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I suspect the extra magnification of the 15x 56 may help more than the extra aperture over the 12x50.

 

I've often found that transparency is excellent after rain has just moved away. The downside is that with the falling temperatures and wet ground my telescopes get fogged up easily. Binoculars seem a great relaxing alternative. I had a good look at the Auriga clusters yesterday and they were showing very nice indeed. I use 20x80 and they show a lot of stuff which I just can't see in my 10x50.

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1 hour ago, Captain Magenta said:

Ouch @wookie1965 yes that's the sort of LP I've recently moved away from. I lived not far from @PeterW SW of London. When there, I did manage to see M51 through my 8" newt (a 200p). It wasn't spectacular, but definitely there. With a shroud or shield I'd expect you to be able to detect it from W Merseyside?

Magnus

Yes I have been thinking of some kind of shroud or even something to block the light completely into my garden. 

Unfortunately I don't have my 200p anymore I regret selling that my biggest scope is the 5" refractor which I doubt I will get it in I'm going to look for some bigger bins 10x56 or bigger. 

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9 hours ago, Stardaze said:

Lovely report Magnus. I found myself looking at those clusters in Auriga this morning too with my binos, but they certainly weren’t as prominent as you had for sure. I wasn’t aware that there was a name for the line of stars leading up into M38, so good to know that. I’ll look into the smiley face too as that’s new to me. 

Thanks. The Smiley Face I can just-about sort of "get", but it's a bit of a stretch of imagination. Not like say the Coathanger or Kemble's Cascade or ET, which when you find them smack you in the face, rather like getting a crossword-clue.

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59 minutes ago, Nik271 said:

I suspect the extra magnification of the 15x 56 may help more than the extra aperture over the 12x50.

I thought that perhaps because it was all hand-held, things might even out slightly in that respect, what with 15x being more shaky, but actually I suspect you're right. I seem to cope with 15x quite easily, even for birding.

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Nice report Magnus.

I suspect the different mag too. I’ve seen M1 in 15x50IS binoculars; the stabilisation definitely helped, but with steadily held (or supported) 15x50 you should have a chance.

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