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Not All A Load Of Old Pony


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Finally, a clear, moonless night is here. I've been desperate to really explore Orion this year with the dob. A brief hour the night previous whetted the appetite, not that it needed it, given the long forced 2 month break. I had the dob out cooling before putting the little one to bed, as soon as story time was done, it was finally dads playtime. I had a mini-plan formulated with a dozen or so targets but as I realised upon packing up, it's a treasure trove up there at this time of year. 

I waited until the great Nebula was just above the house, having lined everything up following the mirror clean a month ago now and having a sneaky peek at Almach I just can't not spend time taking in M42, just seems the obvious place to begin. I couldn't discern the E & F stars the night before but they both appeared easily in the EP without too much persuasion tonight. So small, they really do look like a single pixel each. Swapping back to the widest view with the 20mm I spent a good while taking in the extent of the nebula. I bought a UHC a good while back and hadn't had any time to use it yet so in it went. The effect, other than the green colour cast, was minimal at first but far more of the bulbous region behind the 'wings' were plucked out. The running man above was just about there - I could just about make out the darker lanes that typify the shape, but it didn't 'pop' for me.

Next stop was the flame nebula. It wasn't as obvious as I'd hoped at first glance. My nebula spotting definitely needs some work! I'm intrigued to see what effect a proper dark site has here as I'm still not that proficient at picking up these areas.

Next stop was Rigel. Nice and easily split at 181x, the b star sitting around the 7 o'clock position from memory (I should take notes!) but well outside of the glare of the dazzling primary. Sirius was still sat behind the house and so plenty of time yet to chance my luck there.

Uranus has notably started to drift a little more eastward since the last time I caught her gaze (early November) but she wasn't too much further outside of the ringlet, with a nice easy star hop this time, I quickly found the pale green orb. It seemed far more defined than last time we met.

I remembered John's mention of the Eskimo neb, so whilst still with the 7mm I noted Gemini now high above the house. Wasat was easy enough to see visually but I had a dewing up problem with the finders EP. I cobbled up a massively over-sized dew band to sort and with a little luck, dropped onto it. At 181x it still could do with a little more mag I felt, but I was torn with trying an 0-III filter. Not a lot of experience of using this filter at such high magnifications (maybe just the Owl previously) and the result didn't really have the desire effect, so I settled for a non-filtered 5 minutes of observation. I couldn't really make out the full eskimo effect.

Reminded that my nebula busting skills still hold much to be desired, I still fancied a hunt around the HH area. I probably spent an hour really getting to grips with the route down from Alnitak. I was certainly in the area using the 20mm and 13mm with UHC but nothing leapt out at me other than some possible indentation. I keep reading that it looks like a small thumb and so definitely nothing along those lines.  Maybe next season I'll add an H-Beta to the arsenal and have a concerted effort. Plenty more nebulae practice needed yet, I can't expect to turn up at Anfield and score on the first effort, I've got to earn my stripes still.

Edit: I nearly forgot the pup! I spent some time trying to search the Sirius B star out. I thought that there was a slight hint at one point but I couldn't be certain and so we'll settle for a miss here too. Another really tricky subject, the glare of Sirius was really something when sustained for a while.

It was around 11pm by this time, I'd had 3 super hours, but the thought of work led me to wheel the icy dob back in for the night. However, I stood mesmerised just looking up. A quick brew and I was back out with the binoculars. I couldn't help but have an extra hour scanning the very many open clusters that were leaping out. Pleiades had been prominent all night. I did have a glance at Alcyone and Merope earlier on and did see nebulosity around them, but they looked superb in the binos. Melotte 20, double cluster, Hyades, NGC 457 (owl cluster), M42,  M36, M37 & M38 all looked magnificent. The Auriga clusters were the best I've seen them, the starfish really did pop last night. 

So enthused still from the evening, it was long over-due, but there's still plenty of practice needed yet. 



Edited by Stardaze
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