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An odd pairing, but it worked…


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I had half an hour or so free last night to observe, so decided to put my FC76Q out on the Scopetech/Gitzo for a quick squiz at the Moon.

To start off with, I used the binoviewers with 25mm Orthos and a x1.7 GPC. They would not come to focus without. This was using a T2 BBHS mirror so with a T2 Prism they may have done. Anyway, with this combination, the crescent Moon and Earthshine were perfectly framed so I just enjoyed this for a while, panning about to focus on various different features; the lovely ‘diamond’ of a mountain peak illuminated further around the limb from the main terminator is a normal favourite for this phase.

Of course, being a complete muppet, I forgot to look out for Uranus which was nearby 🤪🤪.

I then switched to a Morpheus 17.5mm and took a few Smartphone snaps. Nice views through this too of course.

Seeing M45 nearby, I popped in a 24mm Panoptic to have a look. Of course, having the Extender module fitted meant I couldn’t quite fit it in with room to frame it well. Alcyone and it’s three companions looked great though.

Next I went in search of the 21mm Ethos to solve the problem. This did help on the field of view, but I really didn’t enjoy the experience. I found eye placement tricky and couldn’t easily take in the full field of view. It’s not something I recall with other scopes, so perhaps the extender module is having some effect on this, extending eye relief??

So finally it was in with the big boy, 31mm Nagler. Not an eyepiece I imagined using in this scope at all! Of course, removing the CQ Extender would have been the sensible option, but since when have I ever been sensible? Anyway, the 31mm Nag worked beautifully. Stars were absolutely pin point right out to the edge, really lovely, and it gave a still reasonable 2.62 degree field of view, framing M45 beautifully.

I thought I would pop over to M42 whilst out, and see it in a different, low power context. I’m glad I did. The Trapezium was beautifully split, even at x31, and the field of view extended up to NGC1981, and down well beyond NGC1980. The trapezium was just as clear right at the field stop as in the centre, really nice. M42 itself was small obviously, but nebulosity clearly visible with direct vision, getting more extensive with AV.

The Double Cluster was another target perfectly framed in this combination. Always a pleasure to view it, I love the tiny, threshold stars in the centre of both clusters. I then followed the trail of stars starting with chi and 8 persei across to Stock 2, another beautiful open cluster. Its looping chains of pinpoint stars showed up perfectly in this aperture.

Kemble’s Cascade next. Often deemed a binocular object, it certainly didn’t fit fully in the field of view (removing the Extender would have achieved that though), but this was a very rewarding view still. Particularly the lovely little cluster that is NGC1502 nestled near the end showed up well at this power, the lovely little double splitting clearly too.

A whizz around M35, 36, 37 and 38 next, I normally view them at higher power, but this made a pleasant change. M35 in particular, larger than the others, but seeing them all set in context was great. The brighter red giant in the centre of M37 stood out clearly still.

M44 is ideal for this kind of mag and field of view, whilst I failed to find M67, probably looking in the wrong place! I did not use a finder throughout the session, just going off memory so not surprising I missed one! I did use SkySafari to help me find M46 and M47. I say that, M47 was clear, just a smattering of the brighter stars showing, but M46 was very tough. I could just about detect the faint glittering of stars using AV, quite a nice effect though.

Finally finally…. M81/M82, again, framed really well in this field of view. No detail visible but clearly distinguished shapes to both as expected.

Probably more like an hour by the time I was done, quite an enjoyable little session. I’ll remove the extender at some point and see what the edge stars look like without it. It’s possible field curvature will have some impact.

Some Moon shots attached, the last one an attempt at a composite to show some detail on the crescent with the Earthshine too. Kinda works but….

Thanks for reading 👍




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