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The Night of the Planets


russ
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With wall to wall clear skies forecast I setup the scope early evening, once the daytime heat had started to subside. Decided on the Orion Optics 10" newt. Not used this scope for a couple of months and first time using it with the planets. All previous sessions this year have been with the 4" refractor or one of the SCT's. 

Also eager to try out my revised and much slimmer eyepiece collection. Now only 4 eyepieces and 2 barlows. 

Observing started at 11pm with Saturn. Low down in the South East, framed by trees. Only have a 20minute observing window. It wasn't great. Serious heat haze meant Cassini was hard to spot. Best magnification was 109x using the Tele Vue DeLite 11mm. There were some brief moments where the banding was clear and a hint of Cassini. Not a good start to the night. 

Switched to DSO's for 30minutes and then went to bed. Decided it would be better to get 3 hours kip and then get stuck into Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Venus. 

So back out at 3am. Now seriously torn between DSO and Planets. Sky was so transparent, one of the best I've had from the garden. It almost felt criminal to ignore the deep sky stuff. Decided with M31 riding high it would be rude not to look. And it looked epic. As did M45, Double Cluster, M15, M33....... :)

After a 30minute diversion we were back on track. First up, Jupiter. Straight in with the 11mm DeLite. Pin sharp, beautiful banding and instantly see the GRS. Next up the 8mm TV Plossl. Now more detail in the bands, my eye was getting adjusted. It was definitely my best view of the year. Better to come. Now the 18.2mm DeLite with the TV 3x barlow. WOW. Not just the best view of 2022 but possibly one of my views ever. It was so steady. 200x was no problem at all. Details in the cloud belts and around the GRS were so good. Small festoons and swirls. I don't think i have ever seen this much detail, not even with the Intes M603. 

Next up was Uranus. Not much to say really other than it was a featureless small blue disk. I did try 305x but its tiny. 

Moving onto Mars. Wasn't expecting much more than Uranus as I knew Mars is tiny at the moment. But to my amazement Mars just kept on taking the power. Settled on the same 305x used for Uranus. No problem at all seeing some dark markings on the planets surface and a hint of the polar cap. 

Caught Venus in the dawn sky, very low down. A boiling mess. And almost a full phase. Looked better naked eye against the pre-dawn sky. 

Highlight of the night was of course Jupiter at 200x showing all that detail. Just amazing. And what a difference it makes with the planets finally getting some decent altitude. After years of them scraping the horizon. Going to be a great couple of years.

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Sounds great Russ. It does seem the early mornings are the way to go then (more so with the hot days we are having).

encouraging on Mars also 😊

Rob

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A great motivational read. Was all this from your back garden? I see you are Southampton. Is light pollution OK for you, allowing M31 to punch through well?

 

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Great report Russ. It does make sense to catch them in the early morning as Rob says, after the atmosphere has had a chance to cool down.

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2 hours ago, yuklop said:

A great motivational read. Was all this from your back garden? I see you are Southampton. Is light pollution OK for you, allowing M31 to punch through well?

 

Yes all from the back garden. I'm actually Eastleigh rather Southampton. I just put Southampton as no one has ever heard of Eastleigh :)

LP from our garden can be really bad, to the point of not bothering with anything other than the moon and planets. It all depends on the railway and the sidings yard. If they have their floodlights on its game over. Fortunately this was one of those nights they didn't :)

M31 was really impressive. It was again this morning in the 4" refractor. Obviously not as good as getting out into the New Forest or something even better.

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43 minutes ago, Stu said:

Great report Russ. It does make sense to catch them in the early morning as Rob says, after the atmosphere has had a chance to cool down.

Thanks Stu. Things were really steady by 3am. Not quite as good this morning but not bad. 

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2 hours ago, Rob said:

Sounds great Russ. It does seem the early mornings are the way to go then (more so with the hot days we are having).

encouraging on Mars also 😊

Rob

Mars was a real surprise Rob. To already be picking out surface markings now with it so small. Going to be epic later in the year.

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Hah! I know Eastleigh... actually Bishopstoke, but I put Eastleigh, since no one has ever head of Bishopstoke :)

Light pollution south is a real problem. The airport is floodlit all night every night, and the uni sports fields don't help.

I am looking at getting out to the new forest, or Old Winchester Hill on the South Downs. I really should do it one day! This winter I definitely will. Probably.

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16 minutes ago, yuklop said:

Hah! I know Eastleigh... actually Bishopstoke, but I put Eastleigh, since no one has ever head of Bishopstoke :)

Light pollution south is a real problem. The airport is floodlit all night every night, and the uni sports fields don't help.

I am looking at getting out to the new forest, or Old Winchester Hill on the South Downs. I really should do it one day! This winter I definitely will. Probably.

Yep south is bad all the time. The airport, the town centre and Southampton beyond. We go out to the New Forest sometimes. Up to Turf Hill, on the Fordingbridge road. Better skies and clearer horizons. I can let you know next time we go. Its better in numbers.

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19 hours ago, wookie1965 said:

Great report cracking read I'm hoping to get out this week. Forecast is for clear skies Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 

Forecast is looking great right up to and into the weekend. Definitely need to make the best of it. Who knows what's in store weatherwise.

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13 hours ago, JeremyS said:

That’s brilliant Russ 👍🏻

 

20 hours ago, yuklop said:

That's great. Thanks. 

 Many thanks, pleased you both enjoyed it.

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Interesting read.

I’m from Southampton and was observing that night from garden with my daughter. She was sleeping in the garden all night, getting up a few times to have a look in the telescope with me, look for shooting stars etc. 

We also had Mars at 300x in our 8” Dob but this is our first year observing Mars and I assumed it was normal stuff! We could make out some dark banding on the planet that made a rough “X” pattern. And maybe a small icecap but it wasn’t obvious.

Jupiter was really very good. We could even make out banding and details in the polar regions, something I’ve never seen. And lots of details around and near the GRS. 

In some way I found Mars more interesting back in June when it was obviously rather small. Then the southern icecap kind of glowed and although tiny stood out like a sore thumb. It was like a snow caped alpine mountain but tiny and looked like, well, sunshine on ice. I think just seeing an icecap on another world for the first time had me! And the best view I got back then was well after sunrise. The sky so bright I couldn’t even see it in the RACI and had to use PushTo.

Edited by PeterStudz
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