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Stellarvue Saves the Day, er, Night! And First Light for TOE 2.5 - 14th April 2023

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It’s been four weeks since my last proper observing session, so when last night’s forecast promised clear sky, no Moon and little wind, I had to set up and get a session in. That in spite of it being a Friday night and a date out with friends. Luckily it was an early evening date and I was back home by 9:30pm.


Earlier, hours earlier, I’d set out my OO/Helmerichs 300 intending to collect a few more of the Leo and Coma galaxies. But come the dark, by the time I was half way through collimation, I noticed that the barlowed laser-reflection back to my Tublug screen was mottled and shady: a sure sign that the primary was covered in condensation. As was the secondary. I tried to ignore it and selected as my first target M66, hoping to start off with the Leo Triplet. I did see M66, but it was extremely dim, and M65 nearby was similarly right at the edge of detection. The third member, NGC 3628, was beyond detection. How annoying. I moved on to Eps Lyrae, and although I could just about split the two doubles, it was very far from the best view I’ve had. I texted a friend to vent a little of my frustration, and he suggested “throw your SV onto the mount”. Very good idea.

I nipped back inside to retrieve my SV 140, plonked it into the mount, and carried on. The evening was saved!

I immediately returned to the Leo Triplet and Lo and Behold! Compared to how visible the galaxies had been through the 300mm only a few moments before, through the 140 they simply smacked me in the face. NGC 3628 very bright.

I switched to M51, which was again, to me and considering the only 140mm of aperture, extraordinary in the detail it revealed: plenty of structure around NGC 5194 and NGC 5195 really rather bright. I felt that had I the utensils, the view I had would have made a good sketch. Together with my view of M81/82 just next, I think this equalled the best views I’ve had of this object.

M81 and M82 were next: so so bright. M82 in particular was showing its diagonal “gap” with AV, something I’ve never noticed before in anything below a 12”.

I didn’t bother pursuing the fainter galaxies in Leo and Coma as originally intended for the 12”, so I chose instead various doubles and a cherry-pick of my constantly-updating list of objects gleaned from SGL observing reports. The useful list was quite short: most date from “Orion season”, and were well below the horizon.

Izar was first, an easy split. I returned to Epsilon Lyrae, and now (admittedly a little higher than earlier) it was a lovely split of both and similarly the view of the whole system. Very pleasing.

Tegmine, zeta Cancri, a nice double - and even lovelier triple in the right conditions - leapt off my list, and I found the wide pairing easy enough at 94x (Delos 10). One of the wide pair, of course, was a bit chunkier than the other, but at 94x I couldn’t split the close pair. I considered the Delos 6 for 156x but then remembered my latest acquisition: my Tak TOE 2.5! This would give me 375x in the SV140, perfect for such doubles in a medium refractor. And the split was made. It was quite interesting staring at them, how they would resolve into two really quite distinct white discs one moment, and merge into a fuzzy blob the next, coming and going with the micro-seeing. I was quite pleased, actually. I’ve only ever “got” Tegmine before in my (currently dustily-dewily disgraced) 12”.

That was it. A session potentially ruined by our worst enemy, saved by my Stellarvue refractor once again exceeding expectations. I am so happy with this scope, “that” CN thread notwithstanding.

Regarding my 300mm: I have no doubt the mirror and set-up are very good, I’ve happily persuaded myself of that many times before. But its last couple of sessions have shown an undue amount of apparent haze on the mirror itself. I _think_ it’s covered in a layer of extremely fine dust (in addition to the normal “bigger and brighter” dust I’m more used to seeing) which may be acting as an excessive nucleating agent for condensation. There is a potential culprit for this dust in the vicinity, in that our vacuum cleaner gets emptied into a bin just near where I keep the scope, and it releases some very very fine stuff each time. The mirror is ripe for a clean and close inspection, I think, and perhaps a change of vacuum-cleaner habits.
Thanks for reading, Magnus


Edited by Captain Scarlet
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