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Observational Challenge Bucket List


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We have been talking quite a bit lately about a couple of observational astronomy challenges, namely:

- Seeing "the Pup Star" Sirius B

- Spotting the E & F members of the Trapezium group of stars in Orion

I thought it might be useful to start a thread on such challenges which might, over time, build into a useful memory prompt / suggestion box for the visual observers amongst us.

I'm intending to stick with challenges for the visual observer rather than for EEVA and similar approaches, which will have their own boundaries I'm sure.

To get the ball rolling I'll add a few more to the ones above. Some tougher than others, some more personal challenges rather than "classic" ones, and quite a few of course will have already been achieved by observers on SGL:

- Spotting the Encke Gap or Encke Minima in Saturn's A-ring

- Spotting Saturn's C-ring or Crepe Ring

- Seeing white spots in Jupiter's cloud systems

- Spotting the Martian moons Phobos and / or Deimos

- Seeing Neptune's moon, Triton

- Seeing some of Uranus's 4 brightest moons (all still rather faint !)

- Splitting Antares

- Spotting quasars

- Splitting Zeta Herculis

Please feel free to add some more of your own - the more the merrier 🙂

Edited by John
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Some fun ones:

Seeing all seven planets in one session

Observing a close passing asteroid which can be seen moving in the eyepiece

Spotting a SuperNova

 

 

 

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how about solar transits of Venus and Mercury? I've never seen one and won't be able to see a transit of Venus now in my lifetime. Mercury transits next in 2032.

 

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Spotting a bag of tools let go by accident by an astronaut working outside the ISS 🙂

I think that has happened twice now.

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Do we need an emergency alert sticky banner along the lines "Get Out And Look Up Now - No Seriously Do It" Maybe with an audible alert along the lines of the Enterprise Battle Stations.

Jim

Edited by saac
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23 minutes ago, saac said:

Do we need an emergency alert sticky banner along the lines "Get Out And Look Up Now - No Seriously Do It" Maybe with an audible alert along the lines of the Enterprise Battle Stations.

Jim

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For excellent transparency nights and darker skies, Barnard 33 (Horse Head) and  colour on M42.

Clouds on Venus.

Edited by Kon
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1 hour ago, Kon said:

For excellent transparency nights and darker skies, Barnard 33 (Horse Head) and  colour on M42.

Clouds on Venus.

Yes, the Horsey is definitely one on my list. Need to get it before my eyes go completely 🤪

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Posted (edited)

- Dust lanes in a galaxy. Lots have them but, personally, I've found them quite difficult to see clearly. 

- DSO's in another galaxy. NGC 604 in Messier 33 is an obvious contender. Some of M31's globular clusters are observable visually as well.

- Although it's been downgraded, for some of us of a more "vintage" age, actually seeing Pluto has a certain appeal to it 🙂

Edited by John
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Perhaps some of the more challenging lunar targets. Hadley Rille is a good one, plus counting Plato Craterlets and seeing the Alpine Rille. Plenty more but those are the better known ones I guess.

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I’d like to add-

Observing the proper motion of Barnard’s star.

I’ve been doing that since 12th June 2008. Although it’s the star with the highest known proper motion it takes years to visually observe that.  A very careful sketch every year will reveal the motion and also confirm you have definitely found it😊

It’s mag +9.5 and therefore doesn’t need a dark site. But first learn the star hop. The closest bright star is 66 Ophiucus……..observable from the northern hemisphere from summer into autumn….

Worth the multi year challenge!

Ed.

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Seeing the zodiacal light seems to be pretty challenging. No scope needed though.

Naked eye comets - Neowise was superb and Pons-Brooks has just about got there. Could do with some more 👍

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, John said:

DSO's in another galaxy. NGC 604 in Messier 33 is an obvious contender. Some of M31's globular clusters are observable visually as well.

That's one I always forget about. On my to- see list.

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Great idea John, perhaps we can build this into the “SGL 100”! Great suggestions so far. 

My suggestion is to see a “two in a view” where Jupiter, Saturn, Mars or Venus can be seen in the same field of view as another well known object such as a DSO. I remember seeing Venus lying in the Pleiades and it was a spectacular sight. 

Edited by RobertI
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That is a good idea, one thing I would say generally is that bucket list targets could be on the list for many reasons. Being an observing challenge is one but there may be other reasons like being an amazing object or more obscure object.

I had 2 objects on my bucket list when I started observing, before I learned about the well known lists we all use (I didnt know about things like the messier or caldwell lists back then). They were Cygnus x1, which to me was an amazing object even though it turned out in observing terms to look just a normal unremrkable star hanging out in cygnus. I think this is a great object to have on one's list just to think about what you're looking at.

Another was BL Lac, a blazar I had read about long before I was an observer. It's just a faint random variable star that turned out to be a quasar. I've still not seen this, it's in the middle of nowhere in Lacerta. I'll resolve to have a go with the VX14 when it gets higher after the clocks change in the autumn.

Edited by Paz
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1 hour ago, RobertI said:

My suggestion is to see a “two in a view” where Jupiter, Saturn, Mars or Venus can be seen in the same field of view as another well known object such as a DSO. I remember seeing Venus lying in the Pleiades and it was a spectacular sight. 

"two in a view" are great targets, especially where one is easy and the other more difficult.

Messier 13 and the galaxy NGC 6207 are a good example and about 1 degree apart so visible in the same eyepiece view.

Messier 97 (planetary nebula) and galaxy Messier 108 are a little further apart but possible with a wide field view. The O-III filter that helps see M97 does the opposite for M108 though so that's a challenge.

 

 

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