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ashenlight

Observing Report - First DSOs!

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I had a great 2 hours with the scope last night, 31st May 2009.

A couple of nights ago, after a lot of scanning the sky, I managed to get M13 in the FOV... as I turned away to reach for my barlow lens, the scope moved, as I hadn't locked the DEC and RA properly! Argh! I was furious (with myself). So I decided to try and rectify my mistakes last night :icon_salut:

I started with Hercules - I'm still working on identifying his shape. He is not as obvious as, say, Virgo.. he's much fainter. Got there in the end though, it's a massive constellation. I lined up the scope on Polaris, popped in the 25mm eyepiece and just loosened the DEC and RA axis and swung the scope around slowly so it was more or less in the right area for M13, say one third of the way down between the top and bottom right stars of the Keystone. I then looked through the red dot finder and used the fine adjustment DEC and RA knobs to position the dot as best I could over where I thought M13 would be. WOW. Looked through the eyepiece, and there it was, smack bang in the middle. It was a yellow/cream coloured fuzzy patch. I was ecstatic. It was positioned inbetween two seperate stars, one about 10pm and one about 3pm to the cluster (I'm so technical with my observing aren't I, lol). I just gazed at this beauty for a while and read a little bit of information from my book about where it is situated in our galaxy, how old it is said to be etc. Mum had a look too - she was blown away. I popped in the 2x barlow - I didn't want to go down to a 10mm eyepiece straight away, so went with the 12.5mm the barlow gives me when coupled with the 25mm. I could resolve some stars in the outer fuzzy patch, but it was still smudgey towards the centre. Needless to say, I was pleased. My first DSO!

I think it is important here to note, especially for those just starting out, that DSOs never look through the scope as they do in photos - if you think this, you will be disappointed! Just go to the eyepiece not expecting anything, whatever you see is a bonus. I'm saying this because a week ago I got M13 in the eyepiece without realising it - I dismissed as a 'smudge of nothing' because I was expecting a more prominent object - like the photos. Expect a smudge and you won't go far wrong :cool: This isn't meant to detract from the pleasure of DSO observing though... it is amazing stuff. Just be prepared.

Well, I was so excited at this point. So I took this energy and used it to try and find another DSO on my 'summer hit list' - M81 & M82.

Took a bit of finding, especially as I'd forgotten I had the barlow in, lol. Once I took that out and was left with the 25mm, and consequentially a wide FOV, I went hunting. Again, did the same thing. Went to Polaris and then loosened the RA and DEC clutches and swung the scope around so the red dot finder was positioned in the area my sky chart says the two galaxies are in. And what did I see at the eyepiece? Straight away, there they were. They fitted so snuggly in the FOV. M81 was like a slightly elliptical smudge, with a ever so slightly brighter centre. M82 was like an elongated, smudged line... slightly brighter overall than M81. I think this may be because M81's light is spread over a larger area, whilst M82 has it's light concentrated into that 'line.' When I read that these two galaxies are seperated by 150,000 LY.. well.. I was speechless. I kept looking at these two for a good half an hour, just gazing down the eyepiece - averted vision worked quite well to bring out a bit more detail. They sky around the galaxies wasn't perfectly dark - is this LP issues? I can't wait to see what these objects look like at dark skies. I increased the mag by popping in the 10mm eyepiece, but I lost the galaxies. I think it might have just been too much, the light from them was too spread out at this higher mag and I jsut couldn't make them out. Switched back to the 25mm and soaked up the view for another 15 minutes.

Then I went to bed feeling really, really satisfied. I also saw 5 sats and 3 shooting stars :headbang:

Next stop, M57.

Amanda

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Well done Amanda, great write up and congratulations on finding your first DSO's, not easy with the nights being so short at the moment.

Brendan

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Great report. Makes me remember my first attempts at finding faint fuzzies. Trust me things get a lot easier very quickly. Any light at all hides fuzzies. The cold nights of winter tend to be best as there tends to be less water vapor in the air.

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A very nice report. I remember seeing M13 for the first time, also using a skywatcher 130pm and it was exactly as you describe it, a milky ball of light. You're right about Hercules - its quite faint and there are similar shapes of stars in the area. You'll probalby find it easier to locate M57 (perhaps tonight, weather looks set fair though the moon's getting bigger).

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Thanks Brendan and Casus, I'm so pleased Ursa Major is circumpolar, gonna have a good old go at it come the winter months! Everything seems to be falling in to place now I've bagged a few DSOs, feel I can find anything now, lol!

The Moon is also a bit of a hindrance when it comes to DSO observing, only really appreciating that now. It's so bright, you don't really realise until you look through the eyepiece. Saturn was shocking last night, the Moon's glare really affected it.

Amanda

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You done amazingly well to find M81 and M82. Especially as the moon is about, so well done I bet you feel well chuffed.

Excellent report so what DSO is next?

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Mick, going to try for M57 in the next couple of nights. Not sure what to expect, particularly as we have quite a bit of LP in my area. Just gonna go with the flow and see what happens. Thinking about hunting it down in my binoculars first.

After that, I was thinking M51 and M27, once it clears the houses. Don't want to go too ambitious, usually fall down with a bump then, lol!

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Great report, thanks! :icon_salut: If you liked the UMa views last night, wait till there's no moonwash bleaching things out.. M82 has some mottling in the center you might be able to pick out.

About Hercules.. i've always found it easy to locate by eyeballing the area between the northern crown (CrB) and Vega (or 2/3 of the way from Arcturus to Vega). Just a note to novice Amateurs looking for M13.. be aware that the head of DRA has been mistaken for the HER keystone. It's nearby, smaller and brighter, so be sure you're in HER before looking.

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Amanda,

Great report, thanks for posting it.

You make a very good point about what you get to see through the EP - all those beautiful images that people take have us spoiled :icon_salut:. I find it useful to find sketches posted with a scope of around the same aperture, that way I can get a good idea of what I might actually see.

Well done finding M81 and M82, they are a great pair of objects. I found them in my 85mm on Friday. I didn't spend as long as you did on them, but none the less it was a great find. I really should start logging my observations...

Dave.

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Well done amanda, im also a newbie when it comes to dso's!! m13 is great aint it!!

i managed to find the dumbell nebula lastnight but was very faint as it was quite low down! Bring on the darker sky's!! :icon_salut:

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You should find that M57 (once you find it) is well worth a look. It is just like a little smoke ring in space. It is small, so taking up the magnification helps (subject to the conditions). Don`t forget M92 in Hercules, another fine globular but a bit fainter than M13.

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Very nice report Amanda :icon_salut:

There is another nice globular cluster in Hercules that is worth a look - M92. It's often overlooked because of the proximity of M13 but it's a nice object in it's own right.

M57 is quite easy to find but also quite easy to overlook because it appears so small with a low power eyepiece. Once you have it in your field of view it will be worth using your 10mm eyepiece on it - it's unmistakable at medium powers.

Don't forget to have a look at Epsilon Lyra - the famous "double double" while in Lyra - it's not too far from Vega - it needs quite a lot of power to split the 2 pairs of stars though - I find 100x the minimum and 150x much better in my 4" refractor.

John

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What a great report Amanda - in fact, it's mighty brave of you to even attempt DSO's with so much background light. Pleased you found M13 because this is a really superb object - [or smudge as it is now known].

Had you any thoughts of sketching what you see ? I'd be interested in what you make of M57. Also, quite high up at the moment is M51 which should be an easy bag for you (actually.. perhaps the moon is going to kill that one anytime now)

Cheers

Steve

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