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South Coast Astro Group - First Obs


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SCAG held it's first observing session last night. Under incredibly clear skies we gathered on a remote part of the New Forest. A group of seven members got together, initially at Acres Down but we quickly had to re-plan our evening as the site was not suitable for lugging scopes about. So we made our way to a far more suitable location at Turf Hill. Nice and flat, car park nearby but remote enough for no cars to visit. Only the New Forest ponies to keep us company.

A good range of scopes were brought along with no overlaps. We had a range of SCT's (6", 8" and 11"), Newts (6" and 8"), Achro refractor (80mm), Apo refractors (80mm and 100mm). Plus a selection of binoculars and cameras.

The skies were near perfect for transparency but the seeing (the others may disagree) was not quite as good. Although we had some very fine high powered views of Saturn and Mars. We put the limiting magnitude at +5.5 or better.

List of objects observed was truly huge, i'll rely on the others to list what we saw. But a couple stood out for me:

M51 in my dob - both cores, spiral arm and a hint of the link.

Sombrero - superb in both Mark's 8" SCT and Tim's 11" SCT.

All the globs (and there was a lot of them) - all amazing!

M101 - so difficult from home but amazingly easy from a dark site.

Leo Triplet - Just amazing!!!!

There were loads more, including meteors, flares and possibly the ISS and Shuttle. Oh and the incredibly beautiful sight of Venus and the thin crescent moon in the sunset.

Like to say thanks to everyone for one of my best observing nights, great fun indeed! Can't wait for the next one.


I'll cut striaght to it and say it was total success



Edited by russ
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Hi, Jay here, i was at the meeting and i would like to join the SCAG so, please consider this my application!

What a excellent night we had last night, i dont think i have ever seen so many astronomical objects in one night, my highlights were the leo triple, seeing 3 galaxies in the same field of view was simply stunning, and beingable to see actual details on galaxies was awesome as well, I also enjoyed the globular clusters.

As for those 2 sattelites in formation, I cannot find anything on heavens above so it looks like they will remain a mystery.

I stayed up to watch the ISS and shuttle, and what an amazing sight they were, normaly you see them come up from the horizon but the first pass appeared from the shadow as if from nowhere, i decided to stay up for the second pass to, the skies were brightening then but was till easy to see them.

Look forward to seeing you all again at the next meet.

Dark skies!


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Hi Russ (and Welcome Jay),

Sounds like you had a great time. Weren't the skies odd without contrails?

Had a look through a PST bino on Friday. With one side being double stacked... So with one eye you could see the surface granulation and the other prominences... AMAZING.



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A good nights observing was had there and as Russ says a definite success. A good range of observing equipment was there for everyone to use and look through. After the initial alignment problems I had, the Lx90 performed flawlessly for the rest of the night. In fact that was my first 'proper' observing session in a long time.

Quite a few highlights including Saturn, the Leo trio of galaxies(fantastic in the same field of view), M104 - the Sombrero Galaxy(nice to see the dust lane), M3 and M13 - these globulars are well worth returning to - which I did a couple of times!

Plenty of objects seen and here's a list of objects seen but it is in no way complete:

Messiers - 3,5,10,12,13,27,29,34,35,36,37,38,39,44,51,52,56,57,64,65,66,67,68,

71,76,81,82,95,96,97,101,103,104.105.107, 108.

NGC's 3115,2392, 5195.

Saturn, Mars, Venus, The Moon plus various satellites and meteors.

I wish I had a UHC or OIII filter to study the nebulas a bit more - but there's always next time.


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Was my first night out with the EQ mount, and had a lot of "fun" with that (sometimes I get all the fun I can cope with:D), but much appreciated the help provided by others in getting it to operate.

My highlight (as someone who can drool over even the least impressive open cluster) was a magnificent view of M44, with Mars in attendance. Got it all in the field of the Pentax ep.

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After initially thinking that I had been stood up when I arrived at Acres Down, I have to say I had a great time last night.

As my first group observing session I can only hope that the rest of them will be as good.

Its hard to pin down a highlight for me other than to say the whole evening was a highlight. Seeing so much in one night, a good laugh and good company made it all worth while.

Thanks again Russ for all your help setting up, bobs nobs are on the way.

I think we have set the bar quite high with a meet like that, lets see if we can do it again when we meet in May.

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Ant, that Pst bino sounds awesome. I can just picture the view. I need another Pst!

Martyn, it was pleasure to help out and good job getting those Bob's knobs!

What a great evening that was, i've been buzzing about it all day. Awesome!

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After a chat with Russ on Sunday, sounds like you had a fantastic time. Shame I could not make it (Daughters Birthday weekend). I shall be there on the next meet.

Glad to see the group is growing to be a great success. Well done Russ for pushing this to make it so.



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Hi all, I'd call last Saturday night my first proper observing session ever really. Sure, I've been out plenty of times over the last few years and viewed one, two or perhaps three objects, but never crammed so much into such a relatively short space of time. Very enjoyable.

Highlights for me were Saturn, which I pointed my C11 at for the first time. After a disappointing (for me) Mars, I wasn't expecting much, but Saturn was clear as anything. Even with the rings almost flat-on to us, I could easily make out the shadow they were casting on the planet, and even managed to see the inner gap in the rings a few times. What was it we counted, six moons? Very nice.

Was also pleased to locate The Sombrero, (after seeig where Mark's scope was pointed), and was then chuffed to bits when I hunted M81 and M82. I pointed the scope roughly, (didn't have my finderscope attached, so what I was doing was sighting along the dovetail bar on top of my C11 whenever I was aiming it at something), then went off to say cheerio to Darren. When I got back to my scope about ten minutes later I looked through the EP and there was a galaxy right there! Didn't look like M81 or M82, and when Russ took a look he straight away told me it looked like NGC 3077. M81 and M82 were a little way away, but I wished I'd had a wider EP, (was using a 38mm), as I might've got all three in the frame. Should've whacked the 6.3 FR on there...didn't think of that!

I'm still baffled by those two lights, if Heavens Above doesn't say anything. Just two satellites I guess, though they did flare up a lot.

Thanks again to Russ for sorting things out, and for the hasty relocation to another site...my back couldn't have managed carrying all my kit up the hill at Acres Down!! :D

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We also discovered that Tim was a born natural at night writing...check the photo at the top of this thread. The SCAG! was all Tim's work.....very impressive indeed.

I still can't over how bright NGC3077 was in the C11, that was so impressive. And the Sombrero was just a wow moment.

Planning for the next night is underway. :D

Edited by russ
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