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Old 22-05-2010, 12:18 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Renmark, SA
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Saturn Nebula at 953x

This morning (Saturday May 22) I had one of the most thrilling experiences of my observing "career". At about 5:00am I turned my 12" dob to the Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009). At 381x, I could easily see the eye shaped "ring" and with averted vision, the ansae. Increasing mag to 534x, I could catch hints of the central star. Although the central star is bright at Mag V 11.6, it is difficult due to the low contrast caused by the surrounding nebula.

Now, in a minute of near perfect seeing, I got my 3.5mm Vixen LVW and 2.5x Powermate for a magnification of 953x and the central star could be held easily, it appeared as a perfect pinpoint, quite stunning really, and the outer bright eye-shaped annulus of the nebula appeared distorted and uneven like it does in astrophotos. The western end appeared thicker than the east. I could see a faint outer halo stretching from the north and south sides of the main portion of the nebula. The main body of the nebula somehow appeared to have uneven surface brightness, it seemed to have a number of overlapping shells, that's the effect I got. The ansae, well they were thick using averted vision, and the two nobs at the ends were easier seen than at any lower magnification. I honestly could not freakin believe what I was experiencing. Even the Mag 14.4 star just north of ther nebula was showing an airy disk at this mag, although severley distorted and blurred by the micro effects of the slightest seeing.

I was going to make a sketch, but this lasted barely a minute, before I knew it all was gone when the seeing kicked up.

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I also got near-photographic views of Jupiter in a few instances at 381x at around 5:30-6am, but after that the seeing had rapidly deteriorated. I actually observed the Galilean moons as disks at 534x at one stage, although the seeing blur was ever present, beneath it were some relatively clear disks, not unlike Mars in mediocre seeing.


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Full observation report coming soon
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