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Old 22-07-2012, 08:45 PM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Brisbane, Australia
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Observation Report 20.7.12

Observation Report 20.7.12



After a depressing week of no observing and lots of rain , I was itching to get Berenice out under the stars and try for some new goodies.

My first target was NGC3918. The Gumball Nebula (as my friend and I so fondly dubbed it ) has eluded me ever since I first set up Berenice. Even when I saw it for the first time, it was because of my friend's amazing effort and determination. So I was really hoping to find it all by myself. But alas, yet again it eluded me and it wasn't long before it was behind the trees and out of sight.

The next target on my list was NGC5102. I had looked for this galaxy my last time observing and had come up empty. On my star maps, it seemed like the galaxy was almost on top of iota centauri but after checking it out in Stellarium, I realised it wasn't as close as I had first assumed. I made sure I placed iota centauri at the edge of the eyepiece and there it was! So very, very faint, I am really surprised I even found it. An average sized star, no bigger or brighter than the rest yet with the slightest of fuzzy smudges through the middle, I knew I had found it. I was very happy that after the frustration of trying to track it down last time, that I had finally found it!

I had another look at Centaurus A, mainly to make sure I could still star hop to it easily and not get muddled up. Sure enough I jumped from mu centauri and easily found Centaurus A. I think I'm starting to get a basic grasp on star hopping just by studying the maps and using my binos as an aid! I really wanted to find M104 again but alas, by the time I got home from work, had a bite to eat and a shower then set up, it had already disappeared behind the trees.

I decided I wanted to find something new and seeing as there was some pesky cloud floating around Scorpius' stinger for awhile that made trying to find The Bug Nebula frustrating (not to mention it was almost at zenith by this stage and a bit of a strange on the legs and back) , I shifted the scope to a different position in the yard so that the stars between Menkent and iota centauri were visible. I had been checking out Star Maps Pro, which has a very handy section called "Tonight" which tells you all the exciting things in the sky for the night and their rise time, transit time and set time. I decided upon M83 and so had to move the scope!

I used my binoculars first. In between Menkent (theta cen) and iota centauri, there was a small cluster of bright stars that formed an upside down 'Y' shape. I knew once I found the 'Y' of stars that if I continued downward following a squiggly line of close together stars that I would then reach two brighter stars. The fainter of the two stars would lead me straight to M83, which lay directly below it. In the binoculars, there was a definite faint fuzzy patch so I lined up the stars in the finderscope and sure enough, there it was!

I was actually really surprised by how faint it was, considering how big it looked in my binoculars. It had a bright nucleus with the fuzzy edges but it wasn't really popping out at me. I think the seeing was to blame, there was still cloud scudding around, it had cleared by the time I focused on M83 but I think there was still some invisible wisps around that made it hard to pinpoint any detail.

Seeing as I had moved my scope, I now had a good view of Aquila and Scutum. The glare from Brisbane and probably from Archerfield Airway as well, was pretty severe so I could only make out the brightest of stars. After looking at Star Map Pro again, I decided I wanted to find the Wild Duck Cluster. I had heard of it before, even tried for it with binoculars but I don't think I knew exactly what I was looking for or where to look for it. After studying the shape of Aquila against Star Map Pro, I knew where I needed to point. I hopped my way upward and noticed a bright fuzzy in the finderscope.

When I looked in the eyepiece, WOW! It was so bright and so dense, shimmering and sparkling! The first word that came to mind was "crunchy". The stars in objects like M6 and Omega Centauri, seem delicate, fragile and twinkle like glitter against deep velvet. But this was something different. The stars twinkled and shone like jewels, cut precisely and their edges giving a 3D effect. I was really blown away. What a beauty!

The last object for the night was the Eagle Nebula. Which, I actually happened to stumble upon by chance! I was looking for clusters in Scutum and noticed two clusters close together and centred one in the eyepiece for a closer look. I was blown away again! The dust was so wispy, so bright, like tendrils of milky smoke against a back drop of dark dust and stars, it was a sight to behold! I decided to try to find it for a second time, to make sure I was in the right area and I was. It is so bright, it is hard to miss!

I did try for a couple of other objects but the seeing was pretty rubbish by this point. The sky glare was ridiculous and turning to face more South wasn't proving fruitful either. So I called it a night after a couple of hours and headed to bed. Alas, the cold breeze that night (which I actually found wonderful and refreshing) coupled with my bad shoulder saw me wake up with a whopper of a migraine the next morning and the sniffles and a sore throat. Not to mention I woke up with an agonising stomach ache at about 1am.

Now that I'm feeling a bit better, I can most definitely say it was worth it! (although I stayed in tonight, just to be sure )
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