Old 26-08-2014, 12:09 AM
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byronpaul (Paul)
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Location: Greenvale, Victoria, Australia
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Melbourne Session - Friday 23rd August

John (scagman),

Firstly thanks for providing the venue for a great night under clear skies close to Melbourne. Arriving just after 7pm, upon stepping out of the car I was excited to see the vista of the milky way and vague outline of "the emu". This was going to be good night …. and only a 40min drive from home in peak hour traffic.

As I was the 1st to arrive, after a short greeting John showed me where to set-up. Half way through unloading the SDM Alistair arrived. Whilst we both finished our set-up and alignments, John organised Pizza and by about 8:30pm I was kicking back in the deck chair scoffing down a tasty Supreme whilst looking to the heavens and contemplated my targets ….. all whilst bemused by the constant ticking of Alistair’s Adaptive Optics doing it’s thing. I thought it was his EQ6 that needed a bit of tuning but I was quick to learn that his belt driven mount makes about 1db and that the AO is an amazing bit of kit.

Anyway, pizza is gone, freezer suit is on and about to set in for an all nighter !!!!

With the 18” SDM f4.5 ready for a workout, the first target is NGC253. WOW what a different about 30kms makes. At my home in Greenvale which is near Tullamarine Airport, I can clearly make out this galaxy, but here in much better skies it fills the FOV of my 17mm Nagler. The size and detail is distinctly better.

Armed with the BAM600, I did a run through of a number of the August targets plus the usual favourites …… whilst deviated to the targets John and Alistair were individually imaging.

At the start of the night, we generally had good to very good seeing and transparency. After going in for a coffee about 2am, we came outside to what was noticeable lighter skies. There was no moon, and it was still a few hours before it came up, but the milky way had all but disappeared and the skies had changed to average to good seeing and transparency. By this time the wind had picked up a bit and at times it was quite difficult to obtain clear focus on some targets. Nevertheless after having been spoilt by the skies from earlier in the night, we pressed onto other targets.

Some of the highlights of the night were:
NGC253 – massive galaxy. Always yields the WOW factor
Grus Quartet – always great to see these 4 galaxies. This target is a must.
M20 – amazing nebula. Swapped between a DGM NPB and Lumicon OIII filter to expose different elements. So much detail in this target I probably spent 30min alone viewing it.
M8 – The OIII filter work best on this nebula to really expose the dark lanes
C2012/P1 – I hadn’t loaded the Orbital Elements into the Argo Navis, so spent a bit of time mucking around to find this target. Wasn’t until the seeing and transparency had deteriorated before we found it. Only a very small tail was evident and it appeared more like a small planetary nebula. Nevertheless seeing a comet is always a thrill.
M42 - Orion Nebula with a 31mm Nagler and the SDM was a sight to behold. With 18” of light collection and the 31mm giving nearly 1.1deg FOV, Orion filled the eyepiece. The detail was just spectacular!!!!
NGC104 – this was the view of the night (IMHO). I’ve looked at this target a 100 times, but this is first time in this scope at a dark sky site. The detail was phenomenal. Looking through the 22mm Nagler, the core was resolved down to individual stars with increased density toward the middle. I don’t recall having ever seen this much detail, and an eyepiece filled with pinpoint stars to the edge of field is going to stay with me for long time. Can’t wait to try this again from even darker skies !!!

About 5am we went in for another coffee, after which John and Alistair retired for the evening. I returned to my scope and retraced a few of the brighter targets from earlier in the night as both the moon and sun slowly rose. Just before 6am I decided to pack-up and about 7am was ready to return home with a beautiful morning drive.

John and Alistair, thanks for a great night. Looking forward to our next catch-up.

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Old 26-08-2014, 09:06 PM
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barx1963 (Malcolm)
Bright the hawk's flight

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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Mt Duneed Vic
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Thanks for the report, great to hear the SDM is getting use at dark skies along with the old OIII.
Now I am really looking forward to hearing about how it runs up at BSG!

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Old 27-08-2014, 08:19 PM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Location: Strangways, Vic
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Sounds a great night Paul! Lovely to have such a great time with the new scope. Thanks for the read.
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Old 31-08-2014, 07:35 PM
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pgc hunter
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Location: Renmark, SA
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Sounds like an exiting night! I agree, NGC 253 is always impressive, even here in suburbia.
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:02 PM
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Good stuff Paul
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