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Old 26-01-2015, 09:54 AM
N1 (Mirko)
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Dark Sky All-Nighter 24-25 January 2015

Location: Tekapo Canal, Canterbury NZ
Time: 21.00 - 6.00 NZDT
Seeing: evening 2/10, improving to 5-6 in morning
Transparency: 7/10
Temp: 20C evening, 8C morning
Wind: 0-5 bft E-SE, calm for most of the night
Scope: 60mm F/5.9, 76mm f/7.5
Lowest Power used: 15x (24mm Pan in 60mm scope and 40mm PL in 76mm scope)
Highest Power used: 228x (2.5mm "TMB" in 76mm scope)

General conditions: Cloudless. Very dark sky as usual for this location, but transparency and seeing (estimated using Pickering scale) left much to be desired. Views of distant mountains much less contrasty than during winter. Very windy until 1hr after sunset.

1. Venus
Bright but not worth observing through telescope. Setting over Southern Alps took about 1 second from "there" to "gone". Neat.

2. Mars
Perceptibe as non-stellar in shocking seeing. Very low in W, no details.

3. Moon
Observed shallow moonset behind mountains. Earthshine. Spectacular view in 24mm Pan. Earth's rotation most obvious against mountains.

4. Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2
Very low NNW. No tail visible. Observed "Comet-Set" behind mountains (Mt Cook vicinity). Coma still visible after core had already disappeared.

5. Crab Nebula M1
Very obvious but without internal structure.

6. Orion nebula M42
Wings and rich detail throughout. Trapezium E faint but visible, F not seen. However I expect neither E nor F are a problem at this aperture in better seeing and transparency. Revisit to confirm.

7. Flame nebula NGC 2024
Easily seen at 31x and 2.4mm exit pupil (18mm OR). Best results with Alnitak just outside FOV. Narrow AFOV of ortho eyepiece is a big advantage here. Dark lane with irregular shape in averted vision.

8. IC 434 and Horsehead Nebula B33
Not a firm observation of IC 434, and B33 definitely not seen. Astronomik UHC gave no improvement. Exit pupils tried ranged from 1.8mm to 5.3mm. A quick photo of the vicinity showed both objects. I suspect transparency & contrast and/or UHC was insufficient for visual. Revisit.

9. Ghost of Jupiter NGC 3242 PN
Target practice for quick finding from memory. Round, regular shape.

10. Sombrero Galaxy M104
Old favourite. Dark edge in averted vision. Good in 13mm Nag and 9mm OR.

11. Jupiter
Allowed 163x tonight. Several belts.

12. 47 Tuc NGC 104 GC
Outer half resolved.

13. Carina Nebula
5.3mm exit pupil (40mm Plossl) plus OIII gave the best view of the night overall.

14. Centaurus A NGC 5138 GX
Dark lane not visible in direct vision but obvious averted, including its slightly asymmetric shape.

15. Blue Planetary NGC 3918 PN
Hint of pale bluish colour only seen at med power. Higher power revealed round, regular shape but no colour.

16. Omega Centauri GC
Stars in the core resolved.

17. NGC 4945 GX
Unexpected find and orientation surpringly obvious.

18. Jewel Box NGC 4755 OC and Coalsac Nebula
This combo provided the best widefield view of the night at 24x (24mm Pan). Edge of Coalsack running through middle of FOV and 4755 on one side.

19. Saturn
Cassini division obvious the moment Saturn was in focus at 163x (3.5mm Nag). 1 cloud belt and planet shadow seen. Seeing had improved and dawn was in progress.

20. Antares
No split. Slight elongation and fleeting blobs of green in direction of drift, both at 163x and 228x (3.5mm Nag and 2.5mm TMB). Advancing daylight did not improve the view.

A good night but a far cry from what's possible at this site in winter. First night of extended direct viewing. Star diagonal was only used around Crux/Centaurus early morning. A great feeling to look directly at an object instead of a reflection .

Last edited by N1; 26-01-2015 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 28-01-2015, 12:47 PM
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simmo
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Nice observation report N1 and a good selection of objects. Hopefully you get better seeing next time.
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Old 29-01-2015, 06:48 PM
N1 (Mirko)
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Thanks Simmo, yes I'm hoping for better seeing in autumn. Transparency was only so-so too, but I shouldn't complain. I feel privileged to be able to go there a few times a year. An area where light pollution is virtually zero.
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