Old 27-03-2020, 10:52 PM
gaseous (Patrick)
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Finally a clear night....

With the world generally turning to crud at the moment it seems a little silly to be bothering to post such mundane matters as observing reports, but I guess we all need something to keep us sane, and for most of us the last 6 months have been pretty poor from an astro point of view so any chance at normalcy needs to be grabbed with both hands I suppose.

With that as an introduction, last Friday I ventured to the Warwick Gliding Club with a few others from the South East Queensland Astronomical Society. It was the first time I’d had the 20” scope out since October last year, so my excitement level was akin to a child seeing a puppy-shaped present under the Christmas tree. The flies were absolutely next-level, worst-I-have-ever-seen as I set up in the late afternoon, but mercifully even they decided to call it a day and knock off around sunset. The skies had been clear up until then, but an odd sort of haze began to develop out to the west, which I think dissipated as the evening deepened, but may have had an effect on the seeing. Overall the conditions were very pleasant, even if the seeing wasn’t as crisp as I remembered it from October.

I was generally using the Baader 8-24 Zoom for a lot of the planetary nebula work, and alternating between the ES 14mm 100° and Nagler 31mm 82° for the larger targets. I had a DGM NPB filter and Lumicon OIII filter in the slider – I’ve been a fan of the DGM filter for a while now, but the Lumicon was tending to throw up just a little more detail/contrast on this occasion. Anyway, the accompanying list is probably 50% of what I saw on the night. A few things I hadn’t seen before, so hopefully they might make it onto other people’s lists as well.

M105 Mag +9.25 Elliptical galaxy in Leo - reasonably bright largish circular diffuse disk with a noticeably brighter core.

M96 Mag +9.13 Spiral Galaxy in Leo – quite bright mottled core with a diffuse halo.

NGC 2736 – Herschel’s Ray - Bright Nebula in Vela- Long very thin streak, requires OIII to be visible.

NGC 2808 Mag +6.19 – Globular Cluster in Carina. Dense bright grouping with a tight core reminiscent of 47 Tuc.

NGC 2867 – Mag +9.69 Planetary nebula in Carina Quite a decent size, very bright blue-grey disk, visible without a filter. No central star visible.

NGC 2899 – Mag +12.19 Planetary Nebula in Vela – Diffuse but reasonable large thin grey oval cloud, shows up well with OIII

NGC 2903 Mag +8.79 Spiral Galaxy in Leo – Bright core with a large diffuse oval halo.

NGC 3115 – Mag +9.09 Elliptical galaxy in Sextans – Lovely bright edge on galaxy with a well-lit dense core.

Comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff Mag +16.1 – visible as a tiny dotty smudge with averted vision. There was supposed to be a mag 3.4 comet lurking about elsewhere in the sky, but the general consensus was that Sky Safari had dropped 10 magnitudes off it, as it was nowhere to be seen. No other comets were really visible.

NGC 1365 – Mag +9.57 Spiral Galaxy in Fornax Average brightness in core, with two elongated arms visible with averted vision. Was quite low in the sky and would look much better at a higher altitude I reckon.

NGC 1535 – Cleopatra’s Eye Mag +9.39 Planetary Nebula in Eridanus. Very bright and quite large, no filter required to view. Central star was visible, plus an outer circular shell with an additional diffuse outer nebulous halo. One of the evening’s highlights.

M1 – Crab Nebula Mag +8.39 Supernova Remnant in Taurus. Very large and quite bright grey oval, with wispy suggestions around the fringes and also a faintly mottled effect through the body. If you’ve seen the photos of M1, imagining looking at a low contrast black and white photo in a poorly lit room with your eyes half closed (or half open, depending on your philosophical bent). Another highlight, mainly as I’ve never looked at it before.

NGC 2359 – Mag +11.50 Thors Helmet / Duck Nebula Bright Nebula in Canis Major. Large and moderately bright, but best viewed with an OIII filter to capture some of the extended faint tendrils on the periphery.

NGC 3746 – Copeland’s Septet Galaxy cluster in Leo. Seven tiny Mag +13.99 galaxies in one field of view were too much (or little) for my eyes. I could detect some tiny dim smudges, but it was tough to tell what was being seen with averted vision and what was just the mind playing tricks. Probably can’t expect too much from 480MLY away.

NGC 2392 – Eskimo Nebula Mag +9.19 Planetary Nebula in Gemini. Very bright and better viewed with no filter to better reveal the central white dwarf. There were easily visible concentric rings of nebulosity of varying densities – a very impressive PN.

Abell 21 – Medusa Nebula Mag +10.19 Planetary Nebula in Gemini. A very faint and diffuse cloud of curved nebulosity – OIII filter recommended.

NGC 2371 – Mag +11.19 Planetary Nebula in Gemini. Small but reasonably easily visible, it seems to have two lobes, separated by a darker gap.

Eta Carina – done to death by the camera jockeys, the seeing was particularly good in this area of the sky. The double lobes of the ejected material around the namesake star were easily visible, and even appeared to have some darker patches on the lobes themselves. As usual, the overall NGC 3372 nebula was stunning in the Nagler 31T5.

Towards the end of the evening I decided to try my ASI 224 camera on the Ghost of Jupiter nebula (which was fabulous through the eyepiece), but struggled to get it onto my computer screen despite being centred with an eyepiece in. Rather than ruin a good night with ongoing frustration, I pulled the pin and went to bed. I don’t know how those photography guys deal with those sorts of issues – patience must be a virtue, or some rubbish.

Clear skies and good health to all.
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Old 27-03-2020, 11:55 PM
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Hi Pat,

Enjoyed your report -- a nice swag of excellent objects.


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Old 28-03-2020, 06:53 AM
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GUS.K (Ivan)
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Enjoyed reading your report Patrick, thanks for sharing.
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Old 28-03-2020, 12:19 PM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
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Enjoyed reading your report Patrick. Thanks for sharing the simple pleasures of visual observing.
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Old 28-03-2020, 01:58 PM
gaseous (Patrick)
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Thanks gents. Apart from time at the eyepiece, it's nice to just recline back and ponder the vastness of the skies, trying to put aside worldly worries for a few hours whilst contemplating one's insignificance in the overall scheme of things.
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