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Old 17-05-2012, 08:17 AM
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boomstix (Pat)
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Observations 15-16 May 2012

These past two nights I have seen more objects through my telescope than in the 6 months I have had it. I came across the BAM600 the other day and decided I would try my luck with this months object. I think having a list like this is really a great idea as in the past I have just scanned around without any real aim and mostly not finding much. Well that has all changed for me now and I feel like I am a man on a mission!

Tuesday night I wasnt looking for anything inparticular on the list. The parents in law are staying with us at the moment and have never looked through a telescope so I thought I would show them a couple of things I knew I could find. We started the night off looking at saturn and mars with faint detail being able to be seen on saturn. My partners mum was actually quite freaked out by this. It can be such a daunting feeling knowing that you are looking at something that far away from your back yard. Really puts things into percpective for you...

After some jaw dropping moments on the planets I showed them the multiple stars at alpha/beta centauri as well as acrux. We then finished the night by looking at the jewel box which they were quite amazed by as well.

Seeing the excitement in their faces inspired me to get out again last night and see if I could find a couple of items on that list. Omega centauri, NGC5128 and NGC5286 is what I was looking for.

Was quite tricky to find these items as I am only a little south of Brisbane so there is light pollution as well as the lights from the living room flooding out into the back yard. I persisted in my endeavour though and was greatly rewarded for my patience. I must say the first time Omega Centauri floats into view was one of those OMG moments for me. It really is an awesome site and reminded me of those whispy spiders nests/eggs you see on the ground some times.

After being amazed for quite some time I tried to find NGC 5286 which was quite tricky. I did manage to find it though by swapping out my eyepiece to a 25mm one and then changing back to my 13mm Nagler once located. Definately not as spectacular as Omega Centauri but was still quite excited about it seeing as how long it took me to find it.

Last on the list for the night was NGC5128 which was the most elusive thing to find. It was really hard as the light pollution really drowned out most of the stars I was trying to use as guides to find it. After about half an hour of scanning the general area it was in a faint smudge moved across my view. I centred in on it with my nagler and after a good 10 minutes of looking at it with averted vision I 'think' I managed to see the lane running between it. This was really hard to see and im 90% certain I wasnt just imagining it but could be mistaken hehe.

Anyway I am quite happy with my efforts of the past 2 nights and have now knocked off 5 of the 30 odd objects to be seen in May. Going to take a drive out to some darker skys on the weekend and see if I can find a few more objects from the list.

Edit: I am using a 12" dobsonian and for the most part was using my 13mm Nagler eyepiece.
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Old 17-05-2012, 02:43 PM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Not many sights as splendid as Omega Centauri and 12" with a 13mm Nagler is a great way to view it. Well done on finding these targets and also on stunning your in-laws. Seeing the dark lane of NGC 5128 is not your imagination and even though you have some serious light pollution as you keep observing galaxies you will see more and more detail.

It does make a huge difference having a list of targets and you will learn lots of sky and observing skill this way.

Thanks for a great read Pat. It's lovely to share your evening and your well-described excitement. Hope you post some more reports soon.
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Old 17-05-2012, 11:40 PM
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MattT (Matthew)
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A very easy read Pat almost as if I was there too! Sounds like a 12" is the go for DSO's. I remember my first view of Tuc47 Still remember it as if it was a few minutes ago... suppose this is whats it's all about. Keep em coming
Cheers Matt
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Old 19-05-2012, 08:25 AM
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madbadgalaxyman (Robert)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomstix View Post

Last on the list for the night was NGC5128 which was the most elusive thing to find. It was really hard as the light pollution really drowned out most of the stars I was trying to use as guides to find it. After about half an hour of scanning the general area it was in a faint smudge moved across my view. I centred in on
It has always been hard for amateur astronomers to make their way to NGC5128 using stars on the way, and I have always found that a magn. 8.5 limit Star Atlas shows way too few stars to enable a reliable acquisition of the object. I use the software star charts called Guide V.8 and Megastar, which show a lot more stars (plus over 100,000 deep sky objects). Guide is cheaper, but much less user friendly, however it has similar (or better) capabilities than Megastar.
Even with a magn. 12 or 13 limit, there are few stars on the way to N5128.

We have had very poor conditions for viewing deep sky objects in Brisbane, for quite some time.
I am unsure of the explanation for this, but it reminds me of the bad effects of the very high altitude aerosols from the 1991 eruption of the Mt Pinatubo volcano, which were particularly pronounced from my observing site near Darwin; it was virtually a waste of time to view all but the most prominent deep sky objects for at least 1-and-a-half years.

cheers, Robert

A third option for getting more stars to use for a difficult Star Hop to an object is to use the virtual sky at the Wikisky website, but a magn. 20 limit might be "too much of a good thing"

Oh, and Matt, in my view, the big jump in deep sky performance is between an 8 inch and a 10 inch. A ten inch has 1.56 times the light gathering power of an 8 inch. But a 12 inch has about 1.4 times the light gathering power of a 10 inch. I would certainly recommend an 8 inch for most adult beginners, but even the smallest 10 inch is a large and and unwieldy object, and 12s are invariably BIG telescopes.
(consider that, given the same design and the same materials, a 12 inch is 70 percent heavier than a 10 inch!!! No wonder a lot of 12 inch telescopes end up as infrequently used "white elephants")

Last edited by madbadgalaxyman; 19-05-2012 at 08:39 AM. Reason: more
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Old 20-05-2012, 09:23 PM
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FJA (Faith)
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I had a solid-tube GSO 12 inch, which I used for three years, only getting rid of it last year when I got my 18 inch. But I agree entirely about it being unwieldy - for the first year I had it I carried it outside, which was a pain although I did not let it put me off observing. I built a shed and put wheels on the base of the scope, which worked very well, as all I needed to do was wheel it out of the shed, collimate, put an eyepiece in and begin observing.
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Old 20-05-2012, 10:02 PM
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madbadgalaxyman (Robert)
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I had a solid-tube GSO 12 inch, which I used for three years, only getting rid of it last year when I got my 18 inch. But I agree entirely about it being unwieldy - for the first year I had it I carried it outside, which was a pain although I did not let it put me off observing. I built a shed and put wheels on the base of the scope, which worked very well, .
Faith,
A lot of visual deep sky observers would be ever so happy just to be able to wheel out a 'scope, and then to immediately have a dark sky! For most of my regular observing career, in order to get a dark sky....... I had to put a "massive object" into the car, drive for several hours, and only then set up the telescope.
This extended period of driving and setting up, eventually became quite wearing.......after all, what we really want to do is observe rather than spend a lot of time preparing to observe.

cheers,
Robert
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Old 25-05-2012, 09:19 AM
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boomstix (Pat)
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Thanks for the encouraging comments guys. Hopefully a lot more reports to come in the future! Havent had much chance to view this past week but once the clouds leave Ill be back out there!
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Old 25-05-2012, 09:49 AM
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Great to see more people joining the visual gang An interesting and pleasant read thanks for posting. Your mother in law's reaction to Saturn reminds me of my mum's when I told her those white smudges on Mars are clouds and that white blob is its equivalent to Antarctica!

I agree having a list of targets is a good way to go. Like you, if I don't have a list, I find myself thinking and scanning the atlas looking for stuff, time that would otherwise be used for observing.

cheers
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