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Old 17-11-2009, 04:55 PM
Rob_K
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Obs Report, Fri 13 Nov 09

Test run of home-‘thrown-together’ 5" f9.4 achro refractor with baffled tube (thanks Bert) and using 200mm long dew shield attachment; 21mm Celestron X-Cel eyepiece. This scope has Surplus Shed optics. Mount: Petra’s borrowed SkyView Pro (EQ5 equivalent).

First decent visual run with this scope, although I have peered through the eyepiece on a few occasions when the recent shocking run of cloudy weather has allowed. Sky conditions were good but not perfect, with NELM probably nearing 6.0 – I do get better. Bright stars had fuzzy halos, indicating atmospheric moisture. Started viewing around 11pm local time (UT+11), and went for a bit over an hour.

First up, focus was good, nice bright pinpoint stars, no significant degradation across the field. Contrast was good in darker portions of sky (eastern) but dropped off in western section, looking back over town. Blueish tone to background, different to my small reflector where the background just goes ‘crinkly’ when viewing through light pollution. But I think under the conditions of the night the Tasco would have performed better contrast-wise.

OK, observing. Galaxy NGC 253 wasn’t far from zenith, and the view was great. Contrast wasn’t fantastic but it’s a big, big galaxy and it showed extension and faint detail in the arms that I’m not used to seeing. Not a top first-up choice though, coz I was crouched on the ground to look through the eyepiece. Continued grovelling to view other galaxies that were high. Saw the Grus Quartet, NGC 1269 and NGC 1365 as well as many of the smaller, fainter galaxies in its vicinity. Views were good but not fantastic and I have had better views though the Tasco. Went to 47 Tucanae, and while there were definitely more stars resolved, it did lack the impact I had hoped for. At this stage, I was getting a little anxious about this scope.

Hmmm, go for a biggie, Tarantula. Swung the scope there, looked, and…. WOW!! Tarantula like I’ve never seen it before through the 4.5" – big, bright, smooth, so much fine detail that I was transfixed! The extra FL definitely helped on this object. Just beautiful! All the little nebulae and clusters around it were so bright, and it was like 3-D! Went for a bit of a tour around Tarantula & the LMC, excellent.

Well that worked well, so…. Orion Nebula!! Wow, same deal, very bright, smooth, heaps of subtle detail! Next door, the dark lanes in Running Man were quite clear, not used to seeing that. Went to Flame, and while there was much more of the 'maple-leaf' detail visible, the contrast was not perhaps as good as I’ve seen. Usually I see it via the dark lanes, now I was seeing it via the actual nebula. So, what about Horsehead? Moved up, and there it was!! Nah, just kiddin’ LOL! Went to M1 Crab Nebula, just in time to see it disappear behind a tall tree. In the brief view I had, it seemed much brighter than I’m used to, but still a featureless grey oval.

But Tarantula was calling so I went back there. Tried the 9mm eyepiece and the view was surprising. Knotty rope-like tendrils, but black in between, something I found hard to reconcile with my earlier views. Skeleton-like. Lots of subtle detail lost I think. Straight back to the 21mm, drool! What a way to finish!

All in all, pretty happy with the scope and would love to get it in darker skies where it will show me things I’ve never seen before with my previous set-up. I think I’ll go alt-az for a mount though, because the 1.2m long tube makes for some pretty awkward viewing and sighting angles.

Cheers -
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Old 17-11-2009, 05:30 PM
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Outbackmanyep
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It sounds like a movie running through your mind, very good start for the 5", now for those tailed fuzzies Rob......
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