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Old 26-07-2009, 08:59 PM
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Talking BIG night of Observing - Pushing it to the limit! 25-26/7/09

After a cold and cloudy Melbourne Saturday, I was stunned out of my jocks to see that all the Melbourne cloud was evaporating before my eyes as dusk fell.

Yes, it was actually happening, the first clear night in 150,000 years. Better take advantage of it! So all the gear was out the door faster than you can say "zOMG clear skiez in Melbs!!1!"

The night was windy, very windy. But that also meant there was no chance of dew. And seeing was actually quite decent, not perfect but certainly better than anything I've had in the last year (translation: last 5 sessions). I was using my 12" F/4.6 dob for this session.

Equipment: 12" F/4.6 dob
Time: 10:00pm-3:15am
Seeing: 5-6/10
Transparency: 3/5

M57
Kicked off the night with a look at the Ring Nebula. I was surprised by how well it showed, despite it's very low elevation in the murk hugging the northern horizon. I've never actually seen the Ring in the 12", and I was not dissapointed. At 176x, its not-quite-perfect donut shape was obvious, and the northern/southern sides of the ring were distinctly brighter than the ends. The OIII filter rendered the ring to be more uniformly bright, that is the brightness difference between the long axis and the ends was not as obvious. The interior was clearly brighter than the background sky.

--------------
Although I had planned to observe some PNe's, I was distracted by the cool stuff in Sagittarius. I never actually made an attempt to properly observe all the cool stuff there with the 12", so now was time.

M20 Trifid Nebula

At 83x, The dark lanes in the "pink" portion were visible, and easy to detect with averted vision. The "blue" part of the neb was fainter, but appeared to be unevenly bright with a darkening towards the centre, which is marked by a bright orange star. I then added the UHC filter, which greatly accentuated the "pink" part of the nebula, with the dust lanes now easily visible. The southernmost lobe is brighter than the rest of the structure. The "blue" bit remained virtually unchanged.

M8 Lagoon Nebula
At 83x with a UHC filter, the Lagoon was awesome!!! Bloody stunning! The cloud took up virtually 3/4 of the field, with the faint outer regions seen in photos clearly visible. Dark rifts break up the nebula into 4 distinct sections, with the two bright sections familiar to observers accompanied by a fainter elongated East-west filament to the north and even fainter haze to the west of the main complex.

M17 Swan Nebula
Again using the 83x EP with UHC filter.... absolutely fantastic. Very bright, and the distinct shape was as obvious as it is on long exposure photos. A fainter filament looping out from the swan's tail and around below the body was clearly visible, as was a bright knot just above the curve in the neck. Increasing power to 176x with the UHC revealed a superbly detailed body, which appears to be superimposed on a fainter background haze which follows the countours of the brighter nebulosity. Infact, the detail in the nebulosity was so complex that it would be a challenge to sketch. Almost a 3D experience. A fainter pool of nebulosity was visible to the north of the main body and adjoining it. In addition, two detached small faint knots of nebulosity were obvious along the extended centreline of the neck.

M16 Eagle Nebula
Faint at 176x without a filter, but the UHC helped alot. With the UHC in place, the nebulosity resembled a swept airplane wing viewed from above or below, oriented NE-SW. An L-shaped dark region was visible adjecent the SE edge of the associated open cluster, with a narrow finger oriented NW/SE pointing towards the centre of the cluster visible with averted vision.

NGC 6772
PNe in Aquila. Quite difficult to detect at 216x without a filter, but the addition of the OIII helped considerably. A large, rather faint oval or oblong shaped ring was visible, with the interior noticably brighter than the background sky.

--------------------
At this point it was near midnight, and decided to take a look at Jupiter. Seeing was actually decent, but that being said, it was not perfect. With it still toward the east, the scope was broadside to the wind so was being heavily buffeted. At 176x, to my surprise, I could clearly see the Impact scar, neatly in mid-transit! It appeared as a tiny greyish smudge, visibly elongated E-W.

--------------------

Now, with the eye-candy picked off, it was time to hunt some galaxy clusters....but not before answering the call of nature. Upon entering the crapper facility, I almost made the fatal error of turning on the light (well, it's been an integral part of every potty excursion for the entire duraction of my life thus far...). After almost flushing my hard-earned night vision down the toilet, it was time for some hot chocolate and choc chip cookies. Ahhhh, a clear night, great DSO observing with some hot choc and cookies....can life get any better? That's right, it can't
Re-energised and relieved, I was set for some faint galaxies *yay*.

Abell S 805
A cluster of galaxies in Pavo. The group is easily located by dint of 4 mag 10-11 stars arranged on the western side of the GX cluster in a distorted trapezoid with the long axis oriented NW/SE. A 5th mag 12 star creates a triangle wit the two southernmost stars.

At 283x, the brightest galaxy, IC 4765, was relatively easy to see, as a small, slightly elongted (E-W) blob of light.

Just to the south of IC4765, and adjacent to the north of the star TYC 9073-467-1, is the small high SB elliptical PGC 62408. This GX was actually fairly easy to spot, owing to it's high SB, and was actually the second brightest of all cluster members observed. Also visible on the northern edge of PGC 62408 was the MAG 15.9 star USNAO2-0225-29565747!!!

To the SE of IC4765 is the elliptical GX PGC 62393. This galaxy is located on the northern edge of a small quadralateral of mag 12-14 stars. This GX was extremely faint, at the absolute limit of vision.

Located roughly midway between IC4765 and the mag 11 star TYC9703-1126-1 to the east is PGC 62391. Another very difficult object, virtually at the limit of detection, although it was slightly easier to spot than PGC62393.

To the northwest of IC4765 is the edge on spiral IC 4766. This GX was also extremely faint, but it's NW/SE elongation was visible in momentary glimpses. I'd rate it as difficult as the above PGC members despite its larger size, owing to it's low surface brightness.

The 4th confirmed hit was another edge on spiral, IC 4767, located SSE of IC 4765 on the outer SSE of the cluster. This galaxy appears to be the second-largest of the group on DSS images, but has an extremely low SB. It was incredibly difficult to spot, and when I did manage to see it, it was only in momentary glimpses. After several minutes of intent observation, it's NE/SW elongation was glimpsed. I'd rate this GX as the most difficult of the lot. To find it, I used an isoceles triangle of mag 14-15 stars for reference with the point aiming NE, with the galaxy just off southeast edge and in the same orientation.

About 2 high-power eyepiece fields north/northeast of this complex is a chain of 6 very faint galaxies, dominated by the spiral IC 4769. This GX was not particularly difficult, owing to its relatively high SB core. It was easy to find by using two mag 15+ stars (and a third 14.3 mag star) framing its southern end. The other 5 galaxies are extremely small, faint and escaped my grasp.

----------------

Abell S 912
Galaxy cluster in Microscopium. Initially I used a mag of 283x, and after much searching, finally found the main cluster member, the large elliptical NGC 7012. The galaxy is accompanied by a mag 12.1 star on its SSW edge, which provided a good waypoint. 7012 was relatively bright, and I do mean relatively! Simply appeared as a small hazy blob, with perhaps a slight E-W elongation visible.

Only one other cluster member was seen with certainty, and that is PGC 66118, located just to the SE of 7012. This GX appeared almost as bright as 7012, thanks to its compact high SB profile.

DSS images show 2 very small galaxies located in the small gap between 7012 and pgc66118, so I attempted to hunt these down. Increasing power to 353x, and upon careful scrutiny of the field, to my surprise I managed to catch glimpses of the tiny galaxy located in this gap. (Don't know what the catalogue number is). I've attached an image of this cluster with the GX in question arrowed.

-------------------

To finish off the session I had one last look at Jupiter. I was surprised by how sharp it was, at 272x I could see festoons and swirls in the NEB and SEB, including a nice big rift in the NEB. The main belts were wonderfully detailed, infact haven't seen the planet so sharp and well resolved before! What a nice way to end a great session
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Old 27-07-2009, 10:18 AM
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Good things come to those who wait? Great report, pgch...(edit ) Congrats on the great session.

Last edited by erick; 27-07-2009 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:41 AM
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Nice report pgch (who's Sab? )!! Glad you got some clear skies. Some good objects there, hope you get more opportunities!

Cheers -
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Old 27-07-2009, 12:09 PM
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It was a great night. No moon. No dew. Almost zero clouds. Not too cold, just a bit of wind like you mentioned.

Due to our recent run of bad weather, I also made the most of it until some clouds rolled in from the west at around 2:30 / 3:00 followed by a nice sleep in Sunday morning

I observed and/or imaged many similar targets as above, such as M20, M8, M17, M16, plus NGC 55 for the first time.

Let's hope for some more weather like that some time soon.
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Old 27-07-2009, 12:12 PM
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We had a great Saturday evening, as well, at Snake Valley. A balmy 3 deg, no moisture, no clouds until about 1:30am Sunday. Saw the Bug Nebula for the first time - sure stood out with OIII filter. NGC 4945 looking nice as always. And all the favourites (showing a first-timer who was stoked - but his toes froze the colour of Neptune that we looked at early evening!)
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Old 27-07-2009, 07:29 PM
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Great report pgc ! I'm glad you had some clear sky for a change, mind you 150,000 years of Melbourne cloud is a bit much ! If you recall it was clear sky's for 2 days back in '84 !

Nice detailed report
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Old 30-07-2009, 08:13 AM
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Excellent report PGC. You are seeing some seriously faint magnitudes. I wish I had your eyesight!!

Attached is a PDF of the area around 7012, made from the CNebulaX program. Hope it helps identify some of the faint fuzzies. Cheers, Paul.
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File Type: pdf NGC7012_CNebulaX_Map.pdf (11.8 KB, 11 views)
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Old 30-07-2009, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erick View Post
Good things come to those who wait? Great report, pgch...(edit ) Congrats on the great session.
Thanks! I'll bet my life that the next clear sky will be on a full moon 100 years after I'm dead, as per usual, Melbourne style. Living in a sub-arctic maritime climate which is identical to the Svalbards really sucks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob_K View Post
Nice report pgch (who's Sab? )!!
It's a mystery to me....

Quote:
Glad you got some clear skies. Some good objects there, hope you get more opportunities!
Cheers -
I have a saying....Every clear sky in Melbourne is 1000 years overdue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Moon View Post
It was a great night. No moon. No dew. Almost zero clouds. Not too cold, just a bit of wind like you mentioned.

Due to our recent run of bad weather, I also made the most of it until some clouds rolled in from the west at around 2:30 / 3:00 followed by a nice sleep in Sunday morning

I observed and/or imaged many similar targets as above, such as M20, M8, M17, M16, plus NGC 55 for the first time.

Let's hope for some more weather like that some time soon.
I got those clouds at about 3:30am, so it was more or less a full night. Any sooner and I would've dropped a few million F-bombs big time. As far as no dew, no moon and relatively ok seeing, and most of the night cloud free in Melbourne goes, it was a 1 in Million.



Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidU View Post
Great report pgc ! I'm glad you had some clear sky for a change, mind you 150,000 years of Melbourne cloud is a bit much ! If you recall it was clear sky's for 2 days back in '84 !

Nice detailed report
Yeah my patience expired 149,999 years and 11 months ago. Great to be back at the eyepiece after all the time, but it's over all too soon.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lismore Bloke View Post
Excellent report PGC. You are seeing some seriously faint magnitudes. I wish I had your eyesight!!
Thanks! My eyesight is actually really crappy, infact i't almost as crap as Melbourne's Iceland-like weather. Things 2 metres away become blurry. THe faintest star I was is mag 15.9 (see report), it takes alot of patience and perseverance to see. It's surprising how much more one see after 5-10 minutes studying the field as opposed to a quick glance. i also had a dark hood over my head which probably helped.

Quote:
Attached is a PDF of the area around 7012, made from the CNebulaX program. Hope it helps identify some of the faint fuzzies. Cheers, Paul.
Thanks for helping out, but it turns out that the galaxy in question is not actually plotted on that chart.

Cheers!
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Old 30-07-2009, 01:27 PM
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Well I've downloaded CartesDu Ciel and the mags of the galaxies are. Not sure if these are visual or photograhic mags, but here they are:

ABELL S805

IC 4765: Mag 12.34
PGC62408: Mag 13.78
PGC62393: Mag 15.12
PGC62391: Mag 14.02
IC 4766: Mag 14.98
IC 4767: Mag 14.36
IC 4769: Mag 14.10

ABELL S912

NGC 7012: Mag 13.80
PGC 66118: Mag 14.00

Still can't get that other small galaxy, doesn't seem to be in any of the databases.

Last edited by pgc hunter; 30-07-2009 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 30-07-2009, 04:14 PM
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Great report, 'specially after reading about your frustration at the lack of opportunity, i will admit to have never seen such far and distant galaxies, i know to some people its the hunt, and the achievment of finding them "bareback" i would just rather find them with an Argo !!

so yeah, a good report, well written and with some wit !!

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Old 30-07-2009, 04:24 PM
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Thanks for those couple of helpful hints on observing the faint fuzzies. I am guilty of rushing through observations, not allowing eyesight to become sensitised, particularly when the objects being observed are faint. The old fashioned photographer's black hood is a good idea - keeping out stray light.

I'm surprised that no-one has written a short article on observing at the edge of visibility.
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Old 30-07-2009, 08:32 PM
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I love reading a good observing report like this! And I can totally relate to the joy of an early morning pee, drink and munch on something naughty before "getting back out there"...

Thanks for taking us all along for the ride too PGC!
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Old 31-07-2009, 07:57 PM
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Great report, 'specially after reading about your frustration at the lack of opportunity, i will admit to have never seen such far and distant galaxies, i know to some people its the hunt, and the achievment of finding them "bareback" i would just rather find them with an Argo !!

so yeah, a good report, well written and with some wit !!

If I could afford an Argo, trust me, I get one faster than the Melbourne clouds could roll in For me, I actually do enjoy the 'starhop' to these objects, and it's an invaluable skill to have when all else fails! Finding NGC 7012 proved difficult due to a lack of referance stars, but after nearly half an hour of finding my bearings it turns out I was in the right place all along!

Quote:
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I love reading a good observing report like this! And I can totally relate to the joy of an early morning pee, drink and munch on something naughty before "getting back out there"...
Thanks for taking us all along for the ride too PGC!
There's nothing like sitting under the stars with a nice hot chocolate! It would be even nicer if it was possible to enjoy hot choc under the stars more than once during each orbit around the galaxy, but alas I live in Melbourne....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lismore Bloke View Post
Thanks for those couple of helpful hints on observing the faint fuzzies. I am guilty of rushing through observations, not allowing eyesight to become sensitised, particularly when the objects being observed are faint. The old fashioned photographer's black hood is a good idea - keeping out stray light.

I'm surprised that no-one has written a short article on observing at the edge of visibility.
I've negleted using the hood until now, but it really helps and is good for avoiding eyestrain as you don't have to keep the other eye slammed shut.
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Old 31-07-2009, 08:00 PM
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PGC, mate, it seems to be clearing up tonight
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Old 31-07-2009, 08:06 PM
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it's not mate, plus the moon is up until 4am. Satellite shows tonnes of Melbourne cloud streaming in from the west, as we are well into the "Belt of crap" (westerly airstream with cold fronts). What you are seeing is a sucker hole.

Once I find a mount for my little Mak, I shall be observing the moon during these sucker holes
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Old 31-07-2009, 08:13 PM
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Yeh, I just had a look and it........ well, it's rotten.
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Old 31-07-2009, 08:37 PM
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Yep, it's a soup of crap outside. But the moon is up so that lessens the blow to the gonads, but tbh I'm hankering for some moonage....

The only way to live in cold and cloudy Melbourne is to have an observatory, so you can whip open the roof at a moments notice, rather than spend half an hour setting up ya 12" beast only to be met with that famous Melbourne cloud.
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Old 31-07-2009, 09:34 PM
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I have the mount outside and the 6" refractor by the door ready to go.
I'll give it till midnight.
Bloody Melb
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:43 AM
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I was up until 1am drinking and it was solid crappy cloud all the way.
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:25 PM
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I was about to apply extra salt to these raw Astronomy weather wounds by mentioning the SUNshine state, but heck, it hasn't exactly been International Year of Ast skies up here this year either alas.
(Besides, we don't have enough roads, electricity or water for ourselves let alone any new arrivals )
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