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Old 09-01-2010, 05:36 PM
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Talking DARK skies at Renmark, S.A oberving report 4-7/01/10

Went up to Renmark to hire a houseboat for 4 days from Monday 4th to Friday 8th. I've been to Renmark before and know that the skies are dark. Damn dark.

EACH of the 4 nights was completely clear, infact there was NO CLOUD FOR THE ENTIRE STAY!!! Temps were warm aswell, it was warm enough to stay out observing in a shirt and a pair of shorts. Can't do that in Melbourne.

The night sky was ofcourse spectacular. The Tarantula Nebula is a naked eye object. The LMC had an almost 3D, layered texture. Stars glow brightly right to the horizon. Never seen the Milkyway thru Monocores and Orion Before. Foreground objects are pitch black sillhoutes on a star spangled backdrop.

Had the 4.5" reflector with me, was going to take the ST120 but I had no diagonal and my EPs don't reach focus without one, not to mention the neck breaking factor. Because the Vixen LVWs are bowling balls, I had to use a few plossls I had lying around in order to maintain balance on the scope.

So with the scope on deck, I observed on 3 nights (4th, 5th, 6th) until the moon rose.


Scope: 4.5" newtonian
Eyepeices: 18mm Celestron Ultima, 32mm TV Plossl.

NGC 2024 (Flame Nebula)

Better in the 4.5" than in the 12 incher at home. At 50x, the main dark lane was easily visible, with another smaller branch shooting off towards the SE from the western end. A brighter patch was seen in the southern wing of the nebula.

NGC 1977
This is the reflection nebula located to the north of M42. At 50x, Nebulosity elongated E-W was clearly seen around the 3 brightest stars, with the northern edge fainter and more diffuse. A slightly darker lane was seen just north of the 3 main stars. A brighter plume of nebulosity was also sen just to the NW of the main complex. This one is never really obvious from home.

NGC 2237 (Rosette Nebula)
Easily visible at 28x with the UHC filter as a large round haze, with a slightly darker interior and uneven surface brightness. The edges of the "donut" appeared somewhat ragged, uneven and what appeared to be a wide dark lane, which was only slightly darker than the surrounding nebulosity, was seen in the SW quadrant of the complex.

IC 410
With Auriga visible in a way never seen from home, I decided to try for the nebula complex in northern Auriga. I was hoping to catch the Flaming Star Nebula, but using the HB Atlas with its completely ridiculous quirk of showing large nebulae as squares, I wasn't sure of the exact boundaries of the object relative to the field stars, which is essential when looking for faint hazy glows. While the HB is a good atlas, its representation of nebulae is complete crap. ANyway, the portion of nebulosity which I spotted was IC 410. A Crux-shaped asterism of approx 8 stars helped pinpoint the nebula. A faint haze was seen, with the most obvious parts overlapping the asterism and trailing off the the SE.

NGC 3114
At 28x........unreal. Very obvious nazi sign shape! The field is so rich, that the cluster itself barely stands out from the background. Absolutely incredible region.

NGC 3372 (Eta Carina)
Chucked on the UHC on the 28x eyepiece, and I could trace this cloud atleast 3 end to end in N-S and E-W direction. The nebula well and truly overflowed the 1.9 field of the TV 32mm Plossl. Two faint fingers were seen stretching to neighbouring nebula NGC 3324.

Sh 2-296 (Seagull nebula)

Straddles the border of Monoceros and Canis Major. At 28x, it was seen as a faint glow, elongated N-S. The broadest and brightest portion lies just west of star 'FN' CMa, with a fainter haze extending to the open clusters NGC 2335 and 2343. An even fainter filament was seen stretching down to Ced 90. UHC filter provides virtually no improvement in contrast.

Ced 90
This small nebula lies at the southern extremety of SH 2-296. It was visible at 28x and 50x as a faint circular glow around a Mag 8.5 star.

vdB 93
Located at the NW edge of Sh 2-296, this nebula appeared fainter and smaller than Ced 90 at the same magnification. Again, it simply appeared as a compact patch of haze around a mag 7 star.

IC 2944
The so-called "Running Chicken Nebula". Obvious at 28x with the UHC. Six stars in the shape of an arrowhead form the centrepiece of the complex, around which the nebula is the brightest. A dark indentation was seen at the southern edge of the cloud, and the general surface brightness was somewhat uneven. The nebula sported a somewhat kindey-bean shape with the brightest region to extending south of the arrowhead-shaped star asterism.

Gum 25
(RCW 40)
HII region in Vela, appeared as a faint hazy patch at 50x, elongated N-S. Located about 25' NE of cluster Mrk 18, which itself consisted of 6 stars arranged in a diamond shape. The SW edge of the nebula appeared brighter the the main body.

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

Also did the obligatory milky way sweeps at low power, amazing form this dark sky site. Also swept up the LMC and SMC, with the Tarantula Nebula region just overflowing the 1.9 FOV with faint networks of nebulosity amongst numerous brighter patches. The LMC bar was brilliantly visible in the eyepeice and peppered with little knots, with also filled the FOV several degrees out!

All in all, a fantastic trip, with good company and awesome skies
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:42 PM
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Dave47tuc (David)
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Nice report mate
One thing you cant beat no matter the scope and that's dark skies .
I was going out tonight but the x has made a meal of that landing the kids on my door step a few minutes ago

Must catch up soon mate

Dave.
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:47 PM
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Great Report from a great place.
Sounds like you enjoyed it heaps.
Cheers Kev.
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave47tuc View Post
Nice report mate
One thing you cant beat no matter the scope and that's dark skies .
I was going out tonight but the x has made a meal of that landing the kids on my door step a few minutes ago

Much catch up soon mate

Dave.
Dave, mate, been too long since we heard from you! Lol there is ALWAYS something that conspires to keep us indoors hey

I was going to go outside tonight aswell, but the sky looks quite hazy, might give it a miss and have a night in with a couple of T-bones and stubbies

I was surprised at how well the 4.5 incher performs under dark skies, I swear it outdid my 12" on a couple of those objects, as seen from my backyard! M42 was brilliant aswell, extending well beyond what is normally seen under average conditions.

Yep we should do an observing night sometime...

cheers!
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Old 09-01-2010, 06:10 PM
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Great report as usual. Dark sky's are the way to go. I can't wait to get my 12" under similar sky's.
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:06 AM
Rob_K
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Nice report pgc, glad to hear you had a great time! Your report inspired me to have a look at a few of your objects (and several more!) - never realised the Seagull Nebula was within reach, and my view pretty much tallied with your description. Gum 25 was nice and bright, and appeared not quite central on the star. Rosette was there as a large very faint object but not very inspiring. Flame was OK but not the best I'd seen it, and Running Man dark lanes were quite clear. IC 405/410 were behind trees by the time I got outside! By the way, have a look at R Leporis if you're in the 'neighbourhood' - what a beautiful red star!!

Thanks again mate!

Cheers -
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:18 AM
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Great report,they must be very dark skies up there.
Thank you for writing up this report as you have given me many objects to try and find.
I live about a 100km out of sydney in the southern highlands and i can still see the glow of sydney to the north-east but the skies here are quite amazing.for instance i could see the central bar of the lmc and the tarantula yesterday with the naked eye.i've also seen m31 naked eye.
All of our reports from these small scopes just goes to show even if you have a big scope or small you can't beat a dark sky..

Thanks,enjoyed reading it.
orestis
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Old 10-01-2010, 01:40 PM
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Hi PGC,

Good to hear you got some good clear dark skies to enjoy.

I still remember fondly my one night 20km north of Broken Hill with an Orion 80mm short-tube refractor. Probably my most satisfying view of M33 ever. Truly dark skies are a true joy!


Best,

Les D
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:21 AM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Great to hear that you had such a cloud free and dark night. I'm very impressed with your obs using a small scope.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:59 PM
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I had 4 cloud free nights!! And days for that matter!

Les, I am impressed to hear your obs of M33 in an 80mm ST, I can only imagine how it would look in a 120mm from a dark sky

I know fully understand what all the fuss about dark skies is about...
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