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Old 21-12-2014, 07:37 PM
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Observing Report 20-21 Dec 2014, All-nighter 12"

At long last I was able to get my 12" SDM outside for some much needed photon therapy! Can't believe I already had the Zambuto mirror in it for 2.5 years, big sticker shock when I saw "March 2012" on the name plate, yet only used it perhaps 3 times!

It all went to plan, clear skies, no threat of cloud, collimation was a breeze, just a tiny alignment of the primary needed using the Glatter Tu-Blug (if you don't have this, get it). But... my jumpstarter is dead so could not use the primary mirror fans and if the night was to be dewy, I would have no heating which could mean a premature end to the night.

The night featured mediocre seeing and was cold for summer standards, quite a bit of dew by the end of it aswell but luckily not heavy enough to kill the session.

Scope: 12" F/4.4 SDM
Time: 10:30pm-4:30am
Seeing: A. III
Transparency: 3/5

Started off the night with my first look at M42 for the season. Wow, I've NEVER seen the nebula like this before. Stunning at 102x. So bright and vivid, I can safely say I was never presented with a view of this object like this before. The bright central area was an intricate mass of fine detail and I counted 9 tiny glistening faint stars within the area (aside from the Trap). Four distint filaments extended from the central bright area with one bordering the "fishes mouth" extending all the way to a mag 9.3 star located opposite to M43 and a fainter knot of nebulosity between this star and M43 was also spotted.

M43 clearly exhibited it's teardrop shape and general structure seen in photos with uneven surface brightness. Brightest around the centre star with a southern bulge. Two dark areas intrude the nebula adjacent east and west of the star with the eastern dark intrusion being better defined.

Adding the UHC... whoa lost for words!

NGC 1977
102x - Almost like a faint fog bordered by 42, 45 Orionis and a 3rd 7th mag star on its northern edge. A larger plume was seen extending southwest from 42 Orionis. More nebulosity was spotted around a mag 7.3 star to the NW and around a mag 10 pair to the north. The nebula responds well to a UHC filter.

NGC 2023
Bright+Refl Nebula, Orion, Size= 10x8' , Mag= 9.0, SB= 13.5

IC 435
Refl Nebula, Orion, Size= 6x4'

102x - NGC 2023: Round, diffuse "fog" surrounding a mag 7.8 star. The eastern side appeared slightly brighter than the opposing side which seemed to drop off in brightness rather sharply.

102x - IC 435: located 21' W of NGC 2023 this is a similar nebula surrounding a mag 8.3 star. It is much smaller and fainter than 2023 and simply appeared as a weak amorphous "fog".

IC 434/ B33 Horsehead
By now I was well and truly dark adapted so decided to attempt the HH. In goes the H-Beta filter in the 17mm eyepiece for 78x. I could see IC 434 as a very faint ribbon, barely visible against the background sky. The brightest portion of the emission was the area just to the W/SW of mag 7.5 HD37805 bordering on the N of the actual Horsehead. The Horsehead itself was a barely visible dark "bay" visible intermittently right on the limit of vision.

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ABELL 539
Galaxy cluster in Orion:

UGC 3274
GX, Orion, Size= 1.2x0.6' , Mag= 14.5

Located midway between and slightly to the south of two mag 10 stars is this compact chain of four galaxies arranged N-S. Hard to find data on these, NED doesn't even list a magnitude. Messier45.com lists four galaxies, UGC 3247 with a mag of 14.5, and UGC 3247A-C without any data whatsoever. Using the redshift given on NED, this group lies approx 372 million light years distant.

At the eyepiece at 266x, I could see a very faint diffuse smudge elongated N-S, with hints of uneven surface brightness.

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MCG+01-14-007
GX, Orion, Size= 1.0x0.5' , Mag B= 14.8

While in the Abell 539 area I decided to poke around, and this is the only other galaxy I spotted. Located 22' SW of Abell 539, it is not part to the cluster as it lies at about half the distance. Small, faint at 266x, slightly elongated roughly N-S.

NGC 1684
GX, Orion, Size= 2.5x1.7' , Mag V= 11.7 , SB= 12.9

Easily found 4.5' NE of mag 7.6 star HD31021, which proved to be a major distraction in observing this galaxy and NGC 1682 just 3' west. At 166x this elliptical exhibited a compact core with hints of a stellaring and a larger diffuse outer halo elongated E-W 3:2.

NGC 1682
GX, Orion, Size= 1.0x1.0' , Mag V= 13.5 , SB= 11.6

Small, faint, compact and round at 266x.

NGC 1683
GX, Orion, Size= 0.9x0.4' , Mag V= 14.7 , SB= 13.5

Located 6' NW of 1684, this galaxy appeared small and faint at 266x, slighly elongated N-S. NGC 1685 located 6' NE was not seen despite being listed a good half magnitude brighter, owing to it's lower surface brightness.

MCG-01-13-022
GX, Orion, Size= 1.7x0.4' , Mag B= 14.4 , SB= 14.4

Located 16' W of NGC 1684 is this edge on spiral. Faint and elongated at 266x, a mag 8.3 star a mere 1.5' proved to be a major distraction.

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NGC 1728
GX, Eridanus, Size= 1.8x0.9' , Mag V= 12.9, SB= 13.1

NGC 1725
GX, Eridanus, Size= 1.9x1.2' , Mag V= 12.8, SB= 13.1

NGC 1721
GX, Eridanus, Size= 2.1x1.0' , Mag V= 12.8, SB= 13.4

A nice little trio with all three galaxies comfortably fitting into the FOV of the 266x eyepiece. 1728 appeared to be the brightest of the three, slightly elongated N-S and slightly concentrated toward the core. NGC 1725 is a mere 1.3' WSW of 1728 and appeared as the faintest of the three. NGC 1721, 1.5' NW of 1725 appeared to be the second brightest of the group with a slightly concentrated core and suspected elongation in a roughly SE-NW direction. A mag 14.3 star lies just 50" ENE of the core.

NGC 1723
GX, Eridanus, Size= 3.2x2.0' , Mag V= 11.7 , SB= 13.7

Located 8' N of the 1728 group. Diffuse, round with a small brighter concentrated core at 266x. A mag 14.9 star sits just 1' NNW of the core.

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My next mission was to observe NGC 1566 in Dorado. On the starhop from Alpha Doradus I made a couple pit stops.

NGC 1617
GX, Dorado, Size= 4.3x2.1' , Mag V= 10.4 , SB= 12.7

Large, bright with a tight, almost stellar core surrounded by an elongated, 2:1 E-W diffuse halo. Sits along the longest axis of a triangle formed by three mag 11-12 stars to the W, S and SE.

NGC 1596
GX, Dorado, Size= 3.7x1.0' , Mag V= 11.2 , SB= 12.4

Small, bright and spindle like at 266x, orientated NNE/SSW. Has a highly concentrated core, almost stellar infact. A mag 14.6 star lies just over 0.5' W of the core. Nearby NGC 1602 was not seen.

NGC 1581
GX, Dorado, Size= 1.8x0.7' , Mag V= 12.9 , SB= 13.0

A moderately faint, stubby elongated 3:2 diffuse smudge at 266x. No concentration towards core. A pair of mag 10 stars lie 7' E.

NGC 1566
GX, Dorado, Size= 7.0x4.7' , Mag V= 9.7 , SB= 13.4

This is a lovely spiral in Dorado, known as the "Spanish Dancer Galaxy". The spiral arms were not seen with any degree of certainty however hints of uneven surface brightness were present. At 166x, a concentrated bright core with a stellar nucleus was seen, surrounded by a large diffuse halo slightly elongated 4:3 N-S.

NGC 2442
GX, Volans, Size= 5.5x4.9' , Mag V= 10.4 , SB= 13.9

Diffuse with low surface brightness at 166x. A triangle of mag 9-10 stars lies adjacent to the east. Some N-S elongation was seen with a stellaring in the core. At 266x, the stellar nucleus was easier to see.

ESO 059-011
GX, Volans, Size= 2.2x1.0' , Mag B= 13.5

Located 10' NE of NGC 2442. Small at 266x with a mag 14.1 star adjacent to the W. Diffuse, no real concentration, and is actually easier to see than 2442 owing to its higher surface brightness.

NGC 2434
GX, Volans, Size= 2.5x2.3' , Mag V= 11.5, SB= 13.3

Located 17' NW of NGC 2442. This one actually appears the brighter than both 2442 and ESO 059-011 at the eyepiece. A triangle of mag 11-12 stars sits immediately to the north. Bright, concentrated core at 266x with a round relatively bright halo.

To round off the night, just did some touring of the Carina Milkyway. Highlights were the Homunculus nebula at 266x and scanning the Eta Carina Nebula at low power with the UHC. Also spent some time on Jupiter, never seen so many white ovals, festoons, striations and turbulence in the belts before despite mediocre seeing! I can only imagine when the seeing cooperates!

All in all a very good night that was long overdue and despite having this mirror set for over 2.5 years now, it was only my 3rd time using it!
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Old 21-12-2014, 10:41 PM
Rob_K
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Great report Sab! Nice descriptions, glad you're getting some sky time. Only serious omission was comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) - should knock your eyes out with the 12" SDM.

Cheers -
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Old 22-12-2014, 10:46 PM
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pgc hunter
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Thanks Rob. Good to hear from you again! Not many opportune nights for observing what with work, clouds and all that. I usually find myself using the 8" as it is much easier and less work to pack away when the clouds arrive 5 minutes after setting up I might check out the comet next outing.... the weekend forecast looks good
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