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Old 31-01-2012, 08:45 PM
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A Night of EXCELLENT Seeing! 28-29 Jan 2012

After a long hiatus due to weather, work and other impediments I was finally able to score a moonless night. The plan was to observe a few objects in Orion and then take a nap while waiting for Mars and Saturn to rise and also for the Carina Milkyway and the Virgo galaxies to get high enough.

As the 8" dob was cooling and the sky darkening, I took a quick peek at the moon and Jupiter. My first thoughts.... yeah typical seeing So headed back inside and ate some chicken.

Got back outside at about 10.30pm and collimated and set up my charts etc. I didn't have a list of targets with me, just a mental note of what I wanted to see. Just did a check of the Trapezium to gauge seeing. It soon become clear that the seeing this night was going to be something special. With the 8mm EP at 150x, the stellar images were crystal clear, like a glistening diamond. A few days earlier, the same magnification gave somewhat fuzzy stars.

So, time to whip out the short focal lengths. Even at 3.5mm (342x), stellar images were out of this world crisp, faint stars were dead set pinpoints, while brighter stars began to show a near-textbook airy disk. So, out comes the 2.5x powermate to get 600x, and what confronted me were clean tight airy disks, with a nice diffraction ring only mildly vibrating in the seeing. The spurious disk on brighter stars were near identical to the simulation in Abberator. Fainter stars were spectacularly tight and crisp, not the usual mush. I can say, I've never seen such clean airy disks before and was never convinced that anything could ever been seen in real life matching the perfection seen in literature.

With such conditions, the plans changed. I was going to snag all the planetaries I could. Perfect opportunity to milk the rich PNe reserves from Orion to Carina.

So, lets get cracking!

Scope: 8" F/6 dob
Time: 10.30pm-sunrise
Seeing: 8-9/10
Transparency: 4/5
Temp: 24C
Dew: light to moderate towards dawn.


IC 418
Lepus, PNe , RA 05 27 28 , Dec -12 41 48 , Size= 14x11" , Mag V= 9.3

Started the session with IC418 in Lepus. Very small and almost unrecognisable as a PN at low power. Higher magnification enhances the contrast of the nebula around the central star. Using the 3.5mm Ep and 2.5x Powermate, at 600x a brighter "ring" was seen encompassing the nebula. Increasing mag to 857x suggested some irregularity in the surface brightness. At high powers, the nebula is distinctly elongated.

http://www.naoj.org/Gallery/hdtv/ic418.jpg

NGC 1999
Orion, Refl Neb, RA 05 36 25, Dec -06 42 49, Size=2x2', Mag= 9.5b

This object has always interested me with its spectacular T-shaped globule. An obvious nebulous patch at 150x, the globule is hinted at using the 5mm EP at 240x. Increasing magnification tends to help with contrast here, and at 600x the globule was easily picked up using averted vision, with its distinct shape becoming apparent. The size of the nebula is listed as 2', although at the eyepiece I estimate approx 40" was visible.

NGC 2440
Puppis, PNe, RA 07 41 55, Dec -18 12 32, Size= 74x42" , Mag V= 9.4

Two, piercing white knots, elongated E-W forming a "double" connected by a narrow "bridge" at their eastern end at 342x. An E-W oval patch of haze envelopes this structure, with another fainter patch visible just west of the two major knots. Upping the mag to 600x I could hint at another fainter knot just to the east of the two bright knots. The two main knots themselves seemed to appear even more piercing, almost hinting at a stellaring within them.

NGC 2867
Carina, PNe, RA 09 21 25, Dec -58 18 41, Size= 12" , Mag V= 9.7

A lovely bright, robins-egg blue high surface brightness planetary at 150x. Tiny but clearly non-stellar and round. Plugging in the 3.5mm EP for 342x it still appeared round although I could suspect annularity, but could not be certain. I also noticed how unbelievably crisp the surrounding starfield was at this magnification, I could've sworn I was using half that power! So, in goes the powermate for 600x and now the PN's annular nature is becoming apparent. I could also make a tiny knot or stellaring on the SW edge. A faint Mag 14 star was seen approx 17" ENE of the neb. No hint of central star. Images of this object do indeed reveal annularity and a brighter patch on the edge of the nebula.

http://animalderuta.files.wordpress....03/ngc2867.jpg

IC 2501
Carina, PNe, RA 09 38 48, Dec -60 05 28, Size= 2" , Mag 11.3

Being a painfully tiny planetary of only 2" in diameter, it was stellar at 150x, but is very high surface brightness. Increasing power to 342x, the PN still appeared stellar, but owing to the exceptional seeing, the true nature of the object was betrayed by its fuzziness relative to the undisturbed and therefore unusually crisp star field. A bluish colour was apparent. A magnification of 600x revealed it to be clearly non stellar and I could even start to make out its tiny, round disk. At 857x, the nebula exhibited a definate round shape along with a blue colour. With almost no seeing blur, the size/shape of the nebula could easily be differentiated from surrounding stars. A row of three ~mag 13.5 stars are aligned immediately to the south/west of the nebula.



IC 2553
Carina, PNe, RA 10 09 21, Dec -62 36 49, Size= 9" , Mag 13.0

Another of Carina's tiny PN offerings, although this one is larger than 2501 and appeared non-stellar at 150x. It lies along the southwestern-most end of a long rectangle bounded by four 10-11.5 mag stars, long axis aligned E-W. At 342x it appeared diffuse and slightly elongated NNE-SSW with a pale blue colour. 600x makes the elongation more obvious. No other detail seen.

http://rti.faulkes-telescope.com/obs...cess-258-2.jpg

NGC 3211
Carina, PNe, RA 10 17 51, Dec -62 40 14, Size= 14" , Mag V= 10.7

Located only a degree due east of IC 2553. Round, grey at 150x, but increasing mag to 342x reveals a hint of annularity and I got the impression of a slightly brighter northern rim. OIII gives a modest improvement. At 600x, the annularity is more obvious and this rim is only slightly brighter than the interior and the nebula is slightly elongated E-W.

http://pnebulae.altervista.org/catal..._prof-gor1.jpg


IC 2448
Carina, PNe, RA 09 07 06, Dec -69 56 17, Size= 9" , Mag B= 11.1

Very easy to find located only 45' SW of Beta Carinae. Despite its small size, this PN appeared distinctly diffuse and non-stellar at 150x. A slight elongation was evident at 342x and application of the OIII filter yielded very modest improvement in contrast. Increasing magnification to 600x suggest a hint of a rim along one side of the nebula and perhaps an outer shell aswell, although I could not be 100% certain. However, images do indeed show an annular nebula with a fainter outer halo.

http://lh5.ggpht.com/-gncFZ0D98mI/TI...Xg/IC_2448.png



NGC 3242 Ghost of Jupiter
Hydra, PNe, RA 10 24 46, Dec 18 38 34, Size= 45x36" , Mag V= 7.7

Perhaps my all time favourite PN for its vivid blue colour and wealth of structure. The 'eye' was clearly visible at 150x, with the central star on the verge of visibility. The diffuse outer halo was evident aswell. A mag of 342x bought out the central star and at 600x the view became very interesting. The 'eye' was nicely definated, strong blue colour, and the ends of the eye were clearly thicker and brighter than the "eyelid" section. A brighter knot was hinted at in the east end of the eye. The tenuous outer halo appeared uneven in surface brightness, with the brighter sections along the long-axis of the nebula. Increasing power to 857x, the knot in the eye's east end appeared even more obvious, even hinting at a stellaring, although that could just be the compact nature of the feature.

this image nicely shows that knot I spotted, seen on the right here.
http://www.ssmassey.com/images/deepsky/ngc3242a.jpg

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


Ofcourse, I made sure I got a good look at Mars and Saturn under these conditions! Saturn was spectacular, tack sharp at 342x. Subtle banding on the globe, nice darkening along the outer edge of the A ring and along the inner edge of the B ring with the C ring vaguely apparent. Conditions were so calm that at times I could trace the Cassini Division all the way around the front of the planet, appearing as a hairline thin black strand. The polar darkening was also subtly visible.

Mars was great aswell, with the north polar cap standing out very nicely. What struck me were little patches of white in the planet's northern hemisphere and along the limb, which I understand are clouds/fog. Very impressive! I could see 3-4 of these patches lined up nicely just under the polar cap. Not much was seen in the way of dark surface markings due to Mar's orientation at the time.

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

A couple of sketches done on the night, of IC 418, NGC 1999 and Ghost of Jupiter.






Attached Thumbnails
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Click for full-size image (3242.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (ic418.jpg)
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Last edited by pgc hunter; 31-01-2012 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 31-01-2012, 09:12 PM
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Sensational report Sab.You really pushed the power up this night.
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Old 31-01-2012, 09:18 PM
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Well written and presented again Sab

It's good to know you had some time at the scope that was worthwhile
Thanks for your report.
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Old 31-01-2012, 09:44 PM
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Ripper night, ripper report and ripper sketches Sab. A really good read and quite inspiring. I don't think I've looked at NGC 1999. Sounds very interesting. And your sketches...all great but I love the NGC 3242. Great PN beautifully portrayed.
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:48 AM
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Ripper report Sab! That scope does have nice optics......sigh!!
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Old 01-02-2012, 02:19 PM
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Ripper report Sab! That scope does have nice optics......sigh!!
You can always offer to buy it back Wren
but I doubt Sab will let it go
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:16 PM
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Thanks all! David, I can safely say that the seeing on this night was the best I've ever experienced. I've always had this mentality that those beautiful airy disks you see in books and other literature were a myth...yeah right there's no way I'll ever see anything like that while we have an atmosphere! Until now! The image quality really did hold up surprisingly well.

Paddy, NGC 1999 is a unique object well worth a look, and like many other nice targets, it suffers from its proximity to a well known showpiece object so is often overlooked. It needs a bit of magnification to bring out the dark feature, 300x or more will do it, it's quite a small object.

Ken & Wren - this night confirmed to me that this scope is a keeper! Infact, to cut a long story short, by using this scope along with my 12", it was found that the 12" Adcock mirror was underperforming compared to the 8", so I had the 12 sent off to get it tested and was found to have some astigmatism and zonal issues. Before getting the 8", I had nothing to compare the Adcock glass to and visually the effects being quite subtle, it was hard to tell whether it was seeing or the mirror. Only after viewing through the 8" that the ball dropped......

The end result....well... just got a call from Peter Read the other day that my 12" Zambuto is off to the coaters

Wren, this a fantastic scope. I've added a Moonlight focuser and dew heaters for it and replaced the ground board to increase stability and will make a great compliment to the 12".
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:20 PM
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Sab, it is without doubt that the scope is in good hands. It is so very pleasing to see it in use and performing beautifully. And once again - sigh!!!!
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:46 PM
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Sab
Congratulations on such a good night, and glad you put it to good use!
NGC 1999 is one I have nabbed a couple of times. In Jan last year i noted

NGC 1999 Emission Nebula in Orion
RA 05 36 30 Dec -06 42 00 Dim’ 2x2 Type E BC 1-5 Colour 1-4

From Iota Orionis a narrow 45’ long isosceles triangle points Sf. S star is mag 6, faint pair of mag 8 stars to Sp, target is about 15’ to p of these. Moderately bright small nebula, at 115x appears just larger than stellar with an outer envelope. Could be mistaken for a small globular. UHC Nebula filter has some effect at 115x. There is a dark structure which is clearly shown in DSS image (see http://spider.seds.org/ngc/ngcdss.cgi?obj=NGC!1999&r=5:36.5&d=-06:42&e=J2000&h=19.2&w=19.2&f=GIF&c =none ) but couldn’t be made out.

and had another go on Dec 23. I noted that there appeared to be a faint star superimposed which became evident at 150x

Malcolm
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenswale View Post
Sab, it is without doubt that the scope is in good hands. It is so very pleasing to see it in use and performing beautifully. And once again - sigh!!!!
I can say, responding to your ad was one of the best astronomically related decisions I've made 5 minutes to set up and packs a punch. It'll compliment the 12" truss nicely. Been discussing the scope with DavidU in chat the other night and it turns out the mirror is made by the same folks who supply optics for the Takahashi Mewlon scopes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by barx1963 View Post
Sab
Congratulations on such a good night, and glad you put it to good use!
NGC 1999 is one I have nabbed a couple of times. In Jan last year i noted

NGC 1999 Emission Nebula in Orion
RA 05 36 30 Dec -06 42 00 Dim’ 2x2 Type E BC 1-5 Colour 1-4

From Iota Orionis a narrow 45’ long isosceles triangle points Sf. S star is mag 6, faint pair of mag 8 stars to Sp, target is about 15’ to p of these. Moderately bright small nebula, at 115x appears just larger than stellar with an outer envelope. Could be mistaken for a small globular. UHC Nebula filter has some effect at 115x. There is a dark structure which is clearly shown in DSS image (see http://spider.seds.org/ngc/ngcdss.cgi?obj=NGC!1999&r=5:36.5&d=-06:42&e=J2000&h=19.2&w=19.2&f=GIF&c =none ) but couldn’t be made out.

and had another go on Dec 23. I noted that there appeared to be a faint star superimposed which became evident at 150x

Malcolm
Thanks Malcolm! I don't think I've seen a night as good as this, atleast in the last 5 or so years since I first bought a larger scope. Thanks for posting your own obs of 1999, I recommend using atleast 300x to see the dark globule. It's a fairly small object and at high power under dark skies (darker than here!) I'd imagine it would be quite a striking sight.

cheers
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:43 PM
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Fantastic report, by the end I almost felt like I was oustide enjoying the views. Topped off with some nice sketches too.
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:20 AM
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My first point is, when you saw how "typical seeing" was and went back in in a huff, did you remeber to pluck the chook before eating it? "Typical seeing" conditions can make a man do weird things...

Very good read, Sab. You've got me chaffing at the bit to have a crack again. But, man, the conditions that you fluked upon, WOW. You are one lucky sod!
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:56 AM
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Congrats Sab! That's why we persist night after night, year after year - for those magic nights that come along, often unexpectedly. I need another one of those.
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:27 AM
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fabulous and inspiring report Sab.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:33 PM
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Nice report Sab. Makes me wish I hadn't sold my perfectly good 8" F6.
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:45 PM
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^I've found the 8" dob is a good place to be in terms of light grasp, weight and ease of setup. I'm incredibly lazy so that 5 minute set up time is critical


Quote:
Originally Posted by mental4astro View Post
My first point is, when you saw how "typical seeing" was and went back in in a huff, did you remeber to pluck the chook before eating it? "Typical seeing" conditions can make a man do weird things...

Very good read, Sab. You've got me chaffing at the bit to have a crack again. But, man, the conditions that you fluked upon, WOW. You are one lucky sod!
haha nah, the chicken was plucked and fully prepared for migration to its natural home.... my gut

I was stoked at the conditions, especially as it was so mediocre just after sunset. Usually when seeing is pus, I pack up the scope and head inside and drink some beer and eat chicken, turn on Poxtel and get my fix of South Park.

I guess with no moon and all with the Milkyway from Orion to Centaurus overhead, I chose to stay out and was duly rewarded



Quote:
Originally Posted by erick View Post
Congrats Sab! That's why we persist night after night, year after year - for those magic nights that come along, often unexpectedly. I need another one of those.
Indeed. Last time it was anywhere near this quality was in August so that's a 2 per year average.....


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fabulous and inspiring report Sab.
thanks Liz, glad you enjoyed
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