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Old 01-07-2012, 10:41 AM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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First Light with Berenice (my new scope!) 30/6/12

Observation Report 30/6/12


First Light with Berenice, my new 10" Saxon Dobsonian telescope

After putting together the mount, with the wonderful help from my partner, Jason, we finally headed outside to set up the tube and put on the finderscope. Luckily enough, my beautiful scope was collimated at Astro Pete's before I left! We headed out into the backyard, choosing a position with a good view to the East as I was really hoping to see some beauties in Scorpius and Sagittarius. The moon was high and bright, a waxing gibbous in the sky, so I wasn't hopeful for the greatest seeing but was certainly going to give it a shot.

I had a few issues with aligning the finderscope as where I had set up, there were only a handful of really bright stars visible. I tried using a street light but it was too bright to get proper focus, so I tried a few stars but couldn't even see them in the eyepiece even when they were in view in the finderscope. I was getting frustrated and trained it on the moon to try and get focus. Again it was too bright and blobby, so we put the main cap back onto the telescope and took off the smaller cap to minimise the light and Jason managed to get focus for me.

After that it gradually fell into place. I ended up just finding a small pair of stars in the 25mm eyepiece and getting them in the centre then finding them in the finderscope. Once I had them both roughly matched up, I could then point it at a bright star and align it more accurately. I was very excited when I finally figured it out, it had been awhile since I had to aligned a finderscope so I was a bit out of practise.

Now I could focus on actually finding some sky beauties!

Firstly, I turned the scope on M6 as even under the harsh moonlight, it was still visible as a fuzzy patch close by to Shaula and Lesath, the tail of Scorpius. The stars were crisp and white, speckled through the sky like a diamond butterfly. I am continually impressed by the Butterfly Cluster, it is so simple and yet so stunning, even with the waxing gibbous glaring overhead.

Secondly, we tried to work out where Saturn was. I remembered it was fairly close by to Spica, so it wasn't too hard to find. There seemed to be far more colour and definition in the rings through the 25mm than through the 10mm eyepiece, although Jason pointed out that if you pulled your eye back from the 10mm eyepiece just slightly, there was more colour visible and the rings seemed to pop out more.

Thirdly, as I was fumbling around, trying to find something amidst the washed out sea of stars from the moon glow, I had a quick look in StarMapsPro and found a cluster near Corona Australis I thought I'd have a go at finding. I ended up finding a faint looking globular cluster but later realised that I hadn't been looking at Corona Australis but an arc of stars that looks very similar close by. I later found Corona Australis but couldn't find the original cluster I had been looking for. Looking in Stellarium now, I think I may have found either M22 or M55, though I cannot be sure which. I have a feeling it may have been M55, as the cluster I found wasn't very densely packed like M22 appears to be.

Mars was beginning to set in the West by this time, so I turned the scope around and had a quick look. It appeared as a small blob in the telescope but with a definite rusty tinge.

I decided I would try to split Alpha Centauri A and B, as the last time I managed to with my friend in her 10" scope was just after dusk when the sky was grey and both stars appeared less bright. I thought perhaps because the Moon was out, it would create similar conditions and I was right! Both stars were easily visible, appearing so close to one another that sometimes they would seem to smudge together in the eyepiece before appearing again as two sharp pin pricks of light. It was an amazing sight to behold! And not a bad effort considering I was trying to look at it through a gap in the trees!

I turned the scope toward the Lagoon Nebula, a familiar sight filling the finder. Through the 25mm eyepiece, it was still an amazing sight though the lanes of dust were quite washed out by the moon.

Jason and I then lifted and carried the scope to have a better view of the south west so we could just make out Crux above the trees and the triangle of stars that leads to Centaurus A. Of course, there was no way I could make out Centaurus A, the moon was so bright and the triangle was so close to the tree line that it may have been too low and faint to see. I gave it a try anyway but came up empty.

So instead I pointed toward some of the usual suspects. Omega Centauri always being my favourite! It was still stunning to behold in the 25mm eyepiece but in the 10mm where usually epic detail would pop out and sparkle, it was smudgy and very hard to make out.

NGC3918 was not happening either, as it dipped too low behind the trees and would probably have been washed out by the moon also. So we had a quick look at the Jewel Box Cluster, which is also one of my favourite clusters. Even with the sky so washed out by the moon, it still shone and sparkled brightly with the whiter stars surrounded by golden pin pricks of light. Definitely a beauty!

Lastly, we decided to look at the Moon again. I still had the 10mm eyepiece in but didn't realise but was blown away when I looked through the eyepiece at how much detail there was in the craters. It was mind blowing! I then changed to the 25mm eyepiece and had one final look at the moon's rugged surface before calling it a night.

And there you have it, first light with Berenice. Not a huge list and by no means a fantastic night of observations but I'm hoping to set up nice and early tonight and try for some different objects. The Moon, of course, was not on my side but I was just so happy it was clear enough to observe! I thought for sure I'd be surrounded by looming rain clouds after making my purchase last night.

Here's to a clear New Moon!

Last edited by shelltree; 01-07-2012 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:21 PM
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astroron (Ron)
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I am glad you had a good night Shelley onward and upward from here on
Cheers

Being my pedantic self
Mars is Setting in the West
PS good first report by the way

Last edited by astroron; 01-07-2012 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:28 PM
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jjjnettie (Jeanette)
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It's a sign of good things to come. Clear skies for first light.
Thanks for the report Shelly it was wonderful.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:23 PM
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Lismore Bloke (Paul)
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Hi Shelley,

Congrats on the new scope, a 10" is a great instrument. Don't worry too much if you don't find everything you look for first up. We all have our ways of finding objects. I printed off star maps that covered the sky I could see, making sure the constellation stick figure and brightest stars were easy to see. These were inserted into plastic sleeves and a red torch used. I also made sure the DSO's I wanted to find were clearly indicated. My best aid to align the scope to the area of interest was the Telrad. I used it far more than the viewfinder. I also used standard geometric shapes to pinpoint DSO's, eg lines from one star through another star, pointing to the object or triangles using a couple of bright stars as the base to point to the target. A low power eyepiece (eg 25mm) is a good choice for finding - something like a 10mm just makes finding more difficult. Sometimes I just went outside with a low power eyepiece and just scanned the sky, not caring which constellation I was in. I hope you have many more enjoyable nights viewing. Cheers, Paul.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:53 PM
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mozzie (Peter)
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great report shelley,
once you get use to your new scope you will star hop with ease.....
are you coming to astrofest and some dark skies to give berenice a real workout ?????
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:49 PM
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Suzy
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Great report Shell!
Enjoyed reading your experience right from the start of getting your dob set up .
Looking forward to lots more reports.

Agree with Paul, a Telrad or a red dot finder will help you locate objects in the sky. I could never work out lining up stars in my finder- too much magnification = too many stars confuse me senseless. So I bought myself both an RDF & Telrad which I had sitting alonside my scope with the finder- whoa heavy front end once you put heavy premium eyepieces on . Then I opted to sell the Telrad in preference for the RDF- I find it easier measuring the sky with my hand than the Telrad, and also found the circles obtrusive- just me I think . - everyone else loves 'em.
That zero magnification an RDF (or Telrad) gives is brilliant- it shows the sky as it is and then is easy to put the red dot on the sky as you see it. Also very helpful if you find an object- you measure the sky in degress with your hand after locating the closest bright star that object sits near (bit of rough sketching of star field thru telescope helps too).

Hold on a min...
The skies must love you- how come it wasn't cloudy on your first light?! Makes no sense...
Unless... you did the clewwwds disappear chant
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:05 PM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astroron View Post
I am glad you had a good night Shelley onward and upward from here on
Cheers

Being my pedantic self
Mars is Setting in the West
PS good first report by the way
LOL how embarrassing! I suppose I should have researched that before adding it to my report Glad you liked it besides that silly detail, more to come soon I'm sure

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjjnettie View Post
It's a sign of good things to come. Clear skies for first light.
Thanks for the report Shelly it was wonderful.
I know J, I was rather shocked! Although still almost full moon so it wasn't the greatest conditions, was just really glad I got to see something Thanks Nettie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lismore Bloke View Post
Hi Shelley,

Congrats on the new scope, a 10" is a great instrument. Don't worry too much if you don't find everything you look for first up. We all have our ways of finding objects. I printed off star maps that covered the sky I could see, making sure the constellation stick figure and brightest stars were easy to see. These were inserted into plastic sleeves and a red torch used. I also made sure the DSO's I wanted to find were clearly indicated. My best aid to align the scope to the area of interest was the Telrad. I used it far more than the viewfinder. I also used standard geometric shapes to pinpoint DSO's, eg lines from one star through another star, pointing to the object or triangles using a couple of bright stars as the base to point to the target. A low power eyepiece (eg 25mm) is a good choice for finding - something like a 10mm just makes finding more difficult. Sometimes I just went outside with a low power eyepiece and just scanned the sky, not caring which constellation I was in. I hope you have many more enjoyable nights viewing. Cheers, Paul.
Thanks very much for the helpful tips, Paul! It will take a lot of time and practise but the more familiar I become with the sky again, the better. This week I may just head out for awhile and pinpoint my constellations and learn some of the bright stars so I know my way around the sky a bit better. I have a general idea, especially at this time of year, I am more familiar with what's in the sky but I still don't know much in comparison! I will keep on keeping on and I'm sure I will learn more and more as time goes on!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mozzie View Post
great report shelley,
once you get use to your new scope you will star hop with ease.....
are you coming to astrofest and some dark skies to give berenice a real workout ?????
Hi Peter, thanks very much, I'm glad you liked it! Alas, I will not be at astrofest this year I took a big holiday in March to Tassy so the funds aren't very good at the moment, especially with the purchase I just made, not to mention I'm on the job hunt at the moment and didn't want to have pre-planned holidays that may not be in my favour with a new employer. I really hope to finally get to one next year, will see what the new year holds!
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:11 PM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzy View Post
Great report Shell!
Enjoyed reading your experience right from the start of getting your dob set up .
Looking forward to lots more reports.

Agree with Paul, a Telrad or a red dot finder will help you locate objects in the sky. I could never work out lining up stars in my finder- too much magnification = too many stars confuse me senseless. So I bought myself both an RDF & Telrad which I had sitting alonside my scope with the finder- whoa heavy front end once you put heavy premium eyepieces on . Then I opted to sell the Telrad in preference for the RDF- I find it easier measuring the sky with my hand than the Telrad, and also found the circles obtrusive- just me I think . - everyone else loves 'em.
That zero magnification an RDF (or Telrad) gives is brilliant- it shows the sky as it is and then is easy to put the red dot on the sky as you see it. Also very helpful if you find an object- you measure the sky in degress with your hand after locating the closest bright star that object sits near (bit of rough sketching of star field thru telescope helps too).

Hold on a min...
The skies must love you- how come it wasn't cloudy on your first light?! Makes no sense...
Unless... you did the clewwwds disappear chant
I have always wanted to get a Telrad once I got my scope, so I think that will be the next purchase on the list, once I'm out of debt I've always found them very helpful and easy to use I have a LOT to learn and some of it isn't going to make sense when I'm staring up at the sky in frustration, trying to figure things out but I know I'll get it eventually.

It does seem the skies have a soft spot for me! Maybe they felt sorry for how long I had to wait for a scope so they thought they'd be kind!? Either way, I was really happy I got to take Berenice out within a couple of hours of buying her.

I would like to get out tomorrow night as well, was going to go out tonight but it's really cold and I had a few too many champers
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:49 PM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Thanks for a very enjoyable read Shelley and congratulations on first light for Berenice. Looking forward to more reports and what you can see with darker skies.
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Old 02-07-2012, 09:26 PM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddy View Post
Thanks for a very enjoyable read Shelley and congratulations on first light for Berenice. Looking forward to more reports and what you can see with darker skies.
Thanks very much Patrick! I've been poking around again tonight but was mainly just having fun and finding the things I found during first light, it's pretty hard to see much of anything, the Moon is blotting everything out like a spotlight LOL. I did manage to t-ring my 60D onto the Dob and took some shots of the moon, very exciting!

The Moon doesn't rise til about 9:30pm on the 8th so I'm hoping to get out and set up early before it rises!
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:05 AM
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Hi Shelley,

An interesting and engaging report.

The 10 inch will certainly open up a lot of sky.

Thanks for sharing.

Regards, Rob
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Old 03-07-2012, 12:46 PM
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erick (Eric)
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Berenice Rules!

As soon as the Moon goes away, Omega Centauri should sparkle in your 10mm eyepiece, seeing permitting.
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Old 15-07-2012, 09:58 PM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robh View Post
Hi Shelley,

An interesting and engaging report.

The 10 inch will certainly open up a lot of sky.

Thanks for sharing.

Regards, Rob
Thanks very much Rob, she certainly has, I am very happy


Quote:
Originally Posted by erick View Post
Berenice Rules!

As soon as the Moon goes away, Omega Centauri should sparkle in your 10mm eyepiece, seeing permitting.
Thanks Eric! I had a peak at Omega Cen tonight, still so amazing! I didn't think to put in my 10mm eyepiece, was still incredible through the 25mm though!
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