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Old 17-04-2012, 12:32 PM
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andyc (Andy)
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Observation report - urban SkyAtlas hunting - Carina region 12/13th Apr

A tactic I've been using in my explorations of the southern skies over the summer and autumn is to pick a small region on SkyAtlas 2000.0 and hunt for as many of the deep sky objects marked in the area as I can find. This is perhaps particularly effective for me as a newcomer to southern skies, as I often don't already know which objects are bright, big, low surface brightness, faint small etc, beyond the minimal information on the charts. Putting aside the weaknesses of the charts, including mis-labellings, not all bright objects plotted (esp LMC!) and misidentifications, it's an interesting challenge. I could, of course, look them up on John Bambury's excellent list, Steve Gottlieb's amazingly useful NGC/IC notes (http://astronomy-mall.com/Adventures.../steve.ngc.htm) or on imagery, but sometimes it's fun just to see what you can find!

I've had a rewarding find of half a dozen Dorado galaxy cluster members (galaxies need good nights from the 'burbs though), and quite a few clusters and nebulae in Puppis/Canis Major in this way.

To my observations last week: From suburban skies (LMC usuallly either invisible or barely visible), the 8" scope plus a Lumicon UHC filter shows a surprising amount of nebulous regions:
NGC 3199 (big rectangular, only UHC); N3324, lots of detail in Eta Carinae well beyond a 50x field; 4 parts of the N3576 complex (interestingly, from Steve Gottlieb's notes, not including N3576 itself - the ones I saw were N3579, N3581, N3582 and N3584); N3603, small, with a fuzzy 'star marking the central cluster; N3503 (almost stellar small fuzz, not too certain); Lambda Cen neb - a brightening of background in UHC near part of the cluster, no distinct edges; N3699 (now I know this is a planetary), bright,small and round; N5189, also a planetary I think. I couldn't pick out the other little IC nebulae marked as part of the Lambda Cen complex. N3882 was invisible, but further research shows this to be a faint galaxy.

Most planetaries show up well, though some small ones need 'blinking' with the UHC to distinguish them clearly from backgrounds stars - N3918, IC4191 and N5315. Have seen many more on other nights.

Lots of clusters to look at of course, including the showpieces of N3293, N3532, N3766 and N4755. N3766 in particular is a hidden beauty! Other clusters - IC2581 is dominated by a bright star and quite faint; N3590 is brightish but small; N5281 lovely with a few bright stars; observed but no notes for N3572, N4052, N4103, N4463, N4349, H5, N4439, N4852, N5316 - some of these were very pretty. Couldn't see IC2714, Mel105, N4337, H6, H7,N5299, N3960.

A side note was a visit to the nova in Centaurus, which is now distinctly fading, not down to maybe 12th mag after a peak brighter than 10.
(coordinates at: http://www.cbat.eps.harvard.edu/unco...0-5815470.html)

So I didn't visit every object in the area, even over two nights, but there's a lot! And most definitely more to have a go at, including those objects right in the area that I missed that I can now see on the charts. But it's really rewarding discovering random nice scenes along the way, and be pleasantly surprised at how much you can see with an 8" from a suburban sky.
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Old 19-04-2012, 09:41 AM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Sounds a very good night Andy. LMC would be impaired by LP but would suffer from getting a bit low in the sky. Comprehnsive charts for LMC and SMC are a bit hard to come by, so I've made some up using DSS images on my web site cloudsofmagellan.net.au.

Looking forward to more reports.
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Old 19-04-2012, 05:55 PM
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andyc (Andy)
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Paddy, I should thank you and buy you several virtual beers! Kept in the back of my SkyAtlas 2000 is a printout of all your LMC and SMC charts from cloudsofmagellan, and they have been a massive help in exploring both clouds, and identifying all the fuzzy bits I can see, whether from Melbourne or darker skies. Many, many thanks for the work you put into them.
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