Old 15-10-2007, 10:28 AM
Lord Lissie

DougAdams is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 233
Observation Report: 14th October 2007

First Dark Sky Trip for the 4" Refractor

Nothing in the diary for Sunday night, so time to take the refractor out for it’s first dark sky trip. All the bits and pieces filled car pretty quickly – scope case, tripod, mount head, wife, chair for wife, bits and pieces esky, thermos and nibbles.

We decided to take the scope up to the Dandenong’s for a dark sky session. We ended up at the Johns Hill Reserve Lookout, which overlooks the Dandenong Valley. It’s not a bad spot, with some elevation and a great field of view to the east, south and west. There was a bit of glow up from the Valley, though and very windy too. This session saw lots of wind wobble, so I stayed low power for most of the session.

Moon - a thin crescent of three days old. I played around with the 3.5mm Nagler at 154x just to see what it could do. Floaters didn't seem to bother me as much as the Nagler zoom. Dawn over Mare Crisium was nearly complete. The wind prevented me from getting up close and personal with the finer features. The entire disk of the moon nearly squeezed into the field of view too - I calculate I have 32', which is about right.

Jupiter - again at 154x. Wind was a pain, but the seeing and scope steadied enough for me to see this eyepiece will work well. Six bands, with hints of detail in them when things settled down.

M57 Ring Nebula - Sheliak and Sulafat were naked eye to the north so I pointed the finder right between them and had M57. Very obvious tiny patch at 23x. I popped in my narrowband filter into the 11mm and studied it for ten minutes at 49x. Nice object.

NGC253 Silver Coin and NGC288 - went right to the spot thanks to the easy star hop from Deneb Kaitos. Having more stars naked eye and a 3 degree FOV at 23x certainly helps. From darker skies, having these two objects in the same field is quite striking. Both were much brighter than from my backyard. I could resolve four or five stars on NGC288. Also, the disk of the Silver Coin was much brighter in the centre this time. The orientation of the scope meant the wind was at my back, shielding things. I broke out the sketch pad and drew this view at the eyepiece.

47 Tucanae - amazing again, but the view wasn't that different compared to the backyard. In a way it was worse, thanks to the wind preventing close study. I only studied this at 23x and 49x. I attempted a sketch, attempted being the key word here!

NGC362 - a smaller globular cluster close to 47 Tucanae. These two clusters frame the Small Magellanic Cloud. I could nearly get them into the same field at 23x, but not quite. NGC362 is bright and obvious, you can't mistake what it is.

Small Magellanic Cloud - easy naked eye. Swept over it at 23x and spotted nice little knots of mist and stars. There is a globular cluster in there too (NGC419?). Two of the more obvious patches of light appeared to be on the western edge of the galaxy. The first one was small and bright, the other much larger and more diffuse. The Pocket Sky Atlas listed these as IC1660 and NGC460, but I'm not convinced that's their identity. Need to confirm.

Tarantula Nebula - still low down in the south east, but with the Large Magellanic Cloud being naked eye, it was a bright, easy target. Lots of loops and curls to explore, but it was difficult to keep the scope steady was it was flank on to the wind.

M15 – while my wife was at the eyepiece, I did a bit of sweeping with the binoculars. I finally found M15, off the North West edge of the great square of Pegasus. It’s near Enif, right next to a 6-7th magnitude star, and looks like a double in the binoculars. Easy to see that it’s a globular though. One for the early evening, next session.

There seemed to be a lot of traffic coming into the lookout car park, so we decided to pack up early and get out. It didn’t feel the safest site. We'll try quieter and darker next time.
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Old 15-10-2007, 11:04 AM
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Rob_K is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Bright, Vic, Australia
Posts: 2,105
Top stuff Doug, and good to hear you didn't let the wind beat you! Sounds like you'll have a lot more fun with the refractor in quieter, darker conditions.

And full marks for sketching at a wobbly eyepiece with the wind blowing!

Cheers -
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Old 15-10-2007, 11:42 AM
Its only a column of dust

§AB is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: New Iceland
Posts: 761
great report - seeing down here was terrible. A great site to go to would be the carpark at Lake Mountain - snow seasons over so it'll be quiet and at 1000m elevation there would be excellent transparency and seeing! Plus it's not too much of a drive.

show us your sketches!
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Old 15-10-2007, 01:21 PM
Lord Lissie

DougAdams is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 233
Originally Posted by §AB View Post
show us your sketches!

... seriously, no scanner
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Old 15-10-2007, 05:49 PM
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glenc (Glen)

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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Terranora
Posts: 4,092

Doug the three bright objects in the north of the SMC are NGCs 371, 346 and 330. The first is like an open cluster, the middle one a nebula and the southern one looks like a globular. Here is a map from SkyMapPro.
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