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Old 02-02-2008, 03:49 PM
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goober (Doug)
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Observation Report: 1 February 2008

Observation Report and Ramblings - 1st February 2008

Location: John Hill Reserve, Kallista

An IceInSpace get together was organised, mainly through Eric and Bojan. I packed the 4" in the car and headed up, arriving around 8:20pm. There were three or four scopes on the field, setting up. I hadn't met any of these IiS'ers before so wandered around and introduced myself. Bojan with his 10", Eric had a 12" in the trailer, and PhilW and peterbat were setting up something-teen inch truss dobs (14" and 16", but I'm guessing).

I cringed inside, thinking about my tiny scope in the boot, and watched the setup of these beasts for a while. Eric was doing something with bricks (didn't ask, probably fine adjustments!), scopes were being tweaked, and collimation was being checked. I bit the bullet and set up on the other side of the field next to Bojan.

As it began to darken, I popped in my 24mm Panoptic and did a little sweeping around Orion. The views weren't bad and getting better and better as the skies darkened. Bojan had a peek at M42 and was impressed that he could see the four stars in Theta at 22x. Phil popped over for a look, and promised to return when it was darker with his 13mm Ethos. I reluctantly (yeah, right) agreed.

More sweeping through Carina as it was nearly dark. The star fields in that region of the milky way are gorgeous, and amazing under even semi-dark skies at Kallista.

It was almost dark when Phil returned with his Ethos as we spent around 20 minutes using it at various targets:

- M42 and surrounds. Astonishing, really - the field of view is 2.5 degrees, nearly that of the 24mm Panoptic, but 40x magnification against 22x. The effect is you're seeing the same area of sky at twice the magnification, and it's amazing. Phil lined up Alnilam in the centre of Orion's belt in the Ethos, and it was only the slightest nudge either way to find Mintaka and Alnitak at each end. The field is terrific.

- Pleiades - fantastic, they were entirely framed in the field of view at 40x. The view was so alien I probably wouldn't have recognised the cluster if I didn't what I was looking at.

- clusters around Eta Carina - NGC3532- a large, elongated cluster of similar magnitude stars looked very nice. The Eta nebula was gorgeous - Phil pointed at the tiny cluster NGC 3293 in the same field of view nearby, a very pretty, compressed star cluster, with a lovely variety of colours.

Phil headed back, and told me to bring my scope around later on. He wanted to try out the 7mm Pentax XW in the scope. As he was leaving, he took a fantastic fall as he tripped over my observing chair in the dark. Importantly, the Ethos he was carrying was okay, and we think Phil is too.

So, the Ethos? Lovely eyepiece, but I don't think I'll race out and get one. It's big, quite heavy (all my eyepieces are within a few grams of each other to save re balancing the scope between changes), and of course expensive. Also, to get the full effect you need to observe "cap down" and get right up to it to take in the total field of view. Akin to getting close to a porthole on a ship to see everything. Still, very, very nice, and amazingly flat right across the FOV. Thanks Phil, it was very kind of you to drop it in my scope.

I spent the next hour or so sweeping around the sky - I had a list of targets, but just went after familiar stuff to compare against light polluted views.

Crab Nebula - nice, bright elongated smudge, oval shaped.

Beta Mon. - lovely tight triple star, split at 154x.

Omega Centauri - my first really good look with this scope, although still very low, I could resolve stars right across the face. Could make out hints of the dark patches.

Centaurus A - bit of a struggle as it was lower than Omega - but located. Barely a smudge, no sign of the dark lane, but could see the star that is superimposed on it.

Mars - at 154x it was so tiny as it is fading fast.

More looks at Eta Carina - I could hear Bojan nearby chatting about the Homunculus, so I had a look at it through my scope. I could make it out nicely with my 7mm at 77x - a tiny flickering bubble. I had a look at it through Bojan's 10" and it was certainly much brighter and more evident - one lobe is much brighter than the other. Fascinating object - a bright orange balloon of gas surrounding the star.

Beta Crucis - went after the carbon star that is tucked up against it, and spotted it easily. Very red star, quite faint too, snug right up against Beta.

Phil reappeared to repeat his invitation to join him, so I hitched up the scope on it's tripod and trotted around. Try doing that with a 14" dob! I noticed the carpack was totally full - cars had been turning up constantly while I was there, and there must have been north of 10 scopes on the field. I set the scope down next to Phil's 14" (?) truss, and observed near the big boys for the rest of the evening. We basically compared views through Phil's dob and my 4" for the next hour or so. Phil's scope obviously blew mine away, but I was quite pleased with how it performed. Targets were...

NGC's 1549, 1553 and 1566 - galaxies in Dorado. Looked great through Phil's scope (1549/1553) - structure and detail everywhere. Only a few arc minutes apart. Phil said they should be within reach of the refractor and had them in about 20 seconds. Much fainter through there, but obviously non-stellar and detail visible in the brighter of the pair. Phil bought in 1566 into the FOV to complete the picture.

Planetaries - IC418 - astonishing through Phil's scope - blazing central star and what appeared to be two lobes of gas surrounding it. NGC 1535 - Phil advised using averted vision to see the nebula, but I could make it out using direct vision - averted certainly brightened the image. NGC 3918 - Blue Planetary in Centaurus - took my breath away in Phil's scope - beautiful vivid blue/green colour. Bojan said it looked like Uranus, and he was right. All these planetaries showed up in my 4", but with much less colour. Phil's got a great scope/mirror.

Hinds Crimson Star - spent an annoying few minutes trying to find it in Lepus. Despite my "it's easy, Phil", it had dimmed a lot since I last picked it out in November. Once I had it, it was obvious, but the drop in brightness caught me off guard.

Eta Carina - had a look at this with Phil's 7mm Pentax XW. We also dropped in his OIII filter - amazing! Dark lanes and tendrils of nebulosity suddenly jumped out - I could have spent an hour just gazing at it. As an experiment, I dropped my 7mm Nagler in right afterwards as a shootout. The Pentax's image seemed brighter, and it was certainly more comfortable to use in terms of eye relief. The Nagler had the edge in FOV. If I was buying them over again, I may lean towards the Pentax, despite the chunky heft.

More Omega Centauri - higher in sky and a much better view. Stunning in Phil's scope - the dark "eyes" were very obvious.

Centaurus A - nice in the dob - the "hamburger" look jumped at you. Needed a bit of averted vision to pick it out in the 4" refractor, but I could see it.

We went after the Messier galaxies in Leo near Regulus, but couldn't pick them. I suspect the glare from nearby Saturn was interfering.

Saturn - clean and crisp at 77x.

It was pushing midnight. Phil and I began packing up. I thought I'd have the edge on him here, given his massive scope. However, I'd barely put my eyepieces and scope away, and was about to collapse the tripod, when Phil came over and said he was off. I don't know how he broke his scope down so fast, but it was fast!

I had a few words to Eric, who was pushing on, and left. If you were still there observing at midnight and heard me accidentally blast the horn, sorry about that!

Last edited by goober; 03-02-2008 at 10:48 AM. Reason: Centaurus, not Carina
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2008, 06:16 PM
Rob_K
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Wow, what a great night you all had Doug! It's a good experience to look through a variety of scopes & EPs under the same conditions. Ethos sounds good, but I know the weight would break my wobbly little mount (not to mention breaking the bank balance ).

Nice descriptions Doug, and a good variety of objects viewed!

Cheers -
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Old 03-02-2008, 06:36 PM
žAB
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Sounds like you had a fun night Doug NGC 3918 is one of my all time favourites to observe.

Next weekend I'm heading to Bass Hill and gonna hunt some obscure nebulae and galaxies
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:32 PM
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erick (Eric)
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Originally Posted by goober View Post
.......If you were still there observing at midnight and heard me accidentally blast the horn, sorry about that!
I wondered when the culprit would own up!!!
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:36 PM
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erick (Eric)
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Originally Posted by goober View Post
Beta Crucis - went after the carbon star that is tucked up against it, and spotted it easily. Very red star, quite faint too, snug right up against Beta.
I tried this on the visitors, many of whom were having their first look through a telescope, it appeared. Most took a while to pick it out, some never did. Nice bright Mimosa seems to fill one's visual cortex until one learns how to tell one's brain to ignore it and look elsewhere. I remember the first time it was pointed out to me - I hadn't seen it before, though I'd scanned over Mimosa many times.
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:39 PM
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erick (Eric)
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Originally Posted by goober View Post
As he was leaving, he took a fantastic fall as he tripped over my observing chair in the dark. Importantly, the Ethos he was carrying was okay, and we think Phil is too.
We never heard whether the chair survived - all this concern for the Ethos, then Phil, in that order............
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:43 PM
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erick (Eric)
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Great report, thanks Doug! I wish I'd wandered around more. Later, when I did, I even found some non-IISers! "ASV", they asked, hopefully??

Spent a lot of time showing visitors our favourite (bright, readily seen) features. Which included a fair amount of time looking at a distant fireworks display through the 20x80s!

At one stage I was talking to a group, they were all facing me, and a bright meteor shot past behind them. I bit my lip and said nothing. What do you say - "Guess what you missed!"
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:26 AM
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goober (Doug)
No obs, raising Harrison

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Quote:
Originally Posted by erick View Post
I tried this on the visitors, many of whom were having their first look through a telescope, it appeared. Most took a while to pick it out, some never did. Nice bright Mimosa seems to fill one's visual cortex until one learns how to tell one's brain to ignore it and look elsewhere. I remember the first time it was pointed out to me - I hadn't seen it before, though I'd scanned over Mimosa many times.
I had no idea it was there until I read about it in Hartung earlier in the week. You look at Bcrux and wonder why you never saw that tiny speck of vivid red before. Too busy hopping to Kappa, I guess.
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:26 PM
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We never heard whether the chair survived - all this concern for the Ethos, then Phil, in that order............
Those things are built like tanks (the chairs that is, not the Ethoi or the Phils), so you could drive over them without discombobulating them in the slightest.
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