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Old 30-06-2014, 07:47 PM
N1 (Mirko)
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Dunners Nu Zulland
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Fun & Frustration on the Maniototo

Took the weather forecast at face value and drove out the back of Dunedin on Saturday night (28 June) to a place halfway between the country towns of Hyde and Ranfurly. Set up my travel arrangement, the Lunt LS35 and the newly acquired FC 76 Tak, an objective unit upgrade from the FS60.

Observation 1: The sunset looked great. However, no H alpha features could be distinguished when the Sun set behind a ridge which was about 60km away (a large filament graced the Sun on that day, spanning 1/5 of its diameter). Add 10, or even 5 degrees and the story is vastly different. H alpha sunsets and sunrises with solar features moving past silhouetted objects are major entertainment. You need a nearby hill though.

Observation 2. The seeing can improve hugely within minutes and stay that way. Pointed the Tak on Mars, only to see a jumping and flaming ball of sludge. Played with the camera, then came back to the scope 10 minutes later to the best views of Planet 4 I've had in a long time. Polar cap and some large dark features combined with a decidedly gibbous phase. Seen at 160x, the highest power I can do with this instrument at the moment. Saturn tak sharp, excuse the pun. Cassini division and some views of the cloud bands. The rings no longer appear fully opened. The great seeing held until high cloud from the SW spoiled the show 2 hours later, leading to

Observation 3: Immersion is not a question of AFOV, at least not exclusively. When the cloud obstructed the view, I saw it happen in the eyepiece. Until that moment I had been completely oblivious to what was happening away from the scope and the chart I had printed off this website in a bid to find and observe Proxima Centauri. The asterisms were where they should be (using a diagonal introduced a slight delay in finding my way around), I was literally minutes away from nailing it - i.e. finding out if the scope could show it. The clouds had other ideas. It startled me how far removed from earth I had been when they arrived .

Besides planets I had also looked at some DSOs, most notably the Lagoon/Trifid and the Sombrero. While the dark lane of M 104 was not visible in the 76, averted vision showed an unusually sharp edge on one side of the galaxy, unlike most other galaxies. The view was best with the axis halfway between M 104 and the 3 pointer stars.

Most of my list of objects remained unobserved that night. They would have included Ceres & Vesta, Antares, Cen A, Omega Cen, the Ghost of Jupiter, culminating Vega (with M57 not really observable at this latitude though I might give it a try some time), and many DSOs in Scorpuis and Sagittarius.

Packing up after ony 3 1/2 hours was done under endless cursing , which only illustrated how much fun I'd been having .

Last edited by N1; 01-07-2014 at 07:57 AM. Reason: Added date & map
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