Old 22-05-2010, 01:18 PM
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Saturn Nebula at 953x

This morning (Saturday May 22) I had one of the most thrilling experiences of my observing "career". At about 5:00am I turned my 12" dob to the Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009). At 381x, I could easily see the eye shaped "ring" and with averted vision, the ansae. Increasing mag to 534x, I could catch hints of the central star. Although the central star is bright at Mag V 11.6, it is difficult due to the low contrast caused by the surrounding nebula.

Now, in a minute of near perfect seeing, I got my 3.5mm Vixen LVW and 2.5x Powermate for a magnification of 953x and the central star could be held easily, it appeared as a perfect pinpoint, quite stunning really, and the outer bright eye-shaped annulus of the nebula appeared distorted and uneven like it does in astrophotos. The western end appeared thicker than the east. I could see a faint outer halo stretching from the north and south sides of the main portion of the nebula. The main body of the nebula somehow appeared to have uneven surface brightness, it seemed to have a number of overlapping shells, that's the effect I got. The ansae, well they were thick using averted vision, and the two nobs at the ends were easier seen than at any lower magnification. I honestly could not freakin believe what I was experiencing. Even the Mag 14.4 star just north of ther nebula was showing an airy disk at this mag, although severley distorted and blurred by the micro effects of the slightest seeing.

I was going to make a sketch, but this lasted barely a minute, before I knew it all was gone when the seeing kicked up.


I also got near-photographic views of Jupiter in a few instances at 381x at around 5:30-6am, but after that the seeing had rapidly deteriorated. I actually observed the Galilean moons as disks at 534x at one stage, although the seeing blur was ever present, beneath it were some relatively clear disks, not unlike Mars in mediocre seeing.


Full observation report coming soon
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Old 22-05-2010, 02:01 PM
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Wow That must of been AWESOME.I haven't sen the saturn neb yet.The amount of detail you have described is amazing,i'll have to give it a go one day.Regarding sketching the same thing happened to me when i wanted to potray detail that i was seeing on mars and the seeing dropped.Try and make a sketch from your observation notes it might just work.

I suppose this one experience can count for all the crappy cloudy days.Just like when i was about to pack up and saw a fireball race across the sky,most amazing experience i've had in astronomy.

Clear skies
regards Orestis
ps-looking forward to the full report
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Old 22-05-2010, 04:18 PM
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It all came together at the one time. Awesome.
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Old 22-05-2010, 06:51 PM
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Such detail
I reckon I need to use more mag on these PN.

(and this from a smilie resistant poster)
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Old 22-05-2010, 07:18 PM
astrospotter (Mark)
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953x yikes

That sounds better than the best I have seen of Sat nebula. Seeing must have been a very quite moment to get that mag to show pinpoint central star.

That makes a great moment to remember.

Patience does pay off in this hobby. You may have to wait 5 minutes for a few seconds but it can pay off. Have had similar experience with M57 central star in an 18". A lot of things have to line up but it does happen.

953x in 12" well that is for sure a testament to one heck of a fine primary mirror as well. That is a keeper scope. Very kool.
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Old 22-05-2010, 09:28 PM
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Good one Sab. Only you would play with Mags like that but those who know there observing will relate to this.

As a humans we like and need sleep. Go to a star party and very busy early , come 2am till dawn most have gone to bed (me included these day's!)

But observers and these day's image's know if you want to push the boundaries of observing and imaging using high magnification's you need good seeing and cooled down optics.

This happens very late at night and more often early morning. Just about every wow moment I have had at the eyepiece has been early morning observing. Sometimes you get lucky in the evening but not as much as mornings. Once the ground has cooled and the optics are at temperature then if the seeing is kind, you will get lots of bingo moments.

A perfect example is Birds images check the times he gets the top ones more often than not in dawn light or just before.

Good one Sab and I'm happy for you with your re done scope keep up the good work

Say Hi to your mum for me
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Old 23-05-2010, 11:27 AM
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G'day all, I tried it again this morning, but the view was not nearly as good as before. No central star this time! Looks like it really was a rogue moment of superb seeing! However had some great seeing, the best in a long time, between around 2:30-4:30am observing some planetaries at extremely high power, will post report soon. Then just before dawn, the seeing went south, but still managed to get some nice views of jupiter at 381x.

Scope was perfectly collimated, and the collimation did not budge one bit throughout the whole evening. Excellent

Dave- I reckon having active cooling has made a world of difference, this morning I took the scope from the 15C house into the 2C outside air and the mirror was near ambient in barely an hour. The old scope had an unventilated cell and no fans, and is certain it never reach ambient. I always wondered wether evenings following sunny days would average fairly poor seeing as all that heat is released.

Paddy - yes go for it! Find some tiny high sfc brightness PNs and go nuts often I find for objects such as small galaxies and PNe's high power is superior to low. You won't find me observing Abell clusters under 300x! The contrast gained and extra resolution to compensate for the eye's poor performance in low light is invaluable.

Astrospotter- it turns out it was simply a random moment of near perfect seeing, tried it again this morning but no dice. Glad I was in the right place at the right time for once!

Last edited by pgc hunter; 23-05-2010 at 11:41 AM.
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