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Old 25-12-2018, 08:40 AM
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Dark sky rules !

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What was your best observation of 2018 and the best of 2019 ?

First a Merry Christmas for all of you !

What was your best observation and / or astronomical achievement in 2018 ?
And what will it be in 2019, as far as you know or plan ?

Let me kick off:

* Total Lunar eclipse of 27 July visible in Europe
* My Australia trip in Feb 2018 with several photos of the (southern) sky


* Another Oz trip, this time to Queensland.
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Old 25-12-2018, 09:52 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)

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Neat retrospective question!

I have a few:

* The "Massey alignment" in November when all 8 planets plus the Moon and Pluto were up all at the same time. I managed to nail this unique apparition, though Pluto was not a chance with a 7" scope visually.

* Mars & Neptune conjunction earlier this month.

* Spotting the wee rile that runs down the centre of the Alpine Valley on the Moon in a 7" scope!

* Seeing detail in the Horse Head nebula, a "brighter" top leading edge and the angle's-breath-faint crook of its neck with my 17.5" dobbie! Totally unexpected and a real thrill! An observing buddy confirmed this, much to my relief! Thought I was going mad for a moment there...

* Seeing the Encke Division in Saturn's rings in a 7" Mak!

This is what I can recall right now. And I thought this was a rather uneventful year! Maybe didn't get to pen many sketches this year, but certainly not an uneventful year. Dunno about next year. Just going to have to wait and see

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Old 25-12-2018, 11:31 AM
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Yep, a Merry Christmas to those to whom it matters & a safe and happy holiday season to all!

Originally Posted by skysurfer View Post
What was your best observation and / or astronomical achievement in 2018 ?
No brainer, discovering three Milky Way novae in 2018, after searching unsuccessfully for eight years! 2019? Another nova or maybe a comet haha!

Cheers -
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Old 25-12-2018, 02:22 PM

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Without doubt the one that I will remember from 2018 is the view of the Homunculus Nebula in Allan's 32" "Black Widow" SDM scope. I would not have believed that such detail was available had I not seen it from the dark skies of Coolah.....
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Old 25-12-2018, 02:38 PM
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Encke division in Saturnís rings during a night in May of excellent seeing, and Saturn at 78 degrees altitude. Maxxed out the magnification.
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Old 25-12-2018, 03:19 PM
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bigjoe (Joe)
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Mars and Saturn then M22 in same field as Mars.

Mars and Neptune conjunction also!

Splitting Bright and underrated Eta Orionis in 72 ED.

Splitting lovely Beta Muscae in 130mm Triplet.

Comet 46p in Binos from Sydney.

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Old 31-12-2018, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Kunama View Post
Without doubt the one that I will remember from 2018 is the view of the Homunculus Nebula in Allan's 32" "Black Widow" SDM scope. I would not have believed that such detail was available had I not seen it from the dark skies of Coolah.....
Thanks Matt, thatís a high honour. More to come in 2019.
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Old 31-12-2018, 05:52 PM
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Highlights of 2018 for me -

Observing 9 moons of Saturn, finishing with magnitude 17 Phoebe, a moon that perhaps only a handful of people have ever visually observed.

Observing the dwarf planets Haumea and Makemake for the first time.

Observing the jet emminating from M87.

The view I shared with Matt of the Homunculus. One of the most impressive things I have ever seen in an eyepiece.
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Old 01-01-2019, 02:51 AM
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That's an impressive list Allan, wow.
Mine would be the 2018 lunar eclipse including a wonderful surprise from my neighbour and his young son joining me for the event.
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Old 01-01-2019, 11:07 AM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
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Well, mine were all conjunctions of one form or another this year:

Mars and Jupiter conjunction on 7th January with closest approach in broad daylight. At 5.30am, 10 minutes before sunrise, Jupiterís disc had faded to a faint yellow with the main bands still very visible and the four moons starting to fade from view. Mars was a pretty bright pink.
At 8.30am, Jupiter was pale white against the blue sky with the main bands still visible. Mars was a paler bright pink. By now, the orientation of the two planets had clearly changed, reflecting the Earthís rotation sweeping the two across the sky.
I took another look at 11.25am in bright sunshine - not a cloud in the sky. Both Jupiter and Mars appeared fainter and were at their closest approach. Mars was quite difficult to see initially, even though I knew where to look. Once I found Mars it was easy enough to keep it in view. Mars was still a faint pink and Jupiter a washed out white. The bands on Jupiter we're only just visible.
Vixen ED103S with LVW 22 giving 36X.

Mars and Saturn with M8 and M20 on 21st March: Through binoculars with a true 9 degree FOV, the view was quite special. Mars was just past the centre line of the M8-M20 pairing. The Lagoon and Trifid nebulae were very faint but obvious, with Mars nearby and Saturn out wide on the other side of the FOV with the rich star filed completing the scene.
Vixen SG 6.5X32WP binoculars

Vesta and Saturn on 14th June: I had been following Vesta's progress over several nights when the skies were clear. On the 14th, Vesta stood out clearly and was a distinctive light yellow. It was positioned nicely near M23. Putting M23 and Vesta near the left hand edge, a truely spectacular FOV (9 deg.) emerged. Almost across the opposite side of the field was Saturn. Towards the upper part of the FOV the glow of the Trifid and Lagoon Nebulae and associated stars stood out and in the lower part of the field M25 (Sagittarius Star Cloud) glowed magnificently. All of this in a sea of background stars.
Vixen SG 6.5X32WP binoculars

Mars and Neptune on 7th December: Persistent cloud dogged my plan to observe the approach unfold over several days. Eventually I managed a brief view through a gap in the clouds on the 6th. On the 7th, the day of closest approach, thick high cloud threatened a complete wipeout. I just hung in there going outside every five minutes or so hoping for a break. Eventually I got lucky and found a brief gap in the middle level cloud but there was still thin high cloud. Mars was a flaming small red disc with no detail. Neptune was a very small, faint blue disc. The cloud closed in again and it was all over.
Carl Zeiss 85TFL.
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Old 05-01-2019, 10:22 AM
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OneCosmos (Chris)
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Best views

The most awe-inspiring views I had in 2018 were perhaps not coincidentally from the darkest skies I’ve ever seen in Ballandean using my SDM 16” f4.5, the Denkmeier binotron and a pair of 32mm LOA (3D) eyepieces whilst observing 47 Tuc and Eta Carina. Until you’ve seen this you haven’t lived!
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Old 10-01-2019, 09:49 PM
Fleegal (Tony)
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I have never been a winter observer, but this year with all of the clear stable seeing, I was once again in love with the planets. Through my 16"dobsonian with exceptional seeing, I could glimps the swirls in Jupiter's belts, I could even push to 350x one night, could see distinct colour variations across Saturn's disk. Although mars was past opposition, surface features were clear as well as the bright polar cap. My passion for the moon was even rekindled.
I spend most of my time with my 15x70 binoculars scanning Scorpio and Sagittarius, so many hours and so much to see, over and over again.
I can't wait for next winter
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:45 AM
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Hi All,

My favourite moment of observing in 2018 was seeing detail within Zwicky's Ring -- ESO 350-40. Reproduced is the post I made back on 13th September 2018 on this forum (Observation reports):

Just wanted to share one observation with you from an excellent night at home in the NSW Central West near Billimari. Very nice conditions, SQML reading was 21.88 at 11pm just before I made this observation with my new 63.5 cm f/5 Newtonian: Brontes.

After checking out the gorgeous near edge-on spiral NGC 134 in Sculptor, I remembered that Zwicky's Ring (aka the Cartwheel Galaxy or ESO 350-40) was only a few medium-powered fields away and not having observed it for almost two decades, decided to trip on over to see what could be seen.

I could spend a bit of time rummaging through a thesaurus for a short list of alternate adjectives but off the cuff, I'm going to go with: astounded. Seriously, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven but I guess I must be alive as here I am reporting the observation.

For those who aren't familiar (I'll forgive you if you aren't), the image depicts Zwicky's Ring. I had glimpsed it once before with my old 31cm telescope -- just barely detected it as a spot of fleeting gossamer but the view tonight was something for which I was not prepared.

At x260 and then x346, what I saw was ... a wheel. Seriously, I couldn't believe my eyes! Yes, it's still a faint galaxy but there it was: A faint & low surface brightness, slightly oval, closed ring, seeming about 1.25 arc minutes diameter with a darker centre (though not completely dark).

I spent about 15 minutes at the eyepiece and what else should I see? A faint star (the one on the right-hand edge of the ring in the photo) (that is roughly 17th magnitude BTW), but **additionally** (I counted 'em) five other (fainter) star-like points embedded in the rim of the thin doughnut -- four in the southern part of the ring and one in the north. In the attached photo (which is a Hubble Space Telescope classic), North is to the upper left and East is upper right, the four star-like points ran down the right-hand side of the ring below the star (this yellowish star is a foreground star in our galaxy) while the other was embedded in the left-side nearer the other two galaxies.

Oh, didn't I mention those other two galaxies (PGC 2249 & 2252) before? I could see both of them too as tiny spots of ephemeral mist. Those star-like points I saw embedded within the outward propagating ring of star formation at the edge of Zwicky's Ring are in reality, gargantuan star factories furiously pumping-out masses of mega and hyper stars.


All this observed from my Billimari front paddock ... front row but a mere 500 million light-years distance.

As I said: Astounded -- also delighted. Life achievement unlocked -- a hard-core deep sky observer's moment of nirvana!


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Old 23-02-2019, 07:22 PM
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Spotting both Phobos and Deimos at opposition in 2018 on two separate nights. Seen by my wife too and with different e.ps. Positions matched where they were supposed to be. First without and then with a home made occulting bar made of foil and sellotaped in place. Deimos I half hoped to see. But Phobos...?

20" Obsession, from suburban Auckland.
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Old 24-02-2019, 12:15 AM
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AstroJunk (Jonathan)
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My moment was observing the whole solar system in a single session mid-winter. I realised that every Planet and Minor Planet was above the horizon at some point so I pulled an all nighter to view and take an image of them all.

It's easy enough up until Pluto, but I was amazed to get the outer three also. Eris was damn hard at 18th mag and in the dawn sky. The 'Earth' shot is me, knackered, at about 5 in the morning
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Old 24-02-2019, 01:19 AM
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2018... A night with seeing 9 out of 10, and seeing Encke's division in Saturns rings.

2019... so far.. splitting Procyon was a definitive night. While technically possible I didn't really expect to pull it off.. On the night though, the seeing was unexpectedly good so putting the pedal to the metal, lo and behold, it was there, and two other observers saw same.

Hope I am blessed with a night in autumn with perfect seeing when Saturn is riding high.

Last edited by Wavytone; 24-02-2019 at 01:51 AM.
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