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Old 31-12-2010, 07:38 AM
jamespierce (James)
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Little Desert - 30/12/20100 - Mozzie filled skys.

Little Desert Nature Lodge - Night 2:

I mostly looked through our SDM 16" last night plus quite a few objects through our Tak, set up beside it again at the Little Desert Nature Lodge. I used the 21mm Ethos 99% of the time, switching to the 10mm to take a closer look at a handful of objects.

Well if our first night here (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/s...d.php?p=670895) was pretty well perfect then last night errr... wasn't. We got ourselves set up again in the same spot about 200m away from the Lodge and it was immediately obvious from all the sweat how much hotter it was. When we started observing a few hours later it was 27 degrees, and only dropped to about 23 by the time we finished up at 2:30am - it still took more than half the night to get the 16" primary near ambient from a starting point in the mid 30s. No wind to speak of until we packed up which ment the mozzies were out in force right until we called it a night, spray didn't seem to slow them down at all. The seeing was about 3.5/5 but compared to the first night there was a slight dusty, hazy feel most of the night so the transparency was down a little - the sky never got inky black.

After sunset we waited for the sky to get dark and naturally turned to Jupiter to enjoy him just a little more before he disappears for 6 months into the daylight. Last night was one of the very best views I've ever had - the seeing was very stable at about 4/5 and there were those magical brief periods where all the details 'popped'. The NEB was solid, the southern band almost looked like it's there, but split in two. I could go on and on, but visually it looked comparable to this image - http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/a...se.php?a=87187 from Tom (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/s...ad.php?t=69931). The moons were clearly visible as discs with Ganymede noticeably larger and a pale dirty orange colour.

After this one of skyoyster's old office mates and his German friends came over to have a bit of a look - we showed them Jupiter, M42, 47 Tuc, Tarantula Neb and a few galaxies etc. Then on with the plan for the night.

I decided to try something different and used AstroPlanner to build a list of targets just using its wizard. I picked out 8 or so constellations from Taurus right around to Fornax and generated a list of 180 'random' objects which I then loaded into my Argo Navis. Working my way through the list I ended up skipping all the open clusters after a while (more than 1/2 of the list I'd say). Not as enjoyable as I'd hoped I must confess, I saw a large list of objects yes - but many of them were a little same-same after a while - yet without the context of working through all the objects in one constellation etc. I think for the next few nights I'll pick 2 or 3 constellations and load the whole Night Sky Observers Guide list as my custom catalog and work through the chapters in the book.

With my planned list finished and inspired by a few NGC tips from Rodstar earlier in the day I went on a little tour of planetary nebulae ranging from the large but subtle NGC1360 (OIII filter is a huge advantage for this one) to some very tiny faint examples in Carina like NGC3211 and NGC2867 - these last two left me wanting a shorter eye piece. There is something rather special about seeing these objects which have a life measured in thousands not billions of years, the last throws of a red giant.

It had got late by now, I was tired but we wanted to wait up until Saturn rose and try to catch the storm; we waited until Saturn was about 10 degrees off the horizon, but it was just a ball of mush only just recognisable as Saturn at all so that was our night.

Last edited by jamespierce; 31-12-2010 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 31-12-2010, 10:47 AM
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Great report again James. Love those tiny Carina planetaries, great fun if seeing is good. For something really tiny, have a go at IC 2501 in Carina. Very bright at mag 11.3, but is only 2" in diameter! An excellent challenge to tease out the disk, but obviously very seeing-dependant.
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Old 31-12-2010, 11:14 AM
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Hi James & All,

Very interesting report mate and thanks for taking the time to post it. I was most interested by your assessment of the seeing. I think there is a typo in there on one of the PNe -- NGC 6867 might be NGC 2867 -- a very nice PNe in Carina

I just woke up from being out at Bargo last night till 3am and the seeing was the best there I've seen for about 3-4 years -- really small, tight star images. Sirius B (the pup) was a walk in the park at x185 and x247. It was for me an 8/10 occasionally verging on 9/10 seeing-wise. SQM-L reading was 21.33 at midnight. Not too shabby either.

Later in the night I had my best look at the Homunculus for a couple of years at x317 and x462 (even though it was only at 40 deg elevation) and then we passed on to some superb PNe IC 418 (Spirograph Nebula -- x634 at zenith), NGC 2818A (x462), NGC 2393 (Eskimo Nebula -- x462 at only 40 deg elevation), NGC 2440 (x634 nr zenith), NGC 3242 (Ghost of Jupiter x317) all with OIII or UHC.

Tack-sharp star images at x462 is an extreme rarity around Sydney and was savoured hungrily by the five other observers who were with me. Eyegasms all round. A night to remember.

On nights like this, I don't muck around with galaxies, it's the small, high surface-brightness PNe that are the real eye-openers.


Best,

Les D
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Old 31-12-2010, 11:46 AM
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wow Les, that's one for the books. Sounds like a copy of what I had here on 19th Nov but last night here it was mush galore. I could tell at 102x that stars seemed a bit more bloated than usual and at 267x it was plonked

I agree, If I'm getting pinpoints at 300x +, it's one for the planetaries and tiny tight galaxy groups

hoping to see your report on your grand night soon Les
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Old 31-12-2010, 12:43 PM
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Rodstar (Rod)
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Hey James,

Good to read your second night's report, even though it sounds as though things did not go exactly according to plan. However, sounds like your views of Jupiter were worth the effort alone!

I am interested by your comments about the many objects that looked very much the same after a while. I have had the same experience on some occasions where I have built up a formidable list of targets to work through, only to find myself overwhelmed and underwhelmed all at once.

I liken observing to eating out (astronomy vis-a-vis gastronomy) - forgive me if I have drawn this analogy with you before... You can do the buffet thing, eat yourself stupid (looking at heaps of objects indiscriminantly), and come away feeling unpleasantly stuffed (not sure what the astronomical equivalent of bloated and windy is...). Or, at the other end of the scale, you can enjoy fine dining, savouring every mouthful, eating moderately, focusing on the experience and quality rather than quantity (ie select perhaps 10-20 objects, do some reading about them before the night so you have some underlying understanding of what you are looking at etc, and spend your time teasing out all of the detail).

I have come to the view that fine dining is more my thing, rather than buffet "chew and spew". My definition of a good night out is enjoying perhaps a dozen objects, seeing what the view with difference EP's produce. I like a mix of familiar friends (eg Messiers and other well known stuff), and perhaps a few new items, which may be quite dull, but sometimes can surprise.

Last night, inspired by your marathon, I decided to have a second session in a row myself from Point Clare (how could I not with the lovely clear skies we have at the moment??!!). I had 90 mins at the EP from 9.30 to 11pm, with a dozen or so targets. The seeing was pretty steady, so I alternated between the 13E with Paracorr (220x) and the 7T6 (360x), as well as using the 20T5 for M42.

I started with some favourites: Tarantula, 47 Tuc, M42, and teased out the Pup with the assistance of an OIII filter to dint the glare of Sirius, then headed off into the less well trodden path of Columba the Dove. Enjoyed that delicate globular NGC 1851, then checked out some bright galaxies in Columba, NGC 1792, 1808 and 2090. All three galaxies were bright and impressive from suburbia, but the standout was NGC 1792, which is a side on barred spiral with a very bright core and clearly marked out galactic plane.

I also took the opportunity to visit one of my favourite globs in the heavens, NGC 2808 in Carina, it reminds me of a mini 47 Tuc, so thick with stars, so cotton-bally notwithstanding its distance.

By the end of my session Fornax was at zenith, so I decided to visit Zorro (NGC 1365), unfortunately the skyglow of suburbia pretty much washed out the spiral arms, but the bar was bright and charming, a mere 60 million lya!

Les - sounds like some stunning conditions....wish I was there! It is indeed amazing what details can be teased out of PN under dark skies with stable air and high power.

Clear skies to all!
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Old 31-12-2010, 01:00 PM
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kustard (Simon)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodstar View Post

I have come to the view that fine dining is more my thing, rather than buffet "chew and spew". My definition of a good night out is enjoying perhaps a dozen objects, seeing what the view with difference EP's produce. I like a mix of familiar friends (eg Messiers and other well known stuff), and perhaps a few new items, which may be quite dull, but sometimes can surprise.
I'm starting to think along these lines as well, really need to set the limits for my scope and Ep selection and focus on a few objects and really squeeze out as much as a I can.

Great report James, thanks for sharing
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Old 31-12-2010, 01:52 PM
jamespierce (James)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodstar View Post
I have come to the view that fine dining is more my thing, rather than buffet "chew and spew". My definition of a good night out is enjoying perhaps a dozen objects, seeing what the view with difference EP's produce. I like a mix of familiar friends (eg Messiers and other well known stuff), and perhaps a few new items, which may be quite dull, but sometimes can surprise.
Yup, I'm normally quite content to look for a few hours, really enjoy seeing a few things well, chat, watch the stars drift past etc... Being out here under such good stars it feels like a waste not to see it all ! But I shall take your advice, perhaps a glass of wine tonight will slow me down.... Acutally it's 43 degrees here (Just out of the Grampians tonight) and extremely windy with lots of high cloud and a change forecast, so I think we might be given a night off by the big man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodstar View Post
Last night, inspired by your marathon, I decided to have a second session in a row myself from Point Clare (how could I not with the lovely clear skies we have at the moment??!!). I had 90 mins at the EP from 9.30 to 11pm, with a dozen or so targets. The seeing was pretty steady, so I alternated between the 13E with Paracorr (220x) and the 7T6 (360x), as well as using the 20T5 for M42.

I started with some favourites: Tarantula, 47 Tuc, M42, and teased out the Pup with the assistance of an OIII filter to dint the glare of Sirius, then headed off into the less well trodden path of Columba the Dove. Enjoyed that delicate globular NGC 1851, then checked out some bright galaxies in Columba, NGC 1792, 1808 and 2090. All three galaxies were bright and impressive from suburbia, but the standout was NGC 1792, which is a side on barred spiral with a very bright core and clearly marked out galactic plane.

I also took the opportunity to visit one of my favourite globs in the heavens, NGC 2808 in Carina, it reminds me of a mini 47 Tuc, so thick with stars, so cotton-bally notwithstanding its distance.

By the end of my session Fornax was at zenith, so I decided to visit Zorro (NGC 1365), unfortunately the skyglow of suburbia pretty much washed out the spiral arms, but the bar was bright and charming, a mere 60 million lya!
Don't think I mentioned it but I popped up to Fornax at the end of the night when it had just gone past the Zeinth, best view I've ever had of the Dwarf as well as Zorro - The arms appeared about 3x or more the length of the bar, better even that the first night. I suspect the seeing and transparency were acutally very good thinking back on it now, just being hot and covered in mozzies makes one grumpy !

How do you find the 20T5 - I have and love the 21E but it's more than twice as heavy as anything else I use (all around the typical 400g 10E, 13E type weight) - The 21E really needs the paracorr but that just makes it heavier again. I might just have to stick abit more counter weight on the scope and see how it feels then.

How often do you find yourself using the Terminagler ?
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Old 31-12-2010, 02:39 PM
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skyoyster (Alexandra)
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Once again I have a long post over at my blog... but highlights:
* Jupiter - of course - and it was by far THE most amazing and awesome view of Jupiter I have ever had, enough to almost make me want to sketch it. The main dark band was blindingly obvious, there was detail to the north and the south, and - perhaps most amazingly to me - the moons clearly appeared to be of slightly different shape and colour. Ganymede was obviously bigger and redder. I was totally blown away - as were the people we showed it to a bit later.
* M42 and 43 - I looked at them several times over the night, and it just got better and bigger every time.
* just lying back and staring up. Orion was pretty close to the zenith (we were pushing midnight by this stage), and the view was just delightful.
* probably my favourite awesome planetary nebula, NGC1360, with a bright core and a discrete cloud around it.
* nailing a host of doubles in Orion.
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Old 31-12-2010, 05:57 PM
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James - the 20T5 has slightly tight eye relief, but otherwise is the perfect EP. It is so light, at a guess probably less than twice the weight of a T6 EP, or to put it another way, about half the weight of my 13E. I use it with Paracorr, as otherwise coma is noticable at the peripery of the FOV when looking at OC's. It is a great magnification at my focal length, it gets more use than any other EP in my kit.

The Terminagler comes out if I am coasting the heavens...some nights I like to go for a wander through the LMC or around Carina, for example. There is no better EP to do this. Under suburban skyglow the 31T5 produces an unfortunately light sky colour, contrast is not what you might hope for. Under dark skies, however, it really comes into its own. I would never part with it.

Alexandra - sounds like Jupiter made the whole night worth it. NGC 1360 is big, isn't it?! Under suburban haze in a smaller scope it can look light a non-descript rugby ball.

Hope you guys have another wonderful night.
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Old 01-01-2011, 12:10 PM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Thanks for the reports James and Alexandra. What a great trip.
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