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Old 11-09-2018, 03:23 PM
gaseous (Patrick)
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Random Nebulae

Made an impromptu visit to Lake Moogerah last night after the scheduled Saturday night meeting was clouded/water vapoured out. The seeing still wasn’t fantastic and there was a bit of smoke haze for a while, but I got the chance to check out a few of the low northern objects that just aren’t visible from my house.


I was using the 20” Stargate with a Nagler 31T5 and a Baader 8-24mm zoom, plus a DGM NPB filter and GSO coma corrector. Things got off to a rocky start when the finderscope fell out while connecting the upper cage and nearly dropped four feet directly onto the exposed primary. Luckily it was caught by one of the rod brackets, and once my heart rate returned to normal, the scope was soon aligned and purring like a large, extremely heavy, motorized and well-collimated kitten.



I’d planned to nab a few of the many doubles that Tropo Bob has been grabbing lately, but the seeing wasn’t good enough for any decent splitting, so I stuck to some larger, easier targets, a few of which I’d only really tried a few times prior. Apart from the old favourites like Omega/Swan/Triffid/Lagoon nebulae and 47 Tuc / Omega Centauri, these are a few of the more northern/eastern targets I can’t get from home:


Helix Nebula - NGC 7293. Easily visible without a filter, but the filter brought out a bit more of the wispy trails at either side. Takes up a decent chunk of the FOV even in the Nagler.


Saturn Nebula – NGC 7009. Small without being miniscule, the seeing prevented the “Saturn” shape being too evident, but there was definite elongation/lobe action happening and the colour appeared to be a very bright blue/green.


Blue Flash Nebula – NGC 6905. Very small and relatively bright, this was roughly circular, with a bluish hue (oddly enough), not dissimilar to the Saturn Nebula.


Dumbbell Nebula – M27. Visible to the naked eye without a filter, and also through the finderscope, this is always a treat, and a filter again helped bring out some of the fainter peripheral nebulosity. Takes up a large chunk of the FOV even at 70x.


Ring Nebula – M57. Moderately small but easily found, the grey “ring” component produced a distinct donut shape with a wispy circumference. Not sure if the central star would normally be visible, but the seeing prevented me spotting it last night, that’s for sure.


Crescent Nebula – NGC 6445. This was a moderately small but still easily found nebula in Sagittarius. Not sure where the Crescent name comes from, as it looks more like a bug squashed on a windscreen, with irregular splotches running off in all directions. Not to be confused with…


Crescent Nebula – NGC 6888. This is in Cygnus, and is definitely more well-named. It is very faint, however, and even with a filter I had to use all my powers of self-delusion to convince myself I’d seen it, if only patches of its long arcing shape.


Perhaps the highlight of the night for me was the Eastern Veil (NGC 6992) and Western Veil (NGC 6960) nebulae. I’d never targeted these before, but will certainly be doing so again. The Eastern Veil had a great sweeping arch of bright nebulosity with lovely faint tendrils. The Western portion was just amazing. Running south from the bright star 52 Cyg is a long, thin, bright filament reminiscent of a flame or a curved flourish from an artist's brush, with extremely sharp bright edges with a darker section in the middle, which taper to a sharp point. I reckon I looked at this for 10 minutes and is probably the "crispest" edge to a nebula I’ve seen – just incredible.
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Old 15-09-2018, 02:01 PM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
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Very enjoyable report Patrick. Thank you for sharing.
Many of these nebulae are within reach way down south here and I have observed some of them. You have given me a few more to try for.
Sounds as though your Stargate is performing well. Living dangerously by the sound of it. One life down and eight to go?!
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Old 15-09-2018, 07:55 PM
gaseous (Patrick)
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Cheers Steve, yes I'd be happy not to use up any of the remaining 8 lives- it scared the bejesus out of me! The stargate is performing really well, despite the extravagant diffraction spikes on very bright stars. There were several "oohs" and "aaahs" from a few people who had a peek. I imagine your skies are pretty dark down there?
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Old 15-09-2018, 08:14 PM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
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Yes, I am lucky to have very dark skies, especially to the south. I live on the coast about 25 klms south of Hobart, which is very scenic, but unfortunately, subject to a lot of low coastal cloud.
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