Old 21-11-2023, 01:11 PM
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Brief observing report


I recently went to a dark site (Bortle 2, near Marysville, Victoria, Aus) with my 18 inch f3.5 and had a few exciting firsts. The site’s at over 1000 m elevation. Here’s a quick report.

I haven’t been to this site since April due to the wet and cloudy winter weather and it’s only my second dark site trip since April, so I was keen! I only started observing at 11 pm, so it wasn’t going to be the longest session.
Transparency appeared good, seeing not so much.

Solar system observations:

Himalia, Jupiter moon m14.4 – My first observation of a Jupiter moon other than the 4 Galilean moons. I managed to prize it out of Jupiter’s glare with a 7 mm Delite. It was interesting to see how much glare there was in my 9 mm APM compared to the Nikon in 10 mm mode and the 7 mm Delite.

Trojan asteroids: 617 Patroclus (m15.6) and 3317 Paris (m15.9) – a trojan asteroid had been on my list for a while, good to find these two. Found both as two faint stars in the right location with the 7 mm delite. My limiting magnitude with direct vision for the night was around m16.1 based on star magnitudes in SkySafari. This was likely seeing limited.

Uranian moons – Found Umbriel, Titania, Oberon and Ariel. Again a first for these as I hadn’t tried for them before.

At the end of the session, I looked at Jupiter and caught an Io transit with the shadow clearly visible as a black pin. I couldn’t see Io itself as it was sitting right on top of one of the cloud bands. View of Jupiter was lovely.

Deep sky:

Had a good look at some old favourites, NGC253 (amazing), 1316 and 1365 with its lovely spiral arms, tarantula nebula. Viewed the Grus quartet – always a favourite with the grouping of 3 close galaxies and the 4th one sitting just a bit off. All four fitted into the field of view of the 22 mm Nagler and 17 mm Nikon.

Sculptor dwarf galaxy – A first for me, got really excited about tracking this one down. It was visible as a brightening of the sky that stayed in the same place when I slewed the scope along. It was best in the 22 mm Nagler. When I looked at pictures of the galaxy afterwards the sky brightening I observed had been in the right location. The galaxy appears to be bound by a grouping of 3-4 brightish stars on one side.

M42 – Amazing in the 17 mm and 12. 5 mm. Thought I saw some colour, maybe bluish-greenish in the centre. What struck me though was how much it affected my night vision. My observing eye was clearly blinded when I looked at the sky. Time to move on to Jupiter and pack up!
At this stage it was late and very cold (4 deg C), but it was great fun.
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Old 21-11-2023, 01:58 PM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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Sounds like a fun, productive night out under the stars . Quite a varied list of objects observed, thanks for sharing.
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Old 21-11-2023, 02:01 PM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
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Excellent report and a good read. A timely reminder of the benefits of a dark site.

I've not thought of trying for some of Jupiter's trojan asteroids. I have added these to my lists.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 22-11-2023, 10:34 PM
Dave882 (David)
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Great report and some really interesting observing targets. Seems you were quite successful - it’s amazing what some quality dark sky and a big scope can reveal!!
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Old 23-11-2023, 02:12 PM
EpickCrom (Joe)
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Hi, and thanks for posting your observing report.

A great mix of deep sky and solar system objects . What a fun and productive night you had!
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Old 24-11-2023, 03:46 PM
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gaseous (Patrick)
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Nice report! You certainly spotted some faint ones.
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