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  1. #1
    Tony Flanders's Avatar
    Tony Flanders Guest

    Default A Second Pass over the Herschel 400

    About four years ago, I observed the last of the Herschel 400
    with my 7" Dob. After completing the project, I rewarded myself
    by ordering a 12.5" scope, and I expect eventually to observe
    all of the Herschel 400 with that scope as well.

    The difference between the two sets of observations is striking.
    The first time around, I was intensely goal-oriented, eager to
    complete the entire list, which I did in a little over a year.
    This time, I have been at the job for over three years, with
    no end yet in sight.

    The difference is partly due to circumstances; my 7" Dob was
    mobile, so that I used it in city, suburbs, and country,
    whereas my 12.5" Dob lives in the country, where I can only
    get to it on weekends and during vacations. Also, in both
    cases, I enhanced the observing list with other objects;
    the first time around I observed the union of the Messier
    list, the Herschel 400, and the RASC 110. This time, I am
    observing all of those, plus the Caldwell list and Steve
    Gottlieb's list of the best IC objects -- both filtered with
    respect to my latitude.

    But the biggest difference is attitude. The first time around,
    finishing the list was a goal. This time, the observing list
    is primarily an aid or accessory. Unlike some people, I find
    that if I go out to observe without an agenda, I end up frittering
    my time away, and enjoying myself less than I might. The Herschel
    400 enhances my pleasure by providing a convenient answer to the
    question "what should I observe next?", but I am in no hurry at
    all to finish it.

    Yesterday, I was editing and colating my observing notes from
    the night before, and I was particularly struck by how much
    I have grown as an observer, and by how much more I can see
    with a 12.5" scope than I could with a 7" scope. It is true
    that the Herschel 400 can all be seen with a fairly small
    scope -- many of them quite easily -- but it does not follow
    that a small scope is sufficient to show them all to full

    Here, for instance, are comparative notes for two rather
    interesting objects: the planetary nebula NGC 7008 and the
    open cluster NGC 7044. In the latter case, it seems obvious
    that the observation with the 7" scope was erroneous. There
    is no way that I can reconcile what I recorded with reality;
    I must have observed some nearby asterism instead.

    NGC 7008:
    09/17/98 7" Dob:
    Truly large oval about 1', very faint for planetary nebula,
    just to side of faint companion.
    08/30/03 12.5" Dob:
    Exotic planetary nebula off 2 moderately bright stars, the
    brighter of those just off side of nebula, slightly enhanced
    by UHC filter. Elliptical, elongated 15 degrees counterclockwise
    to line between stars, 1.2' x 0.8', striking bright blob at
    far end of ellipse from stars about 0.2' around, hint of
    symmetric concentration on near end of ellipse but much fainter,
    central star readily visible, with hint of a second star inside.

    NGC 7044:
    09/17/98 7" Dob:
    Ill defined cluster at 32X. At 105X, 9 stars in 3' triangle,
    no sense of other stars not seen.
    08/30/03 12.5" Dob:
    Surprising open cluster showing as a subtle bright patch at
    151X with no stars visible directly but many peering through
    with averted vision, at least a dozen but impossible to count.
    About 3' and slightly elliptical, assuming that tail of much
    brighter stars is not part of the true cluster. Presumably
    quite rich to show as a nebulous patch, with even the stars
    seen with averted vision just the tip of the iceberg. A
    pleasure to see an open cluster like this with such a big
    scope, reminiscent of M37 or M11 seen through a very small

    How gratifying to be seeing the same old objects, yet still be
    seeing so many new things!

    - Tony Flanders

  2. #2
    Stephen Paul's Avatar
    Stephen Paul Guest

    Default A Second Pass over the Herschel 400

    "Tony Flanders" <> wrote in message ...

    Not to turn this into yet another GT/Anti-GT thread, but you raise an
    interesting point. I too find that observing lists make the night more
    enjoyable. As Shawn use to so often claim [paraphrased], "Most DSO's look
    like crap, so the hunt is a lot of the joy of astronomy". In my case, I find
    having a list and GoTo or DSC's makes the night a _lot_ more fun. At least
    from the standpoint of viewing as many "crappy" looking objects as possible
    in a single session.

    Using just the Dob and SA2000 with a list is also enjoyable, but I prefer
    using a computer aided scope to do the survey work, and then the Dob to
    learn to find the good stuff, without whiz-bang aids. That way, on nights
    without a plan (which is most nights), at public outings, or remote sites, I
    can visit my repertoire of favorite objects without needing anything but
    SA2000, a red light and memory.

    Nights I like to to relax, take in the eye candy and listen smooth jazz.
    Days are reserved for metal, hard labor and stress (and I like that too). In
    both cases, there are goals, and that makes all the difference to a guy like
    me. I can be a real slug, but only for a (very) limited time, then I have
    _got_ to do something. Life is too short to just sit idle and let others
    have all the fun.


    -Stephen Paul

  3. #3
    J. Jason Fry's Avatar
    J. Jason Fry Guest

    Default A Second Pass over the Herschel 400

    What kind of new 14.5" scope are you getting? I, too, have an Orion XT8
    that performs very well (and which I intend on keeping), but I have a 16"
    Custom Truss Tube Dob from NightSky Scopes on order. I hope to have it in


    "Axel" <> wrote in message om...

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  4. #4
    Shneor Sherman's Avatar
    Shneor Sherman Guest

    Default A Second Pass over the Herschel 400 (Axel) wrote in message news:< com>...

    When I moved from an 8" Celestron to an 18" dob, instead of observing
    several times a year and leaving the site by 1 a.m. I have been
    observing at least twice a month, weather permitting, until either the
    sun, moon or clouds interfere, or until I can no longer stand up. It
    requires driving at least an hour and twenty minutes each way, often
    up to 3 hours. And I have driven 12 hours for a good site. This
    behavior has persisted now that I have my 22" ;-)

    It's why I say that there's no substitute for aperture...

    Clear skies,
    Shneor Sherman

  5. #5
    Axel's Avatar
    Axel Guest

    Default A Second Pass over the Herschel 400

    > What kind of new 14.5" scope are you getting? I, too, have an Orion XT8

    Hi Jason, mine's also a custom truss from NightSky Scopes! Jim was
    somewhat reluctant to make it the longer f/5.4 focal ratio I wanted,
    but he agreed to do it for a bit extra. R.F. Royce made the primary
    for me. I placed the order for the structure back in March or
    thereabouts, so it should be nearly done! I think I'll just drive
    over to Louisiana and pick it up personally. I'll be sure to post
    details on its mechanics, as yours will no doubt be very similar.

    I'm not sure if I'll hang on to the 8" tube Dob. The somewhat better
    portability isn't much of an advantage for me because I can't view
    from my condo, so I have to pack it all in the truck and drive
    somewhere anyway.

    What's custom on your 16"?


  6. #6
    Mike Fitterman's Avatar
    Mike Fitterman Guest

    Default A Second Pass over the Herschel 400


    If you remember, you and I were trying to find M83 from our nice Northern
    Latitude here, where it's low in the sky and typically in a lot of light
    pollution. We never would have found it without GT although we did try. It
    was *barely* visible even after the GT. It would have been a near
    impossible find without being sure of the spot.


    "Stephen Paul" <> wrote in message

  7. #7
    Stephen Paul's Avatar
    Stephen Paul Guest

    Default A Second Pass over the Herschel 400

    "Tony Flanders" <> wrote in message ..

    Well, we were teens at the time and old fashioned skill and common sense
    eluded us. :-)

    That said, I believe the GPS could have really helped us. Especially since
    we _did_ leave the streambed and became hopelessly lost, with no choice as
    late afternoon approached evening, but to go upward. And, as usual, it was

    The moral of that experience was to not take the road less traveled without
    either, A) more experience, or B) a GPS lock on your position of origin. We
    had decided at the last minute to not head straight up to the A-Trail, but
    rather to take a left hand turn at the base and go around and up. If we had
    the GPS, we could have, and would have, gone back after getting lost. (We
    didn't even have a compass, just a topo map). So, by the time we had
    realized we were in real trouble, going upward was the most sensible

    OTOH, we saw a part of the mountain that others rarely do. A beautiful
    green meadow area, making a corridor through densely populated forest, was
    the most memorable. But soon it seemed more like marsh and the water got
    waist deep. We had to hold the trees along the edge to traverse our way
    across while remaining out of the water. One tree in particular was a little
    weak at the roots and when I grabbed hold to swing around, it let go.
    Thankfully Bruce was there to pull the tree off and help me back on my feet.
    I was completely submerged, and would have drown.

    In case you missed it, we had less in the way of experience, than we had in
    exuberance and energy.

    Ever since, I've not been a big fan of traveling without reliable technology
    or skill.



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