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  1. #1
    aLiAz's Avatar
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    Default A great winter session last night (long)



    I thought I'd try to get in a good winter sky observing session before spring comes.

    I made a list of the objects I wanted to see, and divided then into new objects I have never seen before, and objects I wanted to revisit.

    New objects I wanted to see was:

    NGC 6633 (open cluster)
    NGC 7009 Saturn nebula (planetary)
    M2 (globular)
    NGC 7293 Helix nebula
    Neptune

    and the objects I wanted to revisit was:

    M7 (open cluster)
    M4 (globular)
    M8 Lagoon nebula
    M10 (globular)
    M17 Omega nebula
    M57 Ring nebula (planetary)
    M27 Dumbbell nebula (planetary)

    I setup my scope to cool at about 7:30, and while waiting I browsed the skies with my binos. It was a cold night, with the temperature supposed to go down to about freezing point. This is also the only time of year when the milkyway is visible near zenith, because the centre of the milkyway is straight overhead early to late evening.
    The seeing was as good as class 6 bortle skies get.

    Excited to start gazing my first stop was NGC 6633. I noted that it is slightly more than 1 degree (apparent) in diameter, and is a cluster of medium brightness and medium density. I then moved to M7 which is visible naked eye (slight averted vision) and gave a great view in the binos. At 48x in my scope it just does not fit into view, being over 1 degree (apparent) in diameter. I noted it as a cluster of medium density, and bright. M4 was next, which I put on my list because it was almost directly overhead, and last time I looked at it I only saw a fuzzball. Well this time it was still faint, but I could make out many points of light at 71x that I couldn't a few months back. I also just glimpsed them in my binos.

    I moved onto M8 Lagoon nebula expecting my best view of this object since it's also straight overhead. As I expected, M8 was the brightest I've seen it yet. I used this opportunity to do a proper sketch of it which I will upload in the sketch forum. I could also see it naked eye, and in binos there was distinct nebulosity.

    Next I moved on to another object that was previously just a blob to me, M10 in Ophiuchus. I glimped it (and M12) in my binos, but being very faint. In the scope at 71x I could just barely make out brighter points of light. Next stop was M57, the Ring nebula. I saw this for the first time a week ago, but I was being chased by the rising moon. So I hoped to get a better view. And I did. It was still very faint and small, but I with my UltraBlock and averted vision I could just make out the ring shape.

    Closeby lies the Dumbbell nebula, M27, which is of cause bigger than M57. I could clearly see the object, but could not make out the dumbbell shape. I could however see it is not perfectly circular. Next was M17, the Omega nebula, also hoping to make use of it's position in the sky to get a better view. This time I could clearly make out a prominent swan shape with the UltraBlock.

    I took a 10 minutes break at this point, eating a snack and stretching my legs. I also started noticing the cold and put on another jacket I brought out just incase.

    I now set my sights to the "rising" east. First up was NGC 7009 Saturn nebula. It was quite bright, but small and at 133x I still couldn't make out the Saturn shape. Then I jumped over to M2 which was visible in my binos, although very small. In my scope it was also quite small. I bumped the mag up to 71x and 133x but I could not resolve any individual stars.

    My second last stop was supposed to be NGC 7293, the Helix nebula, but after 15min's I gave up the search. I decided to try find Neptune, which was my last object to see for the night. Unfortunately I couldn't find it. I also am not sure what to expect it looking like. I deduced that I should be able to see it in my scope as I checked and it's apparent magnitude is more luminous than Saturn's moon Titan which I always see when I look at Saturn. I also checked on Stellarium afterwards and confirmed I was looking in the right place. Oh well, I guess I will give it another go when it is higher in the sky.

    Well that was about 22:00 so I called it a night, quite satisfied with my observations.
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  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to aLiAz For This Useful Post:

    Alec in France (08-10-2012),j.gardavsky (08-11-2012)

  3. #2
    Alec in France's Avatar
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    Enjoyed reading your report aLiAz.

    Whilst in your part of the world, winter will soon give way to spring. Here at 44 degrees North, our summer blazes on with autumn just around the corner.

    In your report you say you looked at M4 "as it was almost directly overhead".
    Tonight, here in France, M4 will climb only to 19 degrees before it starts its descent. Despite it being quite low, I had a decent view of it last night at 100x in my 8" dob. Whilst it was a little "misty", I was lucky enough to be able to make out many points of light.

    Its interesting to compare our different experiences, from different parts of the globe.

    Clear skies!

    Alec.
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    aLiAz's Avatar
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    M4 was indeed almost directly overhead. It is interesting as you say, as even though it didn't rise high in your skies you were able to make out points of light. About two months ago I saw M4 for the first time being only low on the horizon as well, and I couldn't make out anything other than a fuzzball. But then again I am viewing in my backyard which is level 6 bortle skies. So if it's not either bright, or high in the skies, then you can bet I won't be able to see it that well.

    Thanks for reading my report
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    That was a very enjoyable report, thanks!
    Paul
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  6. #5
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by aLiAz View Post
    But then again I am viewing in my backyard which is level 6 bortle skies. So if it's not either bright, or high in the skies, then you can bet I won't be able to see it that well.
    Yes, that's probably the difference. I'm right on the line between level 2 and 3 (grey/blue).

    Alec.
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    Nice report.
    John
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alec in France View Post
    Enjoyed reading your report aLiAz.

    Whilst in your part of the world, winter will soon give way to spring. Here at 44 degrees North, our summer blazes on with autumn just around the corner.

    In your report you say you looked at M4 "as it was almost directly overhead".
    Tonight, here in France, M4 will climb only to 19 degrees before it starts its descent. Despite it being quite low, I had a decent view of it last night at 100x in my 8" dob. Whilst it was a little "misty", I was lucky enough to be able to make out many points of light.

    Its interesting to compare our different experiences, from different parts of the globe.

    Clear skies!

    Alec.
    Yes, it's always nice and interesting getting reports from the Southern Hemissphere folks for a change. M57, Vega etc. must be low in the sky there.

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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by aLiAz View Post
    I thought I'd try to get in a good winter sky observing session before spring comes.

    I made a list of the objects I wanted to see, and divided then into new objects I have never seen before, and objects I wanted to revisit.

    New objects I wanted to see was:

    NGC 6633 (open cluster)
    NGC 7009 Saturn nebula (planetary)
    M2 (globular)
    NGC 7293 Helix nebula
    Neptune

    and the objects I wanted to revisit was:

    M7 (open cluster)
    M4 (globular)
    M8 Lagoon nebula
    M10 (globular)
    M17 Omega nebula
    M57 Ring nebula (planetary)
    M27 Dumbbell nebula (planetary)

    I setup my scope to cool at about 7:30, and while waiting I browsed the skies with my binos. It was a cold night, with the temperature supposed to go down to about freezing point. This is also the only time of year when the milkyway is visible near zenith, because the centre of the milkyway is straight overhead early to late evening.
    The seeing was as good as class 6 bortle skies get.

    Excited to start gazing my first stop was NGC 6633. I noted that it is slightly more than 1 degree (apparent) in diameter, and is a cluster of medium brightness and medium density. I then moved to M7 which is visible naked eye (slight averted vision) and gave a great view in the binos. At 48x in my scope it just does not fit into view, being over 1 degree (apparent) in diameter. I noted it as a cluster of medium density, and bright. M4 was next, which I put on my list because it was almost directly overhead, and last time I looked at it I only saw a fuzzball. Well this time it was still faint, but I could make out many points of light at 71x that I couldn't a few months back. I also just glimpsed them in my binos.

    I moved onto M8 Lagoon nebula expecting my best view of this object since it's also straight overhead. As I expected, M8 was the brightest I've seen it yet. I used this opportunity to do a proper sketch of it which I will upload in the sketch forum. I could also see it naked eye, and in binos there was distinct nebulosity.

    Next I moved on to another object that was previously just a blob to me, M10 in Ophiuchus. I glimped it (and M12) in my binos, but being very faint. In the scope at 71x I could just barely make out brighter points of light. Next stop was M57, the Ring nebula. I saw this for the first time a week ago, but I was being chased by the rising moon. So I hoped to get a better view. And I did. It was still very faint and small, but I with my UltraBlock and averted vision I could just make out the ring shape.

    Closeby lies the Dumbbell nebula, M27, which is of cause bigger than M57. I could clearly see the object, but could not make out the dumbbell shape. I could however see it is not perfectly circular. Next was M17, the Omega nebula, also hoping to make use of it's position in the sky to get a better view. This time I could clearly make out a prominent swan shape with the UltraBlock.

    I took a 10 minutes break at this point, eating a snack and stretching my legs. I also started noticing the cold and put on another jacket I brought out just incase.

    I now set my sights to the "rising" east. First up was NGC 7009 Saturn nebula. It was quite bright, but small and at 133x I still couldn't make out the Saturn shape. Then I jumped over to M2 which was visible in my binos, although very small. In my scope it was also quite small. I bumped the mag up to 71x and 133x but I could not resolve any individual stars.

    My second last stop was supposed to be NGC 7293, the Helix nebula, but after 15min's I gave up the search. I decided to try find Neptune, which was my last object to see for the night. Unfortunately I couldn't find it. I also am not sure what to expect it looking like. I deduced that I should be able to see it in my scope as I checked and it's apparent magnitude is more luminous than Saturn's moon Titan which I always see when I look at Saturn. I also checked on Stellarium afterwards and confirmed I was looking in the right place. Oh well, I guess I will give it another go when it is higher in the sky.

    Well that was about 22:00 so I called it a night, quite satisfied with my observations.

    Thanks for the nice report. You had quite a night of observing!
    Michael
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  10. #9
    aLiAz's Avatar
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    Thanks everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by skfboiler View Post
    Yes, it's always nice and interesting getting reports from the Southern Hemissphere folks for a change. M57, Vega etc. must be low in the sky there.
    Yes indeed Vega just clears my neighbour's roof to the north
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    Default Re: A great winter session last night (long)

    It is indeed interesting to compare different skies. Here, M7 is visible above the horizon for a very short time, and unfortunately the weather was too poor to view it this year (again). I also had to give up on the Helix nebula on Friday night, but because of excessive light pollution.

    Anyway, excellent report.
    Stevie


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