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Thread: 04-12-14 AM Observations - Loving the New EPs

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    Default 04-12-14 AM Observations - Loving the New EPs



    I got my new eyepieces (Orion Premium Sirius Plossl kit) on March 26, so of course it has been cloudy or raining every free night I have had since then. I had my eye on the sky the whole time I was my cutting grass Friday evening. It was mostly clear, very little humidity, and no wind to speak of. I formulated my observing plan while finishing up the yard work. On the agenda:
    1) The usual suspects - The Moon, Jupiter, and M42,
    2) What I have been looking forward to trying the new EP's on - Mars and Saturn.
    3) My challenge for the night - M81 & M82.

    Well, a leaky faucet literally threw a wrench into my plans. After running around to get the parts and making the repair, it was after 10:30 by the time I got the telescope outside. M42 and Jupiter were off the table now.

    I started with the Moon - It looked great through all of my EPs but I was especially fond of the views with the 40mm and the 17.5mm. The 40mm lets me see the Moon in it's entirety and it filled up the eyepiece nicely. The 17.5mm was great for picking out some details along the terminator. On top of that, the moon filter worked great. It cut down the brightness enough to make viewing easier on my eyes, but not so much that I couldn't see any detail.

    On to Mars. I have never had a good look at Mars and again tonight was no different. Mars appeared very bright with diffraction spikes while looking through the telescope. I reminded me of looking at Venus last fall. I tired the various filters with the eyepieces. While they eliminated the spikes, I still could not make out any details of the planet. It just looked like a solid color ball.

    Feeling let down by Mars, I moved on to Saturn. When I last looked at Saturn I only possessed one EP, a 25mm. I was a bit underwhelmed by Saturn then. It was neat, but it just didn't have that wow factor like Jupiter. This time was different. I started out with the 40mm to find it, which was easy enough. I skipped the 25 mm and went down to the 17.5mm; looking good. I went on to the 10mm which was even better. Then I tried the 7.5mm and I was getting excited. Now the 6.3mm. While Saturn looked great when it was at the edges, it would get blurry when it was in the center of the EP. The other difficulty I was having with the 6.3mm was that there was too much vibration every time I touched the telescope. Adding to my woes, I kept loosing Saturn and would have to go back to the 17.5mm to find it again. I then tried my 7.5 mm with a 2x Barlow and there was my "wow!" I could make out some slight variation of color on the ring and a faint stripe on the planet. I was very satisfied.

    Now buoyed by Saturn, I went on to my challenge targets; M81 & M82. I started off with my binoculars scanning from Phecda to Dubhe. Then continuing approximately that same distance along that line shifting slightly to the right at the end. I was trying to find some landmarks along the way, but I wasn't picking up much of anything outside of the big dipper. The moon was still up and bright. After a few failed attempts, I gave up on the binos.

    I started over using the same pattern with the red dot finder and looking through the 40mm when I got the telescope pointed in the area I thought they should be in. Still no sign of the galaxies. I even tried scanning the whole way while looking through the 40mm but kept getting lost once I passed Dubhe. I was thinking to myself that this might be easier if I had an optical finder scope in my arsenal.

    I was starting to get frustrated, so I took a break and went in the house. I consulted with Stellarium and noticed that the Moon would be down soon. I was going to have about a 45 minute window between moon set and sunrise. I grabbed a Newcastle and sat on the back porch waiting for the Moon to say goodnight.

    Once the beer was gone and Moon dipped bellow the horizon I noticed a definite increase in sky darkness. I set out with the red dot finder and 40mm again. While scanning around the area with the 40mm I found a faint fuzzy dot. It looked like an out of focus star. I adjusted the focus in and out, but it just stayed fuzzy. Now I'm on to something. I switched to the 25mm and practiced my adverted vision. I saw some brighter fuzziness surrounded by fainter fuzziness in an oblong pattern. Erueka! That must be M81. I did a brief happy dance then back to the telescope to find M82.

    I scanned around M81, swapping in and out my 40mm and 25mm. Despite my best efforts, I had no luck on M82. This left me with some doubts on whether or not I actually saw M81.

    By now the sky was just starting to lighten and dew was forming on the telescope. I took my gear inside. While waiting for it to dry out in the kitchen before packing everything up, I did some research on M81 & M82. I feel fairly confident that what I saw was M81. There isn't anything else in the area that I would be able to see. My view of M81 was rather faint. I guess M82 was just too faint for me to pick up on. Weather permitting, I'll give them another go next Friday.
    MARK - Orion SkyQuest XT8, 1.25" 40mm, 25mm, 17.5mm, 10mm, 7.5mm, 6.3mm Orion Sirius Plossl EPs, 2x Orion Shorty Barlow, various filters, Orion EZ FinderII, Simmons ProSport 10x50 binoculars

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    Default Re: 04-12-14 AM Observations - Loving the New EPs

    Hey Mark--congrats on what sounds like a great night out! I would just try again with M81 and M82 once you have another chance with the moon out of the way (and when they're a little higher in the sky--if it was getting close to dawn I bet they were pretty low in the sky, which can make it much harder to see). If you find M81, pop in your 25mm EP and you should be able to fit M81 and M82 into the same FOV (M81 will appear to the left of M82). It's fainter, but you should definitely be able to see it with your scope, it just takes a little practice.
    -Rob
    Orion Skyquest XT6, 32mm Orion Plossl, 25mm Orion Plossl, 9mm Orion Expanse, 7.5mm Orion Highlight Plossl, Shorty 2x Barlow, 13% Transmission filter, Cheap binos from Target

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    Default Re: 04-12-14 AM Observations - Loving the New EPs

    Hey Twilight, Sounds like you had a grand time. Everything you mentioned always awes me when I point at them. Don't be discouraged at not finding M82. It is there, right next door to M81 in about a 25mm eyepiece with your telescope. A 21mm on my Starblast 6 easily has both in the same FOV. Not sure if LP is a problem for you in Belleville, but it can really make things difficult. Next time you try finding M81, put it on the edge of the eyepiece and move it just outside the FOV starting at 12 o'clock, watching with averted vision. Keep going around the clock doing the same thing until it pops into your view. It will be another faint fuzzy, but with maybe a little darkness through it. Good hunting Caley
    Caley Ann
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    Default Re: 04-12-14 AM Observations - Loving the New EPs

    Sounds like a fun evening... Two thumbs up !!!

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    Default Re: 04-12-14 AM Observations - Loving the New EPs

    Hi Mark. A very nice report from you. I am glad that you pleased with your Plossl eyepiece kit. And, it looks like you had a very nice "moonwalk" with them too. Mars is always a tough little target, but it looks like you made up for this with your nice views of Saturn. You probably did get M81, and you can always try this one again to confirm this. Thanks for your fun read report Mark, and best wishes for clear skies on your next sessing this coming Friday night.
    - Marshall

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    Default Re: 04-12-14 AM Observations - Loving the New EPs

    Hi Mark, thanks for a great report and congrats on what sounds like a fantastic session and you even managed to fix the tap!
    Lea

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