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Thread: Jan 22, 2015 Rare Winter Report (Long)

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    Default Jan 22, 2015 Rare Winter Report (Long)



    It’s been a while since I filed a report, but it’s been months since I last used my scope. Being in the middle of a Canadian Prairie winter will do that to you. Anyway I had a night on Thursday Jan 22 , 2015 that I will remember for a very long time. Nights like this just never happen. You see it’s very difficult to get out to the country to dark skies and observe because it simply dangerous as the snow is eveywhere and can be deep, leading you to get hurt or stuck in your vehicle, plus the brutal cold. Thus I am pretty much limited to my back yard in a light polluted city, which means it’s hard to see faint DSO’s. But NOT on this night.

    I will start be pointing out how rare it is that all this came together on one perfect night to allow this to happen. These points are in no particular order.
    - my only free night this past weekend was Thursday, and I just so happened to have Friday off which would allow me to sleep in if needed, and I needed it.
    - temps at this time are usually very cold, sometimes -40 or worse with the wind, on Thursday night it has warmed up to an unseasonable balmy -3C or 26F
    - at those temps my compterized 8se scope still functions great, and battery lasts for hours
    - usually when it warms up that much a strong wind is included, but there was no wind that night
    - usually when it warms up that much it comes with clouds, no clouds that night
    - with such a young moon that night it was gone early and allowed me to see some DSO’s I otherwise would not have seen
    - the sky conditions were one of the best I have ever had which again allowed me to see some faint DSO’s
    - the guy next door has what I call a “search and rescue” light on the side of his garage which shines light into my back yard and on my patio. I hang a large blanket up from my fence to shed rooftop to block that light in the summer, but can’t do that in the winter because I have usually snow piled up 5’ deep from the snow blower and can’t get to that corner of the yard. This winter has been much less snow so far and I have been able to keep that pile down to only a couple feet. This allowed me to hang the blanket.

    Alright I made my point, on with it. I set up and started observing at about 10:30 pm. My wife was just heading to bed so I kissed her goodnight and said I’d likely be an hour or so, not realizing how excellent the sky was at that point. I ended up coming back in the house at 3am, 4.5 hours later. She told me the next day she got up at 2 to go to the washroom, peaked out the window to see (in her disbelief ) I was crazy enough to still out there. LOL

    I should mention I’m fortunate in that I keep my shop (also in the back yard ) heated all winter, so it’s a place for me to go and stand in front of the N/G Unit Heater to warm up in a minute, which I did a few times as it got colder as the night went on. I also like to drink a hot tea when I observe (like tradition) which also keeps me warm. I also layer clothes, but not to the point I can’t move around and look like the Michelin man. Anyway this night had me realize I need to come up with a device I can hang my tea mug from near or at my telescope. I have an idea for that, and will post the results in another thread if it works so that others might want to do something similar.

    So what did I see?

    A couple years ago when I got into this hobby one of the first books I got was “Left Turn at Orion 4th edition”. I have been plugging away at all the targets in that book ever since. I finished off all the lunar objects in the fall time and now had just a few double stars and DSO’s remaining. These included a number of double stars in Orion, M79 (Glob), NGC1535 (Plan Neb), and a multiple star called Keid. Anybody watch the original Star Trek? Although Keid was never mentioned specifically in any show, except for one offhand reference of travelling 16 light years to reach it, the show’s producer Gene Rodenberry and three astronomers in a letter to Sky and Telesope (July, 1991) identified Keid as the location of Mr.Spock’s home planet, Vulcan. As a fan of the show I thought that was pretty cool!

    Other targets NGC 3242 (Ghost of Jupiter), and galaxies M65, and M66 helped me finish off all the objects in Left Turn. Now that book is completed I will still use it to go back and look at my favorites over again. As I have gained experience and knowledge observing, I feel I am a better observer than I was two years ago, and can pull out some details that I may have missed or not appreciated as much before. This was a great book!

    So after a couple hours finishing that stuff up I could tell the sky was just to awesome to call it a night so I started on another book my wife bought me for Christmas last month. It’s called “The Urban Astronomer’s Guide” by Rod Mollise, who I think posts on these forums. Wow another great book which is loaded with information and objects to make good use of my astronomy gear right in my backyard in the city. I started with Rod’s winter tours 1, 2, and 3. Allthough I have seen a couple of these objects before, they were worth looking at again, but most were completely new to me. To be totally honest, while reading about these objects in Rod’s book, I thought some would be too faint for me to observe, based on similar ones I tried for in the past with no luck. Thats what’s great about this book, Rod weeded out the targets for us, and I know that what’s in this book is proven by him to be seen. I observed some of his planetary nebulae targets, some were difficult in my 8” SCT with no filters, but after putting on my OIII filter I could see them just like Rod described, and make out some detail. Other things I like about Rod's book is that it has structure, a nice order, and wide variety of interesting objects selected. Extremely well thought out.

    I will finish by saying that coming in at 3am and being up for almost 24 hours now, you would think I'd fall fast asleep. Nope, as usual I layed down and gave some thought to some of the wonderful things in space I had observed that night. Pretty amazing when you think about it. Anyway that's a wrap, sorry for any typo’s as my spell checker is not working. Doh!

    Wishing clear skies everybody.
    Scopes: Celestron 8SE (2013), ES AR127 (2015)
    Binos: Canon IS 10 x 30, Nikon AE 8 x 40, Celestron SM 15 x 70
    Accessories: 2" Diagonal for 8SE, Dew-Not Heat Control System, StarDust Observer's Chair

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    Default Re: Jan 22, 2015 Rare Winter Report (Long)

    Well, at least you had a clear sky and enjoyed yourself I'm sure your shop made it easier for you Being at the southern point of Canada, sadly, I haven't had a clear sky since just before Christmas I've been dying to get out my new "pineapple" again as it's been called around here ( an ES 30mm 82° EP ) that I got in late November (used it on my AR102 only so far). But the cloud gods must still be mad at me for swearing at them so much

    Take Care and thanks for the report!

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    Default Re: Jan 22, 2015 Rare Winter Report (Long)

    Ponchos, excellent report! It's really amazing to consider what all has to come together to make for nice observation session. Your situation really ratchets that up several notches!

    Whenever I have a fine night out like that and am out late, I too can't get to sleep right away. I'm usually to hyped up to sleep, thinking, like you, about all the wonderful sights I've been lucky enough to observe.

    Great report and thanks for taking the time to post!
    Bryan

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    Default Re: Jan 22, 2015 Rare Winter Report (Long)

    Thanks, glad you guys like the report.

    AbbN I too picked up a "pineapple" a little over a year ago during a sale. Not sure how it compares to your pineapple size wise but here is mine beside a Cel 1.25" 13mm Plossl. LOL

    BTW I love this EP, and use it a lot with my 8se. I have not had a chance to try it in my new AR127 yet.
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    Scopes: Celestron 8SE (2013), ES AR127 (2015)
    Binos: Canon IS 10 x 30, Nikon AE 8 x 40, Celestron SM 15 x 70
    Accessories: 2" Diagonal for 8SE, Dew-Not Heat Control System, StarDust Observer's Chair

 

 

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