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Thread: A rare clear night

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    Default A rare clear night



    I have been reconfiguring my observatory for galaxy season and for the outer planets coming around again. So the 200mm f/4 Newt came off and the C-11 went on. While doing that switch, I installed an 8" pier extension. That puts the scope high enough to see to the horizon east and west, and quite low to the south.

    Of course, taking the mount off the pier required a new polar alignment. I was due for one anyway. Even a 2-ton concrete foundation doesn't guarantee that the pier won't move, and I knew my old alignment was a bit off lately.

    So, last night, I let the hound out for her bedtime pee, and looked up to see a transparent starry sky, with half-decent seeing. I almost didn't recognize it, it's been so long. Since I wanted to do a polar alignment anyway, I bundled up and headed out to the dome.

    I did a basic polar scope alignment, then figured that, since the Moon was up and I didn't have a camera installed, I might as well take a look at it. Yup, it has mountains and craters. Cool! The crater Proclus was prominently bright. I spent some time touring the terminator area.

    Can anyone recommend (preferably free) lunar mapping software? I am thinking of something that shows the terminator and illumination for a specific time that one can use for feature identification. Kind of like a Stellarium for the Moon.

    Anyway, with Orion season drawing to a close, I took a look at M42. It is big and bright in the 11". I zoomed in to 294x to have a good look at the Trapeziod. At that magnification, I would guess that the additional stars in the group might start to be visible in perfect seeing, but I didn't have that last night. Zoomed out, at 42x (42mm EP + 0.63 reducer), I could see a lot of extended nebula far from the bright core. There would probably be more without moonlight.

    Then, just for fun, I decided to see what I could see of the Rosette Nebula. Even with the 42mm, the nebula is bigger than the FOV, and I didn't have high hopes for seeing it. However, I found the trapezoidal cluster at the centre of the Rosette. The background was unremarkable and didn't look like nebulosity at all. But I tried slewing the scope in the four cardinal directions, and in each case, I could see with peripheral vision that there was a brighter background that was slewing out of sight with the cluster. So I have to conclude that the Rosette is indeed visible in the 11" scope. Cool.

    This visual astronomy stuff is kinda fun actually!

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    DSO AP: Orion 200mm f/4 Newtonian Astrograph; ATIK 383L+; EFW2 filter wheel; Astrodon Ha,LRGB filters; KWIQ/QHY5 guide scope; Planetary AP: Celestron C-11; ZWO ASI120MC; Portable: Celestron C-8 on HEQ5 pro; C-90 on wedge; 20x80 binos; Etc: Canon 350D; Various EPs, etc. Obs: 8' Exploradome; iOptron CEM60 (pier);
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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    I kinda like Virtual Moon Atlas. Yes, Free. Offered by Patrick Chevalley (the same guy that offers Cartes du Ciel) and Christian Legrand.

    It's a little long in the tooth in terms of updates but well worth a look.

    GCG
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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    Nice reporting, Kathy! It's nice to go back to basics ("eyeballs on target") every once in awhile

    Dave
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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    I was back checking the VMA site and the "Quick User Guide" an "Complete Software Documentation" pages seemed to be hit or miss. If you have trouble try Googling "Virtual Moon Atlas documentation". That worked for me.
    OTA's: 203mm f10 Meade SCT (LXD75); Antares 80mm Refractor w/William Optics APOGrade f6.9 objective; Orion Starseeker 80 f11.2 Refractor
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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    Hello Kathy.
    SS 5 is not free. But if you already may have it you can zoom in on the moon and it has the features labeled. You have to do an extreme Zoom to get this. And it will give you the Moon phase that you are looking at. I am not sure if the free version of SS has this feature.
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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    Great report kathy!

    A bit of visual now and again is good for the soul.
    Have you added a grab and go to the cart yet?
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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    Quote Originally Posted by kingclinton View Post
    Great report kathy!

    A bit of visual now and again is good for the soul.
    Have you added a grab and go to the cart yet?
    My first "real" scope (i.e. purchased as an adult) was my C-90, which is a great grab & go scope. Even with the fork mount on a Celestron wedge and a tripod, it's pretty portable.
    C90GrabnGo.jpg

    In the observatory's current configuration (C-11), I will mount the C-90 piggyback for a guide scope when galaxy season gets going.
    C11DSO.jpg

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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    Quote Originally Posted by KathyNS View Post
    My first "real" scope (i.e. purchased as an adult) was my C-90, which is a great grab & go scope. Even with the fork mount on a Celestron wedge and a tripod, it's pretty portable.
    C90GrabnGo.jpg

    In the observatory's current configuration (C-11), I will mount the C-90 piggyback for a guide scope when galaxy season gets going.
    C11DSO.jpg
    Great combination! Love those "Orange Tubes"!! I had an opportunity to do some comparison viewing between a C-14 and an AP155 EDF, f/7 Starfire at Almost Heaven Star Party (Spruce Knob, West Virginia) in 2015. The views were equally amazing. The view of M13 really blew me away

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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    Hi Kathy,

    Great report, glad you got to tweak your PA and still get some sky time.

    I highly recommend the Virtual Moon Atlas (VMA). I use it to calculate the occurrence of the Lunar "X" and "V".

    Cheers,
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    Default Re: A rare clear night

    I clicked into the thread wondering what this "clear night" phenomenon was.

    Good stuff, Kathy! Glad to see you catching a few "natural" photons.

    I too recommend the Virtual Moon Atlas, and Mark's recommendation of Sky Safari is good too.
    Bryan

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